In August 1984 (seems like yesterday), I decided to accompany a great friend in full holiday from military service of both in motorcycle to Andorra.
This friend is a Suzuki dealer and wanted to go to Andorra, in addition to the ride, to search for parts to restore one, already neo-classical at the time, Suzuki GT 250.
As he had the mechanical skills the plan was simple: bought the needed parts a lot cheaper , assembled them there and come back with the bike already restored..
I went to sleep at his house in Anadia to leave out early. As we went for drinks that night, waking up early, was a lie. Only at 10 am him in the 250 and I in my nostalgic two strokes Suzuki ER 125 Blue left towards Andorra.
As there was no highways or motorways, at the time, we went through Luso, Santa Comba, Viseu, Celorico da Beira, Porto da Carne, Guarda, and Ciudad Rodrigo in Spain. As we were both military in Vilar Formoso we ate the two combat rations we had brought from the "war". It was an infernal heat and we decided to be carefull with our bikes, air-cooled small engines. We stopped to refresh and relax in front of a "farm" with dark cedars and high walls of stone. There was also a small truck stopped, turned in an auto-caravan by an office container (seen at the doors of buildings under construction), which didn't want to start. Somebody asked for help to push the truck. The nice spanish gave us a magnificent water melon. While pushing we could see through the door of the "farm" that was realy a graveyard. We left imediatly to Valladolid...
We arrived late at the campsite and paid 3 euro to sleep a few hours. Mounted the tent, almost midnight, the luggage at the bottom, helmets on the top of it. Around five o'clock in the morning my friend's helmet lands on his head. What a fright. Awaked we agreed, to leave early.
Second day Valladolid - Lerida
Still night, I remember we had to stop around Peņafiel to clean up the visors of a cloud of mosquitoes that we had just "run over" in a zone of garbage containers. The breakfast was in Aranda de Duero in a service station. At the counter, the employee approached and waited we asked. I did not realize.
When the heat was bearable we rolled for two hours and we stopped one to cool the bikes. At peak hours we stopped. I had my butt like babies when they are too long with a wet diaper. My lips were so dry they were cracking and bleeding.
We arrived in Zaragoza and a clock with thermometer was showing 19h30 and 37 ° C. Strangely, my Suzuki tuned for regular gasoline of 85 octane couldnīt run more than 100 km/h with 95 octane Spanish gasoline, when in Portugal could easily do 115-120 km/h . My traveling companion decided to increase its debt of self-lube to compensate for the lack of lead that 95 had. As the money was short we never went on motorways.
We were trying to find for the best way to leave Zaragoza on the national road, while everything was pointed us to the highway. After two failed attempts I stopped near a deep roadside caused by successive overlapping layers of tar and there, as we discussed the strategy for getting out there, let the bike leans to the side and went back to the ground with the bike.
We arrived in Lleida very late and slept on a mat in the open in the back of a service station to save in the park.
Third day Lleida - Andorra La Vella
This part of the trip is really a dream. The landscapes are stunning, contrasting with the yellow straw almost the entire trip so far. We arrived in Andorra at about lunchtime.
In a pharmacy, they recommended me a factor eight lipstick, such was the state of my lips. We went shopping: two helmets a tank bag, some Adidas shoes, a scientific calculator to another friend and accessories for the bike of my friend. To his great disappointment there were only two parts to the GT to be the same as the 500cc as the 250cc model was not sold in Andorra. We slept two nights in Andorra.
In Andorra I was stared with the bikes I had never seen in Portugal. One 1200 Yamaha XJ's newly launched on the market in a dealer, left me amazed. Why would someone need so much capacity on a motorcycle?
In the camping place there were other bikes too. We had a French couple for neighbor who were traveling in a 1000cc Goldwing, moored to a black BMW sidecar, post-war, which seemed like the keel of a boat. In it traveled the two litle sons as the woman rode as a pilion. They found astonishing that I had gone so far in a 125cc when he discovered that those registration plates were Portuguese. According to him an adventure only comparable to a Paris-Dakar. :)
Return: Andorra - Madrid
As my friend had some cousins who lived in Lisbon, we decided to return through there. We left Andorra and half dozen kms after my whitey jet helmet, brand new, got rid of the elestic spider who imprisoned him and starts tumbling after the bike . Diagnosis, deep scratches and a broken blade support. It was never the same. It was one of the first jets I've seen in Portugal.
We arrived in Madrid late afternoon and there was an episode that could have had serious consequences. In a four-lane road with bushes in the centre but with intersections with traffic lights my traveling companion that ran about 50 yards ahead of me "burned" a red light. I thought that I would risk too much going too and braked to stop. An articulated lorry that had preceded me, wasnīt going to stop... I still have in my memory the roar of the tires of the truck behind me. I looked into the rearview mirror and I just saw a red spot to fill it, was the cabin. I leaned to the far right, to the side, and the truck passed me half empty sliding the rear, enveloped in smoke and back tire two feet of me. I ended up passing the red, yellow as wax, with a change in the bike too high, sobbing and trucker's helper insulting me from out the window. It was very close. After that scare, move to 100 km / h with cars on both sides to more than 150 km / h was chilling to me.
After a cerveza and a jamon sandwich, we thought it would be nice to enjoy the cool night to travel less concerned about the health of our bikes. 30kms after it started raining. More difficult to sleep in this conditions. We stopped at a service station which, luckily, had a guard plate for shade to cars. It seemed to us 5 stars for the night under the rain. In the middle of a car, a bike on each side and the we at the center. Lying, we are receiving a splash in the face. As we had no groove on top of us it seemed strange. It was after all a drop that was hitting the roof of one of the cars above, ran over another and still was left for us. We had to change place. Being installed had to make a trench in the ground with our boots to guide the water that persisted in bothering us. I remember in the middle of the night, waking up, look at the road that would be about 15 - 20m to see a Motorcycle Policeman, out of his bike, staring at us. I turned to the other side. We are not bothered.
We have breakfast at this service station and headed for Lisbon.
Despite the rain on the day before the heat was significantly during the day. Distract myself with gasoline and had a dry crash. My bike, despite only spending 4 l/100 had a small tank and didnīt do more than 180kms. We found ourselves in the middle of nowhere without any container that could make the handling of a deposit to another of the precious liquid. After much rummaging nearby we arrange a cup of yogurt or something that served the purpose. Later on, I realized that my oil tank was virtually empty because no longer appear on the display. We did not find on the next gas station the Shell Two Stroke, red oil exclusively recommended by Suzuki. They only had any Spanish (mineral and green) and synthetic oil to about 5 USD each liter. Given the thinness of my pre military (15 euro/mounth) the Suzuki had to drink the green one.
We reached the Portuguese border mid-to late afternoon. I remind you that there was still policed borders, it was necessary passport, everything payed duties, taxes, etc.. Aware of these excesses of zeal I brought the Adidas on, the new helmet on the head and the calculating machine whose price had been well discussed in Andorra between the tank and the bag holder, a foam filler to fill the lack of size of the tank .
It was a party. The border guard must have found us very suspicious. Two new guys, motorcycles, unshaven, his hair in need of changing the oil and jeans with six days of intensive use also didnīt run in our favor. The questions began:
Anything to declare? We did not have. The spare helmets were for the chicks? Then told me to open my back pack. He took everything out and there was nothing more than dirty clothes, stinking. As he did not find any illegal substance, which seemed to bet we brought, let us go.
We arrived in Lisbon around midnight and his cousins had not yet arrived. As my friend slept there many times for being there in the Navy, has the key. I was so exhausted that his cousin arrived at 3 am and I still had my hand on the switch of the lamp that hung three hours before.
Dear inmates, this was indeed an unforgettable journey and those experiences that will give much joy to tell the grandchildren even running the of giving bad examples.
At this distance some of the circumstances and incidents of this journey may appear to us as inadmissible: lack of planning, proper equipment, care, money, insufficient health care etc.. But all this must be explained in light of the following context: we wee 22 years of age, I was former scout with many nights in the dew, both in the military service where they were field maneuvers and nine years after April revolution at that time, Portugal did not live great luxuries. I hope I have managed to live a little this journey of ours.