Barcelona Road Trip, April 2012
Barcelona Road Trip, April 2012

Four riders, fed up with the constant rain of a British Spring, make the decision to GO, to drop everything and head to the sun on a Barcelona road trip.

DIRT ISSUE 125 - JULY 2012

Words by Olly Wilkins. Photos by Grant Robinson

I’m not impulsive. This trip was more an act of desperation than a crazy ‘spur of the moment’ thing. If you back a dog into enough of a corner it will do something out of character. In this case the dog got in a van and drove 16 hours straight.

After three solid weeks of constant English grey rain I felt as though spring must be around the corner. Kind of felt I had deserved it. I’d been using all of the normal ‘weather activities’ (like normal activities except you have to pretend they are fun). Digging jumps, paddling around on broken mini–bikes, headstrong wet XC rides, track building, even watching f–king DVD box–sets. Man I was getting cabin fever, except the cabin is a country…country fever? Anyway, I checked the pony Apple weather thing on my phone. As far as its shortsighted eyes could see (a week) we were expecting more rain. This must be how people on the cusp of a nervous breakdown feel. I called Sam (Reynolds) and he talked me down from the edge of the roof, told me my life was worth living and that I had so much more to give the world. Amongst other heart–warming and inspirational things he suggested that we should go to Spain. I couldn’t argue with his logic. It’s further away from England so it WILL be hotter…he had a point. When would we leave? That very same night is when.

We left late that evening with two other grey faced individuals: Bernard ‘Bored’ Kerr and photographer ‘Grumpy’ Grant Robinson. Both were sick of it. Don’t know why we asked Grant along. He could be getting a massage, being fed grapes, on a desert island and he’d still be making a poo–poo, grumpy face. The initial surge of excitement surrounding the trip dulled as we sat in traffic outside the ferry port, after missing our boat. It gave me time to really do some maths. We were arriving at Calais just after 12 and driving to the Lacondeguy brothers’ house near Barcelona. Barcelona is approximately 13 hours away so we would be arriving at lunchtime the next day if we drive solidly all night. We would then have that half–day and one more before me and Grant flew back and Bernard and Sam stayed for a few extra days riding moto. This is why I don’t normally make impulse decisions on such a large scale. This was different to my normal 'off the wall' behaviour: ‘F–k it, I’ll have a chocolate bar with my fuel please sir’ is a bit less expensive. This one made no sense. We were going to be on the road more than we would be riding. The weather had driven us mad. Oh well, two things stopped me dribbling on. SUN and RIDING.

We ran shifts all night with Bernard doing the majority because of his poor passenger seat skills (it’s like driving with your mum). The sleep on offer in the van was of very poor quality and when we arrived the next day at two in the afternoon I felt like riding something easy. No such luck, we went straight in the deep end with the Lacondeguy ‘Forest’ trails.

With Andreu unable to ride with a finger injury, he kindly drove us round on our trip and we arrived at his trails at around three. The jumps were set in a horseshoe shape and were the very same ones that appeared in one of the New World Disorder videos. Behind every good rider is a spot that taught him to ride and it was good to ride Andreu’s. They were steep and deep, proper trails. You had to pull to the moon to get into some of those landings. A good few hours were spent there relaxing and riding before moving on to have a look at his compound.>>

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[part title="ESCAPE THE RAIN | ROAD TRIP BARCELONA PAGE TWO..."]

Barcelona Road Trip, April 2012
Barcelona Road Trip, April 2012

 

Andreu recently bought the compound off his good friend, and world famous FMX rider Edgar Torronteras. It’s basically a perfect square of ground with a massive foam pit and matte black crane towering in the middle. His most recent addition to the spot is the mountain bike line. When putting MTB jumps next to moto ones they usually look lame, tame and small. A lot of the time this is not the case, they are actually pretty big. It’s not a problem here. The roll–in reaches the same height as the crane and feels so narrow when you are at the top. It sends you straight into a 12 metre gap with a metal FMX ramp jacked up on bricks. I can honestly say that the MTB line looked bigger than the FMX one. It made a nice change and highlighted how fast things were moving on in the sport, or in Andreu’s head. Expect a WILD edit from him anytime soon. Unfortunately when hitting jumps of that size you are at the mercy of the wind. The windsock said no. I didn’t argue with him. He seemed like a serious guy.

By this point I had forgotten about rain and the misery of the UK and was dedicating any spare moment I had to pointing myself towards the sun, trying to wash some of that grey out of my skin. That evening we headed into Barcelona and got a tour around the sights. It is an amazing city, such a mix of old and new all tastefully thrown together and lived–in, used and abused. It was cool to hear Andreu talk about the city and his love for it. I would love to have that feeling of pride for where I live. I suppose London’s okay, bit rainy.

After food we headed out on hardtails to ride some street. My experience of street in England is poor. People don’t build houses as if they want you to ride up the side of them. In Spain it seems they do. There are sections from skate and BMX videos everywhere you look, plus you always get to see a lot more of any city if you’re riding a bike. We found the famous Barcelona quarter/wall ride thing and Grant reluctantly set up his camera. This thing has been shot so much. Kind of felt like tourists stood next to the leaning tower of Pisa throwing the peace sign. In the end Sam got a puncture and we headed back to the van to wash in the sea and go to sleep.

Waking up in a Sprinter van filled with fart and feet–smell is rank, you wake up fast though. Certainly set me up for the day. I was happy to get into Andreu’s truck to go for some shuttle runs nearby. His brother, Lluis, joined us for the day to guide us down the mountain. This place was amazing. I was sucking on my short travel as was Sam, but Bernard and Lluis flew off loving it. There were loads of different runs and the uplift had some fairly wild 4x4 action too. Lluis told me about the local hero here. He lives in the town in the bottom of the mountain and is widely known to all the locals as the World Champ. Needless to say he embraces it. I imagined people applauding as he drives by. Signing autographs in the street, getting with all the hot girls. What a guy!>>

[part title="ESCAPE THE RAIN | ROAD TRIP BARCELONA PAGE THREE..."]

Barcelona Road Trip, April 2012
Barcelona Road Trip, April 2012

That afternoon we headed to La Poma bike park, about 10 minutes from central Barcelona. I had watched countless videos of it but when I got there it was amazing to see. The place has one or two full time members of staff working on the lines, meaning that everything is immaculate. A massive foam pit, 4X track, pump track and trails for miles means La Poma is always busy. We were there mid–week during school term and there were still tonnes of people riding. A strong scene builds around places like this and some of the locals are really amazing riders. No BMX vs. MTB thing here either. Everyone is happy to be out riding in the sun.

Bernard was through first time on everything we rode, like a boss. He was going really high on the bigger sets too. Not low–riding like a lot of racer boys would. Sam was killing it as usual. He’s really at home on big contest–oriented jumps and has gradually added some big tricks to his casual everyday runs. Especially with Andreu and Lluis riding. They all push each other in a friendly competitive way. Obviously, I was throwing down but the surprise hero of the day was Grumpy Grant who at the tender age of 63 landed his first back flip, second try, into foam. Filled with pride we ended our day sat down with an amazing sunset backdrop. I wondered if I lived in Barcelona would I become sick of sun? Would I be craving a day inside watching One Tree Hill box sets?

For such a short trip it felt so long. I guess when you know you don’t have much time you pack the days. I was pleased we had been so impulsive and gone ahead and done something slightly stupid. Was it worth it? Twenty–four hours of travelling for roughly the same of riding…probably not. But who cares? How do you put a price on happiness anyway, no matter how short lived? I spent the following days with a slight tan and feeling content sat inside with the rain tapping on the window, not long now. Where next?