Armydogtags Spanish motorcycle track and touring adventure October 2015
Here at Armydogtags we’re really popular with motorcyclists. Our biker customers tend to be either competitors in one of the various ACU run race series (we're the approved supplier to the ACU) or road riders embarking on a big bike tour.
Both groups want a way of keeping their vital medical or emergency contact details to hand and dog tags are the perfect way to do it. They also look cool!
Being a keen biker myself I'd enjoyed countless phone conversations with racers and bike tour junkies alike. These conversations whetted my appetitive for racing and touring and I was really keen to give both a go.
After much internet research it seemed possible to plan a trip that involved both disciplines while at the same time promoting Armydogtags to both groups of bikers...
For the track riding part of the trip my ‘research' suggested that a lot of track riding fans head to Spain or Portugal in the winter months to take part in trackdays. The benefits were obvious, good weather as well as a few days in a hotel around like minded bikers.
And so it was that I booked one of Focused Events 4 day Almeria events in Southern Spain where legends such as Neil Hodgson, Ian Hutchinson and Steve Plater are often seen.
Focused Events ship the bikes to and from Spain as part of the package. It became clear though that the stars were perfectly aligned in such a way that after the Almeria event finished there was just enough time to ride through Spain in time to make one of the biggest gatherings of bikers in Europe at the Rally Internacional Colombres 2015 in Picos de Europa region.
It would then be just the small matter of a 24 hour ferry ride from Santander back to Portsmouth.
The stage was set for a fun and fuel filled week killing two (very lively!) birds with one stone. For the trip I’d be using my trusty Triumph Street triple R. While not an obvious choice for either the track or touring disciplines never the less it’s what I had!
Day 1 of the track event found me at the Almeria circuit being given the facts of life by the organisers while Tito Rabat of Moto2 fame did his daily early morning practice (he lives within the grounds of the track).
If you want to get an idea of what the track is like and how Tito rides it check out this video:
Needless to say the briefing had to pause about every one and half minutes as Tito came by the start finish straight!
Getting out on track it was soon clear what all the fuss was about....
There really is no better way to build up your riding skills than riding on track.
Being a track newbie I concentrated on learning the lines and riding smoothly. I was surprised that by the afternoon on day two my kneesliders were scraping the ground! The first time it happened came as quite a shock!
As I’d hoped, not one drop of rain fell the entire 4 days of the event!
In addition to the great riding experience, I’d hoped to meet fellow riders at the track and around the hotel.
It turned out I couldn't have met a nicer group of people. Motorcycling really is one of those things where people bond over a common interest.
I even met previous Armydogtags customers and saw some of our products in use!
One guy in particular in my pit garage called Baz had got really excited about my plan to ride back to the UK. Since he was on a road bike he agreed to join me for the ride home rather than send his bike back in the truck. I was made up about this as I’d prepared myself for a solo trip home. Having someone to do it with made it all seem a lot less daunting.
At the end of the last day it seemed really weird to be putting the bike into road trim again for the ride back to the UK while everyone else was packing their bikes away in the truck.
I refitted the mirrors and road tyres, removed the lap timer transponder and attached the touring bag with my clothes in it. I had to pack super light so that I could get Baz's essentials in my bag as well.
It seemed very odd to be heading out on the public road again after 4 days riding around on track. We were super cautious not to ride on the road as we had been on the track!
Based on some of the threads I’d read during my research for the trip we headed to Ronda, North West of Malaga for the first night.
The roads in the region are superb, a mixture of fast sweeping corners and tight mountain passes. Upon reaching Ronda the scenery there was stunning. The town itself is separated by a deep gorge with a bridge connecting the two sides. From the bridge you can see for miles.
After leaving Ronda we headed for our second destination, Salamanca in mid western Spain.
My sister had spent her gap year in Salamanca learning Spanish and said it was the ‘Oxford of Spain’. She was dead right. After a marathon trip up the Motorway we reached Salamanca and headed out for the obligatory Tapas.
Salamanca is a stunning town with some incredible architecture.
The next day we set out from Salamanca for the long ride to the Picos de Europa.
Again I’d heard good things from my parents about the ‘Picos’ who’d been there on a walking holiday. They recommended a Hotel called the Hotel del Oso in a village called Cosgaya so I’d booked it.
The ride from Salamanca started very much like the previous day had ended with a long motorway ride but as we closed in on our destination and entered the Picos we could see why it was so popular with bikers.
Very sparce levels of traffic and many freshly surfaced mountain roads were a nirvana for us.
By now though the state of our bikes was starting to show how far we had come!
Part of my plan was to visit the Rally Internacional Colombres 2015.
This is a rally for pre 1988 bikes. Bikers come from all over Europe on their vintage and classic motorcycles and we wanted to head along, have a look at some of the machinery on show and get the Armydogtags name in front of even more bikers.
Before we headed for the show we decided to take a ride around the region following the previous days experience of the roads leading to the hotel.
We weren't disappointed and if anything the scenery was even more stunning:
The roads were likewise superb and we even came across a big group of bikers also heading for the rally. I managed to get a video of some of the guys as we passed them. This is also gives you a good idea of the kind of roads there are around the picos.
We also came across an amusingly named village and Baz agreed to pose for a pic!
When we reached the rally there was so many bikes we couldn’t get around to look at them all. There were a lot of bikers there from the UK and again the friendliness of everyone meant we got into many conversations that made progress looking around slow going! Everywhere you looked there was something interesting.
As we had done at Almeria we met previous Armydogtags customers, one couple from Germany even sported a set of our black special forces tags!
After one more night at the Hotel del Oso and a superb evening meal we headed out on the ride to Santander and our date with the ferry home.
Rather than take the quickest route to Santander we decided to make a day of it and took the back roads. Again we were treated to superb roads and some lovely weather for our last day.
After a quick ice cream in Santander we loaded up onto the ferry and set off home. The week had passed by in the blink of an eye but it really had been one of the best trips I’d ever been on.
Fantastic experiences, great company and the some great promotion for Armydogtags. The planning for next year had already begun!