West Glos & Dean Forest
Motor Cycle Club

Celebrating 71 Years of Motor Cycling 1953 - 2024

Alto Turia 2004

Words By Ian Vessey

Photos would be here if we had room but for now you will have to jump to Ian's own site... or view Rod Carr's report on EnduroNews.com). 
Alternatively, If you have a good imagination then here are the captions:- 

The 'Scenery' - On the border - On the test - Ready to go - Cup of tea? Banana? Where's your money sonny? - 2-wheel bulldozers (+Big Balls!) - Hang on! Southern Spain? Snow? Where's the sun and sangria? - The mud camouflage is working, Malcolm hasn't spotted me yet! - Nice place for a picnic - Winners all! - Setting off into the morning sun - Clare and T laughing at my 'lunch-box' 

The quick report:
Me and T, Julian and Clare, jump into the tranny, tow the trailer with the bikes through France to Spain, do 5 days riding in the Alto Turia Ride, then come back home.
Fantastic! What a ride! 1200Kms of riding around some of the most spectacular scenery Spain has to offer. 100% recommended. 

Long report:

I could do this like the Morocco report - a summary for each day, but the first couple of days were just getting there; Thursday night - ferry from Portsmouth, Friday - drive through France to Oloron St. Marie for an overnight stop, Saturday - over the Pyrenees and down through Teruel to Arras de Alpuenta. 

Saturday evening, check into the 'Wooden House'. Excellent - hot water and comfy beds. Have a meal and drink some beer in the warm evening sun. Meet Malcolm! who's been here for a couple of days and sussed it out.
Sunday. Sign on, get The T-Shirt, and spend the day swanning around waiting for the evening's Prologue. This is a short test to sort out the starting order for Monday morning. Turns out to be quite an intensive 7kms of test. The first bit is a very steep descent down a rocky track, followed by a steep climb, then on to a motocross test. We'd been told about this but hadn't bothered to go an look (it was 200m behind our chalet!) and turned out to be more of a trials test - buried corrugated bumps - a sand pit - a water trough - and a bloody great pile of rocks. Never mind - got round. 

The starting order for each day is slowest first by overall test times. Me and Julian got just about the same time for the prologue test, so on Monday we start almost together. 

Day one is a nice warm up, only 250Kms or so! Nice going, mostly forestry tracks and firebreaks. Gets us used to the navigation using the roadbooks. The first 'special' is mostly marked as well, ending up in a quarry with a motocross style track. Back at 'Arras Rural' we start to socialise a bit more. Loads of Brits here, Germans, Swiss, and Dutch Looneys on BMWs. Highly modified BMWs mind you, but bloody great big BMWs all the same. 

Day two. Sun still shining, but a lot more distance today, only 297Kms! This route takes us north up over mountains, down great valleys and canyons for miles and miles and miles......
Stunning scenery, superb views, no-one around (apparently - although all the olive groves and vines appear to be well tended). Today's special is a longer navigated test. Just before this, we meet T and Clare for our fuel stop. 'Have you crashed yet' says T. That's the 'Kiss of Death' isn't it. Just near the end of the test on a fast firetrack I get it all sideways and dump it just before going over the edge. Ho-Hum, had to scratch the new MXC sometime. And at the end, I found my front tyre looked like it had been 'shaved', so that needed changing in the evening. 

Day three was possibly the most scenic day, 270Kms including a ride over the highest mountains where there was still snow on the ground. The going was a bit more interesting, not so much of the firetrack. It also included what can only be described as a goat track, which descended through the trees off a mountain down some pretty steep slopes. There was no going back up it anyway - I'm so glad it was the right route! The 'special' was great fun, real cross country stuff with some excellent fast climbs and descents.
Shame the weather turned to s**t in the afternoon. We were not prepared, and were completely soaked by the time we got back to 'Arras Rural' 

Day four. Wet start. Not pouring down, just showers - only 270Kms today! Enough to make your goggles start to steam up when the going gets a little tough. Julian's bike started to play up, kept stalling. Could have been the damp, could have been fuel. Eventually he had to give up at a checkpoint and was directed to the refuelling via tarmac. I now realised that my back tyre really was knackered. I was hoping to avoid changing it during the week - because we're using mousses. It does however make 'backing-in' to corners on muddy tracks, just by closing the throttle, hilariously good fun.
Back at 'Arras Rural', we successfully change the tyre. T and Clare maintained a safe distance during the procedure! 

Day five: Last day. Bit shorter just 165 km's. I thought I would relax on the last day. No chance. I started to think about all the things that could possibly go wrong with the bike, about crashing, getting horrible lost etc. Then after the last , 28km, 'special', which was a superb navigation test, I completely switched off - relaxing too much.
'Next box - turn left at water trough - view to village on right'.
There I am sailing along, 'what a lovely view over there', what's that? - a water trough.
'O b*ll*cks, should have turned left there!!!'
Eventually we ended back at an old nunnery - Ermita de Sta. Catalina - (now a picnic place) high up on the hills overlooking Arras de Alpuenta. All except one poor sod who got 'horribly lost' on the last special!

Eventually all returned, and rode the last couple of Ks back to Arras Rural.
Kit was packed, bikes, loaded, and then there was much eating and drinking. There were trophies to give, and all gave great thanks to the organisers who had done such a splendid job of putting on such a thoroughly enjoyable event.

The last bit is boring. On Saturday morning we left about 8:45, and kept on going until we got to Le Havre at 2:30 Sunday morning, got the morning ferry and were home in time to go to the King of Spain on Sunday night.
Maybe next time we'll do the planned overnight stop! Did I say 'next time'? Must have been good.
Actually, it was better than good, it was bloody marvellous, incredible, outstanding, superb, brilliant, stunning.
Better than ... um .... The Welsh!! 

But it's expensive! I hear you say.
Yup. I reckon it cost me and T about 2000. That's ferry, chalet accommodation, entry etc for 2.
But we had a brilliant 10 day holiday, good accommodation, meals (including wine - ask T!), and five long days of some of the best riding to be found anywhere, in some of the most stunning scenery to be seen.
You need 'all the kit' I hear you say. OK, so I had a new MXC, but there were people on DRZs, a 200EGS and a Husky 125, not all 450KTMs. I bet you could do this on a Serrow - certainly on a 250XR. Most other people also had Touratech roadbook holders (at 250 a go or rented), but they had stopped laughing at my Sainsbury's lunch box by the end of the week. Ha! And I can put my butties in it! 

The Alto Turia Ride is run by Schalber Events. Go to www.schalber-events.de for more details. 
Arras Rural is the complex where the ride is based. Go to www.arasrural.com for more details. 
There's loads more to say but not enough space here.
Best thing is just to do it yourself next year!