If you are reading this, you are probably wondering who I am and whether I will be the perfect guide for your two wheeled Spanish Motorbike Tour, so get yourself a drink, sit in a comfortable chair and let me elaborate.
I’m Alan, a 40-something bike-mad Yorkshireman who has spent the past few years living in Catalunya, Spain. I first started riding motorbikes when I was 9 years old. My dad bought me a Honda C90 which had failed its MOT and was uneconomical to repair, but was still running and rideable off-road. Corrosion had left holes in the frame and forks, it didn’t have brakes, lights or an exhaust as the serviceable parts had been removed to keep another bike on the road. Even the plastic leg shields had been removed. But for me, that £3 Honda was my first motorbike.
Every weekend, it would be loaded into a trailer, we would drive to the old coal mine at Shawcross and I was allowed to ride and ride until it ran out of fuel. Whatever the weather, we would be there. Heavy rain, bald tyres, no brakes and just a pair of cheap wellington boots and a cagoule were regarded as protective riding equipment, sufficient for riding such a beast on the slipperiest of terrain. But that experience allowed me to understand how to control a bike in extreme conditions.
When you are riding around with people on motocross bikes (sometimes there would be dozens of people all riding around this former colliery), adorned with luxury items such as brakes and knobbly tyres, and as a fearless young kid I was determined to try and keep up with them, you only have a couple of crashes before you start to develop skills that enable you to keep riding until the fuel tap gets turned to reserve instead of heading home early with a bruised ankle.
So thats how I cut my teeth off-road, and riding on-road was a similar experience. After leaving school at 16, and getting my apprenticeship with a local Ford dealer (yes, I’m also a qualified mechanic which is so useful when touring), I bought myself another Honda, but this time it was a C-50 complete with a full MOT, luggage rack and oversized home-made chipboard top-box painted in black Hammerite. To me, it gave me my first taste of freedom, and a freedom which is completely different to what people experience with a car.
You are more vulnerable, you are more in tune with changes in temperature as you ride in and out of valleys and shadows, and how that affects the level of grip between tyres and tarmac. As much as I loved riding my bike, working for a car dealer made it inevitable I would make the transition from 2 wheels to 4 wheels at some point.
Throughout the next 20 years, I switched between 2 and 4 wheeled transport of various types several times and travelled quite a lot using both forms of transport, but always within Europe. I found travelling, particularly long distance, quite easy as I have the ability to look at a map and remember the route I need. These days, I have a GPS on the bike, but its main purpose is to plot my routes as I explore new areas, and its a handy tool to get to civilisation as quickly as possible when necessary.
So fast forward a bit and I find myself living in Catalunya with a holiday rental activity and a desire to get back into trail riding. I bought an old Yamaha XT600E for €800 which allowed me to explore the trails, but I found it lacking when on the roads. So I sold that, and found a KTM 640 Adventure. This allowed me to easily cruise along at motorway speeds, but it will also climb a mountain when required.
The combination of having a holiday rental activity and an interest in adventure bike adventures meant I started to get bookings for overnight stays from bikers who were following the TET (Trans Euro Trail – www.transeurotrail.org ) . When they were leaving, I would ride along with them, sometimes to help with navigation, other times just to get out on my bike, but also to show them the route so they could follow me and focus more on riding than on navigating.
The feedback I received from these riders, some of whom have ridden trail bikes in all corners of the world, was that I should focus less on the holiday rentals and focus more on guided trail riding. My background as a mechanic when touring, my ability to navigate easily and adapt the routes on-the-fly according to weather conditions, or the need to find parts or refreshments, plus being able to speak the language are all invaluable attributes to ensure you have a great two-wheeled Spanish adventure.
So what are you waiting for? Oh yes, routes and prices. I’m working on it, keep checking the site, and the blog pages, or mail me to discuss what you need – firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here to read about the equipment I use when riding and guiding in Spain.