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Come to Spain, I said... It'll be lovely...

When the sun is out – which it usually is – Andalusia is fabulous
This was what we were expecting to get…

I love riding in southern Spain. I'm lucky enough that for a long time, it was part of the day job. My first launch for Bike magazine in February 2003 saw me riding a BMW K1200GT from Bilbao to Malaga – and the roads in Andalusia blew me away. In the years that followed, from November to March, I'd be back in Southern Spain almost every month… sometimes it seemed almost every week. And while it was never scorching, it was usually sunny and warmer than winter in the UK. So now I'm self-employed I thought why not start the year with a trip down to this riding heaven? Get the season started early with a bit of Easter sunshine...


The rain in Spain falls mainly... on me, apparently

That was the plan, anyway. Unfortunately for Darren, David, Drew and Mike who joined me on this springtime ride, the reality was wetter. Much wetter. We flew into Malaga, having lunch on the beach before heading inland to collect our hire bikes from the excellent team at Motohire Spain in Teba. It was a bit breezy, but it was fine…


It was bright when we set off next morning... but by the time we stopped for coffee the drizzle was turning heavier. We slithered out of the mountains to the coast then back into the hills, relentless rain falling in Ronda (the middle of which was closed for the Easter parade) but the sky brightened as we reached out hotel.


There was some blue sky...

I was feeling optimistic as we set off next day but again, despite a bright start, the rain returned before we reached our coffee stop. All day it was intermittent – dry spells and showers, like April at home. Hmmm. Only at home there was glorious sunshine, apparently. Grrrr...


Still, we were going well until we started the climb towards the Sierra Nevada. As started our ascent, Drew's front tyre washed out on a polished, slick bit of road – nothing he could have done. Luckily he was unhurt and the bike's crash protection did its job, though the GS beak was cracked. As we hauled him out of a low ditch, the rain was getting thicker so we cut the ride short and headed back to the hotel, just in time for the clouds to part and the sun to come out again.


This should have been one of the highlights of the trip... but it was high enough for the rain to become snow

The next two days were definitely tough. After a bright and wonderful morning of the kind of dry, sunny riding we'd been expected, we stopped for a slap-up lunch and emerged into winter again – as if the restaurant was some kind of portal to Narnia. Clambering over Alto de Velefique the rain turned to sleet and then to snow. Rather than stopping to take pictures of sunny panoramas, we were wiping snow off our visors and tottering tentatively down to the plains, cutting the ride short to get into the warmth.


The awesome road to Ohanes... on a sunnier day

Even that didn't end well, as that night Mike got food poisoning. Next day was relentlessly wet. We started our next ascent of the Sierra Nevada but, after a quick conflab as the rain lashed the windows of the café in Ohanes, we headed back the way we'd come and followed the foot of the mountains: not worth risking the rain becoming snow at higher altitudes. After a late checkout, Mike made it to the hotel and we headed out for the best meal of the trip.


Finally - a sunny day! This is what it's normally like

Next day, the final day, at last saw the sun appearing in the sky. We climbed in from the coast on deserted, beautiful roads and stopped for coffee just as the heavens opened. Here we go again, I thought... but by the time we left, it was no more than drizzle and ten minutes later all was good – and we had sunshine for the rest of the day. Finally.


This was a glimpse of what it should have been like – what it normally is like. Quiet roads and beautiful scenery, eating lunch in shirt sleeves on a terrace overlooking a lake, then getting back on the bikes for more fun on flowing, traffic-free corners.


Warmth and wonderful scenery... on the last afternoon

Despite the weather, it was still a great trip. Maybe because of the weather – it was certainly an experience none of us is ever likely to forget. "But you were so unlucky... you might get an afternoon or a morning but it never rains that much down here," said Norm as we returned the bikes to MotoHire Spain. Now we'll just have to go back and do the trip again if proper Spanish sunshine. So many brilliant roads, so many great places… I just need some luck with the weather!


• The full five-day fly-ride tour is available to download here

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