Name: Cheesy Rider
Destination: Faro Rally, Portugal
Distance: 2,550 kms (1,593 miles)
Vehicle: Chopped Honda C90
When all is lost, turn to Jesus
If proof were needed that you can’t expect a moped that’s been festering in a back garden for years, chop it in half, weld it back together (badly), paint it (badly) and expect it to go the length of Spain and Portugal without a hiccup – this was it.
The early signs weren’t promising. Three of us ended up pushing our bikes off the ferry and rather sheepishly tried to casually bump start our way past the Customs officials. During the third bump start attempt a cargo net failed. We now had a bike with a tent, sleeping bag and petrol can wedging itself against the back wheel resulting in a pathetic wobble to a stop and the faint smell of melting plastic. Up ahead the rest of the pack negotiated a roundabout in the wrong direction.
By the end of day one we’d had a couple of punctures, a points failure, and discovered that not only were Greg’s forks out of line (by such a margin that the front and back wheel could be on opposite sides of the road at the same time) but his petrol tank had also been breached when we’d welded it to the frame so he could only fill it halfway or else petrol leaked all over his gentleman’s parts. After a tough morning we reached a beautiful town, parked up the bikes and went for lunch.
We returned to find a Spanish Police 4×4 parked up alongside our bikes. Had they noticed that our home made forks weren’t EU type approved? Were they upset that we’d left a trail of gearbox oil the length and breadth of the pristine cobbled square? Actually no, we’d parked in a taxi rank. PC large moustache gesticulated and suggested we park on the pavement. PC even larger moustache climbed out of the vehicle to gesticulate some more and suggested we park on the pavement.
We had other ambitions however, Salamanca to be precise. A Spanish city of immense beauty where storks circle overhead and food and drink flows in to the early hours. With that image in our heads we pushed hard that day. In blazing sunshine we covered over 200 kms and only missed out on reaching Salamanca by a mere 250 kms. We went to Plan B.
Maintenance was essential. But not so essential we bothered
Plan B was a campsite, or more accurately, a field. After bending the final tent peg in to the sun-baked ground we set up up in time to watch as the sun dropped off the horizon leaving a spectacular orange pink sky. Tired and aching but happy, we ate, drank, and drank some more, until the campfire dwindled to embers. In the morning after an unusually trouble free start, we headed west.
Once again we found ourselves making an impromptu stop by the side of the road. Greg was complaining that his bike steered really badly round left-hand bends and really well round right-hand bends. He still hadn’t realised we’d welded his forks on two inches out of line.
In such a demanding and dusty environment maintenance was essential. But not so essential that we bothered. We almost changed our engine oil before we left but decided that would be a sign of weakness. Obviously when there was a real emergency like a crate of beer threatened to come loose then it was all hands on deck.
At one point we completely lost our bearings and went up a winding mountain road. Over two hours later we came to a dead end. The summit was topped by a towering statue of the Lord. It really is true what they say. All paths lead to Jesus. We briefly answered the call of nature, asked for forgiveness and headed back the way we came.