Make the most of Northern Spain
The Picos de Europa is a simply brilliant place to ride a motorcycle – but there's so much more to see than just the roads within a half-day ride of Santander. This tour zigzags through the mountains, heading west on roads that get quieter as they become more spectacular.
This flexible trip ties in with the Plymouth to Santander crossing, If you sail out on a Sunday, you can get a ferry back to the UK the following Saturday after six amazing days' riding. But the tour is designed to be expanded by adding daytrip routes around the base towns, so it also works if you plan to get the ferry home on the Sunday or the Monday – it even works if you want to stay until the following Thursday.
What’s included on the route? Each day’s route has recommended places to stop for coffee in the morning and afternoon, a suggested lunch stop and planned fuel stops. Hotel suggestions are included too.
How long is each day’s ride? These are full but relaxed days in the saddle: it's definitely a riding holiday but it's not an Iron-Butt challenge. If you're on the road at nine, you should be at the next hotel by 5:30pm. That's allowing for lunch, coffee and photo stops along the way. Saddle-time rating: six out of 10.
What are the highlights? Obviously, there's the San Glorio Pass that links Potes and Riaño (get your picture with the deer statue) but the tour cuts west through the mountains using less-well-known but equally glorious roads. It get all the way to the pilgrimage centre of Santiago de Compostela – the Tour Pack includes an optional daytrip out to Finisterre, one thought to be the end of the world... As it heads back to Santander, it criss-crosses the mountains on the roads other tours just don't reach.
How easy is it to ride in Spain after Brexit? It couldn't be easier. There's a bit more faff when you get off the ferry, but with lots of new facilities in the port you can get off the boat and on the road relatively quickly – and then it's easy. Just remember to ride on the right, say "por favor" and "gracias" and you'll have a wonderful time.
Why six days? This is the shortest practical turnaround between Santander ferries: sail from Plymouth to dock in Spain on a Monday afternoon; board the return ferry the following Saturday. So the tour does fit in with taking one week of work. However, if you can get an extra day or two off, the idea is that this is at least an eight-day tour – with two extra days' riding included with the Tour Pack version and the option of adding additional days at three of the other locations along the way. It's the Picos tour that's as flexible as you are.
How is it supplied? The tour is supplied as an eBook of daily notes backed up by GPX files of the routes. Garmin or BMW Navigator users should download the complete file; TomTom users (or riders using a GPX compatible phone app like Calimoto, Scenic or MyRouteApp Navigator) should download the individual files. However, I strongly recommend getting the tour pack which includes a marked-up map and tankbag notes.
Download the tour
Garmin/BMW users should download the complete-route file. Individual day files should be downloaded for TomTom or GPX-compatible phone apps.