“Castles and Mountains Tour” Don´t tell me it doesn´t sound simply amazing. We could get quite geeky about it by saying this tour is an absolute space – time travel. But I would rather focus on the personal side and let you discover the rest if you haven’t already.
Travelling has always been a part of me. Ever since I was born I´ve been lucky enough to be surprised by the unknown (whether it is people, places, experiences or even a conversation) and truly feel alive. Nowadays I could easily say I´m addicted to it!
Surely one can imagine how thrilled I was when assigned on my first tour as a guide! What a great opportunity to escape my comfort zone and improve in various personal and professional aspects. It was definitely something I sought after since day one at IMTBIKE. It was actually the best tour choice also.
The route begins right in the outskirts of Madrid on roads I know very well. I call it my backyard as I virtually live there. In fact I can easily point out where temperatures fall or even where a beautiful spring flower scent is awaiting for us to pass. On a more exciting note, a very similar route was my first motorbike trip many years ago with my father. So needless to say I was eager to share what was soon to be an awesome trip full of excitement.
It all began on arrival day. Sergi was now not only my work colleague but my teacher. He had run through all the tour bikes I had been preparing weeks in advance to make sure they were in mint condition. Same would apply to the support van and here is where I really understood to what extent detail was of essence in our tours. These checks were run on a constant basis through every aspect of the tour. And despite the very hard work, it gave me a sense of security that was more than worthwhile. Work didn´t just end on arrival to our destination. We were always a few steps ahead. Every day and every hour we were checking maps, calling hotels and restaurants and making sure everything would go as planned.
Now here is where I share a secret. The tour had not yet begun and it was my turn to go and pick-up Steve and Shelley from the airport. I had done this journey 100 times before. In fact I worked pretty near there for a year. Yet this time of course, I got lost! I decided to follow the GPS instead of taking the usual route and this took me right through the center of Madrid. It certainly served me as a reminder for the rest of the tour. I had to be confident at all times and always have a paper map with me!
Arriving at the airport I hadn’t considered that our van might not make it under the usual parking lot roof. I was in dire need of goggles by then due to the sweat pouring down my forehead. Luckily though I had left home with plenty of time and got there just in time to meet a beautiful couple from Florida. I can guarantee no more surprises occurred during this tour!
It has been a few months now yet I still remember perfectly introducing ourselves and wondering what everyone was thinking. Some were very brief with their introductory speech and others such as Kenny came out as very talkative and lovely person who shared several funny anecdotes about his off-road motorcycling experience. Definitely that helped break the ice a little. A nice briefing on our tour took place and it was all just a matter of time to get going!
Each day gave Sergi and me moments in which we could get to know everyone more in depth. For instance, I can thank a pretty cold mountain pass for giving me the opportunity to chat with a few tour members I hadn’t yet spoken too. Hobbies and music tunes on the mp3 player started a very fluid conversation. There were other days in which opportunities were created. We were very happy when Dave approached us to share his perception on the tour and our effort. Comments such as those he made may seem easy and free yet are worth tons to us.
It´s fun to look back at pictures taken on the first day and compare them to day 7. I could easily write a few chapters and describe the several great moments. But surely a few pictures can give a sense of what this trip had become to all of us.