This time I went alone, Katja had no holidays left and so at the end of October I started direction Spain. My goal was to escape the winter and to ride as many sections of the Trans Euro Trail (TET) as possible. It was also the first big test ride with the CRF250 Rally, which we had bought only a few months earlier.
The route planning was pretty easy – I wanted to ride through Spain, Andorra and France. Normally I use Garmin Basecamp for route planning – but this time I wanted to try out the app MAPS.ME on my phone. The app uses OpenStreetMap, which has a very high degree of detail and makes almost every hiking or biking trail visible. After downloading the routes, you have to convert the file from gpx to kml and transfer the generated file to your smartphone – done.
I was not sure if the standard tires would be enough for the demanding tracks. So I decided to take a set of cross tires (Michelin AC 10) on the back of the bike – with this rough tire tread I certainly did not want to start the nearly 1,200 km long route.
The Rally has done a great job on the first 1,000 km of freeway to Perpignan, with a travel speed of almost 110 km/h, I got along well. Arriving in Perpignan, my first task was to find a tire changing workshop. However, this turned out to be pretty difficult as most French motorbike workshops are closed on Mondays during the winter season. After many phone calls and failed attempts, I was thankfully helped by Yamaha in Perpignan.
I had to get used to the new tires first, as I have never tried “real” studded tires – just the usual ones like Conti TKC 80 and Mitas E09. After the usual acclimatization phase, the tires turned out to be real all-rounders – loose gravel, sand, mud and asphalt were no problem.
It was a great feeling to be in bright sunshine and warm temperatures in the Pyrenees. When I left Germany, it was cold, wet and gray. The more I followed the TET route, I realized how “at home” I felt on the Honda – at that point I was sure that we had made the right decision. It was incredibly fun to ride with less than 90 kg of weight through the terrain – steep trails, which I would probably never have dared to do with the Africa Twin, were a real pleasure with the Rally.
In those moments I had to think of Katja and how much fun she would have had with the little Honda here. You ride such a light machine with a completely different self-confidence – difficult passages do not become an obstacle, but a positive experience. I also realized that this gave me much more time and peace to observe nature and wildlife.
Another good thing is that there are so many opportunities to camp in the South. On the one or the other night, I was visited by boars, who were looking for food next to my tarp while their grunting kept me awake half of the night. In those moments I wished I had taken our tent with me.