August in Asturias, on my ripping red Vespa!

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by Osadabwa, Sep 6, 2021.

  1. Osadabwa

    Osadabwa Don't be Surprised

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2009
    Oddometer:
    771
    Location:
    Nairobi, Kenya
    After skipping a year due to Covid-19, it was time to revisit the in-laws in Northern Spain. Asturias, to be exact, a lovely region to ride a motorbike in… if the sun is shining. Fortunately for me, I do have a motorbike and the sun was shining! Happy days! To the mountains then!

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    Above: My lady, the angry hornet… or perhaps the grumpy gnat. 1999 Vespa 125 in Furia Roja Red. Formerly a Spanish mail delivery bike (originally painted bright yellow with a massive box on the back), it was made in either Spain or Italy (so it’s solid, not like those from India) and had some fancy features for a bike that looks vintage Vespa. First, it has e-start, which I disconnected (starts first kick and the battery added weight), second it has auto-oil delivery, which I disconnected (I absolutely flog this thing and want to be able to go above a bit on the oil), and third it has a disk brake which I absolutely did not disconnect (unlike most Vespas, this baby can stop!). I also added 50cc or so by way of a longer cylinder and con rod setup, and a few HP (small horses) and decibels via a sneaky little exhaust pipe, so she fairly flies (when on flat terrain or going downhill, 100kph is yours for the taking).

    But, it wasn’t easy getting the girl on the road this year. First of all, she lives with my buddy who had taken her to Nueva, his summer place near the sea. Secondly, her ITV was expired (… a seriously annoying thing about the “First World” is all the rules… the ITV is a biannual road worthiness thing). Thirdly, this holiday was fraught with family stuff and I was basically a chauffeur… but eventually the guys helped me go get her and I decided to skip the ITV. After all, nobody expects a Vespa rider to be breaking rules, right?

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    Above: Caito’s Blue 1967 GS 208cc… I love that bike, more character than an old sailor and faster than (almost) any scooter around and most big bikes too in the curves. I like the rat finish patina as well…

    Asturias has the weather of Ireland, not of Sevilla or Madrid. So, while most of Spain was melting at 40C, we were thrilled to have sunshine and 25C days. Finally out on two wheels, I filled the tank with fuel and oil and the glovebox with chips and a beer. I was off for my favourite day ride. Truth is, I never really know how to get there. Outside Oviedo the roads just wind up and down and all over the place. The road signs are unhelpful at best because you always have to know the name of the next village along in order to know if you’re going the right way. So, I wing it, and eventually see familiar landmarks.

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    Above: From Las Caldas, climbing up past Proaza over a long shortcut I like to take that passes Las Xanas I hook a right and start really climbing. Even my short-range gearbox (remember, she was meant for delivering mail, not mountain climbing) and extra 50cc was struggling to keep me in top gear up the hills most of the time. But climb we did. And we climbed and climbed and climbed.

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    Above: Red and green go well together, no? This is hilarious because I took almost the exact same photo a few years ago: See here: LINK

    At last I reached the tippy-top. It’s a place I like because it’s got 360 Degree views and you have to ride a bit of dirt to get there (after all, I’m a Pig rider at heart and always want a bit of dirt regardless of the bike). By a bit of dirt, in this case I mean about 50 meters… and it’s rough, slow going on the little Vespa I assure you, but we make it. I pop open the glove box, grab my snacks and settle in, leaning on the fender, to enjoy the view.

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    Above: See what I mean about 360 views?

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    Above: Cheers all, and relax, it’s just a lil’ cervecita, nothing out of the ordinary for Spain
    From the top of the climb I bee-lined it back to Oviedo to Caito’s, dumped the bike in his workshop and spent another week with the family at the beach. Sandcastles, sun, swimming, jogging etc behind me, a week later I was back on the bike!

    And this time I took her for a proper ride. I dropped the rental car at the station at 11AM and walked to Caito’s with my helmet in hand. Out the door I went with some vague idea to reach some pass or other up in the hills. So off I went, buzzing up the valleys and over the ridges. The scenery is very unique, at least to me, so I kept stopping to enjoy it… and by enjoy it I mean take pics of my Vespa on the roadside.

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    Above: What a beauty… she makes the scenery better I think

    Eventually I ended up on a route leading to Puerto San Llaurienzu which was deceptively steep. My little gal could not do it in top gear… I would hold her wide open in 3rd and upshift only to be told… not so fast, little man, I’m not your Piggy… You rack disciprine! You must exercise patience! So we buzzed and whirred up to the pass where I pulled in for a little snack.

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    Above: Right near the pass pull-out (where I watched BMW GSs and Honda Gold Wings come and go… like so many fat, happy cows) there were cattle and horses grazing unattended. Then I saw the shepherds… dogs that is… massive ones at that, with matted fur looking like proper beasts… squatting over bushes to shit… I’ve been warned not to confuse these guys with somebody’s porch pissing puppy and gave them their space and made damn sure not to aggravate any of their charges!

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    Above: The local fauna… big shepherd dog and a horse on the Right… lovely little Vespa de Correos on the Left

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    Above: Went for a little walk (most of the dirt tracks in Asturias are off-limits to vehicles and you can get a proper fine if you mess around) up the hill to catch a different view away from the Beluga Bike crowd (two GSs and a Goldwing… honestly, I understand the Goldwing more… at least it’s not pretending to be adventurous) and have some chips and a beer under a tree in peace.

    After my little pit-stop, I decided to backtrack a scoot to fuel up. I wanted to keep going, but with a small tank and a surprising shortage of fuel stations in small villages up here, I couldn’t risk it (been there before… ran out of gas on the border with Leon once...) So, I set my sights on a new road and took off. More lovely little single-lane tar roads with amazing views were the result.

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    Above: Little roads in the mountains

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    Above: Some haystacks in a style many centuries old stacked up out there. Pretty rare these days.

    At some point, I ended up on a smaller than usual little track. It was tar, but pretty broken up in places. I was heading down and enjoying swerving around the holes and hearing the grind of gravel beneath my impossibly small and inappropriate tyres. Up ahead, I noticed a helmet coming my way. Another biker! I figured I’d better move well over in case he was ripping along. Nope, far from it! It was a BMW poster child on his 800GS (I think, they all look the same to me), all kitted out with the gear and crash bars and BMW panniers and absolutely crawling around the corner in the full attack position, probably thinking “Okay, keep your elbows bent, butt off the seat, bend your knees but not too much! Be ready for anything! Oh here comes another pothole! Whooo! I made it!” I chuckled, waved and ring-ding-dinged past him… man BMW has done well. And by done well, I mean perpetrated the perfect crime by convincing people they need those bikes.

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    Above: Heading down to Grado after a lovely day

    Back in Oviedo after over 150km hunchbacking it on the Vespa, it was time for my despedida. I spluttered back to Caito’s workshop and we went straight for the bars. A group of other Vesperos showed up and before we knew it the beers and sidra were flowing. Because the guys know everybody in the city, half the drinks were on the house, which only made us order more. Night came and I stumbled home sideways and awoke with a tidy little headache.

    Following day or two, after needing to change my plane ticket due to Covid PCR test delay shenanigans, I returned to the workshop and Caito helped me with a plan I hatched ages ago. I want a GPS on my Vespa. I never know where I am and I enjoy exploring small roads, so it’s a must... especially with the small range I have. Now that I have a proper smartphone holder, a mount was needed. The Vespa has a couple of perfect mounting points where the right-hand mirror would go, so we cut a thick piece of steel and I mounted the RAM mount and Hondo Garage Perfect Squeeze and voila! When I get back in a year, I’ll be sorted!

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    Above: Caito getting busy with the grinder. He first mocked up a test with some sexy, thin steel but it wasn’t up to the task. Needed more girth!

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    Above: Clearly, this isn’t Panic’s garage… a difference of styles for sure, but the essence is the same.

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    Above: The final product! My huge 10,000mAh DooGee S88Plus smartphone mounted with the Perfect Squeeze on my Vespa. Come 2022, I’ll be loving it! Unless the Greek alphabet song of Covid variants doesn’t ruin the plan!

    Colorin colorado, esta historia se ha acabado!

    Fin.
    #1
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  2. sledrydr

    sledrydr Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2012
    Oddometer:
    323
    Location:
    Iowa
    "Crawling around the corner in the full attack position"

    Without question the funniest thing I've read on ADV in a looong time:roflAnd sooo true! Bwaaaahaaaaaa....
    #2
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  3. NAVIGATOR

    NAVIGATOR Wanderer

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2002
    Oddometer:
    1,973
    Location:
    SOUTH OF THE USA BORDER(friendlier Mexico)
    What a change of stomping grounds!!!!
    Africa then and now Asturias

    Red two wheleers are the ticket to fun rides

    Nice report and pics:thumbup
    #3
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  4. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    May 28, 2008
    Oddometer:
    18,739
    Location:
    Huntsville , Al
    Great report! Great shots of the scenery and those roads look like a lot of fun. I love reports like this that show you don't need a big bike to have big fun:ricky:ricky:ricky
    #4
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  5. popscycle

    popscycle Fahren Away Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2011
    Oddometer:
    10,795
    Location:
    Central MA
    Greatly enjoyed your RR. Reminded me of the time when I rode a Vespa (i.e., 1950s). Scoots like Vespas and Cushmans were what young gearheads rode to grade school back then - once the local police chief was persuaded that you could ride safely. Screw up once and you lost your ride until you turned 16.
    #5
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