Tuesday, July 15, 2008
madrid - barcelona - madrid (barcelona harley days 2008)
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i have been the owner of a 2007 harley davidson sportster 883 low for over a year now. shortly after i received it on the 23rd february 2007 i was destined for work in asia, so i have been away from it for some time. i use it dayly when im home in madrid, spain. and it has become an addiction, almost an obsession, something it used to be a dream.
until the 15th of july 2007 (date i took off to asia) i had been riding it for several routes in and around madrid, the longest one having been to a little town in the province of cuenca called valverde del jucar. this was for a gathering with other sportster owners, mainly from madrid and valencia.
also i have dedicated a considerable ammount of time to modifying the bike to my liking. i doubt many harley davidson bikes stay stock for long, no matter how small the change is. but mine has undergone, and still is undergoing, quite a lot of changes, limited by money and availability of certain parts, which at times have to be custom made (this always provides with a much greater level of satisfaction due to the uniqueness of the final outcome).
last friday (11.07.2008) i took on my first "long" trip on the bike. the purpose was to spend the weekend in barcelona during harley davidson´s 105th aniversary (barcelona harley days 2008).
the preparation was already a reason to get hyped up. i was riding solo and meeting some friends in barcelona, some locals some that did the same trip from other parts of the country for the same reason.
one detail i should mention, i had never loaded any "luggage" on the bike before, since all previous routes were day trips. this task presented itself as some small challenge, but was fairly easy to beat and accomplish. small backpack with clothes for the 3 days (komando noche t-shirt for friday night, handlebar manila t-shirt for saturday and another one for sunday), a hoodie just in case and a camera. one extra empty bagpack just in case... either to bring the camera for the day or to bring back new parts (there was a series of stalls selling parts in barcelona) and an extra helmet (i always carry one, just in case).
all strapped up securely and off i went. approximate time of departure was 14:30. normal friday traffic for the first 100 km out of madrid and an accident around guadalajara. on the barcelona to madrid direction a semi truck had crashed and had the semi across the road... behind it one more semi had a totalled cabin. it looked pretty bad, the road was completely blocked and by the time i got there there was a 1km qeue of cars waiting for the cops and ambulances to get to the site. i was not affected by it, other than the idea of what might have happened to each of the drivers, scary thought. so i continued my way, learning later that they had to open a lane on the madrid to barcelona direction to let all the southbound traffic continue towards madrid.
the rest of the trip was fairly average. very nice scenery, specially arround monegros desert, with the eolic energy fields and the red soil and cliffs decorating the sides of the road. so beautiful but lacking in incidents... i stopped around 4 times for a fag, a drink and fuel. also a couple of phonecalls to let family know i was doing ok hahahaha.
i arrived in barcelona at around 20:45pm. checked in hotel arc la rambla and dropped my bags before joining a whole bunch of guys from www.sportster.cc at duplex bar along marina rd.
we went for dinner at the paseo marítimo, nothing special, in fact it was a pretty bad pizza, but it did not really matter since the point was to say hi and get to the harley village a.s.a.p. talked to ferran and edgar (2 friends from barcelona and mallorca) and met loren and silvia, a very nice couple from cadiz and malaga but based in barcelona.
after the shitty pizza, we rode to the complex where all the bikes were. we walked arround some of the open stalls and listened to a concert of some "tribute to the rolling stones" band. in the stalls area i would have to highlight a bike called cashmere by bonneville from madrid and anotherone called scarface (this one i cant remember the builder´s name). another impressive build was one by pura vida with a ridiculous 360mm rear tyre... WOW! how the fuck do you ride that???
O.C.C. had 3 bikes on display and i must say, they look like marrygorounds... i simply dont like them. too bad, because they could do some very nice stuff.
went to bed at arround 1.30 since the next day there was a route planned before lunch in villanova i la gertrud with the sportster.cc guys.
made it to the end of marina where it meets the mapfre towers at around 10am and after a long wait (this was the route planned for those who went out the previous night) we proceeded towards tibidabo at 12.30 ish... from there i am not sure about the exact roads we took, we were following a guy with a honda cbr 600 (hahahaaha) who was leading the group.
getting out of barcelona was a nightmare... 20 bikes and countless traffic lights made the task a challenge, but once we reached tibidabo, it all went fine... beautiful scenery, great view of the city from the hill... the whole route went along with "almost" no problems. but following a cbr proved to be a fast one, and he was one of the few who knew where the hell we were heading exactly. we were riding along a very long straight through a very nice field, and we were riding fast when the leader took a very unexpected detour to the right. this caused the bikes in front of me to break suddenly and caused me to do exactly the same, which in turn made me look through my rear view mirror. what i saw was somehow disturbing. a dyna ridden by a couple which was heading straight at me, smoke coming out of its rear tyre which at the same time was swinging from side to side, only alowing me to hope that it would not crash into me.
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it did not crash, the pillon on the dyna changed colour into pale, like a ghost and the driver apologised for having been enjoying the landscape. thankfuly it all ended in a little anecdote, but it could have been a mess.
lunch was exciting at first. we got to the restaurant where another 60 bikes waited for our arrival. food came we all chatted, and chatted for a few hours before disolving ourselves in smaller groups who headed in all sorts of directions as desserts and last coffees were being consumed.
i rode with ivan, silvia and loren, and one more couple whose name i dont remember.
ivan and me headed back to harley village while the rest headed to their hotels to rest before joining ivan and me.
it would have been an amazing ride if it wasn´t for the fact that it started pouring rain like the world was going to end. but once we were safe at the harley village it all got worse. the place started flooding, a lot of the stalls started closing... we found shelter in one of the official harley dealers´stalls, right next to a beautiful waltz hardcore bike.
for that night i cant say much more other than, it kept raining and it stopped for a bit and then rain again... nice hot dog for dinner and back to the hotel for a rest...
sunday was memorable. met up with silvia, loren and leticia for the parade. information on the local papers varied. some said there were 13000 bikes others said up to 20000 bikes had gathered for the ocasion. one thing was for sure, there was a lot of bikes. the parade started in montjuic, and we passed by diagonal, marina, plaza de colon, and eventualy back to the starting point. leticia rode with me, i try to carry an extra helmet all the time, just in case and it came in useful this time. leticia took a lot of pictures during the parade.
after the parade i went for lunch with the guys to the harley village before my return to madrid.
this time, the return was through the old N-II. through a different part off the monegros desert, where i bumped into the remaining punters atending the monegros desert festival (quite a sight if you ask me). on km 224 of the A2 i took a huge bump which almost caused me a bad fall. luckyly the only hit i took is that i lost the extra helmet which i had strapped to the back of the bike.
one more thing i think is worth mentioning about my return is my unpleasant encounter with some group of assholes riding harleys back to lisbon through madrid. met them during a fuel/smoke/water break at a filling station. they seemed nice enough, most of them were riding roadkings or electras... but what i did not expect was the lack of courtesy they showed on the road. i left the petrol station seconds before they did, and minutes later the whole group started overtaking me. all good till now, when i was left the last of about 9 or 10 bikes. a support van decided i was not good enough and the driver overtook me making himself some room between the last portugese bike and me, almost throwing me off the road.
its situations like these that piss me off... but what can you do?
aside from these bunch of idiots... i got home safe with 4 other riders i found 100 km away from my final destination, friendly, courteous and nice to ride with.
i am sure i will try to join more of these gatherings from now on, and they will most surely be written about on this blog.
next episode... day trip to segovia.