On the 30th of the month I was celebrating my birthday.
For this great event, Juan offered me “a week-end on the bike with the right to as many “pics stops” as I wished”.
We had planned to leave early on the 1st to an unknown destination (for me). We went on my bike, me as pillion, to just enjoy the views.
We got up early, and seeing that it was pissing rain, we decided to… go back to bed until one hour later, to see if it stopped. One hour later we got up again, but it was still raining. We got up anyway, started preparing the things and we would go when ready. At about 11.00am it stopped raining and the sun appeared. We went to pick up the bike, put on the saddlebags, put on our rainsuits just in case and at last we left.
Juan told me that the first step was to get to “Sant Llorenç de Morunys”. I knew quite well that road for having ridden it a few weeks earlier, so I could indicate him the way (although he had a map, I am a good GPS- a sometimes kind of hysterical GPS but GPS anyway!).
So we started C58, Manresa, Solsona… I was surprised to see snow caped mountains and some views I had not seen a few weeks earlier when I took the same road. Maybe it was because there was no snow by then? (it had been snowing 2 days before), or maybe because as I was riding myself I couldn’t see all the landscapes that I was seeing now.
When we arrived at the crossroad that goes to Sant Llorenç, Juan stopped and told me he thought Googlemaps had got confused, and he preferred to follow suit to Bassella to get the road to Andorra. What we did… And we stopped to fuel and have a bite in “Pans&Company” of Bassella motorbike museum. There in the sun at the terrace, nor cold nor warm, it felt so good!
After “recharging our batteries”, we hit the road to Andorra again, to I didn’t know where… We went through Coll de Nargó, and after that I didn’t know where we could go apart from Andorra… After el Plà de Sant Tirs and with the road quite busy, we suddenly took a turn on the left… and there started the Road of the Pics…
The N-260, so-called “Eix Pirinenc” in Catalan, from there is a road with twisties and more twisties, first up during some kilometres, with views to valleys and snow-capped peaks, more valleys and more snow-capped peaks… We stopped many times to take pics…
We had time, we had no schedule, I didn’t check the time in all the day, and at no time I knew what time it was… and where we were going to…
We arrived in Sort (“luck” in catalan). A village famous for many lottery winning prizes. In Sort we took the C13 to Vielha. Though we didn’t get to Vielha. In Llavorsí we took a small road that followed along a ravine, it was quite windy now. After getting lost at a crossroad we went back, and we followed the road until we arrived to a village. A village with about 20 houses, a small hotel, and another bar-restaurant in front of the hotel. The hotel was actually where we were going to sleep. And I still didn’t know what time it was (and I had not even seen the name of the village…). It was very windy, the sky was starting to be cloudy, though we could still see between the clouds a snow capped peak at the end of the road. It started to rain. We left the bike parked outside and went to the hotel. The room had a terrace with view over a small river.
On the other side there was a shepherd, 3 dogs and many sheeps.
After a well-deserved rest, we went for a walk around the village, take a bite in the bar and another walk through the path at the back of the hotel, along the river.
As the wind started to be quite cold, we went back to the hotel, to rest, to have dinner and finally sleep dreaming of the snowy landscapes waiting for us the next day.
We got up early, had breakfast: toasted bread with “pan con tomate” (you rub the bread with garlic, then with a fresh juicy tomato, and you finish with a bit of virgin olive oil) with Serrano ham. We had decided to follow that road until it ended. We then followed the “Cardos Valley”, with this same snowed peak in front of us, and from time to time another mountain that appeared and disappeared with the twisties. Along the road were nice villages.
We arrived to Tavascan, crossed the village and followed a small road that indicated the ski station (which was closed, but the road was opened). So we started going up, quite slow as the road was very wet in the shadow and quite narrow, but it was quite good though.
After a few kilometres, a “pic stop”… Nice waterfall!
We followed up, and up, stopping from time to time to take pics, and we finally arrived to a tiny village (the station?), but it was the end of the tarmac and between stones, mud and puddles, we decided to turn around an go back. We will come back with a dirt bike!
After a few more pics stops we went back to Llavorsí. We had planned to follow with the C13- C28 to Vielha, and then go back through C230, to Pont de Suert, and then N260 to la Pobla de Segur, stopping for lunch in Senterada, a village where we always try to stop when on our way, to eat toasted bread with homemade pork products in a bar-restaurant-hostal we discovered some years ago by chance.
But let’s not go too fast…
So we took the C13 up… and up we went. The more up we went, the more snow… so we stopped quite often…
Until we got “in the middle” of the snow. We couldn’t stop to stop 😉 .
It had been snowing a few days before, but the road was fully cleaned from the snow. The road had very good tarmac and very nice twisties. We stopped several times, one of them to build a snowman, that looked a little bit scary but well…
The road went up till we arrived to “Port de la Bonaigua”. It was a little bit cloudy there and quite windy. And loads of snow.
The road sign indicating the pass was broken and covered with 2 metres of snow.
After a few more pics we started to go down. On the other side of the pass it’s the start of the “Aran Valley” and the road on that side was in a very bad condition, some parts with no tarmac, with mud, and potholes. So we went down at a slow pace, with beautiful snowy landscapes around, though the peaks were already in the clouds.
We arrived to Vaqueira, ski station quite ugly in my opinion (as so many others….) and proceeded down to Vielha where we took the tunnel (it was sooo cold inside, like a cold tunnel of 5km… the only moment of the trip I felt cold). And then to Pont de Suert. After the village we stopped to help a French couple, with a XJR1300 each, who was lost… how wouldn’t they, they had no map… So we indicated how to go to Bielsa through Ainsa, and we got back on the road. I thought that on that road it was the end of the snow-capped peaks… But I was wrong, we still had a few more to see. And with a beautiful village in the front.
We stopped for a while, in the middle of a field, we could only hear the birds and the silence. The truth is that it would have been an ideal place for a picnic, but we had no picnic nor drink, and as it was starting to be late and we were hungry, we had no more choice than to head to the village of the toasts with homemade pork products. There we stopped for a good while, and yes we had the toasted bread with pan con tomate, ham, 2 different types of dry sausage, another type of pork product, 2 different types of cheese, pate and so on… Everything homemade. After lunch we had some more rest on the terrace outside, next to 2 English bikers.
Well at some point we had to go back home, so we headed back.
We went to Pobla de Segur, and followed the N260 to la Seu d’Urgell, to get back to the road we arrived through. A very nice road but full of Mossos d’Esquadra… (the Catalan police. We saw a couple on their bikes, a mobile radar, and another control later.)
In Sort we went back to the road we arrived from. We did our last pics stop in Pervés Pass and enjoyed a little more of the road…
Then we got to the C14, back to Bassella, where we stopped again to rest and have some coke, and proceeded to Solsona, Manresa, etc… and back home. With lots of traffic and few enjoyment…
In total about 650km of twisties and more twisties, surrounded with snowy landscapes along the whole way, fully enjoying the landscape and the road…
A Happy Birthday 🙂
A few weeks ago, one of the few days of March-April with no rain, as my husband was away for the week-end, I decided to do something I hadn’t been doing for ages: go for a ride-out on my own, and stop as much as I wanted to take pics…
That Spring Sunday, I woke up at about 8.00am, and after breakfast I put on my leathers, together with the recently bought rain jacket (the old one had just died- or at least its zip, after 7 years of intensive service), and I went out… the trip started at last.
I took with me a small cool-box, where I put 2 sandwiches, a coke can, my winter gloves and my rain pants (to keep them cold…).
I started the day taking the C58 road to Manresa. The stunning views of Montserrat Mountains with their peculiar shapes emerging from the mist woke me up completely.
I followed to Manresa, and then I took the C55 through Súria, Cardona… and turned just before Solsona to go up to Sant Llorenç de Morunys through the road of “la Llosa del Cavall” reservoir.
There I stopped for the first time, I was surrounded with fields of small white flowers. So I stopped on a perpendicular road, where some people were flying remote-control scale-model planes.
The second stop was on the reservoir of la Llosa del Cavall. That day was a little strange, with kind of a light mist around giving the landscape a dreamlike aspect. And the reflections were just incredible.
There I HAD TO stop on a bend (with a big hard shoulder though) because the scenery was just too much. I felt like I was somewhere in Scotland, by the Loch Ness or something like this, more than on a road of the Catalan pre-Pyrenees…
After stopping in Sant Llorenç de Morunys to refuel, and make sure of the right way asking to the gentleman in the filling station, I followed the path he indicated. The idea was to go to Coll de Nargó by a road I had taken last summer.
But I got lost, when I arrived to the Pass, I was so concentrated on the road because the tarmac was full of potholes, that I followed the bend on the left, and I didn’t even see that there was another road that was going straight.
So after a good while riding, I realised that the landscape didn’t ring a bell… but it was too late, I was already back in Solsona…
No bother, I had all the day, and nobody would stop me from going to the planned road. So I followed the road that goes to Bassella (and its motorbike museum), a very nice road too, though that day there was a lot of traffic (but also many safe places to overtake). At the cross, I followed in direction of Andorra, and at last I arrived to the cross I should have arrived to from the other way… just after Coll de Nargó.
From there I had a 40km piece of twisty roads in the middle of nature, with almost no traffic at all (I hardly saw 2 or 3 cars).
With this big detour, it was almost 1pm, and I started to be hungry, so I started to look for a place to stop to eat my sandwiches. There was a nice pass, but it was too windy and cold, even though the views were impressive, so I followed.
After about 10km I saw a road that seemed to go to the depths of a valley and looked nice. But I saw it too late and I couldn’t find a place to turn back. So while I was looking for a place to turn back I found another place to stop for lunch. It was a group of 4 houses, with a nice waterfall, and stunning views over the valley. I went down a cement path, quite steep, to the “center” of the “village” (no tarmac there), and there I felt a little like an intruder so I turned back as I could to park the bike half way to the top. Between the houses there was a man and his son (I guess) doing some repair job on a Montesa.
While I stopped, we could only hear the sound of the waterfall and some bird singing from time to time. It was so peaceful.
After having my lunch and taking a good rest, I took some more pics of the bike and went on.
This time without the rain coat, as the sun was now shining and it was much warmer than in the morning.
After a while I overtook a car that was quite slow, and after a bend I found this landscape…
It was more stunning in live than on the pics, there was no hard shoulder, and the road was going down, so I stopped and took the pic from the bike, with the helmet and the gloves on, just in case the car I had overtaken before would arrive…
Then I stopped once again and for the last time a little more down the road to take more pics…
While I was stopped, the car passed me again (I’m sure he’d thought why the hell is she overtaking for losing time stopping all the time afterwards… ).
After a while I got to the Pass I had got lost before and overtook the car again…
And finally I proceeded to Sant Llorenç de Morunys again, with no more pic stops as the weather was starting to get worst now and I preferred not to get rain on the way home (and less a mountain storm).
I refuelled again in Sant Llorenç, and luckily it was not the same gentleman, he would have thought I was crazy going around in circle…
I went down the road through la Llosa del Cavall reservoir, where I had a few rain drops, and with the views not as nice as in the morning, there was now a little bit of wind and no more reflections…
Even with the detours and kilometres, I arrived home quite early, after exactly 372km… and I cleaned the bike from all the insects that had ended their lives on my bike front… and on the helmet… Yes, Spring finally arrived!
Last month it was the one year anniversary of when I picked up my new bike in the shop. My blue SV650S. I still remember the “fear” I had when I first speeded up, in the shop’s Street, fear to fall, fear not to be able to brake, not to be able to stop, or to speed up too fast.
The bike is very different from my first bike. First for the driving position, with the handlebar lower and more distant. I don’t get that well to the ground either.
Of course, the bike is much more powerful (for me at least), more nervous, brakes a lot (the other did not brake too well by the end, it did not speed that much either lol…), and most of all, it has a lot of engine braking. This bike really flips me out for the engine braking, I almost don’t have to use the brakes. It will save money on brake pads! 😉
That first day I was so scared that I just wanted to get the bike to the garage and that’s it, but my husband encouraged me to go for a small ride to get used to it. Good idea. I finally got the hang of it.
After the first “trial” week going to work with Her (all motorway, including traffic jams), we decided to go on our first small trip to check how it was being more time riding her, as what I like is travelling.
We left on a Saturday morning for Anzánigo, Huesca. About 300 kilometres by secondary roads. The last kilometres are a quite bad road (bumpy and with roadworks in process) to get to the camping (http://www.anzanigo.es/ ), and I realised that the suspension is quite hard, and that my arms and wrists are suffering from the driving position. It could have been worst though, and it was well worth it.
The next day we went to Riglos:
Embalse de la Peña
And on Monday we went back through back roads… Indeed “back roads” as it took us 11 hours to come back home. To be blamed: many photographic stops, some stop to put on the raining suit, one to eat, and the last one in a filling station back on the main road (from which we were kicked out…) to take shelter from pouring rain.
At the end of May I took her for the first service @ 1000km.
The second trip was at the end of June to go to a bikers Rally, also in Huesca, but this time in Benasque Valley, a very beautiful area (though the Rally was not that good- a money making rally).
To go back we also went through very beautiful roads, through Castejón de Sos, El Pont de Suert, Camarasa, with beautiful views on the Pyrenees, and an unforgettable stop in a restaurant in Senterada (http://www.casaleonardo.net/ ), where we ate excellent “pan con tomate” toasted bread (with garlic, tomato and olive oil) with excellent Serrano ham.
Pantano de Camarasa
As I wasn’t sure yet if the bike was ok for travelling 😉 , at the end of July we went to another bikers Rally, this time close to Burgos, in Belorado, a very nice village. It was very warm but we had a great time. To get there we went through Huesca (as now we knew the way 😉 ). On the way back we went through the motorway as we stayed to watch the England MotoGP and we left late.
I then brought the bike for the 6000km service before going on holidays (the garage and then us).
The last trip of the year was quite the longer, for our holidays at the end of August-beginning of September.
I did the first part by myself, I went to visit some friends first in Marseille and then others in Lyon (France). To go to Marseille I mainly went through National roads, except at the end when I took the motorway, as I got fed up with the traffic jams at every single village entrance (it was a Saturday, people going back from holidays…).
When I arrived in Marseille, I asked my way to a biker who indicated quite well how to get to my friend’s home. It was a long one-way street with a strong down slope. When I thought I had reached the number, I parked on the footpath. I checked the address on my mobile phone, and I had stopped too early, I had 50 more numbers to go. First problem: take the bike back on the road without falling, and then, drag the bike back uphill to the road. I was able to get the bike down the footpath without falling, but I couldn’t put the sidestand, and I couldn’t drag the bike uphill (it’s already difficult sometimes when it’s flat… but there I had no more strength). I was luckily helped by a tourist who was passing by, who pushed the bike uphill so that I could get on it again on the right direction. I was very grateful to him, as without his help I think I would still be there 😉
Between Marseille and Lyon I went through National road, as it was weekday it was quite quick and without traffic, but I had a very strong side wind blowing all the way (which is quite usual in the area).
Next Friday I left my friends to go to Toulouse where I would stop for the night before going on the next day to go to Asturias.
I started early to go with time through national roads through Saint-Etienne, Le Puy en Velay, Mende (nice place where I stopped for lunch). I wanted to take the afternoon to take a detour to famous Millau viaduct, but it started to rain, and I decided to go straight through Rodez, Albi (very nice place also, but I got some traffic jams and I preferred to go on and have some rest). I arrived in Toulouse at about 5.30pm.
On Saturday morning, while I was ready to go at about 8.00am, it started to rain. I got down to the hotel entrance where 2 bikers couples were waiting for the storm to stop. We were almost 2 hours waiting, and I finally went when it got less intense (no more lightning and thunder at least). I had planned to take the motorway, and it rained almost all the way to the border. I think I stopped every 2 filling station to dry up and warm up a bit, I got fed up with so much water. At about 2.00pm I arrived at the border. I was almost dry, and in Spain it started to rain again, but the tarmac was draining better than on the French side (it was quite a torture on the French side every time a car would pass me). At about 3.00pm I met with my husband close to Bilbao, and we had some lunch.
From there we went straight to Asturias where we spent the weekend (and had some rest!!!).
Next Monday we went to Ferrol through the coastal road (from Avilés N-632 + N-634) and then the LU-861 and AC-861, beautiful roads but few filling stations… Though as we were going quite “slow” we were able to do 230km without the fuel indicator popping up. And we finally arrived to a filling station.
That same week we went down to Sanxenxo where we enjoyed beautiful sunny days.
Isla de la Toja
Next Friday we went back to Asturias, this time through the interior via Lugo and N-640 to Ribadeo and back on the coast road.
The week-end and the rest of the week was spent enjoying time with friends, enjoying the food, enjoying the cider… with some ride-out with the bikes… and more food, and more cider… Asturias! 🙂
The last Sunday we went back straight to Barcelona, through Leon and Burgos, as they had announced big storms on the cost. And for once they were right! And we arrived dry.
During this trip I ended up with quite a back ache because of the driving position. A really good massage session was not sufficient to get my back back, I would have needed at least 4 to take all the knots out… But I would do it again anyway!
On the way back I had to get the bike back to the mechanics for the 12000km service…
Then autumn arrived, and then winter, and for some months the bike was mainly used as my “tool” for commuting.
I got my bike license on 2nd of January 2002, at the second try. At the end of that month, I met with the owner of my first bike, a Kawasaki ZZR250, to confirm the purchase. I will always remember my first day with her… Take her through Barcelona without having ever driven in a city, take her to my work, find an insurance (the previous owner had given his to me, though I was told years later that it would have been useless in case of accident or of a Police control, as it is individual), and then at night go back home on the motorway with an incorporation from the left-hand-side (in Spain we drive on the right! Most incorporations are though from the right)… I was so scared…
The first months I only used her as a mere “transportation mean” to commute, I didn’t dare too much to go on a ride on my own. I only did some up and down Tibidabo’s hills by the Arrabassada road, at snail’s pace, to learn somehow.
Then summer came and I went for the first spin by myself, from Tossa de Mar to Sant Feliu de Guixols, the so-called the “365 corners Road”… (not recommended in Summer actually, the road is quite narrow, and you can often come across touristic buses…)
I also visited some nice Catalan village in the area, Vullpellac and Peratallada. It was August, very warm, and I was wearing my textile suit, I got a little too warm… This first ride out I arrived back home around 9.30pm, very tired but so happy.
“The Road of the 365 corners”
My first long trip was in October of that year, with a forum friend and his wife, to go down to Onteniente for the week-end for the Anniversary Meet of the forum. A tough experience for the strong side wind that was blowing in Tarragona area, and it kept taking me from one side to the other of the motorway. It was also tough for my friend because I was going so slow ALL the way down… The way back I went with another forum friend who was also driving a 250cc, and he didn’t suffer that much.
From then, I started going on group rideouts, always at the back of the group, for being so slow. Though I didn’t care, before learning to run you have to learn to walk, and even now, I don’t like speeding. I prefer to go at my own pace, feeling secure and most of all, enjoying the road and the views. They will wait for me at the crossroads…
“The Road of the 365 corners”
Montserrat – January 2003
I also went on with some rides by myself, at my own pace, without bothering anybody, and being able to stop when I felt like it to enjoy my second passion: photography.