Sunday, December 23, 2012

Royal Enfield Bikers International in Google+

I've started a Google+ community called Royal Enfield Bikers International. There are only a few of us in it but it may eventually grow. I like Google+ more than Facebook or Twitter for meeting and sharing common interests with other people.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

To Seville and Back in 1200 km

This weekend two of us rode our Royal Enfield 500cc bullets from Madrid to Seville. The excuse was an invitation to a Royal Enfield biker lunch from Ángel and Eva at Al Andalus Choppers.

The weather was ominous: rain, wind, fog. But the route was interesting and the destination even better. We made it as far as Córdoba where we spent the night and pushed onto Seville on Saturday morning.

Our first stop to stretch our legs was at a cool castle was rode by in Orgaz, south of Toledo. Castles in Spain are great!

The Bullets seeking shelter

The storm gathers
The Red Bullet shines forth

Javier Ortiz's classic black bullet

A Spanish restaurant in Puertollano
Javier regretted eating so much later.

I can't resist breakfast buffets.

To get out of Córdoba I used my TomTom app on the iPhone. Unfortunately some moisture got in and fogged up the lens of the front camera, so I could only take pictures using the smaller back lens until it dried by the next day.

That creepy feeling you're being watched.
We got to Seville soaked but not chilled (it was 18ºC out). Checked into the Hostal El Madero, in Camas, and trotted off to the bike shop to meet some of the gang and go out for an "aperitivo" at a bar up the street.
 The bar was actually really good. We sipped "mostito", a light white young wine served in earthenware pitchers and tiny glasses. We munched a variety of local cold cuts, pork chicharrones, and bright green Spanish olives.

Many Meetings

Back to Al Andalus Choppers for the lunch party.

It was nice to meet up with so many Enfielders. We're an odd bunch,  but all with hearts of gold.Eva's mother made tons of "garbanzada": chickpeas stewed in broth, and the "pringá" served separately. Pringá is heavenly on bread.

On Sunday morning we had a long leisurely breakfast at Venta El Curro, chatting with Eva and Ángel about business.

Ángel was kind enough to take us on a ride through the old streets of Seville--an incredible experience on a classic bike. The 5 senses are the beauty of the city.

La Giralda. Seville

The Archbishop's Palace

The Cathedral

We rode back on the back roads to Madrid, and did some unscheduled exploration of the hills and mountains around Guadalupe. The winding back roads there are EXCELLENT for bikers. We will return!

The only photo I took as of a perfect light lunch for bikers: fried egg, home-made fried potatoes and grilled pork loin. Yes, and mayo.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Al-Andalus Choppers

"It's those biker friends of his that lead him astray. He used to be such a nice young man, too!"

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Weather Daemons

Sunny all month but this weekend looks rainy. The yearly Royal Enfield Christmas lunch at Al Andalus Choppers will get some rain, as will those of us riding down on Friday.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Pirelli MT66 Route Cruiser Tire

Friday night, at as usual: hanging out with the ones my colleague Chantal calls "the old farts" at the motorcycle shop (I'd like to object to the term but it's really not all that far off the mark).
Rober was there looking when I pull up and park.
"Man, that back tire is bald as an eagle" He whistled and shook his head.
My eyebrows shot up. "That's the one I changed last summer--it was fine just a few months ago"
"How many kilometers ago?" he asks.
I do some quick calculation. Oh, dear. "About 10,000 or so".

Late that night, we said farewell and everyone rode off, me last. Of course. About 300 meters away I notice the bike wanted to turn without me turning it. Like a Ouija board on drugs. Stop. Look.
Sure enough, it was flat as a pancake.
I was able to push it uphill back to Emilio's shop and locked it up out front. Tomorrow would be another day.

When I got there the next morning, the old farts laughed and said someone had stolen my rear tire. Knowing it was a joke, I was pleased Emilio had already removed the wheel. Pedro Gómez smartly decided to pay close attention to the process, since we might be needing that skill when in Morocco next spring.

Guillermo "GatoLoco" was there to get some more oil and tighten a bolt on his old carburetor Classic. He bemoaned that his bike burned through oil fast. Speaking of which, time to check mine. The guys came over and looked at the gauge as I tilted the bike. Nothing. Maybe half a liter max.

Result: a new rear tire: Pirelli MT Route Cruiser 110/90 - 19 M/C 62H TL front tire (I use it on the rear). The reviews from users are good and it's supposed to grip well in water, which fits my needs. I'd rather have to buy tires more often and have good grip all the time than save money and risk it in the rain.

He also added more oil--a total of 2 liters, which means it was dangerously dry down there. That was not so good.
But now the Balita Roja is oiled, waxed and polished and has a nice new wheel, getting ready for the ride to Seville on the 14th-16 of December.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Winter Gloves

How often do you buy new gloves? I've had mine for about three years now and think it's time to shell out some more money for new ones.
In the Royal Enfield dealership shop in Madrid Rubi showed my some new Italian electric battery-powered heated gauntlet gloves that look really good. I tried them on for a moment and they do heat up pretty fast. They are pricy though, at 269€ you really have to think long and hard.
I'm wondering if it wouldn't be better to get the ones you can plug into the motorcycle electricals so that I wouldn't be "battery dependent".

I've got an upcoming trip to Seville on the 14-16 and think it may be a good idea to get some first.

Any recommendations on brands to get or to avoid? Tricks for wiring the Bullet?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

On the Town with Emilio Mazarías

Emilio Mazarías is the owner and mechanic of the motorcycle shop (MOTOS MAZARÍAS, calle de San Pedro, 13) in Madrid that sells Royal Enfields. He knows a few things about bikes. He is also a DANGEROUS man to go out for a quick drink with, and if his lovely wife Rubi comes along, it's bound to become a late night indeed.
This is Emilio with Javier Ortíz as we walked back to the bikes after prowling downtown Madrid for authentic tapas in the middle of tourist madness. We drove our Enfield Bullets up into town to the Plaza Mayor (we even tried dropping in on Mario at his store, whose old Enfield is pictured in a previous post, but he was gone for the day).
We had calamares and patatas bravas in one place.
Croquetas de queso y de puerros (cheese croquettes and leek croquettes), in the Mercado de San Miguel. (OUTSTANDING)
Then a "chato" (a small flat glass) of red wine and some cecina (thinly sliced cured beef) at a little dive bar behind the Plaza Mayor (Bodegas Ricla, on the Calle de los Cuchilleros).
Then over to Casa Revuelta for a piece of deep-fried battered salt cod.
Not so hungry but still in full swing, Alfonso Luque led us on into La Latina, where they almost jumped over the counter when he strolled in, and served us all sorts of goodies: a tortilla de patatas con tomate, green olives, baby squid cooked in onion, a platter of fried fish, a plate of Manchego cheese. We had to run out of the place literally before they gave us another dish of food!.
The two gents below decided to o for broke and have a little ice cream. LITTLE?

I could hardly walk. But I had my trip to the monastery libraries the next morning, rise and shine at 5:30 am. Uff!

Ancient Monasteries, Steak not Lamb, and Plenty of Rain

One of my hobbies is bookbinding-- the old craft of binding books. I've been at it for about 10 years, but others in my group like Javi have been doing it for 20 or more. Pablo, our "maestro", was able to pull some strings and get us into the libraries at two different monasteries in Burgos Province, in Castilla-León (Spain). The first was to a visit at 10:00 am to Father Norberto at the Monastery of Silos, in Santo Domingo de Silos, the second was after lunch, at 4:00 pm, to see Father Jesús at the Royal Monastery of Santo Domingo de Guzmán, in Caleruenga.
There were five of us on the 3-hour journey. Four went by car and I on my Royal Enfield Bullet, La Balita Roja.
When we set out at the ungodly hour of 6:30 am, it was dark and raining. It took me forever to fumble with gear, keys, iphone, etc. but just before 7:00 am I was on the road. The rain doesn't bother me too much (except that I can't lean much into the curves) so I was happy enough riding, and it wasn't too cold. At 1440 m above sea level, the Somosierra Mountain Pass was cold and dark and very foggy, and proved a challenge to climb on the Balita's 28 hp engine. But we managed, and the day began to dawn on descent on the far side of the pass so I could enjoy the autumn scenery at least.

We met up again at km 158, the turnoff right before Aranda del Duero, an excellent red wine region and very famous for its roast lamb cooked slowly in a brick wood-fired oven.

From here I took a wrong turn in a roundabout and ended up some 50 km away before I realized. When I got to the monastery in Silos they were already inside.
Behind the Monastery in Santo Domingo de Silos

Pouring over old books is hungry work.
Morcilla de Burgos, a delicious local blood sausage
We found a bar and got some tortilla and some blood sausage, both very nice. We were the only customers frequenting the place, but when we asked the guy "Could you please turn off the TV?" He replied with a curt "No". But he did consent to change the channel to a Spain's Got Talent imitation. Great.

There was a nice-looking convent near town, so we stopped for a look:

Inside it's a hotel with a nice modern bar, but the chapel has been gutted and now only houses a grand piano for some reason.

Still early for lunch, Catherine decided to try to pull off this big mushroom thing from a tree, but didn't succeed.
Defeated by a Fungus

The grey sky rained on and off all day, stopping for only a few minutes before the drizzle began again. I had all my waterproof gear on except my boots. Next time, take the waterproof biker boots, dummy!
We had lunch in the town of Caleruenga, at the only restaurant serving food. They did not have lamb, though, only if you order it a day in advance.
A Local Red (Ribera del Duero), very smooth but full

Entrecot done rare


 A stroll back up the hill through the ancient town.

Purple Trees and Elena & Javi

The square at the top of Caleruenga was lovely, with the church, the bar, the monastery. What more does one need?

Father Jesús, of the Dominican order, was a very nice old man. It turns out that Saint Dominic, founder of the order, was born in that castle (his mother's, Juana de Aza) way back in 1170 AD.

Jesús showed us lots of books from their old collection, and let us handle them as we pleased as he told stories about them.

Pablo Cano with Father Jesús, librarian of the Dominicans

Notice the thick and thin raised bands

Night fell. It was  time to drive back. Father Jesús extended us the hospitality of the Dominican friars and bid us stay the night (they have visitor's rooms available in the front wing, very comfortable and clean--I hope to take him up on it another day).
The drive back was uneventful, another 3 hours of driving in intermittent rain and fog. The Balita Roja was a muddy mess when I got home but all that washes off and today she's gleaming anew, with a new coat of carnauba wax to boot.
Ciao, Caleruega!