Club Indianos Rally.

An excellent report from John Goddall of the exploits of our International Touring Trio (AKA Pat Robotham, Shelley Robotham  and John Goodall.)  The event took place at Colombres in Spain from October 8th to 15th. 2017.

Pat and Shelley Robotham  and I decided some months back that we would repeat our visit of 2010 to this lovely part of Northern Spain and we would take two bikes in my Renault Trafic van enabling us to take all necessary luggage and get the bikes home in the event of problems. The ferry crossing is a 24 hour overnight voyage with a cabin provided on the excellent Brittany Ferries boats with discounted fares if you are on the Rally. The travel side sorted we came to booking accommodation and our first choice was the Mirador De La Franca which is on the coast with a lovely secluded bay and beach situated in a cul-de-sac, so having good security for the bikes. This was full so we elected for the Hotel Canal in Unquera which turned out to be a better option for us because there was a choice of several restaurants nearby within a few minutes walk, giving much more choice for meals and the ability to sample local cuisine.

We loaded the van with my 1930 Velocette KTT and Pat’s 1959 VH Ariel 500cc, plus the luggage and riding gear and departed for Portsmouth on the 8th of October and had a good journey down to Portsmouth and an excellent voyage out to Santander with the Bay of Biscay flat calm. I put Pat on the van insurance so we could share the driving which worked well, thanks Pat. I will at this point add my thanks to both Pat and Shelley for their company and help during the week, which was very much appreciated and what this club is all about.

The small town of Unquera is roughly 70 kilometeres from Santander and we reached it in convoy with other Rally participants reminiscent of trips to the IOM. We booked into our Hotel which is clean and comfortable although they no longer provide main meals and just a basic continental style breakfast. After Breakfast on the Sunday morning we went across the river to Bustio and up the Hill towards Colombres about a mile distant to the Town Square. This hill forms the route of the challenging Bustio Hill Climb. I entered this in 2010 and intended riding again this year, but both bike and rider seemed to have forgotten their age??

We signed on half way up the Bustio Hill where there is a joiner’s workshop facility which was used as the Rally Office. We had to pay our Hotel bill at this time, with no Euros left I hoped the cash card would work later? We were given our free "T" Shirts, rally route sheets and itinerary for the week’s events. The Hill climb was planned for the last Saturday and a new Motocross event was to be held on the Sunday on a new circuit a ten minute walk from the town square. An Auto-jumble is held over the Saturday and Sunday in the Sports hall with a very definite Spanish content, so unless you are into Bultacos, Montessas, Sanglas, Lube (NSU) and Puch etc., not much to spend your Euros on. One importer had a new Indian Enfield electric start on his stall however.

An interesting paddock starter powered by an angle grinder.

The first days riding was of 127 miles on the El Chivo route rising up to 2000 metres above sea level. The roads are invariably well surfaced much better than the UK with a few exceptions which can catch you out if you do not concentrate fully. Being a mountainous region of “The Picos de Europe” you must expect curve after curve with bend after bend, which is why I chose to ride my Velocette as it is light and nimble, but does require a deft “kick start” as it is on fixed ignition from its racing heritage. I was hoping my dodgy “Velocette knee” would hold up over the week which it just about did with the help of vino tinto and paracetamol!! From the highest Peak at Lago Ercina where lunch was provided, you could see the distant Atlantic Ocean. A lovely ride with spectacular vistas, but I was told my exhaust was smokey on the way back to base?

Pilot and passenger admire the views alongside the Ariel.

On Tuesday a coastal route was planned of 108 miles out to the Lastres Lighthouse and I followed Pat and Shelley from now on as the route sheets were too cumbersome for my route holder. The scenery was lovely and the riding very enjoyable, but the KTT exhaust seemed to be smoking a little more?? Checking the oil tank later in the day it needed two pints to top up, excessive to say the least. I concluded a possible broken ring or an oil pump problem as I had the head off over winter when the bike was stripped to repair the frame with Pat’s help. Anyhow nothing I could repair effectively out here, so I decided to ride on with care.

Lastres Lighthouse.

The Wednesday and Thursday routes were reversed as access to the lakes route on Thursday would be closed. This proved an eventful day as we hit some cattle running up the very steep hill with cattle “exhaust” everywhere and after roadworks had caused severe bunching of bikes chaos ensued. It was also very hot I think 30ºC, so the KTT was smoking so badly I could not see much behind me. Bikes were stalling, clutches over heating and a few engines like mine not enjoying it much at all, never mind the rider! We got to the lunch stop by the lakes on a narrow road in and out again which was over crowded and tempers frayed among the many visitors and riders trying to access the small park. The Thursday was a Public Holiday which added well over 100 to rally numbers and so the planned visit to a Franciscan Monastery at Camelano close to Potes was also teeming with Spanish traffic and Rally traffic, which again did not sit well together. Up to this point I was riding the oldest bike in the event and it needs constant “Air Cooling”. All the running in traffic was taking its toll on engine and rider temperatures? Modern bikes especially liquid cooled, coped much better than my outdated combination.

Up hill from Bustio.  The hill climb finishes here.  The bikes  are seen here parked before the Thursday run. 

The Friday route was 150 miles and I decided to have a quiet day running up to the La Parra hotel where the owner is chief organiser and has a Bike Museum is in the basement and knowing a few “problemeers” would also be there as workshop facilities are provided to allow work on bikes and oil is available. I topped up with 20/50 multigrade as there was no alternative. I had a coffee and then did a tour up the coast and at my usual cruising speed the bike went well without too much smoking. Pat was having trouble starting his bike and decided to join me on the Saturday and not go too far, as his back was aching from trying to start the bike. We did some local mileage with a coffee at the Para Hotel and then rode back to the Town Square parked up and watched the hill climb after a brief look at the Bike Jumble. No vintage bikes took part this year and most were Spanish two strokes. There was a standout well ridden Spanish Manx Norton and a few Ducatis also impressed me, but then I am biased.


Photographs of some of the machines in the La Parra hotel basement museum.

Sunday was another lazy day and we watched the Motocross before the final free Paella lunch in the Town Square and so that basically ended about 760 miles of planned and very enjoyable riding. I myself managed just over 500, deciding to get the bike home in one piece rather than wreck it, or myself when doing the Hill Climb. A winter engine rebuild is now planned. The Monday ferry return trip was rough in the aftermath of the recent storm which also delayed us, but the event was well worth the effort with new friends and new memories of the nicest and most verdant part of Spain for riding two wheelers. It is also very good value for money, you should try it.  John Goodall.

Some more photographs below from Pat Robotham.

On the road  palombres pass
         On the road - chasing shadows.                                                  Palombres pass - 1260 meters above sea level.

fuente del chivo  jawa
                         Fuente del Chivo                                                       An interesting Jawa with an unusual exhaust end.

                                        Lunch stop at Mirador san Miguel                                                              A stop to fix a light.

Colombres 2017 Sequel

I stripped the 1930 KTT Velocette engine recently and found a worn exhaust valve and guide plus worn cylinder bore and was about to remove the oil pump when on turning the crank case timing side over, was surprised to hear the bearing outer sleeve fall out?? On closer inspection you can just see the crack starting from the bearing housing through a previous repair (which looks like a hole drilled to remove the oil pump by some idiot, it should come out by heating the case) and on through one of the pump fixing holes and continuing further. The bearing sleeve outer diameter is not polished much, so it must have recently happened, probably in Spain. I do not think a weld repair will be the way to go, because castings from this period almost ninety years old tend to have porosity and oil will have migrated into these pores, ruining any weld integrity. So failing finding another timing case half (very few about??) I need a method of mechanically devising a strap to bridge the crack and hold it all together and let into a machined recess forming a new back for the oil pump housing. Has anyone got any other bright ideas along these lines? Regards, John Goodall