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Old 10-29-2013, 02:08 PM   #76
tehdutchie
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Great report!!!! Lovely reading, nearly feels like having been there!!
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Old 10-30-2013, 07:38 AM   #77
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And so I descended through the narrow lanes of the historic centre of Penamacor, birthplace (allegedly) of the last great king of the Visigoths, Wamba, who ruled the Iberian Peninsula between 672 and 682. At one point I entered a one-way street from the wrong end, errrm, but by the time I realised my mistake there was no turning back on the steep cobble-stoned lane. Luckily I didn't meet any other vehicle all the way down to the main road...

I filled up with fuel (just in case) and headed towards the Spanish border. The junction of trail and tarmac lay near the village of Safurdão, and as there weren't any tyre tracks in the loose soil yet, I prepared myself for a lengthy wait. It was difficult to estimate the lads' arrival time because I had no idea how technical the terrain was going to be that day and if there had been any mishaps...

You won't believe it - but within five minutes I could hear familiar engines and around the corner they came! Matt had been promoted to ride leader...


... and Famous, Possu, Jimmy and GFG were happily following him


Did we have a choice?


Timpo, RickA and Daithi were missing; the guys hadn't seen or heard them for miles but hoped they were OK. To fill the vacancy, I suggested to join the group for a bit (according to TopoLusitania, there was another tarmac road to cross in just 500 metres where I planned to split off again). But that road never materialised - those must have been the longest 500 metres I've ever ridden - and suddenly we arrived at the 'Ford of Length' through the Rio Bazáguida.

This ford is so notorious that a grand total of three scouts was employed to assess the risks of crossing the stream...


... but before they had a chance to report back, Famous fearlessly hurled himself into the waters!


It has been mentioned earlier but it's probably easier to be daring if you ride someone else's bike...


Having been in similar situations before, Matt opted for the sensible way to reach the other side


Mmm, not always sure if he had made the right decision, I reckon...


GFJ looking very comfortable...


... as if he was fording rivers of that depth and length every morning before breakfast


Jimmy gathering mental strength... Hang on, let me get the camera ready, was Steve's encouragement...


No pressure then...


Left a bit!


Turn tight - tighter...


Well done!


Then it was my one and only Possu...


A last kiss and off he went...


Never mind the Paparazzi...


... on both sides of the river...


Keep going...


Maybe not that far...


I think Steve just wanted to make the most of it - we don't have a lot of fords in Oxfordshire...


Let's see if we've caught any fish...


Not quite, but freshly washed socks are always a bonus on a trail ride!


I chickened out at that point, waved the boys goodbye and went back to the road, but instead of continuing south-west I headed east towards Spain. The Extremadura was still missing from my list of the country's Comunidades, the 17 autonomous communities of Spain, of which I had only visited 13 so far.


That's 14 then - only Castilla-La Mancha, Murcia and Valencia to go...


In Valverde del Fresno I asked around for a map of the area to plan my route south and back into Portugal but neither service stations nor bookshops could help me further - they sell all they have during the tourist season and then stock up again in spring with next year's edition. The friendly owner of a little kiosco gave me some leaflets he had collected himself from the tourist office, which showed the hiking routes of the Comarca de Gata and also the roads albeit printed very faintly in the background. Sufficient though to plot my route to Cilleros and ultimately to Termas de Monfortinho on Portuguese soil, where the trail met the road again.

There were a few lanes in this part of Spain as well, but seemingly more regulated than on the other side of the border...


The Extremadura (meaning "beyond the (river) Duero") is the 5th largest Comunidad while the population density (25 people/km²) is rather low compared to Spain as a whole.


Beautiful countryside though


... with interesting rock formations


... and not a single vehicle in sight since I had left the main road in Cilleros


In Termas de Monfortinho I found that the boys had already been through and so I followed the N240 to Castelo Branco. Coming into Escalos de Baixo I noticed something strange about the trees lining the road...


Any ideas?


Yes, they were cork oaks, trees that live up to an age of 250 years and are harvested every 9 to 12 years - and they were just standing there by the side of the Nacional 240


In Castelo Branco (White Castle), the largest urban settlement in the province of the same name, I stopped at a hipermercado to buy some provisions. I love strolling through supermarkets in other countries, you can learn a lot about how the people live, what they eat and drink on a normal day, what priorities and preferences they have, the price of bread and milk and how much the living costs must be. And while you inevitably start to communicate when you are in small grocery shops or street markets, in the anonymity of a superstore you can indulge in your field studies mostly undisturbed. Possu never understands why I can spend hours in foreign supermarkets, completely oblivious to the fact that I am actually doing sociological research...

Another thing that I still find fascinating, is how easy you can strike up a conversation when you are on a motorbike. When I came out of the supermarket, I found a local gentleman closely looking at my baby. He was interested because he rode an Africa Twin himself and we soon chatted about motorcycling in Portugal, the price of bikes and our travels. Seeing the South American stickers all over the DRZ, he then went for his camera to take a picture of us - how lovely was that!

Near Sanardos de Ródão I finally had a late lunch-picnic in the Eucalyptus woods...


The fine scent of the trees gradually gave way to the distinctive smell of a paper-mill as I approached Vila Velha de Ródão...


Here's another nice picture - especially for Timpolino...


I circled through the small town several times - partially because I wanted to explore it...


... but more so because I couldn't find our hotel. Name and description I had been given (Hotel Turismo, looks like a bunker) didn't exactly match the conditions in real life, but in all fairness I have to admit that I didn't take the waypoint on the Montana very seriously (it just said Vila Velha...). Again, I should have re-read the Three Stooges report just before the trip, then I would have recognised the Hotel 'Portas de Ródão' immediately...


Anyway, after passing the building for the third time I finally stopped and spotted Rick's poor Husaberg, closely followed by the man himself, who had made it to Vila Velha despite relocating his fork oil to the rest of his bike, equipment and body after a boisterous jump...

The others arrived shortly after me and we moved to the spacious rooms Rick had booked for us...


We have only a shower cubicle at home, so I made full use of the amenities...


Hours later I emerged from the bathtub and joined the boys in the lounge


And then dinner was served!


It was plentiful and absolutely de-li-ci-ous!


By now, Possu and I had come to terms with the Portuguese diet and were thoroughly enjoying the regional black pig and local lamb (without feeling too guilty...)


We were just finishing our desserts when the door opened and the Oirish appeared!


Famous's DRZ had experienced starting problems during the day and Daithi had had to tow him for the last 50 miles! That's what friends are for... And they were still smiling - especially when the chef, who was just about to leave, agreed to prepare two more well-filled plates.

What a spirit! And what a day! You can see that Matt took the task of truthfully capturing all the events and excitement of the day rather seriously...


What would the next day bring - considering all the damage to various bikes? Would the Anthill Mob still continue the journey united? Would we all see Monsanto, Almeida and Bragança in the end?

Don't miss the next episode...
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Old 10-30-2013, 09:13 AM   #78
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Old 10-30-2013, 01:09 PM   #79
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Excellent RR, I must put Portugal on the 'to do' list
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Old 10-30-2013, 01:50 PM   #80
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Went for breakfast in our hotel it seemed a strange place almost as if it was 20 yrs out of date a little tired but perfectly acceptable to people of our ilk.

The mantra of ride, drink, eat then sleep seeming to work well.

Seamus and Daithi has sent off on their momentous journey home to the emerald isle. Great blokes who are always cheerful and deal with any problem that life throws at them.

The weather was grand as we headed back over to olive grove country towards ground we had covered before.



Yes our route did go over that little hill.



The scenery was beautiful as we stopped for a pic.



Stopping for pics young Jimmy and I got separated from the main group. I carried on along the track as I knew where we were. I carried on until we reached the Roman Road again.

Here Jimmy starts praying he doesn't have to do it again.



We checked our phones and Timpo was 5 or 6 miles back at our regular cafe as there were problems. We hot footed it back to the cafe to find out the problem.

Poor Ela it seemed had rang her darling Possu for rescue as her bike had started misbehaving. With his earplugs in Possu had not heard a thing. Luckily Timpo's "Ferry across the Mersey" ringtone blasted out loud and clear and he answered his. Possu headed back to rescue Ela and we settled down to a nice coffee and chinwag.

WE retraced our steps and carried on passed the Roman Road along to the "Buffalo Girls" Ford that Ela and I had used. Much less water in it this time.



Aside from the Roman Road the trails are not Technical but beautiful tracks leads over the mountains. Great views and fantastic fun.

Even the tarmac is great.



I hung back as the dust was starting to be an issue.



The terrain changed again. Here we have stopped to laugh after a load of dogs chased Timpo away from their flock. They are massive when they get along side you. Luckily by stretching his throttle cables he made his escape and the dogs were too knackered to chase us when we went past.

Great weather.



We had a few tricky rocky climbs to make us concentrate but we were cover ground quickly and the miles kept being munched up.

Jimmy had a flying moment on a muddy rutted lane but was unscathed it just shows how easily it can all go wrong.

Nearly at Braganca the dust was now making it quite dangerous following as you couldn't see a thing.



The weather was kind though and for me I didn't want the day to end. Using my Jedi powers I kept the old 690 on track.



We headed back to tarmac just outside Braganca on the first trail we had left on a fitting end to a great journey. After topping up with emergency fuel we rode to the camp site and got the use of 2 x chalets for us all to sleep in.

It was a long tiring day but we were all soon showered and met Possu and Ela coming back in the van. Steve had ended up doing 300 miles in his rescue mission, still Ela was back safe and sound.

Now what had gone wrong with Ela's bike I hear you ask :

Some say it was she got some valve grinding paste out of the garage and lubricated the bearings with that.

Others claim she used inferior German bearing rather than the OEM Japanese.

Or could it be she didn't lubricate the spindle and check the bearings.

All we know was that she was safe with her friends at the campsite so lets head to the bar for beer, wine and food.

After a pleasant evening we retired to our chalet. Taking a bottle of wine with me I had a rollocking from Timpo for only bringing one bottle.

After a bit of banter we headed to bed as we only had one more day of trail riding left.
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Old 10-31-2013, 04:07 AM   #81
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Old 10-31-2013, 06:09 AM   #82
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Disgusted that the ride reports are coming to an end
Quite true! It makes you almost not wanting to ride just to read it here first hand... almost...
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Old 10-31-2013, 01:02 PM   #83
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By now, Possu and I had come to terms with the Portuguese diet and were thoroughly enjoying the regional black pig and local lamb (without feeling too guilty...)
What the hell ! all the effort done to find suitable food for veggies where this habit is considered more a pathology ... very good ; so you lot could go back to the Alps and enjoy all the local produce that you skipped last time - a part Polenta obviously.

Apart this , this excellent report is more than worth the first page of the main forum , and kudos to your riding prowess!
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Old 10-31-2013, 03:39 PM   #84
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Not long to go before the end of my inane ramblings I promise as the holiday draws to a close.

After a pleasant nights sleep Gareth's musical alarm awoke us at 0800.

Timpo had a little lie in and was the last to arise. Telmo the campsite owner had told us that there would be no breakfast so we saddle up without the weight of luggage but still carrying tools and spares and head off to Braganca for fuel and breakfast.

Ela was going to have a day walking but still met us at the supermarket and bought us breakfast which was very generous of her.



Timpo had a great circular route around our campsite to try and we headed off on muddy farmers tracks before climbing up into the very North of Portugal on some lovely trails.



WE headed of on a more minor track that I was sure I had done before. The views as ever were stunning.





Jimmy hates this good weather and great trails.



We headed down towards a stream that had thwarted us before in finding a way through.

This time Timpo has forcing the issue.



There is a bike in there somewhere.



The way had been found across a green slimy ford pushing seemed the best option for all of us.



The other side then went straight up not a tricky climb but as with a lot of these things a confident approach pays dividends.

Timpo having fun.



Jimmy by now looking very professional.



We climbed around the hillside on good trails but with enough difficulty and hazards to maintain interest.



On days like this is there anywhere better to ride.



We came to this fire observation post built in 1967. Very basic but I guess it is (or was) manned as it has a commanding view over the forest around it.



After a brief stop where I gave an oratory from the balcony, We head down off the hills coming to a little ford with a tricky climb out of it.

Jimmy was full of confidence though.



We then popped out on a lovely bit of narrow grippy tarmac heading out to the Spanish border. I took this shot no handed as we went down a hill.



The road was lovely in fantastic scenery we looked for a cafe in vain when we came into a small village. Still we carried onwards not knowing or caring which country we were in.

We headed off onto dirt again and so often happens GFJ was caught unawares and went down hard due to an innocuous ridge of dirt.

Jimmy was ok though !



I was worried Gareth had hurt himself as in these adventures help is not always close at hand. Still its the risk we chose to take. I know I am far more at risk of being attacked or injuring myself on a night out in Nottingham City Centre. (Of course there is the ever prevalent risk of a battering from Timpo )

We went onto a recently deforested mountainside. The pics don't do it justice but the track clung to the side of the mountain then we descended down to the stream at the bottom. Awesome !





A nice little ford at the bottom. Goodness knows what you would do if you killed your bike down here. As with most bad thoughts ignore them and concentrate on getting your bike through.





The track then needed a bit of intricate route finding as it actually went along the course of this dried up river bed.



The heat was now getting to all of us and we had a dead end near a lake which involved plenty of sweat turning the bikes around.

We managed to make it back to tarmac though.



We carried on to a town called Rebordelo now I come from a small village but this place with loads of men hanging around doing nothing was a bit creepy. We went into a nice cafe for drinks and pastries and to get out of the sun but it didn't feel right. Possu the teetotaller made a new friend in the local drunkard. Whilst being a nice stop I was glad to be on my bike and the wheels moving.

The heat was almost oppressive we came into a small village and it made me smile to see an old lady on a step ladder repairing something whilst the husband passed her the tool. A reminder that out here a lot of the young people have migrated to the cities or emigrated creating a vacuum of young people.

The going got rocky and a bit tricky people were feeling the heat and time was marching on. We decided to call it a day and head back to the campsite slabbing it.

We witnessed a scary overtaking manoeuvre by a lorry but all got back unscathed the riding part of our holiday was over. I was also cheered by the lady grape pickers as it was wine harvest time. Obviously there were not allowed in the cabs of the pickups and had to ride on the back but all were very cheerful.

WE got on with packing the bikes and kit away which took us an hour or so. Rick had sorted that Timpo and his bike would return with Gareth and Jimmy I must say I missed Uncle Rick on the last few nights of beer and wine drinking.

Telmo the campsite owner had brought us a meat feast and it was cooked over a BBQ. Not much more to report although my writing in the Book of Truth leaves a lot to be desired. It does say that Ela stated that sheep cheese is expensive why I wrote that I do not know.

Despite drinking our fill we made sure we didn't make the mistake of only one bottle back to the chalets.

One trip with us and look what respectable GFJ has turned into. A wine monster !



After chugging the wine we all went to bed ready for the drive home.

Not much left to tell

Matt
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Old 11-01-2013, 02:26 AM   #85
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What the hell ! all the effort done to find suitable food for veggies where this habit is considered more a pathology ... very good ; so you lot could go back to the Alps and enjoy all the local produce that you skipped last time - a part Polenta obviously.
Now you make me feel guilty, Giorgio!

Only joking - I've been a veggie since I was 17 but as I grow older I'm getting more relaxed about it and far less dogmatic. So if adhering to my vegetarianism causes major inconvenience for my hosts and I think that the meat on the table is local and sustainably reared, I am happy to diverge from the chosen path occasionally. I still regard myself as a vegetarian but a more tolerant one now...

So you are absolutely right, we have to come back to the Alps - not just for the carnal pleasures but also for the fabulous trails and because we haven't see you in ages! Hope you are well and the old Ténéré is still going strong.
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Old 11-01-2013, 04:57 AM   #86
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Cheers All ..

for a very enjoyable read and pics.."muddymatt" you do have a way with words..lol

one final question..do those forest tracks appear on the satnav mapping you all used? or did you just leave a breadcrumb trail in case it was a dead end..

Reminds me of the pyrenees around sort but far warmer...Roll on next spring
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Old 11-03-2013, 02:36 AM   #87
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What a classic!!!!

Well done everyone
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Old 11-03-2013, 08:43 AM   #88
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Originally Posted by GiorgioXT View Post
What the hell ! all the effort done to find suitable food for veggies where this habit is considered more a pathology ... very good ; so you lot could go back to the Alps and enjoy all the local produce that you skipped last time - a part Polenta obviously.

Apart this , this excellent report is more than worth the first page of the main forum , and kudos to your riding prowess!
Giorgio, good to hear from you, when are you going to attend a meeting outside Italy:

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one final question..do those forest tracks appear on the satnav mapping you all used? or did you just leave a breadcrumb trail in case it was a dead end..
I believe the tracks are on the GPS mapping.
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Old 11-03-2013, 01:19 PM   #89
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Finally got around to replacing the tyres and mousses on the 690 earlier today and found the (not unexpected) cause behind the final days handling issues:





I believe that the 110 mile, mainly motorway ride to get the van to rescue the DRZ on day 7 caused the rear mousse to overheat. Inside it's hollow in places and looks like it's melted and congealed as it cooled. At least it lasted the entire trip although I did have spare HD tubes and all the necessary tools to hand if it had failed earlier.
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Old 11-03-2013, 03:19 PM   #90
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So it was your tracks I kept coming across from time to time... ;-) I stayed in Braganca on 13th Oct and got to the Algarve on 19th, so I was a few days behind you.

If you would like to take a fluent Portuguese speaker next time then give me a shout!



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