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While many of us were enjoying the festive season, while enduring the great British weather, Ian Kerr headed off to sample the delights of Spain and the Colombres Rally on a classic two-wheeler, courtesy of the Moto Club Indianos…

As you read this the festivities will hopefully be a pleasant memory and you will be thinking of the year ahead and motorcycling outside of the work environment. Part of  that thought process will of course be a few New Year’s resolutions, but also no doubt the planning of holidays and trips.

It has to be said that these days some of the best motorcycling can be found on the continent, full of superb twisty roads, devoid of police and traffic cameras, with stunning views and bike friendly venues and stops.

Ian Kerr

• Ian Kerr

The level of acceptance seems to increase considerably when you are on a classic mount and the Europeans seem more inclined to use their older machines rather than look on them as investments, as seems to be the British way – locked away under covers in a garage and never used!  (Take a look at the ever-rising current auction and dealer prices if you don’t believe me!)

Modern bikes of course allow you to cover greater distances in a shorter time, but there is also a danger that you don’t have time to relax and enjoy the countryside. Something you have to do on a classic machine due to its slower speeds and less predictable handling.

Now while solo touring is always fun, if you have a classic bike there are many events in Europe that will not just allow you all the aforementioned benefits, but also provide you with the camaraderie of like-minded enthusiasts.

One of the very best is the revamped ‘Colombres’ rally in Northern Spain for classic bikes made prior to 1986. Although having a history dating back some 20 years it is now run by the ‘Moto Club Indianos’ which was formed with the intention of recreating the early friendly laid back rallies based on much smaller numbers, which allows riders to enjoy the roads of the Picos de Europa without being part of any traffic jam.

Unlike the previous organisers they have set about subtly adding in things to keep riders coming back without destroying the ethos of the event –  namely good riding with like-minded souls.  Four years on and with the latest event booked solid with 300 happy bikers, and a waiting list for other eager entrants, it shows that they have succeeded.

The 4th Colombres International Rally which took place between the 5th -11th October 2015 was another outstanding success and incorporated all the old favourites, like the traditional Saturday “Bustio-Colombres” hill climb run,  along with the two day auto-jumble run at the village hall. In addition there is now a classic moto cross on the Sunday along with a special event for children to encourage the next generation to have an interest in two wheels.

In fact, there is no doubt that the Moto Club Indianos is intent on building up the event to become a must-visit for the classic enthusiast. However, that said, the organisers are not going to fall into the previous trap of expanding to the point where it becomes a problem due to size and they have capped the number attending and are quite strict on the age of machines entering.

Colombres-Rally-Rider 2015

Modern machines are also discouraged from infiltrating the runs in response to complaints over the years regarding safety on the road – modern one fingered disc brakes verses old drum (not so good) brakes, also the disparity in horsepower and incumbent acceleration!

Another big change from the original event is that it is now run over  a week with signing-in taking place on the Sunday and daily runs commencing on the Monday and running through to the following Sunday, to give people value for money. Talking of which, the event continues to enjoy the support of Brittany Ferries who generously offer a 20 per cent discount to participants.

Daily runs are around 136-149 miles, with lunch being provided as part of the €70 entry fee (which also includes a T-shirt) which, it must be said, is a far better quality snack than ever before, with no limit on the amount of food or drink consumed. The routes are marked out with road arrows although detailed route sheets are provided, as is a back-up van should anyone’s steed fail. The Indianos Club also provide full workshop facilities for riders, including the use of a ramp and tools should it be needed.

Certainly from an entrant’s point of view, the camaraderie is back and everybody was smiling all the time, even on the one wet day. And the riding was as good as it gets on the right sort of roads – “motorcycling ones” – full of twists and turns with spectacular scenery.

The Moto Club Indianos has definitely put the Colombres event back where it belongs, as one of the premier events on the international calendar. And that is the way they intend to keep it. A classic event for classic bikes, which should see the older machines return once again to add to the positive, friendly atmosphere!

If this sounds like your kind of event then take a look at their website for details of the 2016 event.

If October is too late and you fancy some sun earlier in the year get on Google and you will find many more events not only in Spain, but right across Europe. France hosts many throughout the year, while Belgium and Germany also have various types and cater for a wide range of machine ages. Depending on how much time you have available, the length of events can range from single day outings  through to full-on weeks, like the Colombres event.

For those of you that want to do your own thing, there are many ex-pats offering accommodation and individual guided tours in the small ads at the back of the many classic bike magazines. So there really is no excuse for not using your classic bike for the main purpose it was created – riding on the open road! Not collecting dust as an appreciating investment!

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