Mo Spain! | Back to Adventures

It is easy to take a road trip for a vacation, by signing up with a tour operator who is willing to gouge you for anywhere from $6,000 to $10,000, so you can go on a 'group motorcycle tour' where you ride with a dozen yuppies, on big BMW rental bikes with company signage plastered all over them. You shell out money so someone can tell you where to ride, where to eat, and where to stay. There's even a mandatory "trip debriefing" group meal thrown in every so often, where you're forced to eat with people you don't know and probably don't care to know. And if you wish, language barriers needn't be a problem -- a guide versed in the native language can speak on your behalf at every stop. While the tour operators promise "freedom to ride how you wish, when you wish," you still must arrive at a given location on a given day. Or, you can do it our way.

These kinds of trips that are popular among the yuppie Harley and BMW crowds. In my humble opinion, the real meaning of foreign travel is lost when you don't have to worry about things like gas, food and lodging.

As one San Francisco Chronicle travel writer put it:

"I've always maintained that commercial adventure travel trips are an oxymoron: you pay a lot of money to make sure you don'thave an adventure. You spend the cash to guarantee, as much as possible, that you don't wander down the wrong trail, that you sit down to a hearty (and hygenic) hot-cooked supper and that you're back in the office, safe and sound, right on schedule.

"Adventure is what happens when things go wrong, when the outcome is in doubt, when you're forced to rely on your own wits and skill to extricate yourself from a dicey situation."

What we wanted to do was to ride on our own and map out our own route. Finding a travel agent who would set us up with a Spanish bike rental agency that would rent bikes just like a car rental agency, wasn't easy. It weeks until until I finally located Dolmen Europa, Specializing in the Basque Region of Spain, thanks to the Web.

Enrique, the agent, set us up with an agency who would rent us bikes for a shorty like me, a Honda Shadow 600 and a taller BMW F650 for Jim, for $88 a day -- a steal compared to what the tour operators charge. After agonozing over whether or not to give this stranger my money, and discussing with Enrique my hesitation about sending him money upfront for bikes I'd never seen through a rental agency I couldn't locate on the web or in the Spanish Yellow Pages, I finally got a blurry fax directly from the agency in Spain that said the exact bikes would be waiting. Crossing my fingers and placing a huge amount of trust in the integrity of this Internet merchant (who I thoroughly investigated), I sent Enrique the payment for the bikes.

On May 16, sporting two small backpacks, boots and lugging heavy leather jackets, we flew about 16 hours, from Eureka, CA to Madrid, Spain.

Mo Spain! | Back to Adventures