Motorcycle Tour - Moto Piston
started out to be a small bunch of lads on a jaunt
to see what all the Moto Piston fuss was about
turned out to be a full-blown tour.
a passion for Classic motorcycles with the love
of travel and the result is a forgone conclusion.
This was the formula created during the euphoric
four days in Northern Spain at the countries
largest gathering of Classic motorcycles.
The Moto Piston rally is an International gathering
of enthusiasts, but it's not just a rally, it's
a combination of four different events which
all take place in and around the tiny insignificant
town of Colombres. During that long weekend
the normally sleepy town comes alive in typically
Spanish fashion with late nights, good humour,
music and loads of noise from open exhausts.
Now in it's 21st year this event has developed
into an annual pilgrimage for UK enthusiasts.
With up to 600 entries and many more thousands
of spectators like us drifting through during
mid day autumn sun warmed through our riding
gear as we waited patiently to be called up
for loading onto the Brittany Ferries Pont Aven
down in Plymouth. We were surrounded by MotoPiston
regulars, next to us in the queue was the pick
up of Martin Holehouse and Grace Henderson making
the trip for the second year, Grace earned an
award on her B33 last year, but wasn't quite
sure what for! Behind us a collection of immaculate
Sunbeams which were trailer down from the midlands,
they like us were first timers as were a couple
of Tiger 110s looking better than they did when
they left the factory.
On board we sorted out a small hiccup over
the cabin allocation and settled into our cabins
to prepare for the eighteen hour crossing to
Santander. Up on decks and out of our riding
gear we could get a better feel of this sumptuous
£100 million ferry.
Bruce Preston riding his trusty BMW R60/2 abroad
for the first time ever booked our slot in the
Le Flora waiter service restaurant and by 20.00hrs
we were seated, enjoying the superb menu; an
extensive buffet of starters, choice of main
course and then a huge buffet of desserts plus
cheese and a bottle of wine, French of course.
Total £21.00 excellent value.
was no point in joining the mad scramble to
get off the ferry, fighting our way through
Santanders rush hour is no way to start the
day. Once off the ferry the slow column of vehicles
filed past the passport control and out onto
the main highway. A panic set in as someone
drew alongside me to say that Joe Newman on
his aging Bonny was missing and it was his first
time abroad. at that stage we hadn't even left
the docks, still in the touring game we get
used to that sort of panic. Joe found we made
our way the fifteen miles along the coast to
the hotel at Suances where we were booked in.
We could have woken in heaven. Bikes in front,
bikes behind, all roads leading eventually to
Colombres we were bathed in bright gorgeous
sunshine. Sure this region has a name of green
Spain because it rains a lot but for us the
shies were clear and blue, it wasn't a dream.
Our route to Suances took us along the rugged
coastline. To our right the Atlantic, its foam
crested breakers rolling onto the dazzling white
sandy beaches. To our left a breath taking landscape
swathed in a blanket of lush green pasture.
All this against a backdrop of the white rock
of the Picos. This is why I ride a motorcycle!
Since this was a reccy tour and we had never
used the hotels before I thought it best to
make some introductions before the main group
checked in. No worries, both hotels were very
friendly and waiting our arrival. Meanwhile
the group continued down the highway to the
rally hub to check out the procedure for the
After the pleasantries at both hotels we moved
on for more of the same wonderful riding, sweeping
past spectacular scenery. Not that you could
relax, bends come up quick and there was a fair
splattering of slippery cow pats to catch you
out on the corners. The strange thing about
Colombres is that it's not signed until you
take a right turn over the river bridge at Bustio
and there it is the Colombres road sign.
The last participants for the short High Mountain
run was just departing the registration point
at the Tourist Office leaving Colombres in a
relative calm. Giving us time to find out the
procedure for the 5000 Curve run the next day.
We found lunch in a back street restaurant
used by the local builders. It was a reminder
that we were in proper Spain and not one of
those over commercialised Costa resorts where
English is spoken as the first language. However
we managed to get by mainly by pointing to what
the locals were eating. A selection of cold
meats, fish soup, sardines with a liberal sprinkling
of sea salt, a beer and crusty bread not bad
for 18 euros.
back at the hotels Joe Newman had run out of
petrol and was rescued by several of his mates
travelling back to the hotel and David Woodward's
Ducati refused to run on two cylinders and was
towed back by the Bristol four lead by Gordon
There was mass exodus from the hotels the next
morning to witness the start of the Route of
5000 Curves, the main event of the rally. Our
very own Peter Winter and Chris from Bristol
had ridden their 1933 Model 18 Norton down from
home and was our only official entry. Pete's
Dad had bought the bike in 1941 and in the last
six weeks leading up to the trip Pete had fitted
four new sets of valve guides. But they weren't
to be the problem Pete suffered two punctures
on the 270km run, the first he repaired and
was rescued by the rally sweeper van after the
second. Hero of the day was Chris, how did she
manage to sit on the back of this ridged rear
end for so long-don't mention rear end! First
timers Charlie Dolan and John Freeley from Co
Cork entered on a pair of R100 BMW's. They were
the first on the road at 08.32 (the crack of
dawn) and clocked in first at 16.33hrs. I'm
not sure if they were up for an award but they
had a great ride in any case.
Taking part for the second year Matt Dillon
on his AJS CSR 650 had dragged Andy Smith along
for the first time neither was sure if they
had an award either but they didn't seem to
care as they had a great time just taking part.
Chris and Linda Hancock riding V50 Moto Guzzi's
did the course but like us found it difficulty
to find anyone to speak English. Bob Collins
(Veradero) Dave Brown (Ducati Multistrada) completed
the route but it was far more demanding than
they first thought how they do it on old bikes
is amazing they agreed.
Growing the sports pavilion and now in a marquee
as well, the huge auto jumble runs for two days.
Here you can pick up anything from a replica
crash helmet to a float bowl for an obscure
Japanese motorcycle but you have to search for
it. Because the event was dedicated to the Centenery
year of the Isle of Man TT Races several genuine
Spanish bikes raced in the Island were on show.
of all being the 250 Ossa ridden by 1970's
star Santiago Herrero who came second in the
GP at Le Mans,
won the Yugoslavian GP in Opatija and was sadly
killed in the 250 TT that same year.
Sunday, again with wall to wall sunshine, it
was the turn of the racers to do there bit at
the hill climb. Spectators crammed into Colombres
to take every advantage point no chance of lunch
today the place was heaving. Parking was at
a premium; on one side of the town the churchyard
served Moto Piston well while on the other side
of the square the traditional giant Paella was
being prepared. A make shift ramp allows riders
access down the steps to the ornamental gardens
to park on the manicured lawn no one worries
this is Spain and its fiesta time.
The nice thing about Moto Piston Rally is that
only a few people know what's happening and
yet everything works in good humour and in true
Spectating is free and so is the wall to wall
sunshine, there are no car park attendants,
in fact very little officialdom, crowd control
is minimum and its all very relaxed.
Departure morning broke the same as it had
been over the past four days, the same sun bursting
through the crack in the curtained windows,
the same view of the Ocean flicking white spray
up onto the sandy beach, wonderful. A final
stroll along the beachfront and a coffee before
climbing on the bike for that 15-mile ride to
Santander and our 16.00hrs departure time. More
time to exchange pleasantries with friends who
I'd not seen during the four rally days. On
board things worked out the same, once out of
our riding gear, a meal, some light entertainment
and then bed, before we knew it we were summoned
back to retrieve the bikes. For us it had been
a great October tour that started out as being
a few lads going over to see what the Moto Piston
fuss was about. Unfortunately we knew we were
back in the UK as the bureaucracy at the docks
resulted in frayed tempers and bad feeling as
we all filed slowly past a single control chappy.
Oh! It's nice to be back.
Words and photographs by Peter Avard, cContact.
MSL Tours will be running another Moto Piston
tour in 2008 as well as Bikers Classic in Belgium
and the Moto Legende in France.
Picos de Europa.
When ships first arrived from America this mountain
range was the first thing they could see as
they approached land and were given the name
Peaks of Europe The regions of Cantabria,
Asturias and Castilla y Leon and covers 64,660bhectares
share the Picos. It was declared a National
Park by Alfonso X111 way back in 1918 and is
therefore a protected area. The highest peak
is Torre de Cerredo at 2648m. It is home for
brown bear, Iberian wolf, chamois, Golden eagle
and bearded vulture. There are viewpoints on
the road to the Covadonga Mountains where it
is possible to see the vultures feeding off
the carcasses of cattle places there to feed