I was racking my brains wondering where to go for an alternative holiday this summer (June'01) when I came across the Motoaventures website ( ) and thought 'Greenlaning in Andorra - thats for me'.

So I booked up for the 5days/6nights package for £695 - this includes bike hire, hotel, all meals - infact everything except the flight and beer money. I decided not to fly with any of the well known 'budget airlines' because of their poor reputations, though I could have flown return to Barcelona for only £90 - instead I flew Iberia Airways for £160.

Unfortunately there was a 2 hour delay with this flight causing me to miss my connecting coach to Andorra - never mind, a quick phonecall to Motoaventures' Su got me booked onto the next one though I didn't arrive at the 3 star Hotel Coma (yes Coma !) in Ordina until after 11pm.

First day had us getting kitted up and introduced to our bikes -HondaXR400's - solid, reliable workhorses. Jon took this oppotunity to tell us any breakages to plastics, handlebars and levers would have to be paid for ... hmm !

We set off, uncharacteristically it was pouring it down, we headed off south through the capital Andorra la Vella then on towards Bixessarri and Canolich, the weather didn't matter - this was great fun - the pace was much faster than I expected. It was slippery and tricky and apart from a couple of minor 'offs' we got back in one piece.

The next day we awoke to glorious sunshine - superb, this is what we wanted. We headed south again this time led by trainee guide Peter, we crossed over the border into Spain and turned left just before La Farga de Moles and headed straight up into the mountains on the familar zig-zag gravel tracks that are characteristic of the region, but we had a problem - Peters GPS unit had run out of batteries and our route was programmed into it, so a quick phonecall to Su had another set heading our way, a minor hiccup but we went on to have arguably our best day, climbing onwards and upwards to the top of the mountain Pic Negre at 2660 metres - thats three times higher than the highest Lake District peaks !

Lunch was usually at a secluded mountain top restaurant - all prebooked, and if you like your steaks large then you'll like these. We generally ate around 1.30pm and it was usually a good one and half hours later that we hit the trails again arriving back at base at 6.30 ish. On the way back I noticed my front brakes had developed a distinct 'screeching' noise. I mentioned this to Jon hoping it would be sorted the next day ...

Tuesday came, another glorious day (as was the rest of the week), we headed beyond Bixessarri again - the brakes were still screeching, I wasn't happy - they were snatching as I braked into the corners causing the front end to 'lock-up', then .. Smash !! I'd hit the deck - badly bruising my elbow. I got back on the bike and continued to the next corner. Smash !! Same again .. the other elbow this time. I complained to our guide and it was decided I'd swap bikes with Annie - a veteran rider who has rode the Tunisian Rally and others, she's one of these speed merchants who rarely needs to touch the brakes! Suffice to say I made sure Jon fitted new brake pads for the next day.

Wednesday saw us heading west on an old smugglers route - even today the police have a checkpoint high in the mountains to stop contraband crossing the border. These routes can be particularly dangerous - trecherous hairpin bends suddenly confront you when travelling at speed .. misjudge one of these and its a long way down!

The rest of the week was more of the same, new trails, new mountains and a different restaurant for the lunch breaks. The pace always being fast and furious. The XR400's took a real thrashing - Jon didn't complain, infact he positvely encouraged the fast pace - and they were all his bikes, one evening he replaced 5 rear wheel bearings. On Thursday we even included some white water rafting at Llavorsi by way of a change (for an extra £15) and one evening some of us caught a taxi into Andorra la Vella for a bit of tax-free shopping, the main street has a dozen motorcycle accessory shops - heaven!

Friday soon came and it was time to catch the coach back to Barcelona for the return flight to Blighty, an excellent time was had by all of us (there was about 12 of us split into 2 groups). The pace was fast but I am now definitely a better rider for it, but it was good to get out trailriding while back home we are all stricken by foot & mouth.

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