24 hours in Spain .. !

pascuet offroad
View from the top .. Pascuet Offroad Centre

 A couple of weeks before the date of the 2015 Jotagas launch I was asked if I fancied going by John Hulme and Steve Saunders ... errm, took me a few seconds to think about it ! There was just one issue, I no longer had a valid passport. The news was full of doom and gloom about how hard it is to get a passport, how many months behind they were in getting them sent etc etc so I thought I would chance my luck and phone the passport office direct in Newport, just over the bridge from me in Wales.

 Much to my surprise they could fit me in for the application at any date the following week and there would be a 4 hour wait before being handed a new passport. Well, that was easy! The four hours was spent playing a great round of golf at the Parc golf club in Newport. Really friendly locals and a lovely course. So it was home to tell Steve I could make it and to get my name on a plane ticket.

 We met at Bristol airport, in the bar, had a quick drink and hopped on the plane .. right into the middle of a stag and hen do flight!! What a bunch of arseholes they were, both men and women. Already pissed up they were bloody noisy the whole flight and couldn't sit still. The only funny part, not for one person mind, was when a passenger further down the plane had a breathing problem and it was looking a bit serious so they asked across the PA system if there was any doctor or medical staff on board. It went all quiet for a while so they just got on with giving oxygen but after about 10 minutes the most pissed bloke on the plane, dressed in a cut off fluro workman's jacket and very gay looking denim jeans .. and with a beer dispenser hat on his head ... walked down the plane muttering in drunk tones .. "Guess i ought to mention i am a doctor then"! .. I thought he was joking but one of his less drunk mates told me he is actually a doctor and that they hadn't asked for a sober one .. had they? .. !

 2 hours later we escaped that plane and located the hire car, an Opal Corsa, and started the 3 hour journey from Girona up to the Catalan hills ...

Gas Gas old

gas gas new

 ... Knowing I hadn't been to the area before Steve gave me a quick tour around what could be described as the "Trials Estate". This is one large industrial estate area that seems to host most of the well known trials companies! There is Hebo, S3 and Gas Gas all within a short walk of each other and then I was shown the old Gas Gas location, a piece of modern trials history. You can just about make out the shape of the old Merlin logo at the top of the first "Gas" in the image above.

History tour over we settled in for the long drive North, made a little longer as Steve's sat-nav suddenly decided it couldn't tell the difference between two roads running side-by-side and we took the wrong one. Of course after the plane journey and sight-seeing we were a little hungry so we looked for some local grub ... Mcdonalds it was then !!! I was going to try and order in Spanish but as it was all basically the same as the English version I just had to remember the word "gracias" at the end. Figuring we wouldn't get to the hotel until nearly midnight this was going to be the food for the day. Suitably refreshed we headed on.

 The roads we were on were brilliant, big and wide and with virtually nothing else on them. They followed up and down the hills and through many tunnels and the only bit I found a bit strange was when it got dark it was apparent they don't do cats eye's in Spain. There is very little warning when a hairpin bend comes up. We quickly discovered that this Corsa had a 250 cc engine, or so it appeared. It was gutless. It required revving it to as far as it would go without stuffing the valves through the bonnet in 3rd before trying 4th and then 5th. You never stayed in those two gears for long as when an uphill bit was encountered it was just a matter of 50 metres before you were back to 3rd and 20,000 revs!


 ... sure enough, it was just before midnight when we found our hotel and wondered into the reception. First question, has the bar closed? .. No, perfect. We had 15 minutes, so we ordered 3 beers and sat for a chat. When we went to the room we discovered that although it was two single beds, they were actually resting next to each other and fixed so there was no moving them apart. I just kept having visions of the morning scene from Planes, Trains and Automobiles with John Candy and Steve Martin :) ... but there wasn't any of that. After what seemed like a 30 minute sleep the alarms went off and we trudged down for a very nice european style buffet breakfast.

 After a few minutes in walked Philippe Berlatier (image below with Steve) and his wife, Catherine, and sat with us for food. It seemed a little surreal for me to be sat here with Steve and Philippe, and Catherine kept apologising for her bad English. I pointed out that it is not only better than my French but also than my English most of the time. We sat chatting until we realised we had to travel 12 km's up into the hills and try and find the Pascuet Offroad Centre. Philippe and catherine jumped into their M series BMW and led the way, thankfully not in any hurry as we by now knew the little Corsa would be struggling at anything above 30mph!

 Wow, what a view! Pascuet's place is just about on the highest peak around (see top image) and he has it all set up for trials schools so the main yard is just one big play area. You could spend all day just here but I noticed on the way up the track large areas of rearranged rocks all set out to ride and various tracks into and up the steep hillside. Would love to come here with a bike and be taught by Jordi, I think he would still easily score World round points if he was to enter. Watching him play on the new Jotagas was brilliant, just so effortless. Really makes you want to get on a bike and try something out of your normal comfort zone.

S3

steve philippe
Steve Saunders & Philippe Berlatier

 ... After viewing the new bikes and watching Jordi Pascuet and James Duxbury ride them it was time to just chill and take some photos, plus a bit of sunbathing as it was nearly 30 degrees. I had that feeling of recognising someone really famous in the motorcycle world but just could not for the life of me get the name to pop into my head .. Steve then told me it was superbike rider Leon Camier .. doh!! Had a nice chat with him and he seems like a top bloke, he has become a bit of a trials convert after realising that many of the worlds top riders either started in our sport or also ride it, and he is riding a few extreme enduro events so trials is a great bit of training. He also told me that last week he accidentally dropped his Sherco over a mountain side!! Literally over it, when eventually located it was found to be a write-off :)

.. During the lovely lunch that was provided, a typically Spanish affair with meats, cheeses, breads, fruit, paella, beer and wine, I got chatting to the main man from Non-stop bikes which is a very big and well respected dealer in Spain. We spoke about the Spanish economy, which is in a bit of a mess, and the state of World Trials etc .. and the fact that in his opinion (and mine) the person who will knock Toni Bou off the top spot will be the young Beta rider Jaime Busto if all continues as it is. It as during this conversation that i glanced at my phone and realised it was 3pm and we had to get back to Girona for a 7pm flight ... 3 hours away at least.

.. once again the little Opal Corsa moped was screamed into submission up and down the mountain sides, we took a slightly different route back so there was more new scenery to look at. It suddenly struck me that unlike Somerset where you can't go more than 300 metres without seeing a dead animal or bird on the road I hadn't seen anything on either day so far.. strange! Anyway, we made it with 30 minutes to spare, visited the Mcdonalds inside the airport for a fruit smoothie (with no fruit i would guess, just flavouring!) and got onto a thankfully very peaceful plane ... no stag or hen does!

A huge thanks to Steve Saunders for his taxi driving skills, visit organisation and showing me the trials sights. And to John Hulme at Trial Magazine for the invite to go. Also great to meet Phillipe and Catherine Berlatier, and also James Duxbury, Jordi Pascuet and Leon Camier .. all very nice people. And all at the Jotagas factory and launch day. 24 hours in Spain .. sorted!

2015 jgas
The 2015 Jotagas ... on the Catalan hills
Leon Camier
Leon Camier .. tries out the prototype freeride
Jordi Pascuet
Jordi Pascuet ... mid hop!