Monday, October 28, 2013

The First Attempt at the 3rd Annual Vuelta a la Comunidad de Madrid

First and foremost, no real harm done. No worry.
So on with the story-
We got together 9 Royal Enfields, 1 Bonneville and a black Harley 883 sportster to go around the Madrid region last Saturday.
It had been raining for 3 days but the storms passed by noon, so a few of us met early at the RE shop and then for 2nd breakfast/elevenses in Legazpi before heading out:
Emilio Mazarías at the RE shop in Madrid

Some nice bikes!

Café y churritos

Javier Ortiz in his element

Carlos of the HD is in the middle, Juanma (on left) is 73 and fitter than me!

Off we went, and only a few kilometers off the Valencia highway, now on the M-300 between Arganda and Campo Real, we started skating and sliding on gas-oil slicks from the truck traffic on the road. In front of me, the rear of Carlos's HD was swishing from side to side like a Cuban dancer's hips at the Copacabana. Ka-plooey. Down he went.
Me? I hit the front brake and down I went.
Javier had more time and dodged us before stopping.
The result: Carlos's hand swollen, my wrist sprained, my headlamp busted and the new windscreen cracked.
Poor Balita Roja!

So we called my insurance company's road service and waited for a tow.
Carlos popped for a vermouth, since I couldn't drive.

And so I got back to Madrid, dropped off the bike and went to the emergency room.

where a drunk was sleeping it off and an elderly English lady almost died as she waited.
In the end, nothing broken. Bruised knees and a sore wrist, should be ok in a few days.

Now for insurance claim filings, etc. Rather than show you that, it's always better to show a picture of how Reyitas took the news:
Lessons learned:

  1. Always wear a full helmet. The full helmet saved my life. You should see where it hit the pavement and bounced me along without hurting me in the least: right on the chin and lower jaw. Open helmets would kill you then and there.
  2.  Wear protective pants that fit. Mine are too big, the knee pads actually only cover my shins and not my knees, so I have nice black and blue swollen knees now.
  3. Get a bike with ABS. That way squeezing the brake in surprise isn't a guaranteed fall.I don't know if it works on oil spills but it's better than not having it, I'm sure. Pedro Ogrix will agree to that.
  4. When something unexpected happens like that in front of you, it's better to dodge than to try to stop short.

As my friend Alex L said, "Keep the rubber side down, John!"

Friday, October 25, 2013

Indian Scout

One of the benefits of hob-nobbing with the Guardia Civil Motor Vehicles division is that you can swap bike stories even by email My new friend Michel sent my these pics of an Indian Scout he saw at the beach up in the north of Spain a few summers ago.
I love it that the owner uses it as a normal motorcycle to go to the beach with.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Cool Cat Chooses My RE Electra

I guess a cat can feel pretty smug about living at a cheesemaker's house. On Sunday morning three of us rode our Royal Enfields to Titulcia, outside of Madrid, for the aperitivo (see last post).

Robert's thinking of buying a kit that will change his fuel injected  500cc Classic from EFI back to  a carburetor version. No idea how that turns out; anybody know?

 We bought our cheeses (delicious!) and found Peluso the cat outside, interested in our bikes.

Let's have a look, then

Do I look cool now?

These funny humans...

The cheese makers

Big gut, big pumpkins

David looks pretty happy with the situation

Needless to say, when I got home, my own cats Reyitas and Pillina (2 females) sniffed and snuffled and thought the whole thing was highly irregular. Then they took a nap to think it over.

Reyitas getting sleeeeeeepy

A very exhausted Pillina

Monday, October 7, 2013

The "Aperitivo"

The aperitivo in Spain is an age-old tradition. Shortly before lunch, say, around 1:00 to 2:00 pm, you may get together with friends in a bar to tomar el aperitivo. Strict rules apply. There are certain drinks you can drink: a small glass of beer known as una caña, a small glass of red vermouth and seltzer water, known as un vermú con sifón, perhaps a glass of wine (red usually, or white). In the old days, a small glass of wine for the aperitivo in Madrid was known as a chato because of the low flat glass it was served in. But I haven't been able to find a chato de vino for years now.

Unruly hairy biker dude

With the drink is a bite to eat. In this case, on Saturday I met up with Bulleteer biker bud Javier Ortiz and we went out for a morning ride to Chinchón. Its famous irregular shaped square was, as usual in October, set up as a bull ring, and being Saturday also had a few market stalls up and running.

Javier Ortiz and I took a ride on Saturday morning

Plaza Mayor, Chinchón

 We wandered around and up the street to the Mesón Chinchón for ours: a non-standard hangover cure of Coca-Cola and a nice plate of croquetas.

Ham croquettes

It's put me in a mind for roast baby lamb. Mmmm. Autumn has its good side!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Royal Enfield and the Spanish Traffic Police

I first thought I had tip-toed perhaps too far into the lion's cage when I signed up for me and my Royal Enfield Electra to go to the Spanish Guardia Civil's Traffic Police Training Academy  facilities in Mérida (Extremadura, Spain) for a training course on safety and riding techniques (and major biker event) this past weekend.

My old-time biker friend JuanjoMago from Moterus Madrid gave me the heads-up on this back in May, since the safety course was only open to 40 bikers nationwide. I got number 18, which became my number on my jersey during the track events.

 Juanjo was riding down on Friday on his new Kawasaki GS 1400, a best of a bike. The other 8 guys I didn't really know, but they had their BMWs, their Hondas, one even on his enormous Goldwing. So I took off after lunch on my own, riding out of Madrid on the A-5 but exiting soon to take the back roads where my Enfield Electra can hold its own in pride and I can enjoy the ride.
Malpica Castle (Spain)

First stop was to Malpica del Tajo, where the Malpica Castle is still a private residence owned by the Duke and Duchess of Arión. Must be nice to be them, OMFG.

Here's an overview of my whole route to Mérida. Once off the main A-5 highway, the roads are extraordinary and in excellent condition and have little or no traffic for miles and miles.

View Larger Map

I got to the hotel at sunset, about 8 pm, without any rain or trouble at all. The Balita Roja did fine, but was getting 4.1 liters per 100 km, which is a bit high for my peace of mind. It was really windy so that may have something to do with it, too.
Right away I met up with the rest from Madrid, and we got a shot of the group before heading out by taxi for dinner and drinks.

Dinner was hilarious, tapa hopping in Mérida until the wee hours. Luiti and I started a comedy duo patter that had us all in stitches.

Croquetas de jamón

We even went out for gin n tonics afterwards, and met up with the Romans!

The next day was the course at the Escuela de Tráfico de la Guardia Civil. There was a lecture about driving techniques and then we split up into three groups, each with a G.C. monitor instructor in charge, and there were 4 or 5 more monitors on the track outside.

The training circuit
We had 7 or 8 stations set up for different exercises using cones of various types. The hardest was one of zigzagging around cones and then having to turn around in a tight circle with two big ditches on either side. I did it 2 times out of 5 or 6. On another, we had to weave between the cones in 2nd gear, and with our left hand up in the air to show we weren't using the clutch. Weaving my bike with only one hand YIKES but it worked, you get a sense of balance.
We had lunch out with everyone, then returned for the second part: how to take curves. We started out with some theory and then were out on the track for a few spins around, picking up speed. The bad news is that  it started to rain hard, the wind picked up, and the track filled with leaves and branches, so we had to cancel our training.
Back to the hotel to rest and have the Gala Dinner. Cheers!

OnSunday we went back to the Traffic School and heard a few more conferences and were taken on a tour of the facilities, the garage and the mechanics shop, the classrooms, etc.

The classrooms were full of interesting toys to learn mechanics. I wish I could spend a month there taking classes.

The white shirt and tie were because it was Distinguished Gentlemen's Ride Day all over the world, so I had to do something.

We had one last lunch all together (240 bikers, most of them Guardia Civil). I had good conversation with many of them who liked the Royal Enfield. But in the end it was time to go back to Madrid. My friend Rafa took this shot from his window while I was getting ready.

 The route back was going to be rainy and windy, so at the last minute I took the highway to avoid unnecessary risk and get back early. The Balita got me home in less than 4 hours.