Friday 26 January 2024


Biarritz / Zaragoza / Biarritz

Bored by the post-covid and pre-presidential routine, with my friend Eric we decided to take a trip off road, the kind of trip that definitely buries your daily life, that’s the kind of talk that fills our conversations Whatshap! These last two years more where month confined to spending entire evenings wandering on the internet in search of escape and adventure have given us ideas, to me, a Sunday crossman and everyday biker and my friend Ricou, a biker who specializes in driving his Bmw 100 RS on the track, who has only practiced a few off-road trails at the corner of his youth village on the handlebars of a valiant Yamaha 350 TT. The release of Ténéré Yamaha 700 is a source of additional motivation with among others the communication of Yamaha with Pol Tarres, which makes us believe to us simple pinpin of Sunday that everything is possible at his handlebars! It also sends us directly back to the time of the TV summary of the Dakar of the five with Stéphane Peterhansel, the leading figure of the Yamaha team, chased by a helicopter, making sure sick crossovers of laterite tracks at the borders of Africa! The slap for the teenager I was back then!

Let’s get back to reality! Having no suitable motorcycle, nor any experience of travel, we go in search of a motorcycle rental, we find it in Biarritz which is 1 hour by plane from the capital and served many times a day. In addition, the latter has 700 Ténéré so that we can take ourselves for stars of the rallies of the year 90! It organizes motorcycle raids in Spain, perfect for us, Morocco and its tracks of the Dakar are closed due to pandemic. We opt for a 5-day trip, a Biarritz/Zaragoza/Biarritz through the Bardenas desert. The bikes (almost new!) gasoline and basic equipment are supplied to us. Our guide, Pierry Minette, ex inter de cross fin seventy, has us book hotels according to our stock market.

 We start our trip with a little connection of about fifty kilometers by small roads through the hinterland, once passing on the southern side of the Pyrenees, because here, in the Basque Country, we don’t say in Spain, we say on the other side! We attack the paths on the side of Roncesvalles (1000 meters), a well-known getaway for walkers going to Santiago de Compostela… The first trail takes place in slightly oily fir forests, we decent fairly quickly in altitude, the paths become drier and rocky without any noticeable difficulty, ideal to adapt to our mounts which for the moment impress us a little, We’re a long way from a cross-country bike and a BM coffee racer! The Ténéré are comfortable and secure but the tank placed high in the frame is not very reassuring when you are a novice of trail driving, you have to improvise when braking on the gravette, and think twice for the placed in the curves... For the next fifty kilometers, we cross only a village almost abandoned to a farmer meadows, we walk along the artificial lake of Yesa, climb a mountain with a superb panorama and then land at the end ofmidday in the beautiful medieval village of Sos del Rey Catolico. A change of scenery, it’s perfect between the rocky landscapes and this village of the Middle Ages where we taste tapas and plate of delicious Ibérico ham sprinkle with Navarra (local red wine).

For the second day of our journey, Chef Pierry in the lead, we head south towards the Bardenas desert, the trails are easy and splendid, the scenery changes with the kilometers and become less and less green, the cultures are poorer and poorer, a campaign we don’t have in France, there are false western tunes… With Ricou, we start to feel safe the Ténéré, The precious guidance of Maitre Pierry helps us well, not of what to make mistakes to the «Peter» but the pleasure is there! We cross a small cereal tray a little richer worthy of the Picardy (curious!) and we fall sure the Bardenas, as collapsed in the ground, the desert is there, impressive at our feet! We take the time to cross it by pulling a few edges to enjoy a max and wait for the sunset that brings beautiful colors sure the different cliffs of the desert, It slams! We reach the city of Tudela at nightfall. Pierry has his habits and has booked us a hotel in the main square of the city near the bars in Tapas! Where we make a new and pleasant wine discovery, the Riojà! Wine of the region of the same name, neighbor of a hundred km visited later on several days!

Day 3! After a small road junction, We go to discover the East part of the Bardenas going up a dry Rio, the rock oscillates between pink and yellow with the rising light of the morning, we take full eyes! We arrive safely a plateau, the valley reveals itself to us with its hundreds of wind turbines. Pierry takes the opportunity to give us a little demonstration, not mancho the guy, he puts the watts! On my side and with the advice of the ex inter, I begin to understand the driving of the Yamaha: shoulders well above the handlebars, playing with the supports of the toes, I swing the bike with my knees in the direction of the bend where I want to go and gas the bike slides and turns on its own! revelation! miracle! happiness! it’s not yet the slides of the six-time winner of the Dakar, but it’s coming!!! a few mountains further we go out of the Bardenas and cross an agricultural valley with large rolling tracks, gravel highways, with Éric, we will enjoy reaching speeds so we terrorize the figures by modesty, after the meal break, we climb a mountain made of white chalk and pine trees, the track is more rough and swirling, a steep climb enhances the ride, our Ténéré swallows it without problem, on a gas yarn, the 700 climbs everything and smoothly! In their original configuration as it is here the case, including the tires, the Ténéré are good to do everything for the hike, then if you want to clear with a blow of gas a deep rut, it is more complicated, you have to brake better and let go in, It’s still a 200 kg trail…

We arrive in Zaragoza covered in dust like cowboys coming out of a film by Sergio Léone… The Hotels are inexpensive, so Pierry has taken us Rooms in a 4 star pretty class in the center (not far from the tapas bars, always!) of this pretty city. When we enter the magnificent hotel reception, the receptionist changes color but has the courage not to reflect on our pace, explosion of laughter in the elevator thinking about it head discomfort!

There is a very nice street in Zaragoza where the bars offer only a kind of tapas, they have their own specialty, mushrooms with garlic, chicken skewer, octopus, etc. to sprinkle with a glass of Rioja each time, you can not taste everything, should stay there at least three weeks...

On the fourth day of the journey, we rise at dawn to attack the Monegros, (the black mountains in native language), we reach by a fast track between culture and desert to the end of the mountain chain of Monégros where we attack the climb, once at the top, we move on the crete, the gravel track is spinning, I put into practice the lessons of the day before, I play with the supports on the feet, all with gas, I go through the turns in slides overlooking the valley, I take a crazy pleasure! I feel like I’m good! Eric gives me a head start, the slides, it raises dust, it spoils the landscape! I calm my ardour and wait for my friend to go down in the valley where we join by a piece of bitumen the Ebro, the river that goes up to the west. We criss-cross around the maraichère crops, the land is beautiful and supple, it is very pleasant to ride, in the distance the mountains that we have priced 2 days before we observe, we walk along them, then cross the south of the bardenas to reach Olité, another medieval village, where a superb castle dominates! the stone walls are thick, armor decorate the hotel, we have the impression of being in the Middle Ages! This evening we go easy on the tasting of the combo Vino Tinto/ Tapas a l'apéro, a shoulder of suckling pig and a bottle of Rueda (another local wine find) will do the trick, the day was long, The 200 kg of the Ténéré and the energy expended in the many faults have completely worn us out!

Last day, day of return! It pulls on the joints, the muscles are sore, despite fatigue and numb limbs, we ride our Ténéré with a smile. We bid farewell to the arid lands and join the Pyrenees by a track with a lot of slope, the fir trees of the mountains make their appearance again. We do a little less shopping for bikes, we realize that we are not very flushed! The trail leads us to the border, seeing that the troupe is less dashing, Pierry makes us return to the base by beautiful collars in bitume version, it is less restrictive at the end of the stay, and the Basque Country is beautiful with all its greenery! The Yams are super pleasant on the road, light to take, their 70hp is enough, a good way to land in Biarritz smoothly…

Robin the Boss of Rental Motorcycle welcomes us with a smile, it must be said that we did not manage to put a motorcycle on the ground despite some wheeling attempts, we did not tell him, shh!