Friday 26 January 2024


This is an excerpt from the article published in Trail Adventure magazine of the summer 2023 to find on sale in our category "raids"

The cemetery of SAD HILL

On the trail of Eastwood!

Sergio Léone, Clint Eastwood, Lee van Cleef, the Spaghetti westerns are you talking about? These incredible films that take place to the sound of the haunting music of Ennio Morricone are monuments of the 7th art! Directed by an Italian, produced by Americans and shot in Spain!

Most of these masterpieces were shot in southern Spain in the Tarbenas desert near Almeria, so far from our old France…

However, the second part of the film: «le bon, la brute et le truand» was shot in the north of the Iberian Peninsula not too far from France around Burgos!

As a Sergio Léone fan, I watched a Netflix documentary about it. A cemetery of 5000 fake graves was designed by the Spanish army (which had been made to the order of the Italian director by Franco) in a circular shape in order to be able to shoot the final scene which is in fact a duel with three! A great moment! go quickly review this safe YouTube scene as soon as you finish the article, you will have chills!

Here is a beautiful goal of trip trail for spring! I contact my friend Pierry, ex-inter in cross of the 80s, reconverted to the profession of guide in long short who has some experiences to his credit: Himalaya, Nepal, Mongolia, South India, Sri Lanka, Morocco and Spain obviously, our man being resident of Biarritz, his playground near his base!

I expose the project to our man, who tells me that precisely with Robin de Rental Motorcycle, the rental/ hiking organizer of Biarritz who are well, they planned this trip to the safe marketing 3 day for the end of 2023. «we have to go back and refine the track with Robin, if you want to be the first to discover it!»

A plane and 2 hours of van later, here we are in Logrono, the most important city of the «Rioja». Located in the south of the Basque Country and especially famous for its red wine.

For this trip of 3 days, We will be 4 (Pierry, Robin de Rental, Edgar a tireless young! And myself), all armed with Yamaha 700 Ténéré rented at Rental motorcycle. We will leave first thing the next day!

Even before leaving a daunting ambush gets in our way! Tapas bars of the «Calle Laurel»! The specificity of Logrono is that they offer only one kind of Tapas per bar, the best known are the tower of mushrooms with garlic oil supplanted by its shrimp! A bit greasy but delicious accompanied by a glass of vino tinto Crianza local, but since being curious we wanted to try a maximum of different tapas always accompanied by a «copa de vino tino» well, we did a lot of bar… I remember a delicious fried pork fat, then nothing!

So, at the first hour of our abilities of the day, so around 10 o'clock, we set out. We start the route by crossing the vineyards of La Riojà, (I suspect a dirty blow from Pierry to make us feel guilty...). The wineries are huge, the owners have invested heavily to beautify their farms by building sumptuous hotels and cellars by great architects such as Gerry has who also owe the Guggenheim of Bilbao. the wines of Riojà were voted best wine in the world (value for money) by specialists about ten years ago, that’s the cultural minute.

We attack the chalk tracks that make us climb under a rocky promontory overlooking the Rioja that we will follow for kilometers, sometimes above, sometimes below, We discover a little further a playground mi trial, mi cross that allows us to let off steam. Pierry shows us that we can still jump high with a T7 load with all the tools, spare parts, spare parts and its beautiful lift without twisting the rims of his Yamaha! When he landed, it made the earth shake!

Edgar shows us his talents in the U-turn, rear wheel blocked, well it does not pass all the time… but with his youthful vigor living in the open air, he raises his Yamaha with one arm, we barely have time to see him on the ground to laugh.

Robin tries to cross with his Ténéré and his original tires, poutais, nothing exciting.

We descend from our promontory by a ravine and technical path, a treat. We climb the cliff by a winding road and we dive into a forest that leads us sure large cultivated areas. It’s time for the Halte Tapas du midi, a few greasy fries a coke will suffice. The paths through the plain are rolling. We arrive on a medieval town in ruins with its castle in the same state as in Spain. Stop photo, it’s sublime! We took back our rolling tracks that make us arrive in Burgos. We are about 1000 meters above sea level and the temperature has dropped well…

Hotel, shower and we will visit the outskirts of the huge cathedral of the city and its shops of bondieuserie before finding a neighborhood of «tapas bar» well supplied! It is less festive than Logrono but still very correct. A rib of beef later, we go back to the hotel and we cross a local curiosity, (we are the holy week) of huge religious parades rhythmic to the sound of drums, some carry the virgin, others follow to the sound of percussions, dressed in cassock and pointed hat reminiscent of the Ku Kux klan sect. All in 5 degrees and a cold wind offer a surprising spectacle…

The next day we leave without trainer towards Sad Hill via a clay plateau embellished with rock with which we can play jumper with our trails, it rained the days before and in the low points some beautiful passages with fat ruts make us the arduous task. These bring us to discover the phobia of the youngest of us that we will not quote, the rut! As soon as he sees one, he tends to throw it in, the sides of fairings first, fortunately he raises his bike faster than he layers it.

The track is varied, fast, uneven, stony descent, some ruts… it’s great to ride, around noon, we start to see rocky massifs reminiscent of the American West… We progress in unknown landscapes in France. We cross a last village that leads us to the bottom of a valley that we climbed to reach the famous cemetery of SAD HILL that we see from the top of the hill: a central square in white stone surrounded by thousands of tombs as if they were to represent a giant step facing a central stage! We put down the bikes and progress in the cemetery, it may be a movie set, the place is catchy, Clint Eastwood is no longer there, but we walk on his tracks, the rocky mountains around us have not changed and form a giant circus, We’re in the movie, we replay the scenes in the head, we expect to hear the bullets, we’re there! It’s stupid! but it does something!

We leave Sad Hill with the air of Ennio Morricone’s ecstasy of gold in our head towards other horizons such as cowboys at the end of a movie… except that we still have 120 kilometers has investigated and we are not from here! so after some «Tapasserie», we take the great gas track! the route is superb, the laterite very red, the technical undergrowth, the hollow road where without mentioning it, the oldest of us will make an attempt to plough on an improbable slope... Pierry, him, guide us head and shoulders, the 120 terminals scroll at high speed V and we are in Soria, our stop for the night to come! What happiness, a beautiful, long and rich stage! Tonight, it does not crane at the counter! An aperitif, a meal and in bed the company.

Third day! All our little world is well refreshed to go back to the starting city, Logrono!

We leave the city of Soria by a track due north through the valley towards the mountain, complete change of scenery, we cross agricultural regions and reach magnificent gorges that we take by a small road, in fact, we are on «the dinosaur route,» we hadn’t seen this one coming! When we stopped for a break, we were told that many Sauropods, Theropods and other giant reptiles lived here en masse and left a lot of footprints. We’ll come back with the kids, they’ll be happy…

We leave again on beautiful tracks leading us to 1600 meters of altitude, it turns, it turns, it makes mistakes, it lifts the front, the nose to the wind admiring landscapes always more grandiose, The weather is great, we are four friends on our mounts to follow the mountain ridges that leads us ever higher… it feels the ultimate happiness… We chain the mountains under the eyes of herds of cows for kilometers, it goes up, it goes down through pine forests, some villages abandon us reminder that there must have been a life here where today we have not met people for fifty kilometers. A few signs indicating that pieces of dinosaurs were found here and there and we go up on another mountain massif with still superb track. This is great!

Everything has an end, we arrive at the end of the massif, we see Logrono. Pierry shows us the way back, the native of the 90s no longer drops it motorcycle. It’s time to go back to our cottages to see the «good, the brute and the scoundrel»!

R. Geneau de Lamarliere


The journey:

Sad Hill and Riojà

Between 3 and 4 days depending on the time of arrival in Biarritz

3 nights, bikes 700 Ténéré or similar.

850 km, 70% off-road

From 870€ 

06 20 98 37 62

Le Film: Le bon, la brute et le truand:

To see where to see again:

The documentary to watch SAD HILL UNEARTHED on Netflix.

The final scene on Youtube!

Listen: Ecstasy of gold by Ennio Morricone