This spring has been the coldest and cloudiest in decades in Germany, so when my wife suggested a week in southern Spain, I agreed, and went looking for my motorcycle boots! Why fly if you can ride? I finally got a short shake-down ride in last Thursday, and headed out today, a week ahead of her, just to make sure I have plenty of time to get there. Somewhere in the planning I decided that as long as I'm going to be in Sevilla, it would be downright rude not to hop on a ferry and go see my friends living in Morocco. This will be my first multi-continent ride, and I'm pretty excited about that part of it. I've been to Spain and Portugal on this bike two years ago, and enjoyed posting a ride report then, so will do the same now. Here's the 'just about to go' pic: Bike is an '09 DL650 with 17080 miles. Luggage is by Nonfango of Italy, something I picked up barely used at a BMW shop years ago and adapted to Givi mounts. I had been debating about leaving on Tuesday morning or on Wednesday, but seeing a 40% chance of snow showers in the forecast for the area of Metz, France got me hurrying to leave on Tuesday. Don't let that sunny photo fool you, it was COLD! 36 degrees F (2 C) when I left right at noon. My new Firstgear Jaunt T2 jacket has a quilted liner, but I left that at home and am using a fleece jacket as a liner, thinking I can wear it as a coat when i'm not on the bike. The quilted liner alone looks dumb, don't wear just that! Also new this trip are Oxford heated grips, just installed last Saturday and already worth the price! Also a 16 tooth front sprocket to replace the stock 15 tooth, to lower the gearing a bit. I love this change. Really makes more difference than the 7% the math would indicate. I'm also enjoying my HBC Uclear 200 a LOT! No need for an intercom travelling solo, but I also recently got my first iPod (yeah, I know, not exactly a beta tester kind of guy) and with the bluetooth sync'd, this is slicker than.. well, let's just say it's very nice to have. Cruising through sunny fields in France with Carlos Santana or B.B.King keeping time is a fine thing. Next trip I'm going to check out this rumor I heard about phones that can get on the internet! Can it be? My friend Pete keeps me up on all this kind of stuff. Without him I'd still be riding a 1981 KZ750LTD in a jean jacket and sneakers and wearing a 1991 Shoei RF200. Basic route plan is get south as quickly a possible, heading to skirt around the Pyrenees on the Atlantic side. Going over again would be my preference, a great ride, but not when there is so much snow, as there is sure to be this early in the year. From there I'll head to Rioja to see some wine country, visit a few Roman and medieval sites in Spain and Portugal, jump back and fourth the border and work my way south to Andalusia. I've been told that with a week head start, there better be a bottle of wine ready when the plane arrives! So I've got to work that out, too. Might take a few tries. So on to some pictures from the first day. Unusual timber frame church in Bailly-le-Franc, along with an information sign in French and English. Good thing, my French is almost non-existant. Patron saint of timber framers and bikers? Even angels think V-Strom's are cool! Or is this my guardian angel just checking for trouble? Looked for Jake and Elwood, but no sign of Le Freres Bleu. I've seen poplar groves in lots of places, including Italy, France, Spain, and Portugal. I assumed they were grown for lumber, as poplar at least used to be commonly used for trim and furniture, but today I saw LOTS of it being cut up for firewood. Anyone know anything about this? And a few gratuitous architecture shots from a timber frame church in Longsols, which I learned about from the sign back at the church in Bailley. Passed through Auxerre and wished I'd had time to stop and check out these churches. What kind of insanity build three of these so close together like this I just don't understand. Took me until 9pm to get to Bourges, my reserved overnight. Wish I'd cut this first day an hour shorter, not used to this riding stuff again yet. But I'm here. According to what I've read, this cathedral is built on or near the site of the first Christian gathering place in Gaul, from the 3rd century. Certainly a historic place and event, with huge and long-reaching effects. Wow that red reflective tape is sure all that, isn't it? I hadn't intended to have only church pictures today, but I guess that's how it goes. If I'd stopped to take all the pictures I wanted to I'd still be out there in the dark. Tomorrow I head for Bordeaux. I've enjoyed enough of it that I feel I should at least drive through and honk the horn a couple times.