The next day I took advantage of the early morning light to visit Gaudi's Familia Sagrada, then I was lucky enough to spend the rest of the day riding the hills with Umberto and Javier, two more friends from Galfer. My cruiser was holding back the pace they'd normally be at on their BMW GS 800s, but the Road King and I started to really click; lean into corners, take in the sights, and stopping to rest with a view of the mountain that holds the Shrine of Our Lady of Montserrat. We didn't go up to the shrine. I was told, and believed, it was just another tourist point. The cluster of the city was a speck on the horizon behind, and I just wanted to stay in the hills and visit the areas where the locals spend their weekends. But I was on a freeloafing-journalist's budget, so it was back to Mike's shop to hand back the bike after just a two-day trek, then on to a jet to leave the beaches and mountains for other adventurers.
This bike's there now, waiting. And it won't insist you speak Spanish, or try to sell you a watered-down Sangria, but it will take you off to wherever you ask, and some places you wouldn't know to ask about. It's an expatriate friend waiting to show you the real side of Spain, so you can be a tourer, not a tourist.
I went right to Mike Loughrie of motoespana.com, a self-admitted "extremely handsome Scotsman," who's been in the motorcycle touring business for nine years, for some tips before setting out for a great adventure through Spain.
Plan less and don't book your hotels.
Exploring the Pyrenees is all about the freedom to take any road that catches your eye and ride until you're ready to rest. You'll find a hotel room, usually in the range of 70-100 US dollars per night.
Did you know Europe shuts down in August and everyone goes on vacation? This spikes the prices of rooms and you could run into fully-booked hotels.
The rain in Spain
Regarding weather, the best months to tour Spain are April through June and September through November. The winter months will put you in the rain, and the summer months can be blistering hot if you're not ready.
Rent a helmet
Helmets are required in Spain and your Snell/DOT helmet is not legal in Europe. You need an ECE 2025 approved lid to be completely legal. MotoEspaña rents helmets, just reserve your size and let them know if you want the full-face flip-up, full-face, or open style.
Bring a phrase book
Even jot down a few basic phrases you will need, such as, "Where is a hotel?" and, "Could I have your daughter's hand in marriage?" The Spaniards speak Spanish; don't assume your bad sitcom Mexican accent will make you intelligible.
No right on red
It's not legal to turn right on red in Spain. This is just one of the many fun traffic laws you won't know.
Ten is better than seven
Ten days will get you the full and ideal experience through the Pyrenees. Seven can do it, but 10 is the number to shoot for.
Mike's website (motoespana.com) has a cool "Plan Your Trip" section, but Mike loves the sound of his own voice...and can steer you toward some rides that he knows you'll like based on what you want to see and how long you can spend in the country.