Day 10 Sadinanigo – Vitoria Gastiez

11/08/10 (752 miles)

“A few moments later as I stood over the bike with the snapped kick-start lever in my hand, things were looking bleak for the old Serow. I considered then the next plan…”

After the good feed and sleep last night, we were up and ready to get going pretty early…9.30ish. Sorted today’s route out over coffee and croissants, then Scotty arose and had a quick chat about bikes and travel etc. Discussing benefits of electric start with kick-start, then amused ourselves with stories of people who can’t kick-start bikes effectively . 🙂

Kick start…

Once finished and packed we started the usual process of my kick starting the Serow, but noticed the lever had moved slightly and was catching on the side panel strangely. On closer inspection I noticed the lever was beginning to crack at the crank end, which wasn’t particularly healthy given that the battery was also dead. So best be gentle with the kick-start lever this morning, or we could be in trouble methinks. Reminding myself of the earlier conversation I had with Scotty about some people’s ineptitude with kick starting bike I primed myself for a quick start. Fuel tap on, choke out two notches, turn on the ignition, prime the kick-start lever, ready.

A few moments later as I stood over the bike with the snapped kick-start lever in my hand, things were looking bleak for the old Serow. I considered then the next plan…try and jump-start the Serow from the DRZ, to Helen’s concern. ‘Are you sure you know what you’re doing?’ she humourously asks. No reply was necessary of course to this petulant question.

snapped kick start joint not on the repairable list

So off with the side panels on both bikes and I make use of the crocodile clips and wires I have brough from an old trickle charger at home. After a bit of electrical wizardry I attached the clips to the Serow battery and the live ends to the adapters coming from the DRZ battery terminals. (oops, I hear those mechanically minded amongst you saying at the back now) With wiring connected, I start the DRZ and let the motor run a few seconds, before trying to start the Serow on the button. It doesn’t quite work, but while this is happening some smoke starts coming from the connection between the two sets of cables! Off with the engine and have a quick look. Maybe the wiring isn’t insulated enough for the current?! So I guess if I run it again and don’t hang about with trying to start the Serow it’ll work before any damage is done… which I do. This time a lot of smoke and a few sparks, before I kill the engine and realise the wires are now shredded and melted. Hmm. Time for plan C…bump start it.

While Helen stands by watching, joined now by Scotty who has come to watch the entertainment with his cuddly toy owl (called Mr Owl ) he can’t help but ironically remark, ‘you should have bought Italian’! Humourous chaps these oil riggers.

There’s a short downhill section to where we had our tents pitched, so I reckon there shouldn’t be much grief it bumping this little 225cc bike down there…even though the morning heat is picking up, I’ve got all my heavy kit on and jacket. I head over to the sloped track (can I point out at this stage that my beloved wife who own’s this bike!!! was still standing watching from afar, keeping amused and didn’t make much effort to help push! Not that I needed any female help anyway, being a rufty tufty biker type of course.) …or from Scotty might I add, who kept Helen company while stroking Mr Owl. Anyway, 3 attempts later and the little bike roared…or purred into life, phew. I also later learn that H was rather impressed with my side-saddle skills, reminding her of a certain Steve McQueen in the Great Escape. 🙂

Finally we were under way by midday and head into town for some fuel. We decide it would be better to find somewhere to buy a new battery now, so I leave H at the petrol garage I rode off into town to find one. After lots of broken communications with people and hand gestures (helpful ones) I eventually get escorted to buy the right battery, hurrah! On purchasing I’m reminded the battery will require a minimum of 2 hours standing prior to use, but ideally 6 hours, boo. Therefore, it’s extra stress time for Helen as she’s to ride without stalling the bike today. We also decide to buy a set of car jump leads (massive things) just in case it all goes pear-shaped.

Jump starting the Serow from the DRZ


We follow the N330 to Jaca and join the N240 towards Pamplona a fairly busy main route with heavy traffic, though we make good time along this. We stopped off for lunch by the reservoir Embalse de Yesa and use the cables to successfully jump-start the Serow after we’re done, before taking the NA132 away from the direction of Pamplona. This road led us through the flatlands of the Navarra plains, surrounded by vineyards and a mostly dry barren landscape, with strong head wind and sun high overhead. The road was nice and wide allowing plenty of overtaking, from the fairly sparse traffic, although the headwind was causing grief with Helen. However, we eventually reached Estella for some lunch where it was my turn to be tired, grumpy and impatient…not helped by a rude and unhelpful waitress. Though we did end up having their meal of the day and survived on just the two courses, for 15 euro’s between us!  The remaining NA132 is much quieter and scenic with some incredible hilltop villages and monastic ruins scattering the landscape as we rode.

Vitoria Gasteiz

Soon we reach the outskirts of Vitoria and set off to find the campsite, alleged to be along the southern edge of the large town. After some searching we admit defeat and park up near (ironically) a Yamaha bike garage on a roundabout, and spot some bikes parked at a roadside cafe. After riding over and asking for some directions with no sense of success because of, a. the map scale and b. I can’t speak Spanish. Fortunately, bikers are renown for the support given to their kindred spirits and the Spanish biker exemplifies this so much more, coming from a nation who follow motorbike racing second only to football! So when all appeared lost, one chap says, ‘you follow me’! Result! Off I ride to collect Helen, bump starting her wee bike, we ride over and meet our new-found friend on his BMW GS, who we then follow.

….and follow. We rode along side roads on the outskirts of town for a good ten minutes, until we eventually reached a campsite nowhere near where we were looking. (So either this was another one, or our navigational skills really are stuffed!) I thanked our guiding light profusely, before going into the bar, having a beer and setting up camp. The ground to pitch the tent on, apparently was granite disguised as mud and grass, as every peg bent double as I used spanners, tyre levers and even the heel of my boot to try to hammer the damn things in…conforted by the sound of mallets and hammers being used by other campers nearby suffering the same misfortune. We get visited by our second brit biker of the trip, as ex-pat who now rides one of the many big scooters we’ve passed, due to his tendonitis. Nice chap, who later drops over a copy of Bike magazine for me to read. I put the acid into the new battery and leave it to charge itself.

We round the day off in the campsite bar, being amused by the friendly bargirl keeping all the locals entertained at the bar. We order pizza with many wine & beers.  Using the maps, we then decide to go for broke tomorrow and just get to the coast. We had also considered going to the Yamaha dealers we saw earlier, but the likelihood of them having a Serow kick-start lever joint was minimal, and we’ve got a new battery to use. We can just run without headlight…. in Spain. Where it’s a legal requirement to have the headlight on at all times!

It’s started to rain. First time since we left the coast at Biarritz…

Day 11 Vitoria Gastiez – Comillas


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