June 2018 the Lambretta Euro Jamboree destination was Spain. After much speculation about the location it was published the year before that it would be held in Abejar which is an inland area in Spain’s north west corner.
Most people from the UK would be taking the ferry from the UK into Santander or Bilbao. Having done this in 2010 for the previouse Spanish euro I was reluctant to take that route again as it results in cutting the ridding miles down far too much. The attraction of the Euro events for me has always been the idea of spending two weeks away exploring new destinations around Europe on Lambrettas with all the challenges that throws up. Taking an easy route is for me akin to a mountain climber taking a helicopter to the summit of Mount Everest just so he can say he stood there and admired the view.
As the vast majority of our usual Euro ridding companions had chosen to take the ferry, Russ and I belatedly planned the route we would take, when I say planned a route, what I actually mean is we decided to take a ferry to Saint-Malo and head south to cross the Pyrenees into Spain, we did have one destination we wanted to visit during the outbound trip which was the derelict French town of Oradour-sur-Glane. This village was the place where during WW2 after the allied Normandy landings a German SS company massacred the inhabitants including women and children. The village has been left as it was that day as a memorial to the atrocities. More about that later.
So departure day arrived and we set off for Portsmouth carrying all of our luggage including spares and tools, no back up van as usual.
Gallery of each days route and miles for the outbound journey
The ride to Portsmouth was uneventful apart from a puncture on my rear tyre, and as we were to find out later, a traffic fine waiting on our return for inadvertently riding in a bus lane in Portsmouth close to the port.
Once on the ferry we pondered over a map to formulate some kind of plan so we were not ridding totally blind once on the French roads.
Russ chose to take his Lynx Lambrerta fitted with his steel lined TS1 and I was ridding my Winter Model power by my GT250 H2 conversion, both obviously Spanish models.
Day two we set off from St Malo and made it to L’zor just before a very heavy thunderstorm, that day I had yet another rear tyre puncture which was annoying to say the least. we also found ourselves riding on back lanes wondering where our satnavs were taking us.
Day three we left the hotel and headed to the derelict French town which wasnt too far away. Walking around the ruined buildings and reading about that fateful day in the visitors centre was extremely thought provoking and quite depressing seeing with your own eyes the cruelty humans are capable of inflicting on one another.
When back in the car park getting ready to set off again we met an English bloke who was on a push bike carrying a tent and all sorts if other paraphernalia. We got chatting to him and discovered he was doing a solo push bike ride for charity from the UK to South Africa. Fascinating the things you see and hear while away on your lambretta.
By the end of that third day we had made it to Lordes with out any problems. Even the weather had been kind to us as that day there had been heavy rain storms all over France yet we had managed to miss them all.
Day four we set off from Lordes and headed for the pyrenees mountains, not long into the first stint we found ourselves taking a wrong turn and after climbing a very steep road for a few miles ending up on someone’s drive with a crazed dog trying to get at us. We found the correct road and not long after found that there were road works on the route meaning we had to take a diversion. This turned out great as it took us through some great scenery on fantastic small twisty roads while climbing all day. A few hours later we were in thick fog, or rather cloud due to our altitude. After crossing the border into Spain we ended up reaching Cascante where we stayed that night.
Day five we waited for G, Nick and Derek at our hotel as they had stayed over night nearby. They had also done pretty much the same route as us to Spain but had left the day before. We set off and not long later while all riding quite fast I noticed Derek’s rear wheel had a very bad wobble so we all waved him down to pull over. When inspected we found his rear hub had lost two of its wheel rim studs and not only that, it had cracked severely. Derek wanted to carry on riding it but we were not prepared to let him as it was suicidal to ride on such a badly damaged hub, while we were all “discussing” this a van pulled up, it was a Spanish guy on his way to the Euro rally site and he thankfully had space in his van for Derek’s GP.
Later that day we arrived at the camp site, that day I had noticed that my lambretta wasn’t pulling as well as it usually does but couldn’t quite work out why, I am usually quite good at diagnosing problems so this was troubling.
Gallery of each days route and miles for the return journey
The event its self wasn’t much to write home about, the location was far from anywhere and what was laid on just wasn’t that great, not that any of that mattered, as for us it’s all about the road trip, which so far had been a great experience as usual.
Sunday morning soon came round and we were packing the lambrettas ready for the return trip. After less than 30 miles with Russ leading the way my back wheel locked and stayed locked when I grabbed the clutch. Oddly the engine kept running with the clutch in so it was obvious there had been a failure in the gearbox. Luckily I stayed on as I watched Russ disappear into the distance. Before this happened the engine was laboring so badly that to keep at 60 mph I was having to ride in 3rd gear constantly, every time I tried to ride in top gear the motor just labored and slowed down.
I dragged the lambretta to the side of the road and looked around, to say I was in the middle of nowhere would be an understatement. We had a heavy late night the night before so the last thing I could be arsed to do was take all my luggage off and start stripping the engine down but as the alternative was to just lie down at the side of the road and give up, I started reluctantly taking bungee cords off.
As with anything, the thought of doing it is always worse than actually doing it. It wasn’t long before Russ had phoned and asked where I was and then started heading back to me.
We lay the lambretta on its side so as not to loose all of the gearbox oil but once the sidecase was off it became obvious that there wasn’t any gearbox oil in there to lose. When the endplate was off we could see that the gears were all blue and the bearing under the tree had completely collapsed. It was then that I had a light bulb moment, a few days before we left the UK I had taken the sidecase off to change it for a new GT sidecase. I had obviously forgot to fill it with gearbox oil, DOH. This also explained why it had felt down on power during the last day travelling to the Euro, it was getting so hot in the gearbox that it was all getting tighter and tighter until the point it just locked up.
Russ was carrying a spare gearbox and I had the spare bearing so we put it all back together and as we didn’t have any gearbox oil with us I filled it up with two stroke oil, 2 stroke oil is a good substitute for gearbox oil and has proven to be good enough in an emergency a few times before. While we were putting the last parts back on a group of riders from LCGP pulled in and had a 500ml bottle of gearbox oil which they gave me, Thanks Dom. I decided to keep that for use later as I would be able to run on the two stroke oil for a stint to wash the metal shit and baked on black shit out of the chain case and then drain it and replace with clean gearbox oil.
An hour after grinding to a hault we back up and running and continuing on our way. I changed the oil when we got to Pamplona and made it to Months De Marson after crossing the Pyrenees into France. 263 miles covered that day on some fantastic roads, all A and B roads.
Next day we made a decision to do all of the return on A and B roads to make the trip a little more interesting rather than using boring French motorways. We left the hotel and after only about 15 miles, Russ while riding right next to me holed his piston, again we looked around and found ourselves in the middle of nowhere.
Rain was coming in as we stripped his top end off to replace it with his spare TS piston, due to the rain making us keep stopping to shelter this pit stop took nearly 2 hours before we were on our way again.
Later that day we got very lost in one town which also wasted over an hour, doing the A and B roads is fine until you get to a big town or city. We did eventually arrive at La Rochelle where we found somewhere to stay. It was at a house not far from the beach, a little like a British B&B only the house owner also lived there. We went out for a meal on the seafront and when we returned to the house I found that my Sena helmet intercom unit had melted while on charge which could have resulted in the place burning down, the smell of burning plastic was terrible, made worse by the smell of two blokes riding boots cooking by the radiator.
Next day we rode from there to St Marlo in time for the ferry back to Portsmouth, before leaving the B&B I had a look to see why I had lost all DC power the day before and found that the DC live wire out of the wassel regulator had broken off flush with the wassel outer casing which meant it wasn’t just a case of twisting two ends of wire together. Russ is old school and I know he always has some crazy stuff stashed in his wallet. What he had on this occasion was a clothes pin, I twisted the live wire around the cap end of the pin and pushed the pointed end of the pin into the wassel unit, hey presto, it worked, so I had lights and more importantly charging power for my array of electrical gadgets.
After getting back to Portsmouth we decide to carry on with the A and B roads adventure so used small roads all of the way back to Birmingham taking in the scenery, I even decided to ride through the centre of Birmingham and back out of the other side rather than taking the easy option of riding the M42.
Another very memorable Euro adventure came to an end, Russ and I are chalk and cheese but that makes for a perfect riding partnership. We dont get flustered easily and between us we nearly always find a solution to what ever a trip throws at us, but mainly we are both willing to see what’s at the end of a road when we are far from certain that we are on the right track, and many times over this trip we found ourselves on dirt tracks both giggling under our helmets wondering where we would end up.