BMW R1200GSA vs Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Salamanca to Caminomorisco on some of the best roads ever!


I was up and at them bright and early this morning. I went downstairs for breakfast, which starts at 8.30, and was met with a locked door. The girl rolled up and opened up at 9.30. Oh well, this is Spain and it doesn't matter, I got a window seat and watched the world go by while sipping on my coffee.

After breakfast I left Suzanne to sort out all our gear and pack our stuff while I made my way to the Automotive Museum (again) which opened at ten.

 Stunning old Guzzi. (You would have loved this Ted).

 One for my Vespa loving friends at home.

One of the first loves of my life.
I'd still like to have one. 

 The Bultaco Montessa collection.

 "Slightly" modified Ducati single.

Some old Norton that is supposed to be special.

Apparently it's named after a cat.

There were a lot of cars there but the ones that stood out for me were these prototype concept cars...

Speed humps?


 This was the only clear side shot I could get.

Hmmm, Suzuki Grand Vitara body kit maybe?

Yes please.

You can see more about this company here:

While we were packing the bike for today's ride we noticed the beggar outside the church across the road. All of a sudden she furtively looked around to make sure no one was watching, then pulled out her smart phone and checked it for a message. Begging must pay well here. I must admit all the beggars we've seen here are very well dressed. Better than Suzanne and I are at the moment.

It's funny the people you bump into. I met Antonio, a philosophy student and fellow motorcyclist, outside the hotel today. Antonio works as a tour guide in Morocco during the summer and happily gave me a heap of tips as far as sights and good roads in Morocco goes. Thanks Antonio.

Something else I discovered today is that we need to put a kangaroo sticker on the bike as a lot of people think we are from Austria. When I say "No, Australia. Kangaroo" they step back with a big smile and throw their arms in the air. One guy even gave me a hug today and said "Australia? Australia number one!". 

So after a quick (one hour) visit to the post office where no one spoke English, we headed off to who knows where. Our plan was to "Go that way towards Portugal" and see where we end up. Our first stop was to fill up with fuel and we were surprised when a guy came out and filled the bike for us. Suzanne said the last time she remembers someone doing that was when she was nineteen and driving a VW Beetle. From there we just rode towards Portugal on the back roads. Wow, what a ride! 

Initially the road was pretty rough, and pot holed. I had to avoid a few front wheel sized holes at the last second and it scared Suzanne a bit.

This is before the roads got good.

Near one village the fields were full of these rock formations.
Check out the rock wall as well.

 The village roads were a little narrow.

Suzanne saw a pen full of pigs. There was a feed trough with the pigs crowded around having a feed. All these brown pig bottoms were poking out with their little tails wiggling. I missed it but it sounded like Suzanne was describing Canberra and our politicians.

We rode through a lot of little villages and each one was the same. There was no one about. Not a soul. I don't know where everyone is during the day, but they weren't visible when we rode through. When we got into the mountains we saw people out walking. Maybe that's what they do. It would explain the absence of overweight people here.

In one of the villages I decided to have a bit of a look around and had to make a U turn at one point. It was here that the back wheel hit a very small obstical at a very delicate moment. The bike leaned way over to the right. To the point where I couldn't pull it back up again. It was here that the intercom paid for itself as I yelled at Suzanne "Lean left! Lean left!" That little weight shift enabled me to pull the bike upright. It's the closest we've come to the bike falling over on this trip. Once again, we were stationary.

We were welcomed into one village by a friendly Local...

I think he said "Woof, woof, woof!" 
but it was in Spanish so I'm not sure.

We were riding along the road and there was a large mountain off to our right with something on top. We couldn't tell if it was a church, or a castle, a fort, or what. So when we saw a turn off in that direction, we decided to take it.

 That's when the fun began. The road just climbed, and wound it's way up the mountain. The sides of the road were "entertaining" with their drop offs, so I said to Suzanne "Don't look to the left". A minute later Suzanne screamed through the intercom at me "Don't look to the left". Yes, I know Suzanne. It was a STEEP cliff, a was a LONG way down, and there was no railing.

Shall we go up there?
Why not?

That's where we're going.

Nearly there...

There were quite a few sections where rocks had fallen down onto the roads so it was a careful ride to the top. Well, almost to the top. We got near the top and the turn off the the structure we saw from the bottom was closed for road works. I was tempted to ride around the sign, but decided it wasn't a good idea.


We looked down the other side of the mountain (1,499 metres) at the road winding down and it looked intense.

 What goes up...

...must come down.

We rode up and down for a few hours from here.  You can see in the photos that the rocks are green. We were wondering what they were and then stopped for a closer look and realised they were covered in moss.

It made the whole scene surreal as everything else was green as well. We continued down the mountain at a sedate pace partly because of the chance of rocks on the road, and partly because the steep sides were bloody scary.

It was fun, in spite of the odd rock or two.

 We got a little lost in one village...

But the friendly locals gave us directions...
...or they were telling us to get out of town.

It was a great ride, but it was going to get better.

We reached a T junction and turned right. The road to the left went back to Salamanca so we knew we had to go right. There was a large road sign in Spanish that I guessed said something about spending so many million euros fixing to road from Salamanca to Portugal. You know, the usual political propaganda. A few minutes later I wanted to meet the politician who decided this needed to be done, and hug him. The road was perfect for motorcyclists. A fresh, new, grippy surface, cambered in the corners, and constructed with perfect radius bends. All second and third gear stuff. Bend after bend we wound our way through the mountains. Bliss. The only hard part was slowing down to fifty through the villages.

(OK. There are a lot of "boring" photos of roads to follow. They are for my motorcycle riding mates, so if you don't ride you can skip over them.)

No, I wasn't on the wrong side of the road. I was close to the line and Suzanne held the camera out to the left. See no helmet in the shot.

 Bend after bend...

 ...after bend...
..after bend.

I think you get the idea.

 The sun was starting to get low.

On the odd occasion I got to see the scenery.
I don't remember this though.

 Check out he sat nav. Light red is where we've been. Dark red is where we're going.  : )

 There were about six villages stacked on top of each
other like this on the side of the mountain .

 I was getting the best value out of my tyres by using up the tread on the edges. A whole new experience for a West Aussie.

 Another hairpin sir? Well thank you. Why not?

 This photo is for all of you reading this blog at work.
I remember how you feel.

 Now we'll follow the river for a while.

 We might have to explore that one tomorrow.

Soooo, I "think" we went here, then here, then here.

Like I said, sorry about all the road photos, but it just went on and on and on. Suzanne took 450 photos today.

It was getting dark, and cold, so it was time to start looking for a hotel. "We'll stop at the next town." A few towns later we found ourselves in Caminomorisco. "This will do nicely."

We finally found a town where NO ONE speaks English. It's so much more fun that way. We booked into our hotel, parked the bike out the back, and moved into our room. A few minutes later we were in the bar and ordering dinner. There was a bit of a scene between an old guy and his wife at the bar. She obviously thought it was time he went home...but he didn't think so. You didn't have to understand Spanish to work out what was going on. It's the same all over the world.

Suzanne's quote of the day when she came in from outside was "I was sitting looking at what I thought was a full moon Sime, but it was a clock". At least it's better than yesterday's "I just worked out olive oil comes from olives".

After all the riding we'd done, we had covered about a  hundred and sixty kilometres. The short way here was a hundred and thirty kilometres, and we're only eighty eight kilometres (in a straight line) from Salamanca, but boy what a ride. We're still in Spain but tomorrow we'll see Portugal, we hope...

For the motorcyclists reading this.

You can check out the route of today's ride. Log onto Google maps, enter the towns below into the destinations list, click "Get directions", enlarge the scale on the bottom left to one mile, and take a look at the route we took today...

Salamanca, Vecinos, Tamames, Casares de las Hurdes, Caminomorisco.

Or you can just click on the Spot Tracker link, but it doesn't actually follow the roads:

Like I said, this was freshly surfaces and had cambered bends. Heaven.

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