Much like the 80’s hollywood movie we had been handed a baby to look after, only this one came in the shape of a Fiat camper van. It would have been a lot cheaper if it had run on milk, as this baby liked a drink with fuel stops seemingly every few hours.
The basic premise for the trip involves an Englishman and Irishman and a Welshman, Chris Akrigg, Victor Lucas and Myself, and yes it does stink of a bad joke… Funny as the camper stank a bit too. We set out with 8 days to travel from Yorkshire (well Victor and Chris did) down through France around as much as Spain as possible and back to Yorkshire in time to hand the camper back to the hire depot whilst maintaining as much of the deposit on it as possible – sounds simple enough! We planned to cram in plenty of travel and riding over that short period and though we didn’t know it when we set off, we were going to pay for it big time with uber fatigue (like regular fatigue only uber).
Here’s a video clip from our first episode in the wild Bardenas
This was our very first day of riding and after six months off with a broken humerous, scapula, clavicle and dislocated shoulder I was keen to ease myself in gently. So I didn’t plan on hitting the first jump I prepared head first without a bike, I landed on my weak shoulder and thankfully was fine but it was a wake up call. I’d marked the run up line with some rocks to define the line as the lip was blind, but when the bike compressed I caught a pedal just metres before the take off, it was a heart in the mouth moment but pretty funny as soon as I realised I was ok.
Driving on from this place we met this mad old lady and all this graffiti she had scrawled all over a building that we assume she was squatting – she was 100% cuckoo but took a shining to us!
We rolled on after another epic 12 hour drive to El Chorro which is an amazing place to ride, I loved it, but we found it hard to find really good lines in the short amount of time we had there. There’s always a bit of pressure on when you are on these trips, you are looking for something that is visually stunning or to hit a big line, a jump or wallride but when you don’t have time to dig or build the features in, they don’t always work out, fortunately in El Chorro while there wasn’t anything big there to hit there were some amazing trails and huge rock boulders to roll which made for some good riding and images.
Rolling on from El Chorro it was up into the peace of the mountains and the beautiful village of Bubion, I have been here a number of times and every time I return I forget just how charming this place is, you could certainly lose a few years of your life up in these hills, the pace of life is incredibly laid back and slow and its a welcome change from the hectic pace of life forced upon us all in the UK. The riding is sublime too with a stack of different trails from smooth and flowing to tech and rocky. We headed out on what turned out to be an epic ride, some 6 hours without food or water in the spanish heat was not funny and we hit the wall hard about half way in.
When in Spain, it would be rude not to head to the beach, we swung by the Costas (Del Sol and Brava) and Chris donned his best shirt for a whizz down to the sand while I was nursing a dose of man flu.
Next on the schedule was a quick call into see Orange bikes designer Steve Wade in his own little paradise in the Sierra Espuna mountain range and for him to literally drag us around his trails. Tired out we were soon back in the bar doing what the Spanish and Steve do best, relaxing with a cold beer and tapas. I could get used to this…
Our final stop took us up past Barcelona and to the famous Montserrat monastery and the towering rock formations that are iconic of the place – it was one final assembly of the bikes and the treasure hunt for some trails that offered some riding to match the surroundings, we nailed it and all totally exhausted and under the weather set off on our 24 hour journey home.
Looking back despite the ambitious schedule, the many more hours spent driving than riding and the fatigue that worsened throughout the week, we achieved one hell of a lot. We saw some amazing places and landscapes, we cracked out 4000 miles in 7 days, had some good laughs along the way and discovered just how diverse the riding across Spain is, it is truly a wonderful country.
You can read the full feature of this adventure written by me in Dirt magazine – issue 98, page 78 titled ‘Are we there yet?’
For images from the trip contact Victor Lucas: www.victorlucas.com