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Motoeuro 2009 - Spanish Pyrenees and beyond!

Motoeuro 2009 - Spanish Pyrenees, French Riviera and the Napoleon Route.

2,300 miles, glorious sunshine, twisty, dry roads and delicious Sangria.

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We've been lucky on Motoeuro with great roads, sunny weather and reliable motorbikes. For 2009 we've got 2,300 miles to ride through the Spanish Pyrenees, French Riviera and the Napoleon Route again - which idiot brought a Triumph?

My legs are killing me after 350-ish miles down south for the ferry, I hate sporty bikes. We meet Steve who arrives looking like a TIE fighter, we board, hit the bar for a few ‘cheeky ones’, we’re off!

The next two nights on the ferry consisted of beer, beer and a touch of beer. Hangover breakfast was entertaining sailing through the Bay of Biscay..... Ug. Sunday morning, 7am, we’re called to decks to disembark into the Spanish sun. Luggage on, all kitted up, I put the keys in the Daytona..... Nowt. No idiot lights, nothing. My bike is dead. Surely this cant be happening?

All bikes and cars have left the ferry, I am starting to panic. The crew jump-start the Triumph and she fires into life - YES! We’re off! Yeeha! Two miles later the Daytona, chugs, pops, dies.
Violent swearing makes no difference, it's Sunday in Spain and nothing is open, we're at the side of the road, I am not happy. I call for help. “hello, is that bikeo recoveryo?” Then the Police arrive we explain the situation by waving arms and speaking loudly, plod gestures to throw away the Triumph and points to Steve’s  Be-Em raising his thumb, we laugh nervously.  
Recovery arrives an hour later with no intention of fixing the bike, he just wants to get it on a trailer and away to his scrap yard. I’m on the back of  Steve’s 1150GS to Santurtzi, where we get a pension courtesy of the tourism office and take our cheeky ones and Tapas outside in the sun. This would be fantastic if my bike wasn’t ka-put. At the end of day 3 we’ve done 2.1 miles in Spain. Depression is looming……

Next day, Steve’s iPhone comes to the rescue; he finds a Triumph dealer 20kms away via Google Maps, scrap man agrees to get the bike there this morning. Hopes are rising again. Hobby Moto jump on my bike within minutes and run a diagnostic check, turns out to be the main fuse has popped. They charge the battery, replace fuse, clear the engine management warning light, charge me 28 Euros and we’re off at last, oh, there is a God! They even give me a spare fuse and a RAT patch, God bless Hobby Moto!
At last, we’re away towards Jaca, bypassing the busy town of Pamplona, on the N-240, this road just gets better and better, we’re loving this ride along the side of Embalse de Yesa, in the baking sun. We take turns to  razz-it on these twisties. The Daytona is fully at home here, loving the hot tarmac, falling into corners and wailing out the other side, I now love sporty bikes. Spark and Steve are flipping their adventure trailies from side to side loving every corner, this is why we are here - reminds me of the N85 to Grenoble. Top marks gentlemen, top marks.  

The N-240 also climbs as we enter the Pyrenees 'proper' towards Jaca. The road is tree-lined in places giving a slight relief from the sun, other times you could be in the desert, but it's constantly quiet of traffic. I like the N-240.  Jaca welcomes us with a new 4-star hotel on the outskirts with pool which we ‘bomb’, Steve wins. We agree to have just one or two cheeky ones tonight for an early start tomorrow. 30 minutes later we're in Jaca centre and beer it up all night, rounding off with white wine, café corète, red wine and dessert wines. Oh dear Lord. Next day, we leave late, our room looks like its been hit by a Tsunami and Skynet, my heads feels like it, too.
The N-240 runs out after Jaca and we pick-up the N-260 towards Ainsa, we’re gaining altitude now on this great road which gives us long sweepers, tight corners and 180 degree switchbacks, we’re lapping this up on this beautiful sunny day. The surface turns rough for 9 kms and we stop on the side of a  mountain overlooking a river with a rope bridge, there’s a notice board with messages left by passing travellers saying how beautiful this place is, I add a Motoeuro sticker for good  measure. We ride through quaint towns, more corners and sweepers as the surface is better again, then stop at a ski resort closed for the summer; it’s eerily spooky, the only sign of life are grazing wild ponies.
The fast and perfectly surfaced N-230 takes us to Vielha and the famous 3 mile tunnel, this road, the higher stretches of which are impassable in winter, was the only route between the Val d'Aran and the rest of Spain before the opening of the Vielha tunnel in 1948. We take the twisty  C-28 and then the C-13 towards Sort, at times, the road has been carved out the mountainside, we’re in Indiana Jones country, this is class! Wish we could stop for more photos but it's impossible as the edge of the road is way too dangerous to park-up; choose from cliff-edges to sheer rock faces, either way I don't want to be standing there if a truck comes by. It's getting slightly cooler now as we descend to Sort and we're ready for a beer.

We’ve ridden some serious roads today and we’re all feeling knackered with the heat and concentration needed - nothing to do with last nights drinking session. Arrival in Sort we stop for coffee and stay here for tonight. Nice village, the Hotel Pey accommodates us so Mark can flood the bar from his bath upstairs. Oops!

A few beers in the garden, we're relaxing.... BANG! we almost keel-over, WTF? Apparently, this is the start of the ‘Night of Fire’ in the village to celebrate St. John (or St. Joseph). Once one bang has gone off, everyone gets stuck in. Good grief. We take our beers and food outside of the Rock Bar and reflect on today's roads and the route so far. I wander round the town for 'fire photos' but quickly retire for a quiet night. Quiet?

It’s all going well (if a little too hot), great roads and fabulous weather, we all love this but I am having an extra-special time as I am delighted to have my bike running. Just pleased to be doing what I like best. The N-260 out of Sort is fantastic, the morning air is cool and we can see the mist on the Pyrenees Mountains as we descend towards the N-116 to Perpignan.  This is great. As the day warms, it’s another scorcher in Spain. By lunchtime we stop for a light-bite at St.Marti dels Castells by the river. I order steak, chips, salad and coke;  a really light lunch then. We shove on over the border into France and stop at Villefranche de Conflent; the original town dates from 1098 and is fortified because of its strategic position.  The beautiful town is tightly packed within the original castle walls and is bounded on one side by the road running up into the Cerdagne and on the other by the Conflent of the rivers Tet and Cady. We like it here and pull up a seat to enjoy our first French coffee. Time for a tan top-up before heading to Antibes.

We're all getting used to these roads, we're typically spoilt with good tarmac and lots of quaint towns. The N-116 towards Perpignan is a good, twisty route and gradually gets less and less complex by the time we approach the busy town.  We pass rivers and small lakes - this route has worked-out well; twisties, smooth tarmac, lots to see and the opportunity to all go a bit silly at times. There are smaller, even more twisty roads that climb into the Pyrenees, but lead only to mountain towns, when I come  back here it will be with a new Africa Twin and I'll spend the whole time just riding these roads. When this happens, the winning Lotto numbers will be in my back pocket with Kylie's mobile number.

The N-116 takes us to the A9 motorway bypassing  Perpignan, we’re still one-and-a-half days behind and want to make up time, plus we’re all looking forward to a day on the beach in Antibes. The A9 is a dull as the proverbial compared to the roads we’ve ridden but gives an opportunity to reflect on our time in Spain. We're close to Montpellier by about 8pm but we're playing catch-up and my legs are bloody killing me, I hate sporty bikes now. We know we’ve been ‘enthusiastic’ at times, but when a Police Bike behind us throws on the blues, I get a sinking feeling. We all pull in fearing hefty fines, but he overtakes and buggers off. Good wind-up thanks, very funny. Phew....

Motoeuro 2009 part 2 - No more breakdowns...

The boys of Motoeuro chill out a bit too much in Antibes and ride the Napoleon Route...

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Motoeuro 2009 - Knackered Daytona

A broken down Daytona, how unusual.

Motoeuro 2009 - on the lash

Consolation afternoon beers in Santurtzi.

Motoeuro 2009 - On the road

Warm Spanish tarmac at last - The N-240.

Motoeuro 2009 - Spanish roads

The very twisty, very quiet N-230.

Motoeuro 2009 - The Pyrenees

Riding the Pyrenees recommended.

Motoeuro 2009 - The Pyrenees

Motoeuro ride the N-116 to Perpignan.

Motoeuro 2009 - Spanish Pyrenees and beyond!

I'll be back for this with my new Africa Twin...

Motoeuro 2009 - Spanish Pyrenees night out

Discussing the local art and culture. Err...