An educative journey to Spain and Portugal, partly offroad

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by FlameDance, Jan 22, 2012.

  1. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

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    Absolutely fantastic! :clap
    #61
  2. FlameDance

    FlameDance Been here awhile

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    I wish there was work for me in such areas. Having grown up in a 30 houses village I love remote areas and I can easily imagine living here. Alas, my customers want me to work on-site and being big companies they never ever move to small villages with very little infrastructure. Currently I consider myself lucky to work in a beautiful swiss 12000 people town with a midevial center and to live in a flat right in the middle of the old parts - a friend of mine from the US told me it looked like I live in a theme park, just that the buildings and the people are real. That's about as small and cozy as it gets for me I suppose. (Don't you think it's quiet here - they disallow motorbikes after 7pm, they shove out rock concerts, all in the name of quietness but the main source of noise is 25m from my window: Church Bells. Whoa, those are freaking loud, sounds with a sharp attack! And nobody dares to tackle The Church.)

    Back to my ride report. Still believing I had plenty of time I slowly made my way towards the supposed meeting point.
    Ambling over small roads I headed east to meet Andreas and Bettina.

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    Basically I followed the N260, the northernmost road on the spanish side of the Pyrennaes. It is a sequence of small towns, medium high mountain passes, deep gorges and other beauties. If you're travelling the Pyrennaes onroad, it is THE road to take, leading halfway from the Pacific to the Mediterranean sea. However, there are some smaller roads running in parallel (as in: parallel on the map) that are even more scenic and I tried to find them all.

    In the afternoon, half past four, I finally had phone contact with Andreas. Not easy as we both were riding in areas with little infrastructure and had to be in places with mobile coverage at the same time. Turned out, the meeting point was further east, in a small village named Castelbo near La Seu near Andorra that I couldn't find on any map, neither on mine nor on the maps I checked at gas stations. It meant I'd have to ride one and a half mountain passes more than I had calculated, it meant 250km of mountaineous roads still to go, at half past four. Which in itself wouldn't have posed a problem but the weather turned worse from now on. Definitely worse.

    The first onslaught of rain hit me while waiting for an accident to be cleaned up. I had to wait for a quarter of an hour, others must have waited much longer. Next to the road there was a small shelter and a big sign underneath it, telling passers-by like me the story of this village, a sad story of "public" interest vs. people living here.:

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    If I understood the several pages long writeup correctly, in the early 20th century the government planned to use the valley to build a barrier lake. Franco, the spanish dictator for decades, pushed the plans ahead. In the end the damm for the lake was never built but nonetheless the compulsory purchase for purposes of public utility (actually in reality not public but the energy companies utility) was enforced in 1945. In 1962, 18 years later, the villagers were sent packing, since then the village is falling in ruins. The whole area now belongs ... no, not to the government, but to the electricity company that is refusing to give it back to the former inhabitants resp. their descendants. They are trying to buy it back and ask for a small contribution and to treat the ruins with respect.
    #62
  3. Scootard

    Scootard Scraggle McSquarely

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    Another club dragging Canadian subscribed......Ride on..:ricky
    #63
  4. FlameDance

    FlameDance Been here awhile

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    Five times during this heavy day rain drenched me. Four times standing up and letting the wind blow through my Rukka Air combo dried me as if I were standing in a big hair dryer. Heavy thunderstorms loomed all the time during the rest of the day.

    Colourful sheet lightning illuminated the passes and valleys after dark: Colours in many tints from yellow and brown to red and even green, as if the mountain ranges were a modern theatre, supported by a creative light engineer. The source of these natural fireworks were two thunderstorm layers stacked over one another. It lasted for more than an hour and accompanied me over one and a half mountain passes. Sadly I was in a hurry to reach the meeting point and hotel, so I didn't take the time to stop and set up my camera to catch these phenomena on images to show around.

    Closing in to Castellbo I started asking native people on the streets and in bars for directions. This village seems to lie so remote that discussions ensued for a while until they settled on an agreement - unfortunately different groups of people agreed on different ideas where to find it and how to get there.

    Then the hardest rain of the day started. It was pitch dark, apart from the occasional lamp post and traffic blinding me. Eventually I found a traffic sign pointing towards Castellbo. Following it I found a narrow, very curvy road, no light at all except my own motorbike light which was less than I wished for: The KTM 990 Adventures light is not exactly famous for its quality. Curve after curve, more guessed than seen, I started to wonder if I'd ever reach another village or if I am caught in an endless thunderstorm see-nothing curve nightmare.

    Finally I reached Castellbo. Lights from a village and a tavern. People standing in front of it, Andreas, Bettina and the owners welcoming me and telling me that while waiting they'd already had eaten my plate. But alas, miraculously the kitchen opened again and the daughter of the house entertained us with stories and adventures of and with other guests. Maria is really an experience, she is a great talker (if you understand spanish) and full of stories. The evening turned into a wonderful ending to a long day with a wide variety of impressions.:freaky
    #64
  5. Scootard

    Scootard Scraggle McSquarely

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    Some truly awe-inspiring pictures. You have the Adventure bug in your blood and any "normal" experience is tasteless to you. The scenery, the food, the out of the way camping spots....all of these are like a drug to you and you can't get enough of it. Fantastic that you allow us to share it with you . Thank you. :ricky
    #65
  6. FlameDance

    FlameDance Been here awhile

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    Two LC8, a gravel day, semi wild horses, two nights in the same bed, as highlight we made it to the top station of a ski lift. Then fog and heavy rain again.

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    This pic is one of my favourites:
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    On the next morning Andreas and Bettina headed southwest to Tarifa to an AfricanTwin Meeting while I chatted with Maria through a long breakfast. Again, I enjoyed her company, listening to her stories, talking about my impressions of spain. She surprised me with the fact that Castellano (which we outsiders usually recognize as spanish) is a foreign language to her too, she had learned it in school. Her mothertongue is Catalan, one of the other three official spanish languages. After breakfast I turned east: Still two days to go until I had to catch the car train back to my home, and I planned to enjoy them as much as possible.

    Over the german LC8 forum I had organized another meeting, this time with a woman riding the 990 Adventure. I was about here (good phone coverage, ha!)

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    when I received an SMS from her: She had problems with her machine and cut off her journey. Too bad, this turned into a bigger story on the forum, and if I remember correctly, KTM repaired her bike for free. Her holidays were ruined nonetheless, poor thing.

    I continued a bit, couldn't resist this scenic old bridge

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    and while I walked around taking pics, suddenly:

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    Meh. Thank KTM this bike is sturdy. While I was almost breaking my back trying to lift the KTM over the side stand without unpacking, an old man walked by. He stopped and asked me if I really wanted to ride up there. Yes, I had seen offroad signs, so it should be possible, I told him. Incredulously shaking his head, he wished me good luck, maybe I could really ... turned out I had apparently missed a road sign and lost the beaten track. This one split into several very small and steep paths soon, into deadends plenty, some so steep that with my tires I couldn't climb them, others unpassable. This was one of the easiest, a little steep but manageable.

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    In the end I managed to not turn around, however I ended up very close to the point where I took the landscape picture above two hours before.

    Btw, beware of these little buggers, they are awfully poisenous:
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    My cancelled "date" gave me a phone number of two guys who were also riding the Pyrennaes with two LC8, so I contacted them via SMS and quickly received a positive response.
    #66
  7. antipode

    antipode Wanderer

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    Hi FlameDance, planning on continuing your great RR?
    Please don't leave us here!
    #67
  8. GZERO

    GZERO Fixing stuff around

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    Where exactly is this road?
    i want to take it next week when i'm close to that!
    thanks!
    #68
  9. FlameDance

    FlameDance Been here awhile

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    I really intend to finish this ride report. Soon I'll have more time to do it. Please stand by. :1drink

    Hi and sorry for the late answer. Look at this answer on page two:
    #69
  10. Kurro

    Kurro Adventurer

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    This house called Can Roig was built in 1900 in the town of Camprodon, by architect Codorniu Simรณ, in those years this resort town was high society of Barcelona. During the Civil War was Military Hospital, near this house have a call the Oak Grove which was the seat of government of the 2nd Republic of which he was President Juan Negrin. In the village there is a museum called "The Retreat" because there spent poer to France more than 100,000 people fleeing Franco's troops.

    This house has been abandoned ever since.
    #70
  11. FlameDance

    FlameDance Been here awhile

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    Kurro, thank you for enlightening us on the history of this house. I have always been wondering ... here in Germany and Switzerland it would have been bulldozed long ago, eliminating any memory of it. I think it is good to leave it standing, even in decay, as it is a symbol of history itself.
    #71
  12. FlameDance

    FlameDance Been here awhile

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    Meeting Michel and Klaus turned into a life changing experience. They rode the same machine as I. As you've seen on earlier pages, I had a knack for cautious offroading. Michel and Klaus rode similar paths but with a verve that left me gasping: Why can these guys do that and I can't? Jumping? With such a big bike?

    We didn't take action shots, so nothing to present here. Well, at least not at higher speeds. The pictures rather show us getting lost ...

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    Somewhere around here must be where we are heading ...

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    Deadend ...

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    ... another deadend ...

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    ... at least with a way out ...
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    #72
  13. FlameDance

    FlameDance Been here awhile

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    For two days we rode together, exploring heights ...

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    and trails where I learned that my tyres aren't knobbly enough, getting stuck on an ascend again ...

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    ... where the other boys happily rode up and down and even found time and room to fool around and chat ...

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    ... until we found accomodation in a small bikers hotel in Andorra.

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    The next day was my last. I hastened (note it is late May) ...

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    ... back to Narbonne to the car train and thus ended my journey with a bike tied to the train.

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    However, although this journey had ended, a new journey had just begun: Fascinated by what these guys could do with the big Katoom, I desired to learn. Michel and Klaus happen to live nearby in Germany, and in the following months and years they became my offroad teachers. I've become a passionate offroader, thanks to them laying the base of my skills. A new sport for me, and one that is tremendous fun.

    More about that later in other threads, as I get around to write about it.
    #73
  14. slowpoke69

    slowpoke69 Been here awhile

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    I've enjoyed reading this, and the great pix. I hope you're having fun D/S ing in Europe. Stay safe.
    #74
  15. antipode

    antipode Wanderer

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    But it is a pity to see such a beautiful house in this state of disrepair.
    Of course everything is relative, a house from the early 1900s will be 'historic' and 'protected' here in Oz. Your countries are hundreds or even thousands of years old so a house from 1900 is just old instead of heritage protected.
    #75