Riding in Caceres, Spain

This October I was in Spain for my cousin Lucy’s wedding. After seeing a map of the area where the wedding was going to be held, I decided to rent a motorcycle instead of a car. It was the kind of decision that has both benefits and consequences for your travel. For one, you’re really restricted as to what you can bring luggage wise as whatever comes with you will have to be able to be stored on the bike. I also opted to use a supplied helmet rather than bring my own which in hindsight was a mistake. Not because the quality of the supplied helmet was lacking. It was the wrong decision because my helmet has a camera mount on it. So my usual load of thousands of images was reduced to less than twenty because I was far more focused on riding than taking pictures.

I’d also not considered how tired I would be after an eight hour flight followed by an the hours of negotiating Madrid to pick up my bike, transfer my gear onto the bike, find gas for the bike, negotiate how the whole fuel thing is handled in Spain (you pay at the till, not at the pump) and get out of Madrid heading South to Caceres.

The Bike I’d reserved was a Honda CRX700 with a decent set of Givi cases and top box. My gear fit handily inside and I’d brought some rock straps with me to strap down my folded up luggage bag across the back seat. The bike felt relatively light but a little nutless in the power department. The gear spacing felt weird too with a fairly long first gear and a ridiculously short second gear. It also had the largest horn button I’ve ever seen and there were more than a few honks from me by accident before I got my hands figured out on the bars.

Riding through Spain reminded me a lot of the US southern midwest except the trucks were all cab overs and generally sized a lot shorter than the standard semi rig you encounter in North America. Everybody keeps to the right except to pass which was nice and allowed me to make good time heading towards Banos de Montemayor, my destination for the day and what was going to be my place of residence for the next few days while I got acquainted with my cousin and her husband to be.

You don’t realize how well tuned you are to your own bike until you have to ride something else for a while. I’ve got a set of forward highway pegs that let me stretch out my legs on my Strom and I really began to miss them about two hours into my ride. I was also on a stock seat. Which to be fair, wasn’t bad but I could tell, too much of it was going to hurt me (something that was going to prove only too true later). The CRX had a couple of other minor irritants. It took me a few minutes to figure out where the gas cap was. My bike’s old school and the tank is the tank. On the CRX, the tank is just a cover for a place to store your helmet or in my case, my camera bag. The real tank was under my ass and the gas cap was under the pillion seat. When I raised the point to the rental agency, the guy said, I looked like I knew what I was about, so he wasn’t worried about it. Fair cop to him I guess. Still, no hand guards or grip heaters and a tiny windshield. All the joys of riding a basically naked bike.

I had opted for a GPS from the rental company and they were able to provide me with a very basic Garmin, stuck to my tank with a suction cup and further secured with some wire, “Just in case.” A far cry from my Zumo 600 but good enough to get me where I needed to be.

Banos De Montemayor lay at the bottom of a valley. The town had buildings with capstones dating from 1792 and you got the feeling it had been there a while. It’s very much the sort of place you walk around. My lodgings were in the center of the town, literally round the corner from where my cousin and her friends were having an afternoon drink at one of the numerous cantinas.

The streets were really narrow and fairly steep. Even on the motorcycle, parking was… interesting and scarce. Scarce enough I ended up storing the bike in a shed for three days and hoofing it everywhere.

More to come…