Spain- Catalunya & Aragon Gravel Rash

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by jp-speed-triple, Dec 12, 2010.

  1. jp-speed-triple

    jp-speed-triple Adventurer

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    First try at a ride report, and will update as we go along. Might go quiet if we can't get online though.

    Purpose of the 3 or so weeks is to shake down the bikes and fine tune the set up ready for a few longer trips in the next couple of years.

    Isabelle on an F800 and I on an R1200 will be joined by Mark on a new (to him) 1150 Adv as far as Zaragoza where he'll be peeling off to see his folks in the South.

    We are heading to Plymouth and the Ferry to Spain on the 15th of Dec. Followed by a couple of nights in Logrono (to sample the Rioja!!) then staying around the Ebre valley round Tortosa for a while.

    Finalised the packing today and gave both bikes one last look over:

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    It gets a bit cramped in the workshop with both bikes panniered up:

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    A final check and I come across a serious molding blister in the front tyre of Isabelle's F800. Damn it. Its only got 100 miles on it, I don't really have time to sort this. Back to the supplier Monday to get another one in time to leave Tuesday morning (I hope):

    <a href="http://s398.photobucket.com/albums/pp63/jp-speed-triple/Spain%202010/?action=view&amp;current=db9335e4.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i398.photobucket.com/albums/pp63/jp-speed-triple/Spain%202010/db9335e4.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>

    No doubt it'll be a warranty claim... (fingers crossed)
    #1
  2. GB

    GB . Administrator

    Joined:
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    This is going to be good :thumb A defective tyre with only a 100 miles should be warrantied.

    :lurk
    #2
  3. jp-speed-triple

    jp-speed-triple Adventurer

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    New tyre ordered under warranty...will arrive around 10am tomorrow.:clap will put us a couple of hours behind schedule.

    We then have a 6 hour ride to the ferry and the weather is already back down to 2 degrees C. :2cry

    its 19 degrees and sunny in Spain though!:rofl
    #3
  4. PHILinFRANCE

    PHILinFRANCE Long timer

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    Location:
    S W France my little bit of paradise
    Hi JP
    Lancaster ehh...............i spent my first 44 years in the Carnforth / Warton area moved out here 6 years ago.
    I know we're supposed to be tough up north but its -4° here today and getting colder as up go over the pyennes !!!!!! hats of to you mate .... if you'er passing Souillac or Gourdon just off the A20 i'm not far off, so call in for a hot brew if you like.
    I'll PM you my moby
    Phil
    #4
  5. Johnnyboxer

    Johnnyboxer Long timer

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    Waiting for the ride:clap
    #5
  6. jp-speed-triple

    jp-speed-triple Adventurer

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    Apologies! Techno issues with photo bucket and I pads....will write it up when we get back.
    #6
  7. tortugo

    tortugo Adventurer

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    Joan!!! Quina alegria llegir-te!!! ;)

    Keep on writing!
    #7
  8. jp-speed-triple

    jp-speed-triple Adventurer

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    Not the Ideal way to start a 7 hour ride!

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    Tyre has been returend to Continental for inspection. the garage were decidedly sneaky in not telling us they were charging us for the repalcement pending the report results. They waited till the tyre was on then decided to tell us how it was going to work. needless to say, words were exchanged! [more to come on teh tyre saga when I get the report back]
    #8
  9. jp-speed-triple

    jp-speed-triple Adventurer

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    We managed to escape the worst of the Uk weather as it chased us south to Plymouth. Although, if you'd asked us at the time, we might have said we were in it.

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    Martin, A chap we met en-route had follwed behind us the same day and had snow all the way down.

    We made the Hotel, Mexican meal [sorry no food shots], beers and caught up with some long lost mates from our Scuba days.

    We woke up to bright skies and freezing temps. Lovely day.

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    Aftermath of a trip down a UK motorway, at no other point in the trip did the bikes end up this filthy.

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    Gotta love ACF-50, it dropped straight off with a wash in Spain a week later.
    #9
  10. jp-speed-triple

    jp-speed-triple Adventurer

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    We used Britany Ferries 'Pont Aven' vessel out of Plymouth to Santander.

    The crossing was impecable, no wind, no chop, little swell....ideal.

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    The facilities were very good as was the food [again, sorry, no food shots], the cabins however:

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    I did enjoy going outside evertime I wanted to turn around!

    We settled into the crossing, ate, drank and did some essential planning

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    but soon enough the urge to ride came upon us once more

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    #10
  11. jp-speed-triple

    jp-speed-triple Adventurer

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    On Landing we took the A8 towards Bilbao, but cut off into the hills on a bit of a whim when we saw a 'B' road option to Logrono. (the 629 and 232)

    Led us into the hills and our first snowy scene.

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    we hit Logrono just after dusk and checked into the F&G hotel. what a pleasent surprise. booked in the web some weeks previously as we wanted a first night destination. Not quite what we'd expected for 50 Euro!

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    Turns out to be a very modern hotel that's been built in the wrong part of town, ahead of a 13 million euro refurbishment of the old sector. Looks like they built it too soon.....anyway. worked for us. Great place and secure parking.

    Logrono is the capital of the Rioja region, we we had to head out to check out the local sights.

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    I'd recommend anyone visit this great historic centre. Its well placed for a stop over to or from the ferry.
    #11
  12. jp-speed-triple

    jp-speed-triple Adventurer

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    We left mark in Zaragoza as he was heading south to Malaga. We broke off into the gravel at Bujaraloz heading south for Sastago and this is what we got!

    On the Ebro near Sastago.

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    On the plains south of Bujaraloz. We couldn't belive the number of broad, hard packed gravel roads that criss cross this area. you could spend two days in the areas South that we crossed.

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    #12
  13. jp-speed-triple

    jp-speed-triple Adventurer

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    Just to the North of Sastago is a fabulously maintained and restored monestary (Rueda). We got there before it opened by chance and got let in by the guide as he turned up. WHAT a place. go when its quiet, but go.

    Some (of many) pics.

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    #13
  14. jp-speed-triple

    jp-speed-triple Adventurer

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    from there it was a gravel dash to Mora De Ebra where we'd booked an apartment for the week.

    With more planning and a bit more reckie riding I think you could easily ride from Logrono to Mora without any tarmac. We didn't have time to do this, so cut some sections out. Still, we got some good stuff:

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    The locals knew we were coming and had prepared a small dance in our honour :wink:

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    So far we'd crossed mountains on B roods, hit some flat land rocky desert south of Bujaraloz, ridden in River valleys along the Ebro in Sastago. We then hit winding hilly trails that were still very open as we headed East. Pretty varied and all very ridable on heavy GS bikes. The Monegros and Terra Alta regions seems Ideal for rolling about, big views and fast gravel roads.
    #14
  15. jp-speed-triple

    jp-speed-triple Adventurer

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    Things change East of Terra Alta. The terrain becomes more complex, higher passes, deeper valleys, more water and crucially more cultivation. This changed the character of the riding totally and makes it MUCH harder planning and executing.

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    We used a combination of Michelin Regional mapping at 1:400,000 for orientation and scaling, but worked with 1:50,000 topo maps produced by the icc in Catalunya. http://www.icc.cat its as good as it gets, but given the intervention by cultivation and terracing, its not that reliable.

    The mapping is more reliable to the west in Terra Alta (produced by the ICC).

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    On the whole the Ribera D'Ebra region, with planned (and reckied) routes is easily enjoyable on a GS but is challenging terrain. Without, you experience a LOT of blind routes, turn arounds, terracing where there is a marked route and so on. This makes it really hard work and tough to link A to B routes together. Take a smaller bike, or only use known routes.


    Lots of deep gullys

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    And trails to nowhere

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    #15
  16. jp-speed-triple

    jp-speed-triple Adventurer

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    The region is steeped in history ancient and modern.

    My persoanl interest in history is that of the Cathars and Templar era and this region (and north) are where it all happened in Europe. I find it extremely interesting there is such Islamic influence in this area, absorbed into and if you like appropriated by the locals and the European faiths. It puts a whole different prespective on the state the world finds itself in today.

    Ruin of the castle at Mora
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    Miravet Castle on the Ebro
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    Huge fortifications at Tortosa (the weather was shocking and we couldn't get any 'big' shots)
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    The entry to the now Hotel converted Tortosa castle. Will be staying here for a night when we come back
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    There are still some fixer-upper oportunities though

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    #16
  17. jp-speed-triple

    jp-speed-triple Adventurer

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    The food was varied:

    BAAAAAD tortilla
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    GOOOOD Chorizo stew
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    I couldn't take a phot as I couldn't stop laughing when Iz was presented with half a sheeps head for lunch!

    The drinking proved a puzzle at times also.

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    but we struggled through the red wine as best we could.
    #17
  18. Harvonktm

    Harvonktm Adventurer

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    Hi, you are in my back garden ....so to speak.....
    I have a place near Xerta on the Ebro....just North of Tortosa
    In fact I will be flying in tomorrow (Thursday) look out for a couple of Brit registered traillies.
    If you dont go anywhere else....ride from Xerta to Bot via Prat de Compte....you wont be dissapointed!
    #18
  19. jp-speed-triple

    jp-speed-triple Adventurer

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    Despite my concerns over the routing, much gravel, mud, sand, grass, fields and the like was enjoyed over our stay. I have routing/tracks if anyones going there. Although there are endless trails in the region so you can make it up for yourself really.

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    we also got an interesting crossing on a Fluvial ferry. its located in Miravet and is the last one in the region. It uses the relatively powerful flow of the river to drive the ferry. its tethered to a cable across the river and uses the force on the rudders to motivate the crossing. Excellent, silent and utterly green.

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    More trail shots

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    By far the toughest, longest, most arduous climb of the trip. wet slick mud, ruts and rollers, boulder strewn and VERY steep. And of course when we got to the top......the trail ran out! Definatley the low point of the navigational experiences. We fought our way through an old very over grown orchard to get onto another trail nearby. Bust a wing mirror in the process whilst dropping the bike....argh. I was about spent that afternoon.

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    Worth it though once we could see the view.

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    #19
  20. jp-speed-triple

    jp-speed-triple Adventurer

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    And so, the trip home.

    Again through Terra Alta and West Towards Monegros. This time though we headed North to Huesca from Chiprana in the Gravel, then across to Logrono once more on the N232....a fabulous stretch of tarmac. varied with excellent views the whole way.

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    we encountered a few different conditions along the way!

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    and ended up on the beach near Santander.

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    Next day, as usual at the ferry we met a couple of interesting chaps. Mick on a Pan Euro on his way home from Southern Spain has a few miles under his belt on this and other continents.

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    Also Archie (of some renoun on the Hubb and other places) on his way back to the UK from Mali on his 225 Serrow.

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    (Who's got the right idea?)
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    Both helped pass the time on the crossing and ensured that the wine didn't get wasted.

    So Long Spain for the moment.

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    The next morning, the wine had no effect on my ability to get up.

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    but things returned quickly to normal once we got home the next day.


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    #20