It had been on our tail since we left Valencia. It followed us through Granada and all of Portugal- somehow we were able to keep a step ahead. But today it finally caught up to us- at the French border. Rains! The clouds were building up as we left Burgos- they were coming in fast and they were coming in from the south. Lucky for us- we were heading north and we managed to skirt around it in Burgos with just a few drops managing to reach us.
The ride however was through scenery that was so picture perfect that it could well be in the imagination. We were riding through the mountains bordering Portugal and France. The air was crisp, the smell of pines mingled with wild flowers. The smell of dung with the smell of fresh rain on soil. We sped past these forests of green and yellow. Summer is a busy time for the country folks- we passed farmers working their fields and farm tractors stacking up hay in bundles. The pastures were dotted with lazy sheep, horses and cattle. Above us, the sky was grey and sullen and at 22 degrees, there was a distinct nip in the air. The beauty of the landscape, the scents all around and the hum of the engine as we move at a mile crunching speed.
Today we passed a significant number of motorcyclists. It never ceases to amaze me- how every tourer on a motorbike never fails to greet and acknowledge another fellow tourer- often with a thumbs up, frequently with a shake of a leg or at least with a nod as we speed past each other. It is apparent- the mutual admiration within bikers.
We were at a fuel station when the rains finally caught up with us. Out came our rain gear (of course far more clumsily than I am making it sound)- after all this was our first experience of requiring the rain gear and that took a while. But after one short spell, it stopped and we rode out- in our rain gear. The thing with rain gear- at least the one I had on, flapped quite a lot- it was like sails of a boat- catching crosswinds and trying to toss the bike around making high speed riding quite a challenge. At some point we exchanged the rain jackets and I was better off with the tighter ones. Now it was Anu clutching the rain jacket tight- so it will flap around a bit less. But there was little else for us to do. Finally at the French border it did catch us. I missed the Indian monsoons. I missed the warm feel of that rain, the salt and dust it drains into my mouth, the resulting mud splashes- and the bubble of voices some anxious, some delighted that discuss the rain. We hurtled through this countryside as it rained in the summer evening today.
By now the scenery changed once more. The straight roads were replaced by roundabouts and speed limit signs; we passed tiny villages with steep roofs, tall chimneys and they seemed right out of some Disney imagination. There were also beautiful lakes and marshes in bloom and smiling people moving around in ones and twos. Welcome to San Sebastian the board said in French. A few kilometres later we were sharing smokes and chatting with Nelly, our French host at Ondres village in Basque region, France.