We’ve written about the Royal Enfield Himalayan — a 411cc, single-cylinder, 421 lbs (191 kilos) motorcycle that makes but 25 hp — and discussed its strengths and its limitations.
One thing it’s not built for is the autobahns, motorways and freeways of the world (at least, not until the 650 variant comes out.) And its weight is cumbersome in ultra-gnarly off-road settings.
One thing it is built for, however, is exactly what YouTuber MotoGeo uses it for — riding the backroads and trails of Basque country in northern Spain. (And stopping at enough restaurants to make your mouth water.) The gentle but insistent torque and amenable handling make the Himalayan a sturdy partner in this Iberian adventure.
Time to try a cod omelet!
I’m not even too sure what we ordered, so homemade, it’s beautiful. Cheers.
For my next adventure, I will explore the less dramatic landscapes and the culinary delights of the Basque Country Region in northern Spain, and my ride will be on the oldest global motorcycle brand in continuous production, a Royal Enfield.
Once manufactured in the UK, now in India, it’s a motorcycle name with a cult following and now offering a wide range of machines, from the old classics to the modern twin café racer. However, my machine will be on the most adventurous, the Himalayan. It’s a lower powered adventure machine, and with its longer suspension and dual sport tires, it’s the bike that will allow me to take to the dirt whenever I feel like it. So, let’s gear up and go and explore.
First I take a short ride to a beautiful old medieval town. The morning drizzle had made the cobble streets extra slippy, but riding amongst these gorgeous old buildings and high walls, was a fascinating start to the day.
So, here in Basque Country and we’ve just picked up the Royal Enfield Himalayan and we’re going to go and enjoy all of what Basque Country has to bring. Before we get started though, I’m hungry and we’re going to get some breakfast here in Old Town Honderribia, which is very historic, absolutely stunning scenery.
So there you go, we’ve popped into this awesome little coffee shop, picked up a beautiful little fresh pastry and the weather has improved. With our bellies full, we’re going to jump on the Himalayan and go in search of some awesome roads in Basque Country. Let’s get to it.
I now leave this [inaudible 00:02:42] medieval town behind me and go in search of the total opposite. Time to escape the stone buildings and go and ride amongst the trees. Immediately as I passed over the highway, I spotted a trail, so I took it. Now let’s go see where it leads and find out about this machine’s off-road capabilities.
The trails were great fun, and this light machine felt right at home on the dirt. Ah, yes. What it seemed to lack in horsepower, it more than made up for in agility, making for a great morning playing on the countryside trails and enjoying the freedom of two wheels. The trail ended in a small village. Perfect, as it’s lunch time.
My pit stop will be at a traditional countryside bar with a fixed menu. Two courses and a drink for ten euros. Oh yes, I’m in. Tuna salad to start and then pork chop and chips for main. Good do, simple and tasty. This place gets a seal of approval. Now let’s get back on the road and discover more.
My plan was to just ride higher into the hills, enjoy the roads and the natural, lush landscape, and the Basque Country region didn’t disappoint as the hilly, twisty roads just meander through this maze of valleys and offered a very rich riding experience.
But as much fun as these twisty roads were, the more drizzle came down, the more slimy these old roads became. So I had to be on my toes as hazards were around every corner, from tight hairpin bends to bumps in the road and ever increasing standing water. This was also a popular road for keen cyclists, and even roaming cattle.
Despite the dreary weather, it was all smiles when I found another trail. So let’s go and play again, and this time, get wet and muddy.
Ha ha, that was a super fun end to the day, but now let’s get off this misty hillside, head back into San Sebastian to warm up, and more importantly, try out some more local foods. We’ve had a fun day of riding, but the weather was unkind to us, as we climbed up further up the mountain it just got wetter, it started raining hard, it was super foggy, the roads were slippy, so we’re back down in San Sebastian, back down at sea level.
Now we’ve parked up, we can’t go any further, but we’re going to take a very special street. It’s Pedestrian High Street and all the way down it are bars and restaurants, and what they serve here is something called pintxos, very similar to tapas, beautiful little small bites, and you’re supposed to go from one place to another having a drink and then eat all the way down. So let’s get to it.
Picked up some mussels, got some chili, anchovy and olives, some octopus, some goats cheese with balsamic. Bon appetit. Very fresh. Oh, yeah. Here’s a chili. Oh wow, that’s hot. So we’re on to the next place. Now we’ve got some beautiful ham, just from behind me and some local cider. Cheers.
With all the exquisite pintxos flavors inside me, it was now time to relax, enjoy this old picturesque city and the calming waters of the bay.
The next morning the sun was shining, a great opportunity to generally ride along the glistening waters edge, and then it was up into the country side to escape into the mountainous Basque Country region. Once again it’s time to leave the towns behind me. Now I join the cyclists, hikers and local livestock at enjoying the fresh open air, as I now rode amongst the vines in this tranquil setting.
The twisty, quiet roads allow me to just drift through the valley, enjoying the ride and making the odd stop if I spotted something interesting. Basque Country is definitely pretty and full of hidden gems. With a fun morning of riding in the bag, it was now time to start thinking about lunch. No difficulty in Basque Country, as it’s full of amazing foods, but this time I wanted to find a great authentic spot that feeds the locals. The best way to find a place like this, is to ask a local, and I had lots of fun trying to communicate with this old farmer, and his buddy wasn’t much easier. But, through hand signals and the odd word of understanding, I now headed off to the recommended lunch stop, eager to taste more food from this flavorful region.
So, lunch time, we just popped into a little local place here. Phenomenal, loads of people are here, so you know it’s good. Not even too sure what we ordered, but it ended up coming out with lunch, chickpea broth with chorizo, it’s like your grandma would make, it’s so homemade, it’s beautiful. This is a really typical here in this country, it’s lunch time, everyone bombs down at the local restaurant, just knocks out a very set menu and it’s incredible, great food. Fantastic.
After a wonderful lunch, it was then back on the bike, riding up into the hills to continue the adventure. The climb up through the trees around us, flowing turns was every rider’s dream, and the view from the top was just spectacular.
This is the sign for the edge of Basque Country. It’s been amazing so far, loads of awesome roads, great trails, so we definitely don’t want to leave this region. There’s a trail ahead here, just beyond this sign, so let’s take that and stay within this region.
This trail gave me a great chance to ride deeper into the forest and venture through the valley the more adventurous way. Well, Basque Country is not just gorgeous valleys and awesome roads and trails, it also has a dramatic coast line. So let’s get off this hillside and head down to the coast.
Yes, the coast road is stunning in places and the beaches here may be golden, but the real treasure around here are the Geopark cliffs. The only way to really see and appreciate these dramatic rock formations is to take a short walk, but the stroll is more than worth it, as you get to see 60 million years of geological history as you stand over the layers of eye-catching rock. These cliffs are a spectacular sight and made for a great ending to my ride in Basque Country.
But my culinary adventure was not just over yet as my final stop will be by visiting a traditional cider house and tasting their exquisite menu. So, time now to stop riding, park the bike and end my day by drinking fresh cider, straight from the barrel.
So, we’re in an amazing cider house, all these massive barrels full of beautiful cider, and here they’re aerated by, basically, catching it in your glass, so here goes.
Ready. After getting into the traditional local brew, it was then time to eat.
That’s good. So, here we have now fresh cod, fried with peppers. It is fried so well, and it’s really tender, magnificent. Wow, that is the first time I’ve had cod omelet, but it won’t be the last time, bon appetit. Swilled down with some fresh cider, cheers.
As I now merrily drift off into cider heaven, and with a belly full of food, it’s time to end another great adventure. This [inaudible 00:15:22] been full of brilliant biking roads and trails and delicious food that makes you not want to leave. Basque Country is a special place, and the Himalayan had been a super fun ride.
But now it’s your turn. Go and create your own adventure by jumping on your motorcycle and just going for a ride.