A Span­ish siz­zler

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - By Si­mon Har­g­reaves

Good rides in Spain aren’t hard to find; un­like most of our fair is­land, any­thing on a map of the Ibe­rian penin­sula that seems to be wig­gly will prob­a­bly turn out to be con­structed from the same stuff they use on race­tracks. Added to that it’ll more than likely run through stun­ning land­scapes, be dot­ted with ro­man­tic ho­tels set in an­cient cas­tles, and come free with enough sun­shine to recharge your bat­ter­ies for a year.

This four-hour stint along Spain’s bor­der with Por­tu­gal is dif­fer­ent from the usual Span­ish routes be­cause it’s not an ob­vi­ous north-south run – a more clas­sic path would take you round to the east of Madrid. But if you’ve man­aged to get as far south as, say, the Jerez GP, then mak­ing your way up to Seville and from there to Bada­joz is as good a way as any of wind­ing up a few days later at the ferry in Bil­bao or San­tander.

The ride starts on the EX-110 north from Bada­joz. Es­cap­ing the in­dus­trial units and messy out­skirts, the road grad­u­ally fil­ters into an ar­row-straight jaunt through flat, low arable land and sparse, white-washed houses. The scenery has a very Amer­i­can feel; you could be some­where in New Mex­ico. Fun­nily enough, the road even­tu­ally winds up to­wards the town of Al­bur­querque, perched on the top of a hill and after which the other Al­bu­querque (without the ‘r’), of New Mex­ico, is named. Get­ting lost in the nar­row side streets is fun, but pick up the EX-110 again north, head­ing for San Vin­cente de Al­can­tara. The road, still im­mac­u­late, un­du­lates through more scrub, then skirts San Vin­cente.

You’re now on the CC-91 and, as you pass through a limb of the Sierra de San Pe­dro moun­tain range, the land­scape sud­denly changes. Moun­tains are vis­i­ble in the dis­tance, and trees dom­i­nate the road­side. Cor­ners start to bunch up and tighten into cool com­bi­na­tions, drop­ping your av­er­age speed yet in­creas­ing the pace.

Then, sud­denly, the trees and cor­ners are gone and it’s back to Us-style scrub and straight, up-and­down roads. But these aren’t dull roads; it’s an im­pres­sive, wild-west­ern land­scape; per­fect for sit­ting back and pil­ing on through with a rhyth­mic pulse.

Even­tu­ally you pick up the EX-117 to­wards Al­can­tara – stop for a jet black cof­fee to rouse your senses, then across the cob­bled bridge over the Rio Tajo, along­side the dam. More straight lines and gen­tle curves be­fore, fi­nally, proper moun­tains heave into view. Out­side Mo­raleja, pick up the EX-109 and head into the Sierra de Gata. The road climbs and twists with a wideopen, three-lane en­cour­age­ment. It’s easy to speed, so watch for lor­ries mov­ing a lot slower up the long climbs. The scenery is im­pres­sive too; it’s easy to take your eyes off the road. I wouldn’t if I were you.

The run down into Ci­u­dad Ro­drigo is a gen­tle un­wind, and for the per­fect some­where to stay, the lo­cal Parador, set in a 14th cen­tury cas­tle, is about as good as it gets.

‘It comes free with enough sun­shine to recharge your bat­ter­ies’

Who needs cor­ners when you’ve got un­du­la­tions like these to en­joy?

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