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Old 02-22-2012, 03:55 AM   #46
Flachlandtiroler
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I like your writing style, great pics too!
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Old 03-09-2012, 06:06 AM   #47
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Sorry for not posting anything in over a month ... a very sad month mourning a close friend, prospective adventure rider companion - and hoped-to-be future girlfriend. As a sign of pulling my act together I'll continue posting my RR.

Follow me to Portugal again. I had intended to visit Galicia (the northwestern region of spain) on my last weekend but while leaving Salamanca on friday afternoon, I changed my plans on the spot. Galicia I could still visit on the way home, but I wouldn't see Portugal again in a long time if I skipped going back now. Two weeks ago two british riders had given me instructions on finding a beautiful camping ground in the Serra da Estrela, a beautiful mountain range turned into a nature park. Using Google Earth I had established an idea of its exact location and created a map in my mind how to get there. Actually it turned out to be not overly complicated, the supposedly "offroad" part of the ride turned out to be perfectly smooth gravel of the best quality. My effort was rewarded by finding this beautiful and almost empty site where I stayed for two nights:



Few people we were, only two couples and I. One of the couples were two german women in a motor home, accompanied by two huge black dogs. I chatted them up and we spent the evening together trading travel stories and dining.



I spent a wonderful morning nearby, idyllic, isn't it?



Early afternoon the place became crowded though: A huge flock of natives conquered the place and turned our idyllic, lonesome beauty into a grill party bustling with activity, completely oblivious to the idea they might disturb someones peace. All the nightly visitors fled soon, I left my tent behind and packed only some learning stuff.

The whole area is packed with beauty, I discovered on my rounds over the mountaineous area. A waterfall had created a small pond, ...



... bushes of many kinds and colours were boasting, ...



... empty houses gave a somewhat forlorn, yet not entirely deserted impression.

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Old 03-10-2012, 04:07 AM   #48
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After two hours of cruising I decided it was time to look for a quiet and nice location void of people to continue learning. This way ...



... led to a deadend of similar beauty ...



... where I set up camp, picked up my books and started to continue on my spanish education. My learning vacation in Salamanca was closing in to its final stage: Only three days left before the exams before my departure. Ten years ago I had surprised myself and everyone in the classes, even the teachers, by scoring near perfect grades and I wasn't convinced at all I'd even come close to that this time.

After maybe an hour two cars passed me, a 4x4 and a rattling old R4, going beyond the deadend. I looked at them nervously, having hoped for solitude and not being sure if I was even allowed to be here, in the middle of a nature parc. Behind some bushes they too set up camp and busied themselves building a makeshift table on the back of the 4x4. While reading on and memorizing intricacies of spanish grammar that even today I still haven't fully understood (which tempi can you combine under which circumstances in the same sentence?) I glanced over to them from time to time.

They waved at me to join them after another hour. At first I ignored, then declined, wanting to grasp my especially tricky subject. However they insisted, waving again and again ... well, four of the five men, one of them seemed to have controversial ideas. Finally I got up and strolled over to the gang, curiously and, admittedly, a bit shyly. Turned out they were five men in their fifties having a feast, their "table" was loaded with delicacies created by their wives. I was handed a plastic chalice with sparkling wine which was replenished whenever I had taken a sip. Conversation was difficult, they only spoke portuguese which I can read a bit but spoken language seems incomprehensible to me. Lots of sign language, laughter, bits of other languages (spanish, english, french and german) happily mixed into communication scraps, they explained to me that today was a special holiday for men (or something), that all these bowls had to be eaten and that they invited/expected me to help draining them.



Too bad I didn't shoot a picture of the feast. You have to go by my words: Bread as basis, verious dried and roasted meats, sparkling wine, the most aromatic sheep cheese of my life, tasting strong and mild simultaneously, hardly describable, more sparkling wine, goat cheese, another cup of sparkling wine, marinated duck heads (appearing a bit weird to me but extremely tasty), vino tinto verde (young wine made from prematurely harvested grapes) and in between lots of that godly sheep cheese. Everything casera, home made, no, you cannot buy that quality.

On my way back to the camp site I encountered this split rock ... I wonder what power struck it to fall apart:



Sunday started rainy. I stayed in my tent, learning. The rain increased to a rain storm until around noon it paused. I packed up, letting the tent stand until the very last moment - good move as just in that instant the rain continued. Books out again.
The next pause I used to pack up quickly and left the area. Eastwards over the mountains, trying to evade the heaviest clouds ...



... until after a while the tank light forced me to leave the beautiful Serra da Estrela to look for an open gas station.

After a long worrysome stretch of no village and then villages without fuel I was lucky to find one on the last drops. Soon I hightailed it back home to Salamanca, full throttle, until the rain storm hit me again. The drops fell so hard I felt them painfully through my leather gloves. In the evening the TV presented images of weather carnage.

So this was my last weekend. Already on friday I had said farewell to the guest family, worn out by little sleep and disinterested miscommunication. Due to the weather I took a hotel and steeled myself for the final class days and exams.
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FlameDance screwed with this post 03-10-2012 at 10:06 PM Reason: Typo
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Old 03-10-2012, 10:33 PM   #49
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Back towards the Pyrennaes

The last days in Salamanca were filled with course centric activities. Preparations for the exams, a word of advice with the teachers which my grammar teacher turned into a profitable you-still-have-to-understand-this lesson. Exams, written and oral. Another near perfect certificate of having understood something.

One last night of sleep, I wanted to get up early morning and head towards Galicia. Rain instead, unrelenting, and Galicia is known for even more rain. My attempt to wait for the rain to cease worked out, reading a spanish book and listening to freshly bought spanish music it wasn't boring at all. But it had become late afternoon before I had stuffed now unneeded baggage (books, spanish material, clothes, climbing gear, computer games, e.g. Halflife2 in spanish, for practice) into a cardboard box, handed it over to the post office, bought some small presents and finally hit the road. Bored by the Autovia I opted for a gravel road next to it ... until this seemingly harmless puddle swashed right over the windshield into my lap. Brrrr.



Wet and cold I followed the Autovia for a couple hundred km until darkness fell, temperatures dropping even more. Damn it, it's supposed to be hot and arid around here! Sheltered in my tent, I survived the night somehow.

In the next morning a little sightseeing turned into a climbing expedition when I accidently dropped my bikes keys from a vantage point. No key, no riding home, so I had to reclaim it. Marking the spot by strategically placing the helmet on the wall, climbing down about 5m I soon found it, Lady Luck helped me again to recover from bad luck. She always does that to me.

These guys know about bad luck too ... Boy, we're waiting for you!



On small but well paved roads I follow a valley and then up into the mountains. On top of a pass I see two girls with bicycles packed for a journey - my respect to them! That must've been a tough ascend. Heading down the path into the next valley there's a beautiful barrier lake - but somethings feels wrong here, melancholic, sad even. As if too much has drowned in the lake. The villages next to it give an impression of neglect, farm animals all over the place, the streets littered with rocks, sheep, cows, hens, pigs, you name it.

I attempted to cross the mountains on paths that weren't marked on my map ... with a sport enduro I might have been able to continue further upwards, not so riding a heavily packed travel enduro. The image looks easily ridable but a few meters further up the broad path turned into something that a goat might like.



What would you say if you were headed here to have a big family reunion like those people I met in Portugal and found the place used otherwise? Well, at least the grill is not far from the meat.



Thus came a long riding day to a peaceful end, time to sleep. Void of an open public camp site I grab the oportunity for camping out in the wilderness all by myself, tent and bike camouflaged among trees and bushes:

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Old 03-11-2012, 02:49 PM   #50
ata
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Old 03-11-2012, 03:01 PM   #51
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Enjoying this very much! You seem to be good at finding inspiringly beautiful and colourful spots.
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Old 03-12-2012, 10:45 AM   #52
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Lovely places

Hey, great you have been discovering and enjoying our country.

For anyone thinking on following his steps, you should know most of the trails he rode are forbidden for motorbikes. Saddly, off road riding (almost everything but tarmac) is out of law in most of Spain. Lucky you did not find any "SEPRONA" agent.

By the way, have you got any of those tracks?
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Old 03-12-2012, 01:49 PM   #53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Abraxas View Post
Hey, great you have been discovering and enjoying our country.

For anyone thinking on following his steps, you should know most of the trails he rode are forbidden for motorbikes. Saddly, off road riding (almost everything but tarmac) is out of law in most of Spain. Lucky you did not find any "SEPRONA" agent.

By the way, have you got any of those tracks?
Lovely report, but uh what do you mean, off road riding is not legal anymore in Spain?
Are you serious?
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Old 03-12-2012, 11:55 PM   #54
ata
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well......... it depends
some areas ain´t possible like Madrid

depends on the enforcement of rural enviroment access law and as each province applies especially from June to October, but especially for enduro/cross bikes, and big groups
I have crossed the peninsula several times in different seasons and have never had any problems, including the bivouac, especially in the provinces of Castilla, with lots of land and few people, but we use to be two or three bikes only
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Old 03-14-2012, 02:31 AM   #55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlpineGuerrilla View Post
Enjoying this very much! You seem to be good at finding inspiringly beautiful and colourful spots.
Thanks for the praise! Yes, indeed I consider finding beautiful spots as one of my talents. :) It takes a while, you'd need patience if you'd travel with me but you'd be well rewarded.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Abraxas View Post
For anyone thinking on following his steps, you should know most of the trails he rode are forbidden for motorbikes. Saddly, off road riding (almost everything but tarmac) is out of law in most of Spain. Lucky you did not find any "SEPRONA" agent.
I thought it depends on the province and if you're in a nature park and if the track is broad enough for a 4x4?
I've looked up http://www.seprona.es only to find that my spanish is not sufficient to understand if they are in favour of our sport and style of traveling or on the contrary are our enemies. They seem to be a section of the Guardia Civil?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Abraxas View Post
By the way, have you got any of those tracks?
Nope, sorry. I didn't have a GPS back then. You'd have to go by the sketchy descriptions written above.
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Old 03-14-2012, 04:51 AM   #56
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Originally Posted by FlameDance View Post
I thought it depends on the province and if you're in a nature park and if the track is broad enough for a 4x4?
I've looked up http://www.seprona.es only to find that my spanish is not sufficient to understand if they are in favour of our sport and style of traveling or on the contrary are our enemies. They seem to be a section of the Guardia Civil?
.
yes, they are a part of GC,translated as Nature Protection Service

here's a law that regulates the movement of motor vehicles off the roads, is extensive and complicated as any law, difficult to explain and translate.

But except for protected areas, the law provides for access on some terms that must be respected, small groups, limited speed and of course, absolute prohibition of leaving the tracks(single or double) and trails.

In summer and part of spring and autumn, many areas under high risk to fire are supposed to be within protected areas.

In short, if you drive in small groups with legal bike (lights, mirrors, insurance etc), never leave the track, you should not have any problems.

if you have an accident in the middle of nowhere is the SEPRONA who's going to rescue you

and also to avoid this type of offenses which occurred on in March:

Seprona intercepts a illegal sporting event for off-road vehicles in Zaragoza Organized by a French company which involved 15 vehicles.
The Seprona proceeded to request the necessary authorization to enter into this type of event, facilitating the organizer's application for authorization and motor vehicle circulation through mountains of public utility, response of the Government of Aragon, Department of Agriculture, Livestock and Environment, map test schedule and list of participants.
The officers looked at the roadmap of the test, noting that, besides being in a Special Protection, vehicles had also been circulated by a Special Protection Area for Birds and cattle trails classified as Cañada Real

(Google translator, sorry, i´m in a hurry now)
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Old 03-14-2012, 09:45 PM   #57
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Its 4.30am here in the UK with thick fog outside,the ships in the Thames Estuary are sounding their foghorns,im filled with Flu sitting on my sofa reading your RR.Thanks fella for warming me up,your fantastic photos and interesting desciptions have taken me to those places with you,i hope that you continue and wondered if now in 2012 you still explore as you did back then...
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Old 03-18-2012, 05:23 PM   #58
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Sorry for your loss

I, for one, am glad you decided to go on with your RR. You took some great pix, just made my bucket list longer!
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Old 08-11-2012, 03:03 AM   #59
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Valle de Echo

The journey ain't over yet nor is the travel report, even though I haven't written anything in months.

Early morning I started. Back to the road through this small creek - earlier in the year it is probably much deeper:



In the evening I intended to meet a fellow LC8 rider from the german LC8 forum and his girlfriend in a small village inn. I imaginged it to be near Sort, so I'd have plenty of time, I thought, and went exploring the beautiful Valle de Echo - this valley alone is worth a week of hiking and montainbiking, if you can give up the motorbike for a while. Sadly almost all the roads and paths are forbidden to us, so instead of exploring it was more like peeking into the valley for two hours.

In Aragon I found this rustic sign, disallowing a lot - apparently they have problems with people littering their nature parks:


Roads were still freshly built back in 2007. I wonder if Spain still has money to tarmac even remote areas?


Traffic at building sites is managed manually:




Up in the valley there is a nice official camping site with a very nice view over the valley - but open only in July and August. (Nonetheless I have seen a few tents in May, so it is not really closed in the other months.) It should be a great base for excursions near and far.


Even further up for the permitted gravel tracks you don't need a modern offroad bike. If you take it slowly, I learned from father and son that even two old 80ish ladies can make it comfortably:


I had to turn around, everything upwards is illegal.


Backing out of the valley I found some spectacular views, looking even better than on the way in:




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Old 08-11-2012, 04:02 AM   #60
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Great report, loving it!!! I can't wait to go back to Spain.
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