Emily-Jane Cave rounds up the ‘who’s doing what where’ of the motorcycle touring world
Central Asian Ring
Central Asia is home to some of the most iconic motorcycle routes in the world, including the famous Pamir Highway and the Silk Road. This two-week tour from local motorcycle travel company Silk Off-Road offers riders the chance to explore the Stans, taking in some of the countries’ unique sights and fascinating heritage.
The tour kicks off in the Kazakh steppes along the Zailiyyskiy-Alatau Mountains in south-east Kazakhstan. From here ABRs will set off for the 3,000-year-old Silk Road cities of Samarkland, Uszbekistan, in the footsteps of Genghis Khan. The next stop is Tajikistan where riders will have opportunity to tackle the Pamir Highway and the ‘Roof of the World’ along dizzying mountain passes of 5,000m before rolling into Kyrgyzstan to enjoy its breathtaking scenery and vast mountain lakes.
This two-week guided journey covers 2,800 miles over 14 days’ riding aboard one of the company’s 2010 model Suzuki DR650SEs. The terrain is both on and off-road and previous off-road riding experience is essential; a 4×4 back-up vehicle is included. Participants will stay in a variety of two-and three-star hotels and guest-houses, where there will be opportunity to soak up some of the local hospitality and culture. There’s also one night’s camping in the Fan Mountains.
The Central Asian Ring Tour is running 10-25 June and 16-31 August 2012. For prices, booking and more information, see www.silkoffroad.kz.
Three ways to ride…
1. Rent and ride
A cheap-ish, cheerful and stress-free way to see southern Spain, local company GS Heaven offers a friendly B&B guest-house base in Andalucia, 25 minutes from Malaga, and hire of one of its brand-new BMW R1200 GSs as part of the company’s Bed, Breakfast, Bike & Ride package.
Transport from Malaga airport is provided, and on arrival at ‘Casa don Carlos’, ABRs are briefed on use of the bikes and the best touring routes in the area, such as the 217-mile trip from Andalucia to Marbella via Grazalema, Ubrique and Estepona. All roads are perfectly tarmacked and riders will enjoy beautiful, diverse scenery from pine forests to massive rock formations and endless views over the Mediterranean Sea, as well as taking in picturesque inland villages and meeting the friendly locals for lunch.
GSAs are supplied with a tank bag, paper map, a Garmin Zumo GS and, a practical conversation guide, so you’re ready to ride from day one. All rooms at Casa don Carlos are ensuite and the guest-house serves meals every evening except Sundays. According to reliable sources, its terrace also provides the perfect place to chill out with a nice cold cerveza at the end of a day’s riding. What more could you ask for? For prices and booking, see www.gsheaven.com.
2. Go guided
At the other end of Espana are the Picos du Europa, a National Park within the Cantabrian Mountains and an unbelievable place to ride a motorcycle. Global Motorcycle Tours’ Northern Spain trip incorporates The Picos, dipping into Portugal on a round-trip from ferry port Santander.
Riders will visit the Mampodre National Game Reserve, Serra da Estrela National Park, Lake Riano, and Hermida Gorge among other regional attractions during the 10-day trip, which covers 1,210 miles of tarmacked traffic-free roads through stunning scenery.
Prices for the tour include return ferry from Portsmouth to Santander, seven nights’ accommodation in three-and four-star hotels, five evening meals and a fully edited DVD of the trip, as well as all a full itinerary and tour support information from the company’s experienced guides. The tour is running 5-14 September 2012. Prices for a single rider are from £1,020; rider with pillion is £870pp. For bookings and more, see www.globalmotorcycletours.co.uk
3. Go off-road
Redtread Spain claims it’s the longest-running tour company in Spain. If you’re an experienced off-roader looking for a new challenge, the rough and rocky terrain that’s Readtread’s stomping ground could well be it.
The company’s two-day Sierra Nevada tour runs in April, May and October, owing to the warmer weather at altitude around these times. After an overnight stay at Monte Pino, Redtread’s country house base in Compete, Malaga (read: luxury private villa with pool, balconies, sun terrace, 30 minutes’ drive from the beach) the tour sets off on a 124-mile ride-out over wet and dry riverbeads and technical terrain on one of Redtread’s 2010 Honda CRF450X or 250Xs. The full day’s ride cul- minates in a stopover at a three-star hotel.
The second day’s ride starts with breakfast at the hotel before departing for another 124-mile blast over the mountains back towards Redtread’s luxury base. Riders will spend another night here (hard life, eh?) before hopping on the plane home. All safety kit and equipment is provided by Readtread as well as fuel for the bikes and – gulp – airlift insurance. ABRs will need to sort our flights, repatriation insurance, full motorcycle licence and all evening meals and drinks. At a very reasonable £550pp, though. This is one adventure that won’t break the bank. For more, see www.redtread.com