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8th November 2005

MC Piston Club Colombres Rally

Fancy a challenge? Roger Nicholls can recommend this Spanish Rally - although it's worth checking local regulations about lighting headlamps, no matter how old your bike is...

This is a slightly unusual report, in connection with the 2005 Moto Club Piston Colombres Rally which took place in the Pecos mountains of northern Spain. It's a fantastic, week long rally through the Pecos mountains for pre-1980 bikes only. Several hundred old bikes and riders come from the UK via the ferry to Santander to enjoy a week of being well looked after by the organising club, the MC Piston Club. There's a full diary of events, including the Route of 5000 Curves (it sounds better in Spanish: Ruta de Cinco Mil Curvas) which is a 500km road trial through the foothills of the Picos de Europa.

Race you to the top...

Our first ride-out was some 250km of continual climb and bends through spectacular scenery with barely a kilometre of straight road. The photo shows all the bikes at the lunch stop, at the bottom of a steep valley. We reached the stop after a steep descent on a not-too-well paved road. On reaching the bottom my wife, on the pillion seat, said; 'I only hope we don't have to go back that way!' And, of course, we did.

But we were stopped near the summit by an English rider, flagging us down to a halt. A car had gone off the edge and landed on the rocks in the river below. Two guys from the BMW club managed to get down and rescue the women in the car and somehow drag them back to the top.

Before lunch, and before the accident happened, we had followed the car up the track where it became blocked by an oncoming van. We squeezed past and on to the lunch stop in the bottom of the valley. The women driver was already quite agitated by the hold ups. We think she must have lost control and slid off the very narrow, steep road. She had to be air-ambulanced out but we later heard that she had not been too seriously hurt.

The guys who rescued the women missed out on lunch as there was nowt left when they got to the bottom! To make matters worse - and this is really the point of this tale -- one rider was later pulled over by the police for not having his lights on. He was fined 100€. Several other riders on machines dating back to the 1920s were also stopped and fined by the police, who were most unhelpful.

¡Dos cervezas y un chocolate caliente, por favor!
Random T140 Bits on

The Rally organisers would like to hear from anyone else who was stopped and fined (email, as they are making a protest and trying to recover the fines. They need details of the bikes, their ages, etc, and the circumstances. If you were fined and have a receipt then they'd like a copy.

I spoke to one guy who had been stopped on the first run while riding a Nimbus, from 1952 or thereabouts. The Police pulled him and a Spanish guy and it was an on-the-spot fine. He had been riding with his lights on but thought they were off -- so when stopped he unfortunately turned them off! The result was the fine.

I was also told of another rider from the UK who came off the ferry without lighting his acetylene lamp set and was also fined! It's very sad to see this, really, as the Rally brings a large amount of money to a quiet and very beautiful area. You get to meet some very unusual people and their machines, tackling the most challenging roads.

I met one guy on a 1927 350 AJS and he was older than the bike (I think he was 82 or 84). Amazing! He'd been advised that his brakes might not be up to it and he had replied; 'What brakes?' Way to go, boys! He too had come from the UK and was out on the rides, but he was advised not to take the Sunday afternoon run as this included a run up and down a mountain which is somewhat akin to a Disney's space mountain ride! It's a tall climb through a continuous series of hairpin bends, followed by a frantic marshall waving energetically at the summit to warn the riders to slow down as the road simply falls away. Somewhere I did see a warning sign of 20° and I don't think this was the steepest part.

At this point I had my daughter on the pillion. My mate Ted was on his bitsa Beema (the one in the photo, mine is the T140 ) with my wife on the back of his bike. My wife is only small and light and Ted had to keep checking that she was still with him -- especially after the bull had jumped off the bank and challenged him and the bike!

The mountains run down to the sea and the beaches, and the breakers are a sight to behold with very few other people about. What a week: we met people we had not seen for a while and made many new friends. We're back home now in Brittany, with fork seals and a clutch to change, because both took a bit of a bashing! Let's hope that next year the event isn't spoiled by too much official interference.

Full details are at

Sod the bikes, look at the colour of that sky!


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