Feedback

This is the forum that isn’t a forum! Rather, just one page to present readers’ comments together – if ever it gets big enough we’ll go ahead and set up a regular forum! Feedback is more than welcome – both positive and negative – and all comments will be approved by The-Powers-That-Be, so there are no rules as such – but the application of simple common sense should ensure that your comments get through the scrutiny! One ‘rule’ is simply to include a link to the post in question in your comment so that readers (and administrators!) can follow up. Links to other sites, forum topics, etc. are especially welcome.

Comments
99 Responses to “Feedback”
  1. Nick S says:

    Hi Simon,
    great site I came across thru the BM Riders Forum
    I`ll be marauding around the Pyrenees with some Kiwi buddies during July this year and really looking forward to it,
    I`ll send them a link to your pages , Cheers keep up the good work.
    Nick

    • Simon says:

      Hi Nick,

      Many thanks for your kind and timely words – I’m on the final stage of getting the core info. done and beginning to wonder whether it’s all been worthwhile!

      In early July I should be wending my way down the Pyrenees from the north coast, at the end of my tour of the whole of the Peninsular, so we may coincide!

      Simon

  2. Colin says:

    Simon,
    Like the site, lots of good impartial information on the area. I would be very interested in your Trans Pyrenees off road route. I have been trying to put this together for a while now. Have ridden a lot of the trails around Sort and around Mendionde region. I have contacted a couple of 4×4 sites that offer th eoff road route to no effect.

    Have you got it mapped yet or are you still exploring and putting it together?

    • Simon says:

      Hi Colin,

      Thanks for your very kind comments about the site – I’ve just freed up some time to carry on with more material – partly because I’m drumming my finger waiting for a new shock absorber to wing it’s way here from Germany! 😦

      I’ve been cogitating about how to approach the off-road issue for a long time and have pretty much made up my mind over the last week, having met up with a couple of very experienced trail riders (I’m not very experienced!), by both chance encounter and from contacts made via the excellent Adventure Bike Rider Forum and the HUBB.

      Basically, I don’t feel qualified to recommend off-road trails as such, both in terms of their levels of difficulty and legality. On the latter front I’m OK in Catalonia, thanks to the excellent cartographic service here there’s no room for ambiguity about this. I also have a problem with the Trans-Pyrenean idea simply because of the size of the task – I have a life to consider too!

      So, I have at last decided to come off the fence and go for an idea that’s I’ve had on the back burner; try to start a collaborative project where riders can pool their knowledge.

      Two issues: finding a common format and not getting myself lynched by the several operators who sell ride or 4×4 drive books.

      • Common format: I’ve been using Googlemaps/earth so far because it’s universally available, free and at least fairly accurate – not entirely by a long chalk! But this is certainly no good for trails. So I’m not sure what alternative would suit the best majority of readers. My thoughts so far is to use Google to identify routes with markers and then write the routes in detail using Gmail Documents, which could include SatNav coordinates for those who want them (I don’t have a SatNav as I’m rather skeptical as you can probably gather – I also need a sponsor!). A case of quality over accessibility – but in all of these the most important thing is the quality of the data input – including timeliness, i.e. is the trail still there (see below)!
      • Commercial Operators: These companies keep their knowledge very close to their chests, as it sounds like you’ve discovered. And, naming no names, some of them are somewhat iffy. I’ve met some riders and several 4×4 explorers who have been sent on routes that have been asphalted for some years and/or guided onto trails that are prohibited. OK, being charitable – things change quickly in Spain and it would cost almost as much in time, effort and hard cash to keep abreast of this as it did to blaze a trail in the first place.
      In summary I think it’s time for me to push the off road side of the blog. And I’m putting this reply on the ADV Forum and the HUBB in the hope of attracting some more feedback and/or support.
      Thanks once again for your comments – and for getting me to stir my stumps! – I’m more or less living quite near Sort for the duration of the summer (a long story to do will sick Husky dogs) so if you’re near let’s try to meet up. But note that I’ve put my bike in road trim for a long tour of the Peninsular – but getting shorter as I’m running out of time before the Summer Heat!

      Regs

      Simon

      • andrew says:

        hi Simon, did you get the off road sorted?
        i’m confused as to whats legal & whats not.
        i’ll be over that way in june & would like to off road to the med and back.
        any info / advice would be gratefully appreciated.
        cheers
        andrew

      • Simon says:

        Hi Andrew,

        Yes I did – there’s a whole page dedicated to it under: Survival: Trail-and-off-road-regulations

        Have a great time in June, where are you going?

        Regs

        Simon

  3. Chris says:

    Hi Simon,
    Great site with lots of useful info. Just as I’d expected really from the info you gave us at the Collegats campsite 19/20 May. The rest of the trip went fine, lots of climbing, the on hassle being Toms 1150 gs broke down again. The bearing in the shaft drive gave up.
    Give my regards to your wife.
    Cheers
    Chris

    • Simon says:

      Hi Chris,

      Sorry for being so long in replying to your comment in public.

      It was really good talking to you and Tom – especially about the really important things in life that are difficult for us to do among our Spanish friends; like whether it’s better to have curry sauce or gravy with your fish and chips! You may recall that I’m more of a faggots and mushy peas many myself – but you might not have realised that Polly is a haggis and mashed neeps person!

      I was sorry to have missed your departure from Collegats – I was looking forward to seeing how you packed kit for a three month tour, mountain climbing equipment and, if I recall correctly, a small but effective wine celler!

      Cheers

      Simon

  4. Henriette says:

    Hi Simon and Polly
    Looks like a wonderful trip. Hope you will have a really good time.
    We’ll be following you.

    Hugs

    Lars & Henriette

    • Simon says:

      Hi Henrietta and Lars,

      It’s really good to hear from you – and to know that your trip is under way! I’ve been thinking of you as this year’s HUMM is starting next week and I remember our time together there last year.

      I’ll put a link to your – fabulously professional! – blog on the site. Enjoy yourselves, take care and I and hope to see you in Spain sometime, next year?

      Simon

  5. Eurobiker says:

    A very nice site indeed.

    May I offer a friendly comment? Several times in the blog you refer to the Iberian “peninsular”. It should be “peninsula”. Peninsular is the adjective, peninsula the noun.. It’s a common error by English people for some reason, but not in the rest of the UK. Dunno why.

    • Simon says:

      Hello Eurobiker,

      Thanks for your kind – and helpful – comments about the site. You are dead right about the peninsula/peninsular thing!

      I can’t say I’ve ever noticed this gaff as being a particlularly British, or English, thing. But at least in my case there is a good reason; the Spanish media often refer to ‘España Peninsular‘ to highlight stories, usually statistics, that pertain to mainland Spain only, rather than the country as a whole, which would otherwise include the Balearic and Canary Isles as well as the enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta on the Moroccan coastline – which I’ve seen referred to in an otherwise repectable bikers’ magazine as ‘Enclosures’ – Ugh!

      Now I face the unenviable task of putting all of these mistakes right – don’t hold your breath!

      Regs

      Simon

  6. Eurobiker says:

    Thanks Simon

    I must say I like your site for its inclusive tone and character – and also your thoughtful ideas about avoiding references which mean nothing to say, someone in the US; for example not using The Great Glen as a reference point and so on. You are one of the few I’ve come across who are aware of this.

    I read your section on albergues, and you rightly refer to the private albergues. As you know, there are many more albergues which are municipal, church, or run by various pilgrim associations, all across Spain, Portugal and France on the way to Santiago de Compostella. These require a ‘credencial’ and such albergues are strictly for those on foot, bicycle or horseback. They are NOT available for others. I have walked many of these routes in France , Portugal and Spain, and just wanted to make it clear to anyone who wishes to use an albergue, that only private ones are available to them. Incidentally, about 40% of ‘pilgrims’ claim no religious affiliation and like me, have no religious beliefs at all. I mention it because I didn’t want that those unfamiliar with this situation be puzzled at being turned away, especially if they have no Spanish.

    Please continue with your intention to refer on your blog here to the cultural life of Spain. Sometimes moto sites lack this wider dimension, and really miss the point of travel.

    If you are ever looking for something a bit out of the ordinary on biking websites, you might care to have a look at the “International Journal of Motorcycle Studies”. (sorry, I don’t know how to make links). It is remarkable, and, I find, very welcome as an antidote to the sometimes mindless stuff connected with motorcycling.

    Great site! keep up the good work!

    • Simon says:

      Hi Eurobiker,

      Thanks for your useful contribution, as I couldn’t improve on your summary of the Camino de Santiago hostels I’ve added this as a quotation on the relevant page.

      The ‘International Journal of Motorcycle Studies‘ looks fascinating and reminds me that I need to get serious about loking to publication – somehow, someway, somewhere! In the meantime you might like to take a look at the Trail Riders Fellowship – which is as much British in style as the IJMS is American!

      Regards

      Simon

    • Nick S says:

      Most Impressed with International Journal of Motorcycle Studies as valid medium to expand on cerebral motorcycling, Thanks for the tip.
      Ride Safe all

      • Simon says:

        Hi Nick,

        Thanks for your comment. I’ve ameded your name, which came through in full with the comment.

        I remember that you were riding through the Pyrenees last July – have agood trip?

        Regards

        Simon

  7. Heinrich says:

    Hello Simon.
    I just wanted to know if you are still active with this blogspot about biking in Spain?
    Last comments seem to be from 2011.
    Kind regards
    Hein

    • Simon says:

      Hello Hein,

      Thanks for your interest. I am stoll blogging in theory but I’ve been complelety occupied organising my HISS rally in the Pyrenees at the end of May!

      After than I’m off travelling on my own account; this time in Los Monegros, along the Sistema Ibérica, down to Andalucia and Estremadura.

      Once my time is free I’ll be posting details of these on the blog.

      Regards

      Simon

  8. Nick says:

    Hi Simon,
    Yes our UK -Pyrenean trip went well with a whole bunch of borrowed bikes and Kiwi, German and British riders all returning home with tales tell of long days in the saddle clicking up about 3k miles apiece, we would have liked longer in the south but time as usual was limited so we will have to return to sample your home turf on another day
    Cheers Nick

  9. Owen says:

    Just a quick note to say ab big thanks for this site and the information on routes. I have just come back from a 10 day tour around the Pyrenees and used a lot of the info here to plan my routes – and it seemed like I rode on nothing but awesome roads !! So thank you again for taking the time to put this site together and for sharing all your knowledge with us !!

    • Simon says:

      Hi Owen,

      A big thank you to you mate! Only too pleased to know that people like the Pyreenees – how about the Picos next time!

      Simon

  10. Duncan says:

    Hi,

    I’m putting your trans-Pyrenean routes into my Garmin Mapsource software and on the green route I’m having problems with the area around Eugi – Elizendo. (The Isaba – The End section.) Just north of the lake (Embalse de Eugi) on the N138 there is a turn-off: the NA174. My software doesn’t have this section of road leading up into the mountain. I have the NA174 from Irurita heading south and then it stops. There is no connection at the end to the N138.

    Is this a new section of road?
    How big is this road and is it suitable for a ZZR1400?

    I can’t find any pics on Google Earth of a road. I don’t want to end up on a rough track that would be great on a BMW GS on my ZZR.

    Thanks
    Duncan

    • Simon says:

      Hi Duncan,

      Here’s the route on Youtube so you can make up your own mind. One problem may be that you spelt ‘Elisondo’ incorrectly. As you can see it’s a legitimate surfaced road, not too untypical of the Pyrenees and as you know my westbound route tends to favour these types of road whereas the eastbound is better for faster bikes.

      In general Sports bikes like yours don’t get much chance to show their true mettle in the Pyrenees while smaller sportsters like the Ducati Monster, Triumph Speed Triple, etc. are in their element. Years (and I mean years!) ago I had a Laverda 750 with clips ons, rear sets and a race fairing, so you have my sympathies with wrist strain and all the rest that comes with the territory.

      I guess you can mix and match the route depending on how you get on, reverting to the wider, faster sections as you find them.

      Hope that’s useful.

      Simon

      • Duncan says:

        Hi, thanks for the reply. The YouTube vid shows a nice new piece of road. My Garmin software is a few years out of date so perhaps the road wasn’t built then. Thanks for updating your Google map also with the places in question in.

        I’m looking forward to going. Thanks again for the site and your work.

      • Simon says:

        No Problem Duncan, I’ll be riding over that road sometime next week – I set off next Monday (June 18th), heading west from Catalonia, so I’ll mail you if there is a big problem. You never can tell with Spanish roads as the classification system is a little strange to say the least – see my ‘essay’ on the subject here: https://thespanishbiker.wordpress.com/routes/geography/the-road-network/

        As a rule Satnav information is highly suspect, especially with regard to the state of a road, I knwo several that Garmin, etc. say are ‘unmade’ but to my personal knowlege have been there for over 25 years! All part of the fun but at times I’ll glad to have an Adventure bike!

        Regards

        Simon

  11. Paul says:

    Hi Simon
    I stumbled across your lovely little site while looking for some ideas/information on the Pyrenees. It is well constructed and nicely written, and I thank you for your hard work.
    Looking at the Trans-Pyrenees routes you have shown, I was wondering what would be a good time to ride the green route at a leisurely pace? And also would starting from the norrth or south make any difference?
    My wife and I are looking for somewhere to ride in late Sep this year and we have never been to Spain before. Most-likely, as my wife has only 6/7 days available, I would ride down a few days before and fly her over to to maximise our holiday time.
    Best wishes, Paul

    • Simon says:

      Hi Paul,

      Thank you for your kind comments!

      Regarding the Pyrenees routes, basically Spring and Autumn are the best times so your September trip is a good idea. It doesn’t make a great deal of difference which way you do it riding wise, but bearing in mind that rainy weather tends to come from the west (and there are exceptions!) then riding east-west (the Pyrenees run much more east west than north-south) would take you through any rough weather quickly rather than have it follow you along the way.

      The other advantage of doing it this way is that your wife can get more choice of flight at Barcelona.

      You can see an update with some photos on my Adventure Biker Ride Forum trip report, which being more interactve I’m keeping fairly well up to date – bearing in mind I’m on a long tour myself right now!

      Regards

      Simon

  12. Ian says:

    Hi Simon
    Great site with lots of useful advice, thanks for taking the time and effort to keep it up to date. This will be our third year biking around the Spanish / French border area on our faithful BMW R1150RT. Just some of my own tips:
    Ola, There’s nothing like speaking even just a few Spanish words to get more out of your holiday. I’ve found a great podcast and listen to it on the way to work each morning and can speak a couple phrases, “me ame est” my name is, “med dwely stomaco” my stomach hurts that sort of thing.
    In France I would recommend the toll motorways if you just need to cover long distances, for bikes the toll charges make it a very cheap option as they are built to a very high standard. I still cannot believe how few road works there are abroad. The main pinch points tend to be at the border control points in high season.
    Planning ahead pays off, I use Google Earthview to scout out motorway rest stops as not all have petrol stations as these tend to be better appointed with decent toilets (yes ‘squatting’ type toilets still do exist, and tend to be on the niffy side)
    When in a major town look for the under ground car parks, great for giving a hot bike a rest out of the midday sun, are relatively cheap and give a bit of privacy if your wife wants to change out of her bike gear into her beach gear!
    We are getting the ferry to Bilbao and have rented an apartment in San Sebastain with plans to tour the coastline. If you have any festival tips for the first week in August that would be great.
    From our experience we can recommend a little town called Jaca (pronounced Hacka) we came across last year in the middle of an arts festival. Lovely place and a nice ride over the Col du Bisq from our base in the Pyrennes.
    All the best and keep the shiny side up
    Asta la vista baby

    • Simon says:

      Hi Ian,

      Thanks for your kind words and extremely helpful comments about crossing France. When I started the blog I left this aspect out as at the time I hadn’t been to France for several years – that’s changed since – and hadn’t crossed it for nearly twenty years!

      I’ll take on board what you’ve told me, which has since been corroborated and amplified by a friend who’s just arrived, and add them into the relevant section of the blog with the additional suggestion of using the Channel Tunnel, which I hadn’t realized was such a cheap alternative to the ferries. All we need now is a quick way around Paris without using the terrible Periferique!

      Your holiday in the Basque Country sounds great – especially on such a lovely bike! – I went there recently at the ‘Start’ of my annual Grant Tour at Cabo de Higer near Ondarriba, where I quickly realized that the region merited a special tip all to itself rather than being ‘taken on’ as part of another tour. So I’ll go back there possibly in September. I did ‘do’ all of the Pyrenean crossings though and you might like to base a day trip around this route – I certainly did!

      As for fiestas. Fiestas.net is the best listing site I’ve found; although it’s far from complete it has most of larger fiestas plus a special list of upcoming fiestas for use nearer the time. For details of the fiestas themselves your best plan is to Google the name of the fiestas and/or location and the dates, especially the current year, and you should find the timetables, etc. published by the organiserrs – but these are often only available at the last minute, this is Spain after all!

      Back in the Pyrenees, Jaca is indeed a lovely little town, actually a city as it has a cathedral, and an ideal base both for exploring the region and for entering Spain quickly without using the crossings nrar the Mediterranian and Basque coasts, which as you righly say are congested, especially in holiday period. The other useful, and very beautiful, central pass is the Portalet, which leads you quickly to the autovia just south of Sabiñánigo.

      Talking of congestion – for you especially and for readers in general – a reminder to beware of the weekends around August 15th (the Puente de Asunción), when both Spain and France – and all of Europe or so it seems! – are on holiday at once; the ‘early birds’ coming home after taking the first fortnight in the month and the second tranche on its way out – with serious congestion along the coastal routes and around the big cities, made worse by trucks being banned from the motorways.

      So think about taking a beach break around that time – again, talking of which I hadn’t really thought of the predicament of the ladies changing out of bike gear and into bikinis, in as much as this is also true of the blokes – worse if you get a bust for exposing oneself! One solution would be to ride to naturist beaches, of which there are many 🙂

      Regards

      Simon

  13. Herman van Alphen says:

    Hello, Simon
    I found your blog. It’s very nice and interesting.
    We met in Pobla de Segur at the campingsite of Jordi.
    I am now in La Fresneda. Tomorrow I will do a motortrip and follow your suggestions. Thanks very much for that. You and your wife were very friendly and helpfull. I will follow your blog for sure.

    Kind regards, Herman van Alphen ‘on his red BMW’

    • Simon says:

      Hello Herman,

      Thabnk you for your kind feedback – we had too little time to talk bike talk at the camp site, mainly because you were out riding so much 🙂

      Have a great trip!

      Regards

      Simon

  14. Duncan says:

    Hi, I’ve just got back from my trip down to the Pyrenes from London and I’d like to say that Spain’s roads are fantastic. I only did around the areas that you mentioned and I found the roads in amazing condition and virtually deserted. I prefer them to the Alps and the Black Forest. I’ll definitely go back next year.

    Where else do you recommend to ride in Spain and are all the roads as good as in the Pyrenes region?

    Duncan

    • Simon says:

      Hi Duncan,

      Thanks for the feedback, it’s very heartening to know both that you had a good time and that I was able to help in some tiny fashion!

      The roads in Spain are all truly fantastic and it’s very difficult to pick out just one area. But the northern regions are the most easily accessibe from Britain so how about the Cordillera Cantabrica? This is the mountain range that follows the whole of the north coast whose central regions, Asturia and Cantabria itself, are probably the most visited and well known. Take a look at some entries in my Tour de España 2011 posts for details and route suggestions!

      Regs

      Sinon

  15. John I. Stephen says:

    Hi Simon; interesting site. We;re booked up to arrive in Santander next end April and ride down to Jeez for the MotoGP. I was looking to see if there were any recommended routes. Not having ridden in Spain before, I am looking for some ideas. Thanks ! John

    • Simon says:

      Hi John; thanks for looking through the site. You’re asking quite a big question!

      A lot depends on what type of bike you have and which riding style do you do and, above all, how much time you’ve got for the journey. But to start with; from Bilbao to Jerez you have the possibility of doing a ’round trip’, running along the northern coast and passing through the Picos de Europa and then to the west of Madrid and returning via the Sistema Iberico mountains to the east of Madrid. Which way round you do this would depend on the weather at the time, as April is showery and changeable here as in the UK, and is always changeable along the northern coast.

      A few places to note depending on your time:

      West route: the Sierra de Gredos, a spectacular ride along wild mountains, a short – fast! – detour on the AV 941 east of El Barco de Avila. Cities: Avila, León – NB it’s best to book in advance to stay at León as it’s an important stop on the Camino de Santiago pilgrim’s route.

      East route: the Montés Universales south of Molina de Aragón to Albarracín and Teruel. This is a time consuming but fantastic ride. From Teruel you can carry on either to Albaceite for a more scenic ride down to Andalusia via Almeria or to Cuenca to catch the central plains and make a dash for Seville and on to Jerez.

      Jerez is a pleasant but rather uninteresting town. If you want to stay somewhere close I’d recommend Ronda. This is a very touristy place but really lovely, and the mountain roads all around are spectacular! Otherwise while you’re down there it might be worth going to Tárifa and have a look at the Atlas mountains, which seem close enough to throw a stone at! Tárifa itself is a bit of a dump but very polular with the windsurferes, so the night life should be good! If you like somewhere more tranquil and cultural try Vejer de la Frontera, a seriously lovely little town! In general the countryside around the lowland here will remind you of England, with green ‘parkland’ and woods of broad leaved trees, but it’s Andalusia through and through, so take plenty of time to sample the tapas, and, at least whihc you’re in Jerez, some ‘fino‘ sherry 🙂

      I’m sure you’ve already seen my notes about accommodation but if you’re camping you’ll find that all the camp sites are open – the season starts at Easter, which is early next year – but once inland it can be very cold still at night, especially in some of te places that I prefer 🙂 If you’re in hotels you can leave it to the day as there will be plenty of availabilty – Jerez excepted during the GP of course!

      Well, that’s a start. I suggest you look though Google maps or a good map of Spain to plan your route, taking heed of my notes on this. But tell me more and I can make some more detailed recommendations.

      Regards

      Simon

  16. John says:

    Hi Simon; interesting site. We’re booked up to arrive in Santander next end April and ride down to Jerez for the MotoGP. I was looking to see if there were any recommended routes. Not having ridden in Spain before, I am looking for some ideas. Thanks ! John

    Editor’s note: John, I’ve removed your surname from the post!

  17. John I. Stephen says:

    Hello Simon; Well the keys facts are :- two up; K1300GT; about 300+ miles per day (or morning!) depending on the roads; motorways are not liked except if necessary. We have two full days to reach Jerez from Santander; leaving Thursday morning arriving Friday afternoon; ready for qualifying on the Saturday. We will then have Monday through Saturday to return to Santander; so suggestions are welcome. Thanks!

    • Simon says:

      Hi John,

      Re Jerez. Well, you’ve set a very difficult task, both for me and for yourself! It’s all too easy to underestimate just how big Spain is – we’ve all done it, especially adventure bike riders on their way to Morocco – and this is one of the man reasons I thought to write this guide to biking in Spain.

      Your route from Bilbao to Jerez is pretty much the longest trajectory you could do as the two cities are diagonally opposite each other across the Iberian peninsula and in order to avoid the direct route, which as well as taking you through Madrid is pretty much the most boring scenery-wise. A wider sweep around this central region increases your mileage enormously and takes you into mountain roads where your big bike is actually more of an impediment than an advantage.

      So I’m suggesting you use the autovias and autopistas (motorways and toll road motorways respectively) strategically to make time and just a few short diversions through scenic routes along the way down, by was of a sample of some of the best. Remember that in general it’s best to avoid national routes where they run alongside the toll motorways as these are heavily clogged with traffic, but nacionales (‘N’ routes) are often a lovely alternative to the autovias for the opposite reason!

      I also advise you to use the toll roads to get in and out of both the Bilbao and Jerez areas, from beyond Seville in the later case and Vittoria/Gastiez in the former, as local roads in these regions are very congested. But in general you will be amazed at how quiet the Spainish roads are, including motorways, once you are away from cities.

      So, heading south: from Bilbao head straight for Logroño on the, then head for Soria on the lovely N111. From Soria ride on to Almazan on the new autovia and stay on the N111 again to Medinaceli. Here head for Abarracín via Molina de Aragón. At Molina you turn off on a mountain road, almost a lane in places, via Checa and Torres de Albarracín – don’t let your satnav tell you otherwise!

      I recommend Albarracín as a good place to stay the night – it’s seriously lovely and an excellent introduction to rural Spain despite the fact that it’s a popular tourist destination: the tourism is almost completely local, i.e. for Spanish people, and much of it is based around the fantastic scenery thereabouts. The plus side is there’s plenty of accommodation for a small town.

      Next day head back a few kilotres and take the road to Cuenca via Frias de Albarracín – I’m not giving road numbers as there are several along this route and many Satnavs can’t cope with this anyway, so you’ll have to do the detailed planning yourself, which in any case is all part of the fun J

      From Cuenca you’re on the motorway network all the way to Jerez via Cordoba and Seville, although this route takes you through the great plains of Castilla-la-Mancha which are perhaps more impressive this way than endless wibbly-wobbling your way in the backroads and you also have a splendid crossing of the Sierra Morena through the Defilader de Despeñaperros ravine. If you have time – which you will definitely do if you decided to press on to Cuenca for the night, it’s worth taking a ride into Cordoba for lunch. It’s a small and very beautiful city and the famous Mosque is truly one of the wonders of the world – and the most beautiful women in Spain are said to come from Cordoba! In Cordoba just head for the Mosque and eat nearby.

      I’ve only just re-read your post and see that you have a good deal of time for the way back – more on this soon .)

      I hope this is useful – enjoy!

      • John S says:

        Hi Simon; I mapped a route to te west of Madrid and, using Google Earth I “rode” the route this morning. I was amazed at how dreadfully dull the route is; flat as a pancake for mile after mile with nothing seemingly to commend it. So, I have mapped the route you have proposed and seek your view as to whether it’s a reasonable 2.25 day run. I say “0.25” because we arrive in Santander (not Bilbao, although we could change this) at 18:15; so we have a useful 2 hours’ riding before we need to check into a hotel. So, this is the result; what do you think? Is the Logroño to Cuenca run 270 miles too much in a day? My partner and I will be up and away by 8am and will happily ride for 8 hrs+ so, unless the roads are slow and tough to negotiate, it should be easily do-able. And of course, the run of 400 miles from Cuenca to Jerez on the motorway is easily done on my K1300GT 🙂
        Day 1 : 2 Hrs riding : http://goo.gl/maps/oS93S
        Day 2 : full day’s riding : http://goo.gl/maps/NWPhV
        Day 3 : Full day’s riding : http://goo.gl/maps/EVJEd

        I look forward to hearing from you!
        Regards
        John

      • Simon says:

        Hi John,

        Firstly, a thousand apologies for my forgetting to continue my reply with your return leg – it was all done ages ago but kept slipping off my desktop!

        You’re dead right about the route west of Madrid – far too much of the plains of Castille even though you’re going to have to ride some of them no matter what!

        Day 1: good idea. You can easily get as far as Logroño and it’s a lovely place to stay – a small city with some of the best tapas in Spain – and as it’s the capital of the La Rioja wine region you should find a nice tipple without really trying.

        The one snag may be if you’ve had a bouncy crossing and then ride into bad weather through the Cordillera Cantabria mountains. So as an alernative you could think about Vittoria for your first night – I’ve started putting links up to Booking on the blog – click on the image of Toledo in the right sidebar. OK, I get a miniscule fees for these if they turn nto bookings, but my recommendation is genuine as I use it a lot; you get the best deals, reliable reports from other users and – a big plus for biking – you can usually cancel with 100% refund right up to the last minute, thus keeping your options open.

        Day 2: a lovely route that I know well. The last section, from Molina de Aragon, runs through dramatic mountain scenery but the road is tough going in places, so you might think about breaking off early at Albarracín, which is also a stunningly beautiful place to stay. Then double back to Cuenca at the start of Day 3 – this section is so good it’s worth doing fresh and without the setting sun in your eyes!

        But if you do book in Cuenca and need a short cut you can take the CM-2106 some way out of Molina de Aragon. This is little more than a country lane as far as Paralejos de las Truchas but after that it’s splendid. But it would be s shame to miss staying on the Albarraciín road and a major shame to miss the mountain pass A-1704 / CM-V-9161 !!!

        Day 3: from Cuenca you’re back on boring dual carriageway over the flat plains. There’s nothing much to do about this as the back roads zig-zag all over the place and are very ‘old Spain’! But at least you have a classic ride up and over the Despeñaperros pass south of Valdepeñas, but once you’re in the Guadalquivir vally it gets very boring again – all the way past Cordoba and Seville and on down to Jerez – so I suggest you turn off towards Granada on the A-44 and once there head west on the A-92 as far as Antequera. After that you’re on fairly minor road, the A-384, through Campillos and Olvera but I think these will be OK – good sueface, fast bends, etc. :).

        If you have time and fancy some unforgettable riding to end the day take a detour on the A-387 to Ronda, then head fro Grazalema and take the amazing pass (CA-531) over the mountains to Zahara befor rejoining the A-384 at Algodonales and on to Arcos.

        More on your return leg coming soon!

        Regs

        Simon

      • Simon says:

        Hi John,

        Here’s part 2:

        You’ve now got two route options: head back more or less the way you came or head west along the Portuguese frontier.

        If you chose the former take some time riding east along the Sierra Nevada and the Alpujarras mountain range. This route takes you back along the Sierra de Ronda – if you want to do a ‘milestone’ for the record you could head down to Cape Trafalgar and on to Tarifa, the southernmost point of mainland Europe – on a good day you feel you could reach out and touch the Riff mountains in Morocco. From Arcos de la Frontera head for Vejer de la Frontera and on toward the Cape. After Tarifa the coast is horrid (and beware high winds in the Straits area) but the road up to Ronda from Algeciras is sublime.

        From Ronda you can now head east towards Antequera on a choice of bendy but good roads, after which you head through Alhama de Granada towards Granada itself – as you approach from the west the views of the Alhambra at Granada can be spectacular – especially if there is still lots of snow on the Sierra Nevada behind it, which is quite likely in April. But unless you’re staying there don’t go into the city, cut south on the main road for a bit and head east again through Lanjarón, which is a pretty and stylish spa town and the only place worth stopping in the Alpujarras. This may be a good choice to stay the night otherwise it may be worth heading for Cabo de Gata, just east of Almeria where the Mediterranean ‘turns a corner’ from the Straits as it were. There’s plenty of accommodation at San José and although it’s very touristy the coast around the Cape is amazing – a great ride first thing in the morning as you leave.

        Either way your next heading is north to Baza and onwards to the town of Cazorla, which is the gateway to the sierra and nature reserves of the same name. The ride though this region is slow bit very spectacular – be warned though that it’s a sort of Spanish equivalent to the English Lake District, so the only road there is narrow and apt to be congested. After leaving the Cazorla park head on to Siles and Riopar. Siles is the last stop in Andalusia and is quite a nice little town, elegant and unspoilt, and a good place to think about digs. From Riopar head east to Elche de la Sierra (don’t let your Satnav take to ‘Elche’, which is a big city near the coast!) and then head north on the back roads to Albacete. All of this region has amazing roads, but it is very remote and you should allow a lot of time to pass through here.

        From Albacete you’re heading back towards the way you came, so you can either vary on that theme, for example go either via Cuenca or Teruel, or revisit places you had to pass by on the way down.

        OK, now the west way. A lot depends on whether you want to stop and explore an area for a couple of days or ride more slowly. But in any event you have to face a long ride through rather bland countryside; the region to the east, broadly speaking the Sierra Morena, is pretty but undistinguished countryside and the roads there are very difficult, either in really poor condition or never going the way you want them to! So I suggest you just get it over with a ride up the A-66 autovia, alongside hundred of other riders I expect!

        This is going to take you at least as far as Plasencia but you’ve got some choice there depending on if and where you decide to explore:

        For an exploration break the most obvious choice is the Picos de Europa in Canatabria, i.e. only a short distance from the Santander and Bilbo ferries. The best base there is Potes. This town is a bit ‘touristy’ but has plenty of accommodation, restaurants, etc. and above all it’s the place to be if you wanted a day off-bike walking high in the mountains as it’s near the cable car at Fuente De – top tip: get there early, from about 08.00 as later the queues are horrendous. If you want a great biking day out then check out the relevant page from my 2011 tour. Of course you can build-in a lot of riding in the Picos just getting there. The ‘must do’ entrance is the Puerto de San Glorio, on the road from Riaño to Potes – and the real ‘must do’ experience there is to turn off on to the lane at the pass itself that leads to the Mirador de Llesba, where you might meet a familiar face J

        Another lovely way into the Picos is from Cervera de Pisuerga, well to the east. Cervera is another great place to stay and the trip around the Sierra de Brezo via Triollo and Guardo is well worth the time if you can spare any. Last point about the Picos de Europa; exiting from Potes though the Desfiladero de la Hermida is a pain unless you leave early in the morning – coach parties galore and it’s actually a horrible road! But if you’ve got a long time before your ferry – and are feeling a bit brave! – take the back roads to Reinosa via Cabuernigo from La Hermida, a spa just at the head of the Desfiladero. From Reinosa you are back on autovia all the way to the ferries!

        Back to Plasencia: this is either another explore choice or a detour you can build in to your northbound route. The north of Estremadura is both fascinating and little known; most people think it’s a virtual desert but in fact it’s very green in places, none more so than two adjoining mountain ranges called the Sierra de la Peña de Francia and the much larger Sierra de Gredos, which are the last bastions of the ‘Sistema Central’ that runs east-west virtually right across the Peninsula and into Portugal. A nice base there would be at La Alberca, again, plenty of accommodation to choose from. There are some amazing roads and countryside there, including a ride right to the summit of the Peña de Francia itself.

        If you want to get off the autovia early a good way is to take the A – 5 from Mérida as far as Trujillo and then north to Plasencia through the Monfrague nature reserve. It’s not the best scenery in Spain but it makes a great change from the monotony you will have endured. Moreover, no matter whether you stay or ride on through the un-missable route is up the Jerta valley from Plasencia and then along the Gredos mountains from Barco de Ávila to a junction with the N502 Talavera to Ávila highway – if you’re riding north on to Ávila from this point don’t forget to take a little detour to the Puerto de Pico just to the south! The Gredos are spectacular, high, wild – and very cold! – whereas the Jerta valley is highly cultivated, given over exclusively to cherry trees, so in April it should be a marvel!

        Phew! One of these days all this is going into a book!

        Regs

        Simon

      • John says:

        Simon Apologies for the late reply to your brilliant route and plan. I have spent hours pouring over the Michelin maps of the area and have now transferred the route to my SatNav. We really cannot thank you enough for this. Regards John and Chrissie

        From: The Spanish Biker Reply-To: The Spanish Biker Date: Friday, 4 January 2013 13:41 To: John Stephen Subject: [New comment] Feedback

        WordPress.com Simon commented: “Hi John, Here’s part 2: You�ve now got two route options: head back more or less the way you came or head west along the Portuguese frontier. If you chose the former take some time riding east along the Sierra Nevada and the Alpujarras mountain rang”

  18. Brilliant website, Simon! Lots of really useful tips. It must have taken you ages to get it all together here! A great site for bikers aiming to visit Spain! In fact, I’m hoping to visit Spain for 4 – 6 weeks this coming June travelling down from Cherbourg through France to see my sister first near Angouleme then down to Pau, Puerto de Larrau (1573m) to cross the Pyrenees (I’m hoping it will be free of snow in mid-June!) then on down through the Spanish interior avoiding the coastline as much as possible except for maybe a quick swim and then circling clockwise back up to Burgos to visit Sad Hill near Santo Domingo De Silos (from The Good, The Bad & The Ugly film!) and then up the Western coast of France back to the UK.

    I’ll be travelling on my new black Suzuki Inazuma 250 and despite what some bikers have said about the weight (182 kg wet), it’s far less important to me than the economy. Some users have managed to get 110 mpg from the Inazuma. I’ve managed about 85 mpg so far but then, I have been running it in (it’s got 600 miles on it now). The weight of the bike disappears as soon as one gets above about 15 mph anyhow.

    For the route planning through Spain I’m using the free ITNConv (ITN Converter) software from Benichou Software. You can choose which map provider and direction planner to use via its menus (Google or OpenStreetMap seem to be fine for many of the roads but not so much off-road) and the ability to see the whole route on a Google Map and also how long it takes, helps me a lot.

    I’ll be writing a post shortly on my motorcycle blog, Black Inazuma ( http://blackinazuma.bravesites.com/ ), about this software because it is just so easy to use, plus it’s completely free and you can export your itineraries (complete with camping details and costs) to just about any GPS device as well as save them as ‘.itn’ files on your computer.

    I personally have a TomTom XXL Classic GPS device (the car version for around £89) sitting inside the clear top cover of my Oxford magnetic tank bag as I can’t afford the £500 bike version!

    I used a 12V Car Lighter Socket under the bike seat from an adaptor that Maplin sells ( http://www.maplin.co.uk/adaptor-from-standard-socket-to-lighter-socket-99510 ), cut the unwanted plug off and fitted a couple of eye connectors for the battery terminals via an Inline Blade Fuseholder ( http://www.maplin.co.uk/in-line-blade-fuseholder-444 ) fitted with a 5A blade fuse on the positive (+) leg from the battery for over-current protection.

    I put a Twin USB Adaptor ( http://www.maplin.co.uk/universal-in-car-mini-dc-to-twin-usb-adaptor-591369 ) into the 12V Car Lighter Socket and a USB lead to power the TomTom GPS on the tank bag. Since this adaptor has two USB sockets, I can also charge up my mobile phone in the tank bag while I am on the road!

    Also, I can use the 12V Car Lighter Socket to power my mini Chinese electrical air bed pump which I bought for a few quid from ASDA.

    I read on your website with much interest about your advice on camping in Spain as I hope to use my tent most of the time. As you can probably tell by now, I’m trying to keep costs down to a minimum since I retired last year but I was wondering if you know of any good lists on the web for Class 2 or Class 3 campsites in Spain. Most of the POI lists on the web contain about thousand POI points but with little indicator of exactly how good they might be and whether they cater well for motorcyclists.

    Albaraccin and Parque Natural Del Alto Tajo is on my list of places to visit. There’s a campsite nearby at Camping Las Corralizas near Bronchales – do you recommend it or have you been there yourself?

    Also, do you know if it’s essential to book up campsites in advance for the months of June and July because it might be difficult then for me if I decide to change route and stay longer or shorter at some destinations? If I can just turn up at a campsite, it would be ideal.

    Anyway, well done again, Simon, for your brilliant website. I am still slowly reading it through and looking up the links as well!

    • Simon says:

      Hi there,

      Thanks for your kind words about the site – only too happy that it’s helping you plan your trip.

      You’ll have a great time riding around the Alto Tajo and Montes Universales. Your campng at Bronchalers looks great – ticks all the boxes that I define on the camping section of the site.

      I love this region and know it well and I guarantee you’ll want to stay longer than you planned!

      You won’t have any problem with booking in advance in June or July – the middle of August can be a bit of a problem but in general it’s always as well to have something in mind as a ‘reserve’ option as sometimes camp sites can be closed – or not exist at all! I’m not joking, both of these vents happened to me on my tour last year but in fact these led to better adventures 🙂

      Your bike looks and sounds great – amazing mileage and a reasonable tan size. You’ll need this in central spain as finding fuel is always going to be an issue – your Satnav will help of course but don’t forget about Sunday opening, etc. in very remote areas. And if you’re on a very tight budget beware of hidden commissions on using your card to buy small items like fuel. Talking of which – ‘sin plomo‘ is about e1.50 a litre just now, but by the summer who knows – as you say you’re retires I guess that between us we’ve known enough fuel crises to knit a jumper!

      Good luck with your blog too, very impressive

      Regs

      Simon

      • Thanks, Simon. I should arrive in Ayerbe for the first day in Spain, around mid-June, after travelling through France. In line with what you suggest, I’ve stored a backup campsite coordinate on the TomTom for each campsite I plan to stop at, just in case I can’t find the original or if one just happens to be full. I’m taking a tent, sleeping bag and a fold-able airbed but I’m leaving behind the gas cooker, saucepans, cutlery and all that stuff that rattles around! Too much to bring and worry about! I should be able to eat out reasonably cheaply. Thanks for the tip about the ‘sin plomo’ and the Sunday closings. Fuel may not be as cheap as it used to be but UK prices have also unfortunately just gone up 4p a litre this week. I’m starting to appreciate that I bought a pretty economic bike. The Suzuki GSX750F I had a couple of years which I hacked down from the UK to Malaga via Almeria coastline only did about 38-40 mpg on a long run, fully loaded. Mind you, I remember that Spanish fuel used to be around 30% cheaper than in France. Thanks for the comment about my blog. Feel free to add yourself and your website details to my Guestbook putting some additional information if you like about your websites. Take care for now.

  19. andrew says:

    were looking at doing RB5, Traverse. & i’ve got some gpx tracks around Aragon area, Bardenas Reales which ive just noticed is a park natural, what regulations are aplicable here?
    Unless you have any other routes in mind, im open to suggestions and in the market to buy other routes.

    • Simon says:

      Hi Andrew,

      I don’t know the RB5 in details, neither the book itself nor all of the routes, but it is very popular and seems to be plenty enough to be going on with.

      Have you thought about incorporating the HISS rally into your trip? I have about 500 kms of lovely trails in the area around Tremp, which is on the RB5. There’s no pack drill about the rally, it’s very informal and friendly with no ‘teams’ and no competition. The only ‘rule’ is a recommendation that riders for groups of between 4 and 6 and in practice these groups form an re-form duiong the four days of the rally – and some lucky riders extend their stay to do all the trails 🙂

      Don’t worry about the Bardenas Reales. I know the region well and although it’s a natural park as you say there are plenty of trails where riding is allowed, including the famous ‘Bardena Blanca (White Bardena), where the ‘desert’ landscape where the Spaghetti Westerns were made. Like most natural parks the legal trails are clearly signed and in the balance there are about 80 kms of lovely riding. Note, it’s best to enter the Barndea from the north as you have a long ride before reaching the ‘circuit’ around the firing range. The landscape to the south, via the visitor centre, is rather uninspiring and a heavily irrigated region. So unless you are carrying on westwards just enter and leave via the north portal.

      Regs

      Simon

  20. andrew wilkinson says:

    cheers simon, the rally sounds good but the company i’m in wants to get over to estartis & back.
    in the alotted time, where’s best in the bardenas as i think we’ll just pass through there & back so prob won’t have time to do the circuit.
    it’s all up in the air at the mo, havn’t even got the RB5 yet, but i’m left to organise the route & wanna make the most of the time weve got and do as much ‘off road’ as possible.

    • Simon says:

      Hi Andrew,

      Organising a trip for others is a pretty ‘high risk’ job to take on!

      If you’re pressed for time you might be better off not doing the Bardena as it’s a rather tedious ride from the Pyrenees, even though it’s not too far. One issue is that in high summer the landscape doesn’t always do itself justice if you have a day of ‘milky’ skies and/ can’t get there in the morning or evening.

      You can see the route from a near point in the Pyrenees on my tour last year – and I’ll add some photos as and when this is possible – timw pressures with organising my HISS rallies!

      Regs

      Simon

  21. John says:

    Simon

    This month’s Bike magazine has got some key rides marked for Spain; and I have adapted my evening ride from Santader to our hotel in Miranda de Ebro. However, my Navigation tool (Base Camp) is suggesting that the scenic route south towards Burgos then east to Miranda de Ebro, will take 3.5 Hrs for a 200 km ride. Unless these are small rural roads, mt K1300GT would normally average a wee bit more than 40 mph.

    However Please let me have your view. Here are the two routes; the fist east to Bilbao then south and the second being the scenic route.

    Thanks!

    John

    • Simon says:

      Hi John,

      It’s a bit difficult to say with any certainty, but I rode through that region in 2011 and found that the roads there were in terrible condition, plus the fact that the ‘national’ road that I took, the N-232 from Soncillo through Oña to Miranda was one of those examples where despite its apparent status was in fact hardly more than a country lane, not even a ‘B’ road standard! Whereas where it intersected with the C 629 the road was built to a very high standard – furthermote the road sign was from Santander. My Michelin map shows lots of ‘green’ roads along that route so maybe if you plotted your own route based on that you would have a happy medium!

      Regs

      Simon

  22. John says:

    Hi Simon
    I think that I’ll go the autoroute to Bilbao and then cut south. As we shat be starting at 7pm approx from Santander, it doesn’t make sense to have a 3-4 hr ride ahead!!
    Thanks for your thoughts!

    PS I wonder if others are travelling down, as we are for the Jerez MotoGP?

    • Simon says:

      Hi John,

      I reckon that’s your best plan. At least you will have got over the Cantabrian mountains so that you are more likely to have a dry start to your trip ‘proper’. Why did you choose Miranda de Ebro by the way?

      I’m not sure but I think lots of British bikers make it to Jerez for the GP.

      Regs

      Simon

  23. Rob thurlow says:

    Hi, great site, I was wondering if you’ve got any trail routes sorted yet, I’m crossing the Pyrenees in two weeks time and wanted to know if you know of any good routes to take wile we’re there? Long, high and hard work ones would be great! 🙂
    All the best, Rob

    • Simon says:

      Hi Rob,

      Thanks for the positive feedback – always very welcome!

      As it happens I have lots of trail routes following two HISS rallies in the Pyrenees. I’ve got several spare guides to this year’s rally which include some very high routes – most of which were snowed in due to the cold wet spring we’ve been having and will still be in very bad condition due to the frost, etc.

      There re about 450 kms of trails and there are plenty more that I don’t include as I try to tie them up into long itineraries of over 100 kms at a time – it’s worth saying that no-one has yet completed all the trails in the four days of the HISS rally!

      The guides are A5 sized and spiral bound on still paper so they can be used ‘in the field’ and they also include Coords for the start and finish of each trails plus a few essential waypoints, but you still have to use your nose a bit and I recommend a 1: 50 000 scale map that is readily available locally or through Stanfords. I’m asking €30 for the guides which covers the cost of printing plus a little treat for Mrs S. You can either buy one behind the bar at Camping Collegats, whee the rally was based, or I can post you one – I’ll know how much the p&p is tomorrrow as I’m sending one then.

      Meanwhile take a look at my ‘official’ video to whet your appetite 🙂

      Cheers

      Simon

  24. Rob thurlow says:

    Hi simon, that sounds great to me, can you send me one too? The video is just what we’re looking for, I can’t wait to get going now! All the best, Rob

  25. MrC says:

    Hey Simon. Thanks for the very helpful site. I’ll be biking in Spain for two weeks at the beginning of December and have a couple questions. Will the roads in most places be ok for riding or is it possible there can be snow/ice? Will campgrounds be open?

    • Simon says:

      Hi,

      December can be a great time to ride anywhere in Spain but don’t forget to prepare for extremely cold conditions more or less anywhere on the Peninsula.

      As I write severe snow is affecting the Pyrenees, the whole of the Cordillera Cantabrica and the central mountain systems, so the short answer is, yes, there will be snow and ice! In details, however, even the most remote/difficult roads are usually clear within 24 hours of severe snow and in areas like the Pyrenees there’s a daily check by a snow plough every morning, which also grits the known icy sections, i.e. shady sections where the sun doesn’t touch from autumn to springtime – they also keep look out for fallen roads, boulders on the road, etc.

      I ride a lot in winter – in many ways it’s my favourite season – and in reality your main risk is meeting a snowplough round a blind bend on a narrow road like the C1311 where I live! Obviously you’ll see the weather situation where you are but it’s also worth checking the national met office’s site, AEMET, which has warnings (tip right if the page) as well as reliable daily and longer term weather forecasts.

      The other big issue as well as snow/ice is high winds, this is especially important in what is called the ‘Ebro Depression’, which is the high, flat arid region between the central area of the Pyrenees and the central mountains. Here the wind blows from the Bay of Biscay to the Med and the only thing stopping it will be you!

      You’ll see wind warnings on the weather map in the form of arrows, anything more than two ‘arrows’ and you’re in for a very rough ride indeed! Be careful too with the ‘Tramontana’ which hurtles around the extreme eastern end of the Pyrenees and across the Ebro delta down towards Valencia.

      Except on the Mediterranean coast (and in the south at that) most camp sites close from mid-October to Easter but there are a very few that I know that are also worth looking at in the ‘Sistema Iberica‘: Albarracín and Entrerrobles in Soria. But in both cases you will have to be prepared for extreme cold! In all honesty I wouldn’t consider camping, not only because of the weather – I have done it in January for a rally! – but for the loss of daylight hours when you should be riding your bike 🙂

      Enjoy!

      Simon

  26. hardy2014 says:

    Simon, thank you very much for posting such good information about the routes in the Picos de Europa. But found lots of other usefull Informations as well at your site.
    Living partly in Spain (most over the winter – when I leave cold Germany) and riding with a big one (Rocket III Touring) the place between Cap de Creus and Puigcerda. Know this part of region quite well and guided some friends in the last 5 years on curvy roads at this wonderful spot.
    Now in the first part of October we will go with few big Cruisers from here (Costa Brava – Roses) to the Picos. We decided to go fast to the Picos and start our goal from there. Will spend some 2-3 nights close to Potes and I try to catch all the wonderful Gorges and Miradores on the way back. I will check your green track in the map to the Picos carefully. Think my only gap in the planning so fare, are the accommodation. We will stay cheap and good and should have a Restaurant close by. But after reading all your information, I felt a bit more on the safe side.

    Thank you for this blog and Info. I will keep your House in mind, when I eventually ride the “Tremp and Sort”-thing at my own.

    keep the rubber down – ride safe and enjoy life

    Hardy

    • Simon says:

      Hi Hardy,

      Thanks for you very kind words. Accommodation near Potes is no problem, my good friend Lisa Stuart at Casa Gustavo is great bike friendly accommodation – see my 2011 tour.

      Have fun . . .

      PS the area inland Cap de Creus is wonderful – the la Garrtotxa may not be so very trail bike friendly but it scores the points on every other front!

      Simon

      • hardy2014 says:

        Hi Simon,
        I am already in contact with Lisa and asked for Rooms and so on. Seams to be the right place for me. And at least no Language problems.

        cheers
        Hardy

      • Keith says:

        Hi, just came across your site and saw the reference to Potes and the Picos de Europe. I am trying to arrange a trip with some friends to Cantabria and Asturias and wondered if you can suggest any Guest House/Hotel accommodation and some routes to take?
        Many thanks and best wishes for the site.

      • Simon says:

        Hi Keith,

        Thanks for the feedback. i was about to recommend a great guesthouse but its website isn’t on-line and I’m wondering if there haven’t been changes.

        Have a great Christmas and I’ll get back after the holiday.

        Simon

  27. Mark says:

    Hello there, I wanted to say this site had proved very useful in planning an upcoming bike trip to Spain with 6 friends so many thanks for that. I do have a question regarding the ‘Trans Mediterranean’ route. We need to go from just north of Barcelona to Valencia. Ideally we would follow your route which would nicely be split over 2 days. Unfortunately due to time constraints we may only have 1 day to do this trip. On this basis we would need to use motorway for either the 1st or 2nd half of the trip down to Valencia and then the other half following some of your suggested route. I was just wondering whether you could advise on whether you have a preference in terms of the first half of your route or 2nd half for that journey so we can choose accordingly. Many thanks for any help you can provide and the great website! Kind Regards, Mark

    • Simon says:

      Hi Mark,

      I’m really pleased to know that you’ve found the site helpful – that’s what it’s there for 🙂

      Regarding your trip. The better option would be to use the Autovias to get both around and well clear of Barcelona. So, from the north of the city take the AP2 and then the AP7 as far as Reus where you exit directly onto the N420 towards Alcañiz.

      From this road you cam pick up my original route at Gandesa. This is a great ride but the section from Morella to Cantavieja is very twisty, hardly more than a country lane in places. So if you find that not suitable for your bikes – I ride a 650 adventure bike so this is grist to my mill! – then from Cantavieja carry on with the A-22 as far as Teruel – a truly stunning, fast, sweeping road 🙂

      Otherwise, and here I’m guessing that with six riders you might want some faster/easier roads, my advice would be to carry on with the N420 past Alcañiz – where you could pop in to look at Motolandia, the Aragon Moto GP circuit – and just beyond take the N221 towards Monreal del Campo. Stay on this until Montalban, but just beyond this little town turn south at the roundabout onto the the N420 all the way to Teruel city – this is a stunning road but very dangerous if there is a side wind – think Pennines then X 10 for size! – so be careful up there.

      From Teruel it very much depends where you are going in Valencia. But based on going to the ciry itself take the N330 direction to Cuenca which turns off towards Ademuz. Just beyond Ademuz take the CM 2203 (later the CV33) towards Liria. This is a stunning road with a thousand bends and they say in Spain 🙂

      From Liria you are on ‘autovia‘ all the way into Valencia. If you are heading south of that city a lot dpends on how far – the autivia ring road is seriously fast and furious with heavy traffic. But you may find there’s not much alternative unless you follow my original route well inland.

      Hope that helps – I wish I was going with you :

      Simon

      • Mark says:

        Hello Simon, apologies for the slow reply. It’s been a little crazy with planning for our trip which actually starts tomorrow!

        A really big thanks for your comprehensive, very useful reply and also for sending it so quickly, unlike me! We have taken your advice and incorporated this into our journey. It makes such a refreshing and positive change in life when someone takes the time to help a complete stranger where ultimately there is nothing in it for them. However, the advice in your reply, together with the rest of your website has made a real difference (i.e. much easier) to me and my travelling companions in our planning of the routes we will ride and scenery we will see throughout our tour.

        So again, from all 7 of us (ranging in age from late 30s to mid 60s), a really big thank you!

        All the best,
        Mark

      • Simon says:

        Hi Mark,

        The pleasure is all mine – it’s fun planning ways of how other people can spend their money, Mrs Spanishbiker does it all the time 🙂

        More seriously, after a thirty year gap I took up biking again following a serious illness – when one changes one’s priorities a bit as you can imagine. The help and advice I got from complete strangers during the first year made me want to do my bit in return, call it ‘Karma’ if you like. That and being stuck indoors with a stinking cold – yes, we get them here n Spain too! – saw the start of the blog . . .

        Regards

        Simon

  28. David says:

    Simon, first of all a heartfelt thank you for all the amazing information you’ve compiled into this website! Preparing for a 4×4 trip through the Spanish Pyrenees this summer, I must say your website is one of the most comprehensive and understandable sources of information out there regarding travel in northern Spain. I’m still left with a couple of questions though, and would like to ask them via e-mail if that’s possible.

    Kind regards,
    David

  29. hardy2014 says:

    Hi Simon,
    I just like to let you know. Now my planning for a remarkable Trip from Roses-Costa Brava to the Picos of Europa is made. We will be on the street beginning October this year. Think we (3 Rocket III with Rider, 1 BMW 1600 and 1 Suzuki M09) will put 3.500 km together in 10 days. Only the best spots (I hope it will be the best – I was planning now for 8 weeks and saw some k Kilometers on google Street view. We will sleep close to Potes at Lisas Neighbor, Lisa will take care for Breakfast and Dinner. Will check your blog again, if I see some things I could fiddle in.

    Guys like you make planning comfortable and by spreading your knowledge you helped me a lot. Thank you again and all the best from Germany

    Hardy

    • Simon says:

      Hi Hardy,

      Great to hear that your trip plans are working out – that’s a wonderful ‘cruise’ you have planned and I’m hoping to do a similar run this summer, but by car with Mrs Spanishbiker – it will be great to meet Lisa again too, as we don’t see each other often.

      Early October will be fantastic as the autumn colours on the trees will be spectacular, and the weather then is usually reliable. Maybe you should thnk about taking in the ‘Irati’ section of the French Tour de France routes? The Irati forest os said to be Europes’s largest wild beech forest and the colours will be amazing then – I was there in September 2012 and the colours hadn’t quite kicked in.

      On those great big bikes of your you’ll have some fun on this section of the road – if you will forgive me my English humour! – but the views will be worth it 🙂

      Enjoy!

      Simon

  30. hardy2014 says:

    Thx a lot Simon.
    than I wish you both good luck with the trip and a wonderful journey.

    I will check the “Irati” section. Normally I try to prevent the French part. Bcs the roads are sometimes in worse condition and the problem with Fuel annoys me always.
    I was lucky to see lots of roads in Google Street view photographed in Oct. last year, and did see the colors on the Asturias side, where lots of leave is in the hills.

    Thanks again and keep care!

    All the best to you and your wife.

    btw you’ve got the better choice of motorcycle for this country. I have to get rid of my Triumph Rocket Touring

    • Simon says:

      Hi Hardy,

      Thanks, we will have a great trip, revisiting some places together that we haven’t been to for many years!

      I know what you mean about the French side of the Pyrenees, some of the roads deteriorate so much it’s hard to believe you’re still in Western Europe! In this case if you take the Coll du Larrau (NA 2011 in Spain) the Spanish side is great but if there is fog or cloud the French side is very dangerous, but OK in good weather.

      Don't try to cross the larrau pass if it looks like this from the Spanish side!

      You really don’t want to do this road if you can’t see your hand in front of your face – believe me, I’ve done it!

      The Irati road is in good condition but rather narrow and very vertiginous in places – not for the faint hearted! The Irati route exits at Saint Jean Pied-du-Port and that is a good road back into Spain – at least in the afternoon when all of the Santiago de Compstella pilgrims have crossed it – some of them using mules for their luggage!

      Otherwise the Erratzu pass is lovely but again, very narrow, but the road is excellent on both sides of the frontier. Still in France – from Sant Jean P de P, the very boring and busy D918 takes you to the border crossing at Ainhoa, French D20 and then the N 121B all the way to Pamplona is great, fast and furious . . .

      Regs

      Simon

  31. hardy2014 says:

    Simon,
    great Information! Saves me from strolling in the net for hours. We are brave hearted so narrow and high – we don’t care. Thats why we come here. Roads to ride you will not find in another place!

    all the best

    Hardy

  32. leodawson75 says:

    Hi Simon. I notice you strongly recommend staying out of Madrid on a bike. What is the reason for this any more than other Spanish cities? I have been stuck in Madrid traffic in a battered Vauxhall Frontera before now, but have never ventured abroad on a bike as yet.

    I am planning a trip in spring on my Sprint to Portugal via Picos de Europa, and coming back to Santander via Madrid and Pamplona to visit friends there.

    If Madrid is really that bad I might skip it and meet my friend there elsewhere!

    Cheers

    • Simon says:

      Hi there, thanks for your interest in the blog.

      Regarding Madrid, well I’ve ridden right through the city centre and not had that much of a problem and there is a motorway that takes you straight through. I went there for the same reason you did, to stay with friends, so it’s a thumbs up. It’s just very busy and very very hot in summer.

      More to the point is to avoid the whole conurbation in general, drawing a wide circle around Guadalajara, Segovia, Avila, Toledo and Ocaña and Tarancón, that way all of your route push you away from the dead centre where almost all of the countryside is rather boring, or very overcrowded where there is some scenery, for instance around the Guadarrama mountains.

      But Madrid is a lovely city to visit, especially if you have friends to show you around 🙂

      Regs

      Simon

      • leodawson75 says:

        Great, thanks for the info. I won’t write off Madrid just yet then! I did find the whole area around there quite hard work, (especially getting woken up and turfed out of my tent by the Guardia Civil at 2am on a freezing February morning in Guadalajara!)

        Hopefully in April-May it won’t be such punishing heat to be caught in in the Madrid traffic…

      • Simon says:

        Blimey, camping in February in Guadalajara would be gruelling enough without the intervention of the boys in green! April/May will be lovely in the Madrid area, not hot at all. Meanwhile take a look at my page on the rules for free camping – any feedback from your own experinces most welcome 🙂

        Regs

        Simon

  33. Leo says:

    Hi again, Simon. Is it ONLY the roads labeled “AP” that are toll roads there?
    Cheers

    • Simon says:

      Hi Leo,

      That’s a good question and, as always, leads to an interesting answer!

      The ‘AP’ stands for Auto-Pista rather than the ‘P’ standing for ‘peaje‘ (Eng = toll). So although in general they are toll roads there are often sections that are toll free. These are usually around major cites where there have an essential use to free up traffic.

      According to the description in Wikipedia there should, at least in theory be toll free sections where there isn’t an alternative free major road, i.e. a Nacional ‘N’ road or an Autovia (AV). Off hand i can’t think of any example of the latter but I know several of the former, around Barcelona, Tarragon and Valencia down the Mediterranean coast, and at Zaragoza in Central Spain.

      The difficulty is that at least on my Michelin maps the AP’s are mapped in yellow and red as opposed to the while and red of the AV’s, so you can’t know where the free sections are. And while you are on the highway itself you don’t rally know unless you join at local sections where there are signs telling you when you’d have to get off to avoid the subsequent toll section.

      Maybe more use – and actually answering your question 🙂 is that Autovias, e.g. A2, are always toll free.

      The only other toll sections are some tunnels and maybe some big bridges, e.g. the Cadí Tunnel in the Pyrenees, which costs about €10 just for five kilometres – the up side of this though is this tunnel frees up some great roads :). I can’t thunk of any bridges that are specifically toll roads as I guess most of these would be part of the AP anyway.

      Hope that helps

      Simon

      • Leo says:

        Thanks, Simon, that…er…cleared it up! 🙂

        On another note, after I part company with my friends in Asturias and head into Galicia and then Portugal, I’m thinking of perhaps changing my travel plans and going via Madrid to visit one or two of the places that Orwell went to during his time on the Aragon Front, and perhaps seeing Tarragona. Being that I want to be in Portugal for April 25th (their festival of liberation from fascist dictatorship), but that I am due to be in Santander for my return to the UK on May 4th, I’m I being a bit to ambitious to try and squeeze it in on this trip? 🙂

  34. Simon says:

    Hi Leo,

    I haven’t forgotten your question, but time is a hard mistress . . .

    I’m not sure how to answer or advise as so much of your time is your own priority. The Orwell sites are about half way between Zaragoza and Huesca city and as such just about five hours ride from Madrid on the A2. But of you took in Belchite then you have a fantastic ride via Teruel but this would take more time.

    There’s not much Civil War sites around Teruel, despite the terrible battle there and the involvement of the International Brigades, but there are two very interesting locations in the Donarque forest nature reserve near Albarracín – and I feel sure your Madrid mates would thank you for suggesting a weekend away in that fabulous place 🙂

    Re. Tarragona: well I live there so you may have the change to buy me lots of beers and tapas !!! 🙂 Otherwise there are lots of sites around the Ebro battle grounds that are easy to find and explore.

    Readng between the linbes a bit from your earlier comment I’m wondering whether you want to wild camp at some of these places, especially the Orwell trenches, which have ben restored, but personally I feel that the ground is still a bit too soft underfoot history wise for my taste – some of the places I’ve been to give you the creeps in broad daylight! – I prefer to search out pre-Roman village locations, there’s something amazing about sleeping on earth that was inhabited two thousand odd years ago and to wonder what the same strs looked like in those days, give or take a galactic ‘event’ or two . . .

  35. Alison says:

    Hello Simon

    we’ve just spent a glorious two weeks following some of you routes trans Pyrenean, and wanted to say a massive thankyou for your work creating them.
    This is possibly a bit of a long shot, but if you happen to drive a black UK plate Land Rover with “one life, live it” on the back and saw a two up black and orange KTM 990 SMT on you local c1311 about 10 days ago……..that was us!

    we would have stayed in your Casa but you were already booked, next time maybe.
    I keep recommending you to other bikers (and non bikers), please keep up your good work

    many thanks and best wishes

    Alison and Clive Worrall

    • Simon says:

      Hi Alison and Clive,

      Many thanks for the feedback – it’s comments like this that make my day 🙂

      Much as I’d like to be the owner it wasn’t me in the Landy, nor do I have a big Katy like yours – yes, I am jealous! – but you can’t have it all.

      Tomorrow I’m off for a few days exploring in central Spain, taking advantage of the brief ‘Indian summer’ and free camping some of the time as most camp sites are closed now after the ‘Pilar’ national holiday (October 12th).

      It’s a shame you couldn’t stay at Casa Rafela as it’s a fabulous base to explore the Pyrenees. Our rental season there is now finished (actually we operate until All Saint’s day, November 1st but as we’ve no bookings now we’re taking the house for ourselves!) so that’s what I’ll be doing from now on . . .

      Thanks too for recommending the site to your friends – it’s aimed at any independent traveller, not just bikers as you’ve already realised – one of my main tasks this winter is getting it updated and, yes, checking my spelling and grammar 🙂

      Hope to meet you sometime, perhaps.

      Simon
      PS I’ve edited out your surname, no big deal just a standard precaution in case you didn’t realise that it would come through

  36. Lewey says:

    hello, just found your site after searching for information about riding off road in the Sierra Tejada national park in Andalucia – do you know what the rules are regarding where you can ride and if there are any summer rules?
    cheers!

  37. Simon says:

    Hi Lewey,

    Sorry for the delay – I’m in the middle of setting up The Spanish Biker as a company offering guided rides and support for trail riding the Trans-Pyrenean routes!

    Back to Andalusia: no problems, there are no odious rules, just respect the environment, don’t male too much noise, start fires, including taking care with cigarette ends, wild camping nor sports events – which would always have special conditions.

    More on the relevant page with a link to the original – but remember that the generic rules about yur bike being street legal, etc. still apply 🙂

    Simon

    • Lewey Hook says:

      Hi Simon, Well – we bought a small cortijo on the edge of the national park and now have a couple of bikes there riding and smiling as often as we can.
      I am modifying a honda 650 to a scrambler here in the UK and there are 3 of us wanting to ride from where the ferry drops us (santander or bilbao) down to the house where i will leave my bike. ( they truck their bikes back) …anyway 1x stripped down scrambler, 1x triumph scrambler and looking for a adventure bike rental company in the north for our other rider (??) and we would like to do north to south, no motorways and lots of easier gravel roads (not too difficult due to the bikes) got any suggestions on planning?
      thanks and regards
      Lewey

      • Simon says:

        Hello there Lewey. Congratulations on acquiring your new ‘domain’ – do you mesan the edge of the Sierra Nevada National Park? We were there for a long weekend – just home, hence the late reply – and I’d forgotten how lovely it is down there. Here in the Pyrenees it’s like another country!

        Regarding the bike rental. IMT rentals to GS800’s to rent but I don’t think they authorise off road use – the bikes are fitted with Tourance tyres and d0n’t have any mods over the stock bash plates, etc. But they are a subsidiary of Motorrad and have branches in Bilbao and Santander so that’s a start. Otherwise try approaching someone at MC Piston bike club, who hold a big rally in Santander in October which has many UK links/participants. I don’t know if they are actually based in Santander but I expect they will have local knowledge/contacts.

        North to south: there are many option but for me I’d head down the Sistema Iberica, that is to say well east of Madrid. A few ‘high points’ to help you plan; Cervera de Pisuerga, Soria, Molina de Aragon, Albarracín, Almansa, Siles … that should get you wibbley-wobbling your way down south 🙂

  38. Keith says:

    Hi Simon, Flintlock (Keith) here from the ABR site. A group of us are heading down through France (arriving at Cherburg on the 6th September) and into the Pyrenees, we will only have three days in the area. Our route will be from Asasp-Arros
    E7 south to Escot
    D294 to Bielle
    D934 into Spain
    A-136 to Biescas
    N-260A to Sarvise
    HU 631 to Escalona
    A-138 back into France
    D173 and D929 to Bazus-Aure
    Then D113 and D918 and D935 to Tarbes
    We are then heading back up through France and doing a Normandy WW2 tour before getting the ferry at Cherburg back to Ireland on the 13th September

    Just want to know what you think of the route, we need to stick fairly tight to this route, also is it ok to wild camp in the Pyrenees.

    All being well we expect to be around Asap-Arros on the evening of the 7th

    Regards

    Keith

    • Simon says:

      Hi Keith,

      Great to hear about your trip.

      Your route into Spain over the Portalet pass is spectacular, as is the ‘detour’ over the HU-631 to Escalona. But this section is hardly more than a country lane so you should allow plenty of time. It also splits in two just after passing a village called Nerin – the ‘main’ route goes down into an amazing gorge, but this road is b¡very narrow and very popular with Sunday drivers, while the upper lane stays high in the mountains and has amazing views!

      Your whole time in Spain could be a day trip, but as you’re asking about camping: wild camping in general is illegal in Spain, with some complicated exceptions that you’ll see on the blog. But in Aragón, i.e. the entire part of your trip, it is explicitly illegal in all cases! And bearing in mind that you are riding along the boundaries of the Ordesa National Park and in a big group you will certainly attract attention of the forest rangers . . .

      But! There’s a camping that I’ve always wanted to stay at where the two roads I mentioned above join together again a few miles east of Escalona. It’s not on Google but it’s there!

      Have a great time and don’t forget to send me lots of your fantastic photos for my blog – remember that I’m setting up this kimnd of ‘tour’ as a business later this year!

      Simon

      PS – it’s a shame you don’t come a bit further east and drop in on the Catalonia HISS, where we’d have a great craic 🙂

      • Keith says:

        Hi againSimon,

        Just a quick thank you for your advice & comments. Your site was a useful tool pre-trip.

        What can I say-we had a great time-we were all well impressed with the Pyrenees, a lovely part of the world & ended up staying down there an extra day.

        Once again, many thanks for your input and site

        Regards

        Keith

      • Simon says:

        Hi Keith, not at all. The Pyrenees are fabulous! I think I’ve seen a few of your images on ABR Forum – have you done a specific trip report?

        Regs

        Simon

  39. Keith says:

    Hi Simon,

    Thanks for the prompt reply. Based on your info we will use camp sites only, and will make a point of seeking out that campsite east of Escalona. We will also be on the HU 631 on a weekday so hopefully not much traffic
    This will be our first trip to this region, and we hope maybe next year to make a bee line for Spain and come knocking on your door!

    Its good to know our route has got your seal of approval.

    Thanks again for your much appreciated comments

    Keith

    • Simon says:

      Not at all Keith. I have a feeling that Mrs S and I will be trying out this camp site sometime before your trip. But as useful ‘fall back’ is Camping Rio Ara at Torla – it’s the one right next to the village on the far side of the river -it’s one of tgeh best sites I’ve ever stayed at and you can get a bus fir just €1 into the National Park – worthy of your amazing photography skills – I posted a walk report on ABR some months ago.

      Simon
      PS I’ve taken the liberty of removing your surname from your comments – these come through automatically from WordPress but many of us like to keep some degree of privacy!

  40. Keith says:

    Hello Simon

    Just wondered if you have any progress with the accommodation in the areas mentioned below:

    Many thanks

    Keith

    in response to Keith:

    Hi, just came across your site and saw the reference to Potes and the Picos de Europe. I am trying to arrange a trip with some friends to Cantabria and Asturias and wondered if you can suggest any Guest House/Hotel accommodation and some routes to take? Many thanks and best wishes for the site.

    Hi Keith,

    Thanks for the feedback. i was about to recommend a great guesthouse but its website isn’t on-line and I’m wondering if there haven’t been changes.

    Have a great Christmas and I’ll get back after the holiday.

    Simon

    • Simon says:

      Hi Keith,

      Thanks for the reminder – I hadn’t forgotten but their web page was down and now that it’s back up I see Lisa and Mike have changed their e-mail address! So, it’s Casa Gustavo and it’s about a mile away from Potes – there’s a nice walk along the far bank into the town. The house is very friendly and everyone eats together, great for those of a sociable disposition 🙂

      Have a great trip

      Simon

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