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Old 11-13-2018, 10:31 PM   #1
Mellowtonin
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Two Alex's Ride Europe - 2018

This post is meant to be the ride report for http://bayarearidersforum.com/forums...=530143&page=3 and is composed two weeks after the events described.

The Prologue

Hello Barfers and Barfettes, for the 99% of you which I've yet had the pleasure to ride along with, my name is Alex and I"m addicted to motorcycles. About a month ago, my friend alemeno214 - also known affectionately as White Alex and myself came to a sudden realization that we'd be able to plan a two week vacation riding motorcycles overseas. After a fruitless week of fantasizing adventures over the dunes of Morocco or thru the pampas of Patagonia, we had finally decided on a self-guided tour around the Italian island of Sardinia. The two of us had been riding together in a "selective group" of goobers for just under three years now, here's a photo from Quincy 2017 for you to put some faces to our ride report


With the tour in Sardinia via Barcelona being an 11 day affair, we had 2~3 days of free vacation time which must not be wasted. By chance I had stumbled upon a review on Trip Advisor for a company called Intrepid Trails, their promotional video showed folks ripping factory racing dirt bikes over white sand beaches of Portugal, needless to say no further convincing was needed. 5 days before both Alex's were due for their prospective annual leaves, last minute travel tickets were hastily arranged and it was official...we are doing Europe!
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Old 11-13-2018, 11:59 PM   #2
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Nice!!

Great pic BTW
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Old 11-14-2018, 07:26 PM   #3
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Nice!!

Great pic BTW
Thanks for the support Budman
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Old 11-14-2018, 09:18 PM   #4
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Day 1: 'Stitch on a Plane & Bem-vindo Figueira!

As mentioned in my Prologue, due to last minute booking, I had picked to fly with a super budget airline (French Bee) in order to avoid paying beaucoup bucks. This meant extremely limited luggage options, and me wearing my Aerostitch for the entirety of 14 hours from SFO to Porto, Portugal via layover in Paris ORY. I found out via first hand experience that although you can get thru airport security in your 'Stitch, at SFO they did give me the extra pat-down, including back of the hands pat up my crotch for hidden contraband. Thank god a good friend had offered some real potent 420 just before my take off flight, so all was peachy as I stood limbs outstretched, cool like little Fonzie. For 12 hours, I was sandwiched between a super muscleman with arms the size of my thighs having trouble bumping into my elbows, and a boozy smelling but ridiculous hot French girl, who ended up accidentally punching me in the ribs as she tossed and turned in her sleep. Landing at Porto just after 9 PM on a Friday night, I picked up my rental econobox and made the 1 hour 30 minute drive in the dark, out to the charming, cobble stone lined beach town of Figueira da Foz.



Turns out the owner of Intrepid Trails, a lovely couple (Steve and Debbie) originally from the UK, also ran the Paintshop Hostel, where I had stayed for 2 days and 3 nights. For 18 Euros a night, I was shocked to find very clean beds and a friendly, relaxing atmosphere. Waking up refreshed for Day 1 of my ride, Kirk, one of the more senior staff members at the hostel - who also happened to share the room with me, gravely informed me that I had a massive snoring problem. He was a good chap about it though and told hilarious stories about traveling in the USA (he was from London and had a bit of a cockney accent) which made everything he said almost twice as endearing. As alemeno214 had to work an extra day prior to his transatlantic flight, I was joined by two, much more seasoned British gentlemen (James and Julian) on the first day of the grand adventure.

At 9 AM sharp, Steve showed up with his adorable dog, Star, in the Mystery Machine and was ready to pick up the 3 of us.





We arrived at Steve's HQ, where I found this lovely surprise waiting for me inside the garage (the white paper sign read "ALEX BIKE "




After gearing up (full individual enduro kits had been prepared for each of us), we were introduced to the bikes - brand new factory racing Sherco 300s. Being an American and somewhat ignorant, this was my first introduction to the Sherco brand, and boy was I impressed. They were real beauties that easily reminded me of KTM and Husqvarna off-road competition machines.



I found out over a couple bottles of Superbock that Steve, who was to be our guide in Portugal, was an ex-motocross as well as enduro racer who had ridden all around the world, include Baja and Morocco. With only 12 hours of total dirt riding experience under my belt, all of it from my 2 day camp at the now defunct Nor-Cal supermoto ran by Brok up in Sacramento, I came to a sudden and dawning realization that I just might be a bit out of my element and in over my head. My fear only grew when Steve informed us that the worst hurricane in decades had just left town days ago, he couldn't even drive to his house when it had made landfall due to the large quantity of fallen trees obstructing the roadway. But I was there, geared up and ready for maximum fun, so the 4 of us hopped on our race bikes and hit the dirt.



The bikes performed absolutely fantastic, I on the other hand was less capable. The boys had to graciously wait for me at almost every turn-off, to which I was eternally grateful. We started on muddy fire trails which quickly turned into a variety of terrain, from pebble strewn single track to a dense, jungle like trail covered in fallen plants of all shape and sizes. Avoiding broken tree branches and other sharp protruding objects became an instant priority

But the sights more than made up for the hardship, we passed thru giant windmill farm on a hill overlooking the entire town, then down flights of mossy concrete stairs in the middle of a national forest park. For awhile, we had even walked our bikes (since the opening was too short to ride in) through a runoff tunnel. In total, I had maybe dropped my bike ~5 times, it was grueling since atop the bike, both of my toes barely grazed the ground, which the constant uneven terrain and narrow passageways only exacerbated. But Steve, who was around my height, had skillfully helped me out of every jam which I tend to find myself getting stuck in.

The highlight of the day for me was: we had rode out in-between golden rice fields on a dirt service road, as we passed this classical painting of a Portuguese countryside, behind the next blind turn the outline of a massive castle ruin presented itself in the backdrop. Only in Europe! We stopped at the bottom of the castle town for our hydration/ice tea break, allowing me to take a quick snapshot of our trusty steeds.



At the end of the first day, I was physically exhausted but feeling triumphant. We rode to the pressure washer in town and watched Steve hose down the bikes one by one, the beer was hard earned.



After a hard day of "work", James, Julian and me stopped for a couple pints at the neighborhood marina, which had an absolutely stunning view.








After a reasonable priced, dinner of local delicacies and way more beer, wine, and brandy than I can remember, we parted our ways at the hostel and turned-in for the day.

Below is a super-cut video of the day's ride:


youtu.be/7rpVlcfst_w

Last edited by Mellowtonin; 11-15-2018 at 10:08 AM..
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Old 11-15-2018, 05:44 PM   #5
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What an awesome trip. Looking forward to more pictures.
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Old 11-15-2018, 05:48 PM   #6
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Living the good life man!!!
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Old 11-16-2018, 09:53 PM   #7
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What an awesome trip. Looking forward to more pictures.
Thank you, got plenty more coming

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Living the good life man!!!
I try my best

So alemeno214 had wanted to tag team on this ride report, unfortunately he got into an accident over Veteran's Day and ended up with a broken wrist. Please send healing thoughts his way!
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Old 11-16-2018, 10:07 PM   #8
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Oh crap... that sucks.

Heal quick Alex.
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Old 11-17-2018, 12:51 AM   #9
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Day 2: Steak 'N Eggs and Riding the Dream

I woke up at 7AM with the worst cotton mouth I've had in a long time. The combination of jet-lag, trying to keep up drinking with two Brits twice my size the previous night, and getting up 3 times before dawn to chug 6 bottles of water had really heralded that an A1 day was in store for me. I came down to the kitchen, just in time to see Kirk returning with fresh Portuguese rolls from the town bread shop. At dinner the night before, because Julian had told me he doesn't eat veal ("it's unethical"), I just couldn't say no when James had challenged me to order the biggest cut of Veal steak on this side of the Atlantic. For breakfast, in an attempt to settle my stomach, I fried-up a healthy plate of leftover veal steak and eggs. James, who was finishing up his tea and coffee at the kitchen area, stared at me incredulously and said, "Are you really going to eat that?"

15 minutes before Steve was supposed to come pick us up, guess who finally decided to show? That's right, alemeno214!!! And I was starting to worry he might have missed the flight. Like the beast he is, White Alex had gotten off the plane 2 hours prior at Lisbon (from Seattle!), drove all the way to Figueira, without even taking a coffee break and he was ready to rock.



Steve showed up like clockwork and was super pumped, "today's the day we hit the beach!" I was hardly able to contain my excitement. At the HQ, we quickly suited-up and got on our bikes. All 4 grown ass man had our hearts melted when Steve's 2 year-old daughter, Skyla, waved us off at the HQ balcony with, "Becawful Daddy, the wain-puddles!"



The morning started with warm-ups over stretches of winding, muddy fire roads, which I'd finally gotten somewhat comfortable with just the day before. Not 45 minutes in, Steve told us that it's time for us to try riding on sand. From enthusiastically watching Dakar Rally videos in the past, I'd incorrectly assumed that sand riding would be a piece of cake, since the rally pros all made it look so easy. As I quickly found out, just like hitting a patch of sand on the road back home; and the resulting temporary loss of traction normally puts the fear of god into most weekend riders. Sand riding is the equivalent of having an entire road surface covered in slippery, quick sinking, treacherous f***ing SAND. What had made it even more difficult, was that the sand trail was deep in the woods, it was covered with vegetation, with plenty of detours around fallen tree trunks.



I must have dropped the bike a good dozen times within the next hour, even managed to get my rear wheel halfway buried underneath a steep, sandy incline. Compared to the safety of riding on tarmac, it seems the bike suddenly developed a mind of its own, any attempted steering inputs became "mere suggestions" on where the bike and I would eventually end up. What little confidence which I had built up from the day before quickly evaporated within the span of 60 minutes. There were the sudden regrets over years of avoiding the gym, I was having the workout of a lifetime!



Finally, I think Steve got tired of having to stop, come back, and help me pick up my bike for the 20th time. My companions also appropriately remarked that, "Alex had spent more time off the bike then on it the entire morning!" An unanimous decision was reached to head down to the lake, back on dirt. But the repeated heavy lifting had finally caught up with me, it became apparent why James had advised against my choice of steak and eggs just hours before, it was all I could do for a good 15 minutes from barfing my guts out.



On our way to the lake, we came across a relatively high speed, muddy straightaway with plenty of bumps and opportunity for jumps. Steve, who typically let's us ride however we want to, warned that "make sure to slow down near the end, or you'd end up over the bars." And sure enough, about 20 yards from reaching the next checkpoint, I watched in bemused horror as alemeno214 came off a bump at speed, then proceeds to lose control and lowside into a ginormous mud puddle. The splash he had made was glorious!

Having somehow survived a morning full of challenges, we stopped by the local hot spot for a quick lunch. I still find it amusing that the place was called Jet 7.5, so named because you can have a delicious three course lunch combo for the amazing price of 7.50 Euros!



After a brief respite, came the highlight for the day. Yes, it kinda looks like a 90s alternative rock album cover:



That's right, I finally did it, for a good solid 30 minute we tore up a picturesque, half deserted public beach! Hunched over with my ass all the way shifted to the back, and the throttle pinned in 6th gear, all was forgiven. My dream of flying over some exotic beach was now happening IRL, even as I watched alemeno214 who was a good 30 yards in front of me hitting the biggest tank slapper I had ever seen. We were going a good 60~70MPH, and he was kicking up sand as high as two stories! I remember muttering underneath my breath, "Don't crash Alex, don't do it! You know that the Sardinia tour doesn't accept any refunds!" I think Portuguese Jesus must've heard my prayers, because by some sort of miracle alemeno214 managed to stay upright.

We exited the beach by gracefully jumping over a small dune, I impressed Steve by not being the person who got left behind for once (that would be James, who didn't give it enough throttle the first 2 times). I was glad that the struggles in the morning had begun to pay off, I still sucked but somehow was starting to get a hang of riding over sand. The team stopped for a very scenic hydration break:





To be honest, I was totally content as well as exhausted by this point. But Steve, being the ever energetic guide with a contagious sense of positive energy, had more action planned! (I do love how riding through the rural parts of town, he would give the biggest thumbs up to the local elderly going about their day. Some of them even smiled and waved at us.)

Unfortunately by this time I was quickly losing my ability to concentrate, I had some good crashes even looping my bike at one point. But like the Brits told me, "It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt, then it's hilarious!" Boy was I glad that alemeno214 had my back through out the last challenging bits. Overall, it was one of the best days of my life and I wouldn't change a thing!





Aaaaaaaaand here's the clip for the day...

youtu.be/mxTcLMQU_V4

Last edited by Mellowtonin; 11-19-2018 at 11:38 PM..
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Old 11-17-2018, 01:39 PM   #10
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Oh man, so good!
I still can't believe you booked a dualsport tour and don't regularly ride off-road. It's a workout!!

As you found out...
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Old 11-19-2018, 03:42 PM   #11
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Sand is a challenge for sure. Looks like a hoot from the vid!!!

What is next??
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Old 11-20-2018, 08:03 PM   #12
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Oh man, so good!
I still can't believe you booked a dualsport tour and don't regularly ride off-road. It's a workout!!

As you found out...
Next time I do this type of enduro tour, both Nick and your brother are coming with me. It's gonna be a group workout

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Sand is a challenge for sure. Looks like a hoot from the vid!!!

What is next??


I'd loooove to but I'll die
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Old 11-20-2018, 08:45 PM   #13
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They have rescue teams.

Great adventure...thanks for sharing it

Hope 2A heals quick and I am sure he has great memories of the ride too.
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Old 11-20-2018, 11:35 PM   #14
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Day 3: Bienvenido a Barcelona



Waking up at 4:15AM to catch an early flight to Spain, I felt like Mike Tyson's punching bag - sore and bruised all over. If you watch the very end of the video from Day 2, I had severely pulled if not partially torn my left hamstring. The mx-boot got caught on the edge of a raised dirt platform, as the bike kept going underneath me there was a distinctive "popping" sensation that, comically made worse from me landing in the full splits position. Thankfully alemeno214 travels with ibuprofen, which I popped like Skittles for the next few days.

After successfully returning my rental car at the Porto airport two hours later, I almost hit a snag when the Portuguese TSA lady told me that my 'Stitch must be removed while going through security inspection. I told her that I wasn't wearing anything underneath and, unless she really wants to see me naked, I'd prefer keeping it on. She mutter "that's...not good" and waved me through.

I landed at Barcelona El-Prat Airport in the afternoon, with alemeno214 joining me shortly after. Sitting in the back of the cab as the Barcelonian cityscape came into view, we both had a wow moment. Compared to the Portuguese country side which we had spent the first couple'o days, this was a true cosmopolitan metropolis.

We checked-in at our hotel and had a very pleasant meeting with Ruben from our tour agency - IMT Bike. Due to the last minute nature of our trip, we had decided on a self-guided package where our bikes, the hotels, and the routes were all prearranged and included. This was especially helpful as we stayed at over 8 different accommodations, ranging from overnight ferry to hotels all around the island of Sardinia. Ruben went over the basics of what to expect (from his decades of experience guiding motorcycle tours in the region), gave us our pre-programmed GPS units, and even made recommendations on our Michelin maps, hi-lighting sections of the trip that would make the most epic memories. The meeting ended at 8PM which was a bit early for dinner in Spain...we took this time to catch the subway over to the infamous La Sagrada Familia, which left me with the impression of an imposing monstrosity, reminiscent of H.R. Giger's best works:



We made it to dinner at 9PM, just minutes before the official Barcelonian dinner time. I finally had a chance to try some real Spanish jamón, as well as authentic paella. With our bellies stuffed, we retired for the night, full of anticipation for the adventures ahead.




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Old 11-21-2018, 08:10 AM   #15
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Sand to pavement, let’s see some scenic tarmac. And more food. And no handlebars on the ground!
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