Hitting the trails

We’ve found a little paradise around the corner from where we live. A paradise full of trails and twisty mountains roads and where we can sample different local wines every night.

As camping was out of the question because of the heat wave, I was looking for a cheap place to stay central in the Prades mountains and I found this albergue, Lo Refugi. Normally they host hikers so they didn’t provide parking, but I was intrigued by their gastro-restaurant with vegetarian food and local wine so we decided to book anyway. It worked out splendidly, we rode our bikes all day and sampled different types of wine and ate great food at night.

The location was not far off section 10 of the TET, the Trans European Trail, and on our second (!) visit we decided to try it out. As we’re newbies on mountain trails, this involved a lot of walking to scout if we reckoned we could manage the ascents and decents, always bearing in mind that we could have to turn back if something proved too difficult for our limited skills. And, as it was during a heat wave, it was incredibly hot so we needed to bring lots of water – both for drinking and to cool ourselves down – soaking the Urbane Pro made the most out of the full ventilation and saved my sanity.

This video is a compilation of videos of us riding over two days and I like to think that, apart from some lovely scenery, it also shows that our skills slightly improved over time.

In September, when the risk of wildfire is over, we’ll return for more riding and wine sampling.

The Electric Night Ride in Jaca

It was super exciting to ride up to Jaca for the 5th Electric Night Ride even though it was on my GS. The last two years it had been cancelled due to the pandemic so I think everyone taking part was super excited too. I got a good opportunity to look at the different versions of Zero and the different set-ups too – off road, sport, touring. In total, I think there were 25 bikes and scooters. All bikes but one were Zeros, the odd one out was an Energica and it didn’t look too different from the Zero. It was a bit disappointing not to see anyone with a Johammer, as they look like nothing else I’ve ever seen, and I had hoped to see one for real. There were a handful scooters, all but one were large scooters, one was a small city scooter. Don’t ask me about brands – I never even checked – sorry, complete lack of interest I’m afraid.

The early arrivers' bikes are hooked up and charging while the riders themselves takes shelter in the shade.
The early arrivers’ bikes are hooked up and charging while the riders themselves takes shelter in the shade.
 A variety of bikes and models, maily Zero. The majority are form Spain but there are riders from Belgium, the Netherlands and France too.
A variety of bikes and models, mainly Zero. The majority are from Spain but there are riders from Belgium, the Netherlands and France too.
They are lining up to get ready, the weather is swealthering but just as they set off we feel the first drops of rain.
They are lining up to get ready, the weather is sweltering but just as they set off we feel the first drops of rain.
Group photo, IN FRONT OF the nicely lined up bikes :D Someone did not think this through!
Group photo, IN FRONT OF the nicely lined up bikes 😀 Someone did not think this through!

I had hoped to better organised and be on an electric bike myself to be able to join the event and the ride but, alas, not this time. I still enjoyed watching from the shadows, the shade really – there was a heatwave in Jaca at the time – observing and taking photos.

Electric motorbikes first caught my interest a few years back and when we were able to test ride the Zero in Finland at the WIMA rally in 2019 I was thrilled. They were really rare then, the e-bikes, I didn’t know anyone apart from Trui Hanoulle, aka Electro Girl, who rode one. She’s an electric pioneer who rode a Zero from Belgium to Turkey in the very early days of electric. She was there at the rally on a Zero and as always very happy to discuss electrics with anyone who was interested. Influenced by her story and with a great portion of healthy curiosity, I signed up for a test ride.

How do I turn it on? I asked. It is already on, the instructor replied. Funny that, when you can’t hear the engine and you can’t feel the engine. There is no feedback to tell you that it is on, until you turn the throttle and feel the speed in the pit of your stomach. It took some time for me to get used to the acceleration and ride smoothly but when I got the hang of it I thoroughly enjoyed the ride. I loved the silence and the stillness. I could hear other things, the tyres on the road and the birds singing. I knew then that I wanted an electric bike, I just didn’t know when I could get one for practical reasons. I still don’t know when and it is a bit disappointing. I will not be a pioneer. My reasons for hesitating are threefold, the electric bikes on the market now are not suitable for me ergonomically. I need more legroom as I need a rather open knee angle for health reasons. Practicality is another factor, I need longer range for travelling and I wouldn’t want to have to ask people for permission to charge from their home. Lastly, economical. Any e-bike is a big investment, just as buying a new petrol bike would be. However, I’m not exactly in the market for buying any new bike and I’m happy owning an old and reliable bike that is comparatively cheap to insure. Thinking about the economic side of things, it would be interesting seeing a breakdown of costs for owning and running an electric bike. I haven’t seen any insurance comparison for example. With my very good reasons for not splashing out on a new e-bike, I still wonder what the reasons other women have. I couldn’t help notice that at the Electric Night Ride in Jaca, only 4 out of 29 people were female, 1 girl and 3 women. Only one woman was piloting, the rest were pillions. Where are all the female e-pioneers? My agreement with myself is that I’ll ride my GS until the end of its days, then I’ll go electric.

As the years go by

we continue to explore the world together, our next project is trail riding. There are lots of little trails around where we live, this is literally just around the corner. It’s lovely to get out a bit – I know I can’t spend all my time with my nose in my books – although the master’s course takes up a lot of my free time.

I met Christopher at an English language book swap in Madrid and who would have thought back then that one day we’d have our own bookshelf together. He wasn’t a biker then, only politely interested in bikes: and it would take a few years before he got onto the pillion seat; and a few more years still before he got his own license; and now, celebrating 12 years of awesomeness together we got ourselves matching boots.

Who would have thought that I would ever get matching boots with anyone?

It is only January but there is spring in the air and we’ve been out exploring on the bike. In the summer, we hope to ride some new trails together and we’d better start practicing. I’m rubbish at trail riding, but now when we’ve got properly protected ankles I hope to be a bit braver.

What’s your plan for this summer?