Iberia Partitour 2009 

The tour was timed to coincide with the limited ‘long crossing’ sailings to Santander, so we assembled with almost all the tour group on the dockside at Portsmouth. Once we cleared Santander, most opted to take a route through the Picos de Europa towards the first stop at Leon. As we did so the clouds cleared and glorious sunshine joined with glorious roads and a glorious lack of traffic to remind us all just why touring outside our crowded isle is so good.

After two nights the tour moved on from Leon to Breganca in Portugal and then Porto. The roads, and the weather, ranged between good and wonderful. The ride down the Douro valley was particularly memorable.

Porto has so much to see that many people spent a full two days off the bikes, wandering through the steep streets and alleys, visiting spectacular churches, taking a trip on the river, sitting in one the many waterfront cafes, and of course, doing a bit of Port tasting in one of the many warehouses. Porto has several towering bridges crossing the river, with the dual level Dom Luis Bridge being the one that did it for me.

Next it was north to Santiago in Spain for another 3 night stop, with most people taking one day to visit the town and famous cathedral, then the other to take various routes to Cape Finisterre, which is almost a far west as you can go in mainland Europe. The sun shone, the scenery was breathtaking and the wind was – well, even more breathtaking really as it was blowing a gale and a half. Since returning I’ve tried to look up the Shipping forecast for that area for the particular day. No success, however – not least because the Finisterre shipping area ceased to exist in 2002. They really are so educational, these IMTC tours.

As the time came to move on from Santiago to Llanes, people picked a variety of different routes. It was a beautiful sunny June Saturday and we picked a lovely road dropping through the mountains from Fonsagrada down to Navia on the north coast. We saw just a little local traffic and 6 other bikes over dozens of miles. One the same road and conditions in England you’d have had 600. Maybe 6000.

Llanes was yet another well chosen stopping point, with a pretty little port and easy access for another run out into the Picos. The following day people went their separate ways; mostly to the ferry in Santander, but with a splinter group heading for the Pyrenees and us heading off to Biarritz and then St Malo. And so another IMTC tour was gone, but certainly not forgotten, with its good company, good hotels, excellent weather and some wonderful roads. Thanks Graham

Bob Cocksedge – Tour Participant