Southern Spain March 2008 Part 1. Bike tours spain. WARNING - CONTAINS HONDAS

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Southern Spain March 2008 Part 1. Bike tours spain. WARNING - CONTAINS HONDAS

Post  Radar on Tue Feb 17 2009, 20:23

Back in March 2008 I enjoyed a weeks riding in Spain with a local British run company that runs guided tours in the mountains surroundimg Malaga in the Andalucian region. Here is a review of my experiences, it was brilliant and I recommend you give it a bash!

Day One – Snow Drops to Sunshine
Sitting on the runway in an Airbus A321 on a wintery morning in Birmingham with snow settling on the wings and engines is not normally how epic bike journeys start, but this was the situation I found myself in with my wife sat at my side anxiously awaiting take off for her first ever flight. The plane touched down in Malaga two hours later to be greeted by warming sunshine and 20 degree plus temperatures. The sense of a plan coming together was definitely forming. The wife also looked happy…always a good sign.

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Not how I usually start a ride out! Still 550mph on the way down already!

After the usual dog fight at the carousel with the beach bound tourists and the particularly aggressive golfers our bags appeared and we set off in search of Terry and Michele of Bike Tours Spain who were to be our guides and hosts for the next week. We spotted them easily in the throng of taxi drivers and relatives waving signs as they had a little cut out in the shape of crash helmet on a stick they waved frantically in our direction. Before we knew it we were being whisked away in leather-lined, air-conditioned comfort in Terry’s V8 Cadillac STS and heading towards their mountain top Corjita that was to be our base for the next week. We passed through Escasion Cartama and then up 7km of winding track up the mountain side to the Corjita, what a stunning location: Trust me the pictures barely do it justice.

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You are collected from the airport in some style...

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Terry and Michele's Corjita enjoys a fantastic vantage point overlooking Malaga

Here we met Michael, another guest enjoying taking in the local roads and after dumping our stuff in our charming room we all piled back into the Caddy to go back into town for an ice-breaking meal at new local tapas bar. The food was fantastic and we all immediately got on well, chatting about bikes and what the next few days would hold. Michael had already enjoyed his time and I couldn’t wait to hit the road in anger tomorrow. By the time we got back to the Corjita I was tired but full of anticipation for what lay ahead…

Day 2. Attacking the Ronda, Get Your Kicks on the 366!

The next morning and four bikes were primed and ready for action, Terry and Michele’s Ducatis and the pair of 2007 Honda Hornet 600s that Michael and I would be riding for the next few days. They looked like race horses straining at the leash, waiting to run free on the very best roads southern Spain has to offer.
I climbed aboard the Honda and the engine burst into life as soon as my thumb hit the starter. I pulled the clutch in and felt that satisfying snick as first gear was engaged. We pulled away neatly inline; Terry leading on the S4S, with Michael and me following while Michele on her 620 Monster tucked in behind.

I immediately felt at home on the Hornet and Mandy seemed comfortable perched on the pillion. The principle target for today was the A397, the rather prosaic title for a road that is better known in biking circles as the legendary ‘Ronda Run’, a road that UK magazines have been eulogizing about recently. This is a road that spectacularly that blasts it way up the side of a mountain with a seemingly endless torrent of perfectly surfaced tarmac draped around challenging sweeping bend after bend. All this is set against a backdrop of stunning views that devilishly try to draw your eye away from the task in hand, attacking the some the best corners in Europe. This is exactly what I had come for as our bikes attacked each bend in formation, like WW2 Spitfires peeling off to plunge on an unsuspecting prey engine screaming and guns blazing! What a buzz! The Hornet was lapping up the thrashing that was I dealing out to it, as I dispatched any traffic I came across with disdain. 3rd and 4th gear the perfect partners as I cranked the bike from side to side and slingshot from apex to apex. This process just seemed to go on and on, a flurry of bends, traffic then stopped play for a moment as you hovered on their tail with the engine sitting on the edge of the power, just waiting for a gap before launching yourself back into action with a twist of throttle and a shift of weight. Squirting past the construction traffic between bends, tucking back in just in time to slice around the next corner. I find it hard to believe that all this is a so close to the tourist belt on the coast, the thought struck me just how much those gently toasting themselves on crowded beaches or stuffing themselves with full English Breakfasts in UK style cafes and bars are missing.

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The legend that is the Ronda Run, the A397

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This is what we are here for, just one of 276 corners on this section of the Ronda!

Towards the top of the run Terry peeled off into a roadside bar. Here we took the opportunity to chill out, let the adrenaline levels drop and have a cooling drink. We were all buzzing; barely 80km into my week the trip was already providing thrills and sights I don’t think you can replicate in the UK. Like the Napoleon run in France I rode on my Thundercat last year, the Ronda Run makes our icons, such as the Cat and Fiddle just look daft. Truly, there is no comparison.

Refreshed we got back on the bikes and head towards El Burgo on the tight and twisting A366. The section was different in character to the Ronda and the road narrowed as it passed through picturesque valleys and typically Spanish villages of white and pink houses. The roads twisted and turned and the Hornet was still being worked hard as all that stood between you and disaster was a line a low concrete blocks at the edge of the road. The bends were coming thick and fast now and while speeds were not high, 80-110kph, I was most definitely pushing hard as I cranked the bike from side to side almost constantly. Mandy was working hard on the pillion and doing a dam fine job too, there is nothing worse than a twitchy passenger on these kind of roads, but Mandy was the perfect passenger and enabling me to keep Terry and Michael reasonably honest up ahead.

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El Burgo

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The bikes enjoying a well earned rest at El Burgo

By the time the sign welcoming us all to El Burgo came into view we were all exhilarated, but in need of refueling! We stopped at lovely local restaurant and relaxed over an excellent meal. The group had really bonded well by now and people who had not met only a couple of days before were babbling away to one another like life long friends. Biking really is unbeatable for bringing people together from all walks of life and backgrounds. To me this as satisfying as the biking itself.

But we were all there to ride and the next section of the A366 from El Burgo through Yunquera and on towards Coin awaited us. My God what a route it turned out to be too as the next 30 minutes or so just evaporated in blur of bends seamlessly joined by perfectly cambered, smooth tarmac, the Hornet just slicing through them rapier like. I have to say the Hornet really handles and roads like the A366 are a natural foil to the Hondas’ ‘flick able’, lively nature. For me this section of road is better than the much hyped Ronda Run and seems largely undiscovered and crucially the lighter traffic rally lets you get into the zone. The road almost seems to of been engineered specifically for bikes and it feels as though the bike is drawn round the bends by some unseen force, apex to apex. Pure biking heaven. When the party ended at island, all you wanted to do was swing around and do it all again! You MUST ride this road at some point in your biking life, trust me on this!

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Get Your Kicks on the 366!!

Back on the Corjita I had added 216 of some the best klicks I ever had the privilege to ride; Brilliant roads, good company and the sun on my back, what more could you want?

That evening rather than head down into town we were all content to relax in beautiful surroundings, having a drink with our hosts and Michael. Mandy in particular loved their home and had become big friends with Maggie, a cheeky little dog Terry and Michele had rescued from a bin.

Day Three – Moped Mayhem in Malaga!

The Ronda and the A366 were going to be tough acts to follow and as we all set off towards Malaga I found myself wondering what new experiences today would bring.
Terry had some business to deal with in Malaga so we found ourselves having some fun dicing with traffic that teemed through the streets, battling with the scooter mounted nut cases who seem to be able to thread through gaps that look impossibly tight. People carry all manner of junk on these poor little mopeds as they ride at light speed in dense traffic. I am baffled why there are not more accidents. Madness, but kind of endearing too. Perhaps Spain, Italy and France ought to have an international competition to see who has the craziest scooter riders; it would make great TV!! As we escaped Malaga one young buck on 100cc twist and go kept us entertained with a string of stoppies and wheelies as he urged us to go faster! You have got to laugh!

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Sail power scooter spotted in Malaga! LOL![Very Happy]

As the urban sprawl eased the glistening blue Mediterranean Sea to my right was a welcome distraction and I was pleased when Terry and Michele pulled into beachside café for a break. We parked the bikes in the shade of a line of palm trees, the sun beat down and just off shore a solitary fishing boat gently coaxed shellfish into his nets. Not exactly Great Yarmouth; God, I love riding abroad!

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Chilling by the beach

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Bikes enjoying basking in the shade of beachside palms

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Just gone fishing

From here we tracked the coast for a while along the N340, another lovely ride, different in character to the storming roads we tackled yesterday, but it was enjoyable just meandering along on whiff of throttle through the coastal villages that line this stretch. There is a lot of apartments being constructed around Malaga, but his area still retains its’ beauty and charm.

Next we took the N7207 towards Torrox and rode up ever steeper rises and hairpin after hairpin on the road to the village that saw the first big influx of ex-Pat Brits, Competa. As you round a bend the village seems to just suddenly appear, glistening white and lining a mountain side; almost too perfect for its own good. Immaculately presented rows of white houses and town square made for an ideal rest halt. Despite, or perhaps because of this perfection, I found it hard to warm to Competa and I was not sorry to move on after cooling ice cold coke. The next section was really challenging as the roads got tighter, bumpier, gravel strewn and in places so steep I felt like I was taking the Hornet up the side of a wardrobe! Indeed the road had become little more than a concrete track at some points. Every kilometer was adding new material to my biking CV and the Hornet continued to surprise with its competence and ability to handle everything I threw at it with aplomb.

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Brief rest halt near Competa

This section was hard on the bike, the rider and Mandy on pillion too so the lunch halt at Loz Ramirez on the N4106 felt well earned at a local bar overlooked by the compulsory stunning mountain backdrop.
By now the group was feeling a little drained so Terry and Michele opted for the ease of the A7 ‘Auto via Del Mediterranean’ back towards home and the 7km climb back up to the Corjita. Another cracking days riding, 227kms added to the Hornet. Today was more challenging than the buzz from the riding the day before, but just as enjoyable. Once again Michael, Mandy and I were happy to stay at the Corjita and enjoy the easy going hospitality offered by Terry and Michele.

So two days riding done and so far the Bike Tours Spain promise of a biking experience of a lifetime was being delivered, I had had ridden the Ronda, got my kicks on the 366, battled it out in Malaga, and ridden some of the most challenging roads I have ever come across. Throughout Terry and Michele had been the perfect hosts and along with Michael on the other Hornet been the ideal riding partners.
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Radar
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