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It’s fair to say we’ve not had much chance to ride anywhere exciting this year and personally I’m not keen on just riding around aimlessly. I’ve certainly missed the usual adventures and shenanigans though. The lack of rallies and events has meant some scooterists have started to think outside the box to get their kicks.

Doug Turner is one of those riders. He’s a regular ScooterLab contributor and spends quite a bit of time in Spain. In fact, he bought a Lambretta and left it with a friend in Madrid, untouched and untested. Obviously, this made the perfect excuse to do some Spanish touring with local friends and ride it home to England alone.

Here’s how he got on…

Doug's luggage included half a Lambretta engine.
Doug’s luggage included half a Lambretta engine.

Any excuse

After their Spanish rally was cancelled in April, due to Madrid being an epicentre of COVID, followed by the cancellation of the Guadalajara Rally, Euro YeYé and others – it was decided to have a rally in October instead. Now a lot of people may think that is just an excuse for grown men to ride their scooters, eat good food and drink good wine and beers – well a lot of people would be right.

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Private jet

Not being a defeatist, I have had an untested Li150 Special in Madrid for a year, so what a great opportunity to collect it and ride it back home to England. One week to go, there was some bad family news and also the complete lockdown of half of Madrid. 15 become 9, then became 7. I had a flight with the green airline, to take me to Madrid on Thursday, this was cancelled, which meant a BA/Iberia Manchester to London, 7-hour stopover, then a flight to Madrid on Tuesday. There were just 10 people on the second flight.

Part of the Spanish route
Part of the Spanish route

Santi Pardo collected me at the airport, then back to a hotel on the edge of Madrid for the night. So for me the rally started early. Taxi to Alvaro’s, to collect the Lambrettas. I’d already posted over a spare wheel and rear holder, brought with me a front rack, tools, barrel, piston, carb, stator, coil…and everything imaginable (just your usual holiday bits and pieces!). Santi bought me three 1 litre bottles of oil, so I had loads to carry.

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What’s the catch?

Checking the petrol, the seat wouldn’t open, no matter what. The previous owner had concocted a locking mechanism from a Vespa, the only thing to do was remove the 8 bolts from the catch and hinge, then borrow Alvaro’s nice newly recovered dual ‘tigre’ seat. Whilst fitting the seat, we saw something even worse, the carb. It was running a standard 18mm Del’Orto!

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Day 1: El Perdigón

Off we set, on Wednesday at 09.00 and the only time we used motorways during the trip, we used one to get us out of the hectic Madrid commuter system. After 40 miles of flat out at 80km/h (50 mph), we arrived at a petrol station to collect Santi Pactric in El Escorial, on his Series 2. PM exhaust, big carb, hydraulic disc and everything built for speed. Every two years he has to revert it back to standard, so it can pass its ITV (Spanish MoT).

Pork scratchings and cold soup, how very continental...
Pork scratchings and cold soup, how very continental…

Our Wednesday night would be in El Perdigón, just South of Zamora, 250 km, just over 200 miles, first stop for a beer and revolconas, potato and root vegetable puree, with crispy pork crackling in Ávila, just outside the ancient city walls. A passing member of the Vespa Club d’Ávila stopped for a chat and to take photos of our Lambrettas. He was impressed we made it so far from Madrid.

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Fingers crossed

Off we set, over the mountains until we hit Peñaranda de Bracamonte, on the edge of Salamanca. Who knew these mountains were ging to be so big, I was keeping my fingers crossed for my untested Lambretta at altitude.

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Shaken not stirred

Finally, we made it over the mountains to El Perdigón, staying at a quaint rural hotel, recommended by Vincente, who grew up in the village. Due to the inclement weather, it was a stay here for the night, rather than a meal in Zamora. We “got down” with the local kids in the bar scene, followed by a mixed grill meal for three in a recommended bodega and back to the bar for ginebra tonicas (gin and tonics, quite a few apparently).

The whole COVID situation in Spain is managed well, everyone at all times wears masks to help stop the spread, meals are served to you at the table and distancing is well respected.

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Day 2: Balbao

Thursday 1st October, breakfast and off on a 280 km ride (180 miles) to our base for three nights, Balbao and to collect Raul and Carlos in Astorga whilst en-route. We were stopping every 70-80 km to get a coffee and petrol, respect to Santi and Alvaro for going at my speed. I led the way and Santi overtook if we were changing direction, it was pretty much staying on the same road though.

We found a bar in Camarzana de Tera, called Bar Madrid, where we noticed COVID inspectors, checking that all the bars are up to regulation, I’ve not seen that in the UK yet, but I’ve not been going out too much.

Deserted bars and restaurants are sadly the norm across Europe
Deserted bars and restaurants are sadly the norm across Europe

Pilgrims trail

With 60 km to go, we hit the beautiful Medieval town of Astorga. Waiting here for Raul and Carlos to bring their scooters up in a van. Raul would then take us to the hotel, via a “Magical Mystery Tour” with their two Vespas.

The whole region that we were in now and most of the rest of the week, was the famous “Camino de Santiago”, where still to this day, hundreds upon hundreds of pilgrims walk the 100s of mile route to Santiago de Compostela daily.

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Because Raul is religiously (excuse the pun) in this area, the best route, tapas and beer followed. A 60 km journey turned into twice that. Right on the path of the Camino, we stopped for some split peas, olives and Mahou – the first time the five of us had stopped to talk. It was a famous bar, Casa de Comer Entrepiedras, who’s owner had the twin cab VW van.

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Let’s all do the Camino, la, la, la, la…

Literally 20 minutes, then we rode to the absolute heavens of the Camino. We dined in a Medieval tavern, La Taberna da Gaia, lovely family-owned… and of course like any tavern, cups of red wine. We were so high in the clouds; rain was the order of the day. After photos with the family, we set off for the famous Molinaseca, which is party town for the young pilgrims, we met loads of nationalities doing the Camino, ranging from teenagers to people well in their 80s. Along the Camino, the locals host the pilgrims in “alergues”, which are cheap hostels, we paid just 11€ a night for ours.

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Getting comfortable…

We hit Balboa, scooters parked up for the night, breakfast already brought from the previous village, quick showers and out for the night. To say Thursday was going to be messy, it was nothing compared to when we were 7. In the Polloza de Balboa for the night, Mau, red wine and beautiful soup (forgot its name), meats and this huge open fire. The building was originally where villagers met, with a 360 open fire and a huge thatched roof. We have just found our home for the next three days…

Coming up in part two next week…

After touring Spain, dodging fallen trees and making it unscathed back to England Doug decides to test his ancient tyres on the motorway. What could possibly go wrong?

Doug’s part one gallery

New season Tucano Urbano coming soon

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