This summer Southsiders decided to take the long road down to Lisbon in Portugal. Mile after mile of riding under a Spanish sun across desert like landscapes!
We weren't too specific about the route to be taken or the duration of the ride down, and thats how we prefer to travel. Our only obligation was a rendez-vous in Salamanca with El Solitario, Loren, Juan and the Party Boys.
RDV in Auch, Mark on his HD 1200 bobber, Polo on a HD Nightster and Tania and I on the Moto Guzzi 850 GT California.
Having crossed the French Spanish border via the Col du Somport, we stopped off to visit the Gare de Canfranc. Constructed between 1860 and 1928, and the brainchild of a group of entrepreneurs from Aragon, this deserted railway station was built to link Zaragoza in Spain with Pau in France by crossing the Pyrenees mountains chain. Upon completion it was the second largest railway station in europe after Leipzig, with its main building stretching an 250 metres. The railway line opened to the public in 1928 but soon proved to be unviable. The Germans however made use of the rail link in WW2 by transporting minerals mined in Spain to Germany for weapons production. In return they sent gold back to Spain down the same line. The railway was also used by migrants fleeing the Nazi regime, and later by the Nazis themselves escaping towards South America to evade the allied forces. Normal service was resumed in 1948 but a train derailment in 1970 destroyed a bridge and led to the lines closure.
Today the stations interior is closed to the public, but Christopher Maas's photos taken in 1996 provide a clue to what lies beyond the boarded up doors and windows.
Further on the road took us through the Riglos de Mallos, a dry and arid oasis dotted with Olive trees and harsh maquis undergrowth, reminding me at times of Arizona.
On the second day we rode a total of 650kms. Starting by crossing las Bardenas Reales we experienced the Spanish high plains under an unrelenting sun, with occasional stops to take on petrol and cold beer, plus oil as my Guzzi had sprung an oil leak. We had a run in with the Guardia Civil (with a serious lack of humour, and who wouldn't have riding a BMW all day) which cost Mark a fine of 100 euros for overtaking on a white line, probably debatable but we weren't about to argue. We rode into the night and this for me was the highlight of the days ride, cool night air, empty roads stretching for miles, magnificent.
Photographing and sending by Email the guilty part of the Guzzi providing oil Leaks, The Spanish connexion (thanks to Juan Ramon) would bring us the replacment part in Salamanca.
We eventually rolled into Salamanca at midnight. At 0130hrs we were joined by our Spanish friends El Solitario on a 58 Panhead and Loren, who themselves had made the long journey from Galicia, and in true Spanish tradition we headed straight downtown for some well earned refreshments!
The following morning before hitting the road, we were joined by another group of friends from Madrid. Juan Ramon on a 5 series BMW complete with illuminations(full feature further), and the party boys in a 4x4 with trailer loaded with a scooter and alot of rum. Juan brought with him a spare part for the Guzzi and after some roadside repairs we were ready to roll, Southsiders, Don Quijote, Sancho Pansa, Juan and the party boys.