BMW R1200GSA vs Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Penguinos 2013.

Camping and partying with 25,962 other motorcyclists. What an awesome weekend!


We planned an early six am start this morning. Yeah right. "Let's set the alarm for seven. Check in at Pinguinos doesn't open til nine." Snooze button, sleep, scratch a few bits, shower, breakfast, pack, pick up bike from car park. Oh, it's ten thirty. Oh well. We were on the road to Pinguinos 2013.

Pinguinos is a "concentracion invernal Pinguinos", or, a bike rally. 2013 is the 32nd anniversary of the event and it attracts well over 20,000 riders each year. That's a hell of a lot of motorcyclists in one place. It's always held on the second weekend in January, which is very cold, and usually snows. Hence the Penguins name. Luckily for us it didn't quite snow this year.

You can learn more about Pinguinos here -

It was a bit bemusing to see people off loading their bikes from trailers and out of vans to ride about a kilometre to the camp site. That's hardly the spirit guys.

We rode into Puente Duero around midday and were greeted by this...

 The Pinguinos build something like this every year, and on Saturday night, they burn it as part of the celebrations. Sad.

 Suzanne made a new friend immediately.

 Our first Pinguinos sign.

We rolled up at check in and everything was running extremely smoothly. I guess after thirty odd years you get an idea of how to do things right. Part of the check in process is attendees have to donate one kilogram of non perishable food which is donated to a food bank. That's nearly thirty tonnes of food this year.That sort of thing makes a big difference to peoples lives.

From the website - 

""Operation Kilo Food" requesting that all motorists participants bring in their luggage a kilo of non perishable food that will go to the food bank, to address the basic needs of the needy."

We paid our twenty five euro each registration fee and received our welcome pack.

 Some of our welcome pack.

The pack consisted of:
  • Carry bag that will fit a helmet and can be worn as a back pack.
  • Polar fleece buff / beanie.
  • Pinguinos 2013 32nd anniversary badge.
  • Pinguinos 2013 medal.
  • Pinguinos 2013 32nd anniversary sticker.
  • Pinguinos 2013 sticker.
  • Pen(guino) - a pen.
  • Discount / free entry coupons for local sights.
  • A magazine.
  • Free chicken broth and coffee all weekend.
  • A programme, which was another magazine.
  • Vouchers for Champagne, and you keep the ceramic mugs. 
  • Vouchers for two breakfasts, two lunches, and one dinner, 
  • Raffle ticket with a Honda 700 as first prize, and hundreds of other prizes.
All of this was covered by the twenty five euro entry fee and I reckon it was bloody good value. So in we went.

 The biggest concentracion of Pinguinos in Spain.

We realised that looking for Bruno and the gang we met yesterday would be pointless with all these people spread out over such a large area so we just had a bit of a wander around the stalls and got our bearings. I found it interesting that at an event of this magnitude, Triumph was the only manufacturer with a motorcycle display. Over 25,000 motorcyclists in one place and virtually no representation by manufacturers at what Suzanne described as the ultimate motorcycle showroom.

Metzeler had a stand, selling and fitting tyres. That was one problem solved, the BMW got a new pair of shoes on Saturday night. Thanks for giving up your weekend to work guys. It turned out to be a wise move.

Within ten minutes of looking at the stalls Bruno tapped me on the shoulder and said "Hello Simon, I met you yesterday in Portugal". What are the odds?

We were invited to camp with the Portuguese guys and happily took them up on their offer. What a great bunch of guys they were. They looked after us all weekend.

 Our home for the weekend. Thanks Sam and Clare,
our tent worked a treat.

 A beer tree. They do exist.

 Preparing for the nights activities.

  Our fire and the boys kitchen utensils.
The big pot contains hot soup, the small one hot water.
There was a coffee pot as well.

 There were many ingenious ways of carrying your collected firewood. This was one of them.

 Angry Pinguino.

 Nevio guarding the beer supplies. There are ten beers in each box. No, we didn't need an Esky (cooler).

 Does this guy know something I don't? Probably.
Yes, they're fold up snow skis on the red brackets on the sides of the bike.

 There were a few fancy dress costumes.

 Brother Pinguino, Carlos.

 Fire wood was available by the truck load.

 There was plenty of food available all weekend,
until the wee small hours.

 Pork is very popular in Spain.

 Isabel tends the soup.

  The first of Friday night's bands fires up...

 ..and the crowd moves in.

At midnight we celebrated Pinguinos New year's Eve, complete with a countdown, Champagne, and pine nuts. The tradition with the pine nuts is that you eat one pine nut with each number that is counted down to midnight. Then of course there were the fireworks.

Brazilian dancing girls. I don't know why they had Brazilian dancers in Spain, but I didn't hear anyone complain.

The last of the entertainment finished at four am so I staggered back to the tent, making lots of new friends along the way, and proceeded to tell Suzanne all about the entire night. I don't think she was thrilled.


I dragged my sorry body out of the tent at about one pm, some sort of record for me. I basically sat around suffering from "altitude sickness" for the day. I did manage to make it to dinner though.

Dinner time. Hot spicy soup, a bread roll, a pastry with meat and cheese, an orange, and a glass of wine. You get to take the ceramic bowl home with you too.

By about nine pm I'd reached my limit and hit my sleeping bag, missing out on the nights activities. I'm a bit disappointed that I missed the torchlight ride honouring the all fallen bikers, and the fireworks display sounded pretty good as well.


Sunday morning (and Saturday night) was very, very cold. There was ice on everything when we got up. We struggled to get a fire going to try and keep warm, it just didn't want to burn.

 Sunrise promised so much, but delivered so little.

Very short video of a small part of the camping area.

 Our Pinguino crew. Isabel, Bruno, me, Suzanne, Nevio, Armenio, Hugo, and  Carlos.

Our Portuguese team made tracks at about ten am. They had about six hours of travelling in front of them and wanted to be home before dark. Suzanne and I decided to stay Sunday night and move on on Monday.

 Suzanne found some Pinguinos wine to try.

We went to the awards ceremony, and the closing ceremony.  

 One of the 2013 Pinguino De Oro (Golden Penguin)
award winners, Sito Pons.

 The official attendance figure for 2013.

It was bloody cold, and at one stage during the presentations there were a few snow flakes floating around. Suzanne and I though about spending a night in the snow in our tent and chickened out. The camping area was also emptying pretty fast. Time to load the bike.

We decided that trying to get to Portugal the way we have just isn't working. If we went back the same way, we'd spend more time in Salamanca (it really is that nice) then I'd want to ride the same roads we rode before, and after a week we'd probably be back to where we were last Thursday.

Change of plan. We'll head to Madrid, then continue south to Gibraltar, and Morocco, and visit Portugal on the way back. This will probably add about a thousand kilometres to our trip, but we have to do something. So Madrid it was.

Are Suzanne and I the only people who didn't know it snows in Madrid? We weren't prepared for this.

The perfect finish to the weekend,
a little snow for the ride to Madrid.

So after a very cold ride for a few hours we arrived in Madrid.

We enjoyed a fantastic weekend. Lots of fun, entertainment and new friends, and bikes everywhere. The whole event was a credit to the organisers with no hassles at all. Even when we lined up for things like breakfast it all went smoothly and quickly. A lot of people took their kids and dogs were also welcome. It was just a totally hassle free atmosphere. From what I could work out, there were only two rules for the weekend: No motocross bikes, and no ATVs. Apart from that, have a good time.

We both want to say a huge thank you to Bruno, Isobel, Hugo, Nevio, Armenio, and Carlos for taking us under their collective wings and looking after us on the weekend. We learned a lot about Portugal and it's local home made delacies, like "Hot water" and chorizo. It was a great pleasure to meet you guys and we hope to catch up again on our way through Portugal.

Viva Pinguinos!

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