With the after-effects of two intense weeks of classic motorcycling, it is time to put our ideas in order and recap what the events of this strange 2021 have given us. When all seemed lost, and we were getting ready to continue with the preparations for some modest Rallies, the long-awaited announcement arrived unexpectedly. The green light for outdoor sporting events and the end of restrictions, as the Principality declared the pandemic under control. What happiness and how little time to prepare everything. Fortunately, the machinery that Moto Club Indianos has been improving over the last ten years is still working flawlessly, and with renewed vigour and enthusiasm, we faced the challenge successfully.
Our first Rally, the so-called Rally of Northern Spain, reached its fifth edition and for this important moment, we deployed a series of newnesses that delighted the large group of enthusiasts who decided to join us. First of all, we extended our hotel offer to suit everyone's tastes and pockets. In addition to our centre of operations, in the fantastic Parador Nacional Monasterio de Corias in Cangas de Narcea -which for those who don't know, is considered the best Rural Hotel in Spain- we had a cosy alternative in the Hotel La Casilla, located a few kilometres away, where we were very happy to enjoy its facilities and its amazing cuisine.
The Rally began as usual in Colombres, headquarters of the Indianos Moto Club, where the registrations were made, and the welcome bag was handed out, which this year included a commemorative high visibility vest that we will proudly wear all year round. T-shirts, plaques and route sheets, which, for the first time, included QR codes so that we could have the route on our mobile phones. This new feature has been a great help and has been very well received by all. For the more traditionalists, following the directions is very easy as, in addition to the route sheets, the route is arrowed on a daily basis, making navigation easy for the absent-minded.
On Tuesday the 28th of September, the large group of enthusiasts set off westwards on a new route that would delight everyone and put mechanicals and bodies alike to the test. A long route, crossing the north of León, which perfectly combined the mountain passes of San Glorio in Cantabria and Leitariegos in Asturias with the wide, fast roads of León and its open landscapes, from the majestic Riaño reservoir to the green valleys of Laciana. Special mention should be made of the small bikes that completed the tough test with honours and their brave riders who endured the toughness of the test with the expertise and good motorcycling skills that characterise our participants.
Ahead, four routes to deeply explore the landscapes of western Asturias. We started with a second day riding through mountain passes and visiting the interpretation centre of the Muniellos Forest and the Acebo Shrine. A short ride to regain strength and enjoy time to chat and admire the other participants' motorcycles. What a great feeling to feel alive again doing what we love the most.
And from the mountains to the sea, to visit for the first
time in this event the charming village of Castropol on the banks of the Eo
estuary to enjoy the food that is prepared on each route and which includes all
kinds of snacks and where the plancha works at full capacity to offer hot food
to these brave riders. This aspect is one of the most cared for by the Moto
Club and always receives compliments from everyone.
The fourth route takes us back to the coast, to do that it is required to go through mountain passes both on the way there and on the way back, so the menu is very complete. This time we visit La Villa Blanca (Luarca) and then enjoy lunch in Puerto de Vega, a beautiful and peaceful fishing village. Eating a Fabada Asturiana by the sea and under a pleasant October sun was magnificent.
For our last ride in the west, what a better place than the Natural Park of Somiedo, including the ascent to the legendary Farrapona to contemplate the Saliencia Lakes. This part of the province has a special attraction and the lonely roads without roundabouts and traffic lights are a biker's paradise without parallel. This was confirmed in their comments by all those who wanted to come and celebrate this well-established event with us.
Many kilometres in a few days cause the mechanics of these venerable old ladies to suffer, and it is a tradition to spend the evenings, beer in hand, in the hotel car park repairing and helping others to be ready for the next day. The support and rescue van returns to the hotel with the "corpses" in the "trailer of shame". Here the biker camaraderie lives on, and giving away parts or wasting two hours of your rest time helping others is a personal pleasure that creates bonds of friendship that last for years to come. For many, this event is the occasion to meet up with friends on a regular basis and believe me when I say that this year has been the best of the group therapies.
Time flies when you are enjoying yourself and it is time to return to Colombres. The weather was not very good, so we decided to change the route and opt for the best alternative. It was a good decision that made it easier for us to return, crossing Asturias without getting soaked and with mild temperatures. Along the way, we were able to enjoy the Pre-Romanesque Art and a meal by the sea on the magnificent Rodiles beach.
Arriving at the "headquarters" La Parra Restaurant, and seeing its car park full of classics registering for the tenth Colombres Rally was an injection of life that I have no words to describe. Emotions were running high and every reunion was a mixture of laughter and the occasional tear of emotion. This ordeal we have been through has been tough and to meet up with old friends and to be able to enjoy life and our passion again is something beyond any adjective in my vocabulary. The classic motorcycle world is very different from that of the modern motorcycles, here the bike is lived with the intensity of the expert, the people count more than the machines, and the shared stories and the scars do not understand about social networks or numbers. An international language shared by English, French, Dutch and Spaniards, to name the most numerous, which, despite the language barrier, manages to convey the most complex emotions with a look.
Gathered in the legendary square of Colombres on the 4th of October we started the week of daily routes with an entrance that has surprised us and that makes our anniversary very special. We are in Picos de Europa and to appreciate the landscape we went to Tresviso, a village with a special charm in the middle of the mountains. As a second outing, nothing better than to visit the popular village of Fuente Dé with a stop in Potes and a climb to the Monastery of Liébana as it could not be otherwise. We continue the Rally and as a third route, we go to the coast to visit one of the jewels of Asturias, the unique fishing village of Lastres and its steep streets with the backdrop of the Sierra del Sueve. The weather is excellent and spirits are very high, despite the many kilometres accumulated, the prospect of today's route that will take us through the lands of Palencia invites us to continue riding and enjoying.
Tonight we will celebrate an "espicha type" dinner outside La Parra where all the attendees will meet to spend an evening of fellowship. The Colombres Rally is characterised by a large number of hotels, and it is on this particular night that all the groups scattered throughout the hotels meet at the same time in the same place.
Friday begins with the start of the main event of the Rally, the 300 miles of Colombres. An endurance test, that has had a good entrance this year, in which machine and rider are pushed to the limit. More than 500 kilometres on these motorcycles and through these roads is a tough test for which you have to leave at eight o'clock in the morning and dedicate the whole day. A briefing the night before informs the participants of the new format of the event in which the checkpoints have been scrapped in favour of photographic evidence of the passage through the different parts of the route, thus giving the riders more time to complete the test without the pressure of schedules. Those who took part in the event agreed that this system is much better and the praise for the route was unanimous.
At ten o'clock in the morning, the daily route is also special today with 300 kilometres to enjoy and a very interesting visit in the Burgos province, the beautiful hamlet of Orbaneja del Castillo with its impressive waterfall and cobbled streets, surrounded by the stunning scenery that embraces it. The atmosphere at lunch was something to behold, with all those beautiful bikes under the shade of the trees and the lively atmosphere of camaraderie in the air.
All set for the weekend. The show begins. On Saturday, the big day of the event, we commence with the daily route leaving at ten o'clock in the morning, as usual, which will take us on a light route in which we will visit the Mirador del Naranjo de Bulnes to quickly return to the square of Colombres and enjoy the Hill-Climb Subida Bustio-Colombres 12+1, which this year celebrates its eighth edition and which has been a beautiful show we must thank the good work of "Tino" Cobo, who has managed to organise everything in record time. It was a real treat to hear the thunderous sound of the free exhausts coming up to full throttle towards Colombres. Once again this year we had the honour of having the national motorcycling legend César Gracia opening the race with us. In his eighties, he gave us all a lesson of enthusiasm. I don't think I'll ever forget his words after the race: "it was very short, I would have liked to have kept going". This year there was no times record, therefore there is no list of winners, although, if we listen to what the riders themselves said, it was still a lot of fun.
Now it's time to relax and enjoy a delicious chickpea stew next to the motorcycles, take some photos and listen to some music mixed with the sound of engines, and after that, we'll stop by the ninth spare parts market to see if there's anything to take home with us.
Sunday arrives, the last day and also full of events. Route to the Mirador de Santa Catalina, one of the most impressive I know, to then return to the square to enjoy a typical fabada again surrounded by the best atmosphere. Today the sixth classic Motocross took place in the spectacular field of La Cantera, which was attended by a large number of people who enjoyed the spectacle offered by the riders and which was orchestrated by Luis Antonio Bolado, who announced his retirement as the organiser and whom we would like to convince to continue with us, as nothing would be the same without his great job. The champions Titín Saiz and José Ángel Mendivil were there one more year, attentive to everything that was happening, enjoying as always with that young gaze of those who love this sport.
And to complete the day's offerings, the most charming race, that of the boys and girls in their toy bikes, which is now in its sixth edition and never disappoints those who come to watch these promising youngsters.
It's time to say goodbye and we leave with a big smile under our helmets and an indescribable feeling, the feeling of living again.