When Bob Bray first fell in love with Harley Davidsons at eight years old he didn’t envisage that he would be touring Spain on one. Now, he plans to share the varied and marvellous scenery with his wife too.
‘I was in Bognor Regis when I saw my first Harley Davidson. It was love at first sight.’ So enraptured was Bob that he wouldn’t let his mum take him home until the owner had returned and started it up. ‘Fortunately for my mother, he wasn’t too long and I watched as he got on his bike and rode it up the hill.’
From that moment on Bob knew that he wanted one when he was older, and he has lived up to his dreams not with one but with a succession of the classic motorbikes. Over the years Bob has had plenty of opportunity to indulge in his passion and one of his favourite ways of doing this has been riding a motorbike through Spain.
‘I’ve ridden down from the UK quite a few times,’ explains Bob. ‘I come through France, to Bordeaux through the Pyrenees, down through Tarragona and Barcelona.’ Bob’s destination has usually been Torrevieja as his wife’s parents live in the area and he has now also bought his own property there.
Time to relax
‘I’ve spent a lot of time in Spain,’ he explains, ‘and we’re going to spend more time here in the future.’ Bob purchased his house in October 2015 and is now looking to spend most of the year here. ‘I decided about a year ago that enough was enough and that it was time to give up the job and the stress and enjoy ourselves.’ Now Bob’s even considering buying a small boat too, to make even better use of his leisure time in Spain. ‘The children are all grown up and now it’s our time to relax and see some of the sites together,’ he says.
Bob has sold some of his stable of bikes, leaving his Buell as the motorbike destined to accompany him to Spain on a more permanent basis. ‘It’s more of a sports/ touring bike and we’re both really looking forward to making the most of our retirement from the 9 to 5,’ he says. ‘It used to be me riding on my own. I’d take around three days whilst my wife, Karen, flew down with the children. Now I want Karen to see some of the beautiful scenery that I have already had chance to enjoy.’
Bob has lots of plans for where he wants to take her, perhaps starting with his favourite route to Jerez. ‘I really want Karen to see Jerez. It’s beautiful and I like the journey down there too. We’ll travel through Murcia, Almeria and Granada, it’s wonderful scenery.’
With all Bob’s experience he knows exactly how to make the most of touring around Spain. ‘My advice to anyone considering doing something similar is not to rush. Take your time and build in plenty of stops. I like to set off early, have a good lunchtime meal and stop around 4.00pm to check out somewhere to stay. It’s good to find out room availability around this time rather than leaving it until 7.00 pm to start looking for lodgings.’
Bob does book in advance sometimes, particularly during the busy summer season. However, when it’s quieter he prefers sometimes to make it a little more spontaneous and stop where the mood takes him. ‘If you always booked in advance you would never come across some of the lovely little villages and towns I’ve discovered over the years.’
Bob’s years of touring mean that he is confident in doing this and enjoys the freedom that visiting Spain on a motorbike means. Of course, the weather is a bonus although there have been times when that’s not lived up to expectations. ‘I did once travel all the way down from the UK and through Spain and it rained every day.’
This is not the norm, however, and Bob agrees that riding in the sunshine is a bonus. ‘I’d like to take Karen through the Pyrenees as well,’ he explains. ‘She’s flown over them many times but really should see them first hand. Now we’ll no longer have the time restraints of the two-week holiday we can really explore, but this time together. It’s time to do something for ourselves.’