Last Friday afternoon my cousin Alex and I were bored, we wanted to go on a trip but wanted to add some spice to it, a 10 minute phone call later we figured out a plan.
The expedition goes back two years earlier, with new pollution regulations in Barcelona, older bikes are no longer allowed in the city centre, which meant that overnight there was a surplus of old bikes and everyone wanted to get rid of them. Luckily for us, we both got gifted a Honda Scoopy 75, both bikes had been sitting unused in the street for years, we took them in and left them in our garages for another two more years, until last Friday...
The Honda Scoopy 75 is known in Barcelona for being practical, nimble and cheap to run, you wouldn't call it an adventure bike, but anything goes in the Petrocamp community.
The audatious plan was to get the bikes running (we had never ridden them) and ride 180km to Llança, a coastal town in northern Spain.
We spent Friday night tinkering with one bike until 1am, no luck, we didn't get it started. We woke up at 7am on Saturday and got our hands dirty again, by 1pm both bikes were barely running, terrible brakes, broken exhausts, no lights... but they were working! We added some custom touches, such as a teddy bear called Brembo, some loud speakers playing italian music and a rotating globe and we set off.
It took about 3 kilometers for the first engine to blow up... Not a good start. But we were very determined to get to the coast, nothing was going to stop us, not even a blown engine! We hunkered down and started making some calls, an hour later we had managed to find another Scoopy 75 that had also been unused for a few years, this time it only took us 30 minutes to get it running. For a second time, we filled up the bike with petrol and set off again, smiling, singing and enjoying the beautiful backroads of Girona.
An hour into the ride we had the first puncture, but we were prepared, we took out the anti puncture spray and filled up the tire with foam - the cannister blew up but not before we managed to pump the tire with plenty of foam. Problem number two sorted, we resumed the journey. About 30 kilometers later the flat tire took a turn for the worse and lost all the foam, Alex was now limping along at about 10km/h with the rim touching the tarmac, this time it was not looking good...
At this point we thought the trip was over, it was Saturday at 8pm and no mechanics were open, it didn't help that we were in the middle of nowhere. After sitting by the side of the road for 10 minutes, we dicided to get our act together and not give up, we were going to see this through. We managed to ride the bike to the nearest town, Olot, and by the time we got there the tire had split in half and it even ran out of petrol 500m away from a petrol station. Only one option remained, ditching bike number two and carrying on to the finish line with only one bike, and it's exactly what we did!
We grabbed both bags, attached them to the motorbike, filled up the tank and headed out into the countryside. This was around 9pm and the sun was just setting on the hay fields of the Empordà, we were laughing so much at the situation that it made this expedition that much special. If you've ever watched the film Dumb and Dumber, that is what we looked like, two idiots on a bike.
A few hours later, with 70km more on the bike and a close call at night with two wild pigs, we made it to the seaside town of Llançà, it was 1am. Even though we ditched two bikes along the way, we called the expedition a success - it's days like these that remind us that you don't need expensive bikes or a problem-free day to have a fun motorbike expedition, all you need is the right attitude.
Should we start a video series of these expeditions? I think we should.
Pictures and videos to follow up soon, I'm waiting to get the film developed. Menwhile here are some iphone shots.
As a kid my weekends consisted in competing in some sport or another, be that hockey, rugby, skiing, trials, running, athletics, cricket and many others - that's all I knew on a Saturday morning.
Having left my school years behind for a while, I've noticed that I've carried on doing sports, but competing is long gone, so I've decided to bring competition back into my life but not in a serious way, enter La MekeMeke.
La MekeMeke is a series of competitions designed to bring people who enjoy sports and like to put themselves in uncomfortable situations, spending a weekend with likeminded people and most importanly remembering to enjoy life. It's made up of (for now) a motorbike, skiing, sailing and talen show competitions, but I'm sure I'll add some more down the line.
This year I had an injury so I haven't been able to host the ski competition, so we started with La MekeMoto. I got a group of 20 friends together, set up a 430km track around the Monegros desert in Spain, designed some bibs and that's about it.
The weather ended up being pretty dismal, which made it impossible to complete the stages, nonetheless the crew were super hyped and we pushed through the mud like warriors. On the second day we had an injury and one of the guys broke their leg during a link section from stage to stage, so we decided to cancel the racing and finish the rest of the route taking it easy. All in all it was a successful weekend, everyone finished with a huge grin on their face and wanting to know when the next race will be. To many more!
This past summer, being constrained by national lockdowns, we had to keep our motorbike trips within the national borders and let's just say that it did not disappoint one bit.
The crew for this trip was made up of 7 guys eager to hit the trails, this time we had new and old bikes combined, it was lovely to mix things up for a change. The concept of the trip was to cross the Spanish Pyrenees, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean, about 1.200km of off-road tracks, and we had 6 days to complete the journey.
We started at the seaside village of Llançà near the French border, we waved the sea goodbye and headed into the mountains. By nightfall we had already climbed up to 1.200m, having experienced some minor breakdowns and a couple of crashes - I must say spirits were high and the weather looked to be on our side.
We spent most of our days riding, an average of 8-9 hours on the bike, and camping out. It was mid-summer, and the weather was perfect until we neared the Atlantic coast. On our final day, it was raining and we had a lot of ground to cover, so we set our routes on the back roads of the Basque Country and quickly making our way into Sant Sebastian for a good night of celebrations.
Marc's luggage rack snapped on the first few kilometres.
The GS ended up in the trees after sliding down on some very slippery mud.
The Aneto Peak, highest mountain in the Pyrenees, looming in the background.
Fixing a puncture, no mechanics open on a Sunday.
We went for a swim at the local spot.
The long way back. We made it to San Sebastian by the Atlantic coast after 6 long days and spectacular landscapes. Spain, you surpassed our expectations.
The islands of Raja Ampat, in West Papua (Indonesia), are a national park with some of the world's most spectacular landscapes. What's special about these islands is their remoteness and untouched nature, they became a protected area in 2007, and marine biodiversity has been growing ever since.
We got on a sail boat built by the British Navy in 1940 for the Second World War, the Anne Judith II, and we set off to explore the lonely islands, coral reefs and beaches of this paradise.
Here are some photos from the trip:
Back in 2014, I was reading a book at home when I came across an article on the Pamir Highway - it showed some spectacular photos of snowy mountains and nomadic villages, it was an instant bucket-list addition. 5 years later, I found myself at the heart of it; the best part? It was a work trip.
The Pamir Highway is one of the highest international highways in the world, with the Aik-Baital Pass reaching 4,655m. Snowy mountains, dirt roads, hundreds of rocky valleys and lakes all make the Pamirs a stunning adventure suitable to anyone willing to explore a seemingly untouched culture by tourism. There's not much along the way, limited petrol stations, few villages and certainly no motorbike mechanics between Khorog (Tajikistan) and Osh (Kyrgyzstan).
My cousin Alex and I decided to rent some bikes and head out into the unknown. You can read the full article I wrote on the Petro Camp website here.
Here are some photos of the trip:
Giving some petrol to a group of locals who had run out
A 'petrol station'. The mountains you see behind are in Afghanistan.
The Tajikistan border.
Customs. The officers gave us delicious watermelon.
We went fishing.
We did a 4 day horse trek around Song Kul.
The snow stopped coming in mid February, the sun showed up and we had blue bird days for longer than I can remember. To get good snow we had to hike further and higher - we called it the Month of Missions. We had to figure out ways to entertain ourselves, so we hiked, skied the sea in Shakotan, used snowmobiles to access peaks that were too far to skin, hiked peaks just off road passes and hit Kurodake opening day on March 1st for some sweet powder. Truly, a Month of Missions.
The peak you see in the distance was our objective
What's a sledding day without a breakdown? We abandoned one sled and used a rope to tow each other on skis
Andrew working out the best route to the peak - we skied both sides off the peak
Orofuretogedake - great line
Kurodake opening day
Mitch, always at the front
Vince dropping in
One of the best skiing experiences I've ever had. It started out as a nice sunny day, but when we got closer to the summit the weather turned and the clouds rolled up. It took 4:30hrs to summit, we climbed a vertical of about 1,700m and reached the crater around 3pm. The top was cold, we stopped by the hut near the summit, but it took me a while to realise that that was the hut - it was undistinguishable form the terrain from a distance due to the rime, the temperature was -20 degrees Celsius. On the way down, the clouds cleared and Bron and I enjoyed an whole mountain all to ourselves. A dream come true.
I moved to Japan's Northern island for the winter, Hokkaido. I have come here to work for the winter season and ski Japan's famous fluffy powder all winter long. On my first weekend here there was still no snow around, so I packed my 600cc Mitsubishi Mini Pajero and road tripped across the south of the island. The autumn colours were definitely impressive - my first taste of living in Japan.
My cousin Carlos and I decided to go test out our new motorbikes, and what a better place to do it than Andorra? It was only a weekend trip, but we managed to pack in 500km of riding through rivers, rain, rocky paths and cow fields. Carlos ended up having a big crash, he was ok but the bike suffered quite a bit; a wrong turn and the bike went over a ridge and landed wheels up... The bike is a 950cc KTM Adventure, it's a heavy machine... luckily a couple of dune buggies stopped by to help, they through us a rope and we got it out of the ridge. All in all, a great weekend!
This short film sums up what we got up to in Bolivia and Peru. To see the photos just scroll down. Enjoy!