How many times have you read motorcycle or other types of adventure books where the writer started with; I needed to escape from etc etc, I needed space to be myself etc etc, I needed to see the world etc etc, I needed to get out of the rat race etc etc, I needed adventure in my life etc etc. An awful lot of adventure books start with these sentences and it is quite traditional to justify trips based on this stuff. However, what if you didn’t have any of these reasons to just pick up and go, everything in life is ‘just fine, enjoyable and no complaints etc’? What if the adventure was more focused on the bike and also not actually completed in one go? What if it is done on a bike that was designed to take on the most extreme trials. A bike which can go anywhere and to places a BMW GS wouldn’t and couldn’t go. A bike which has some long distance limitations. A bike which is reliable, but its vintage doesn’t guarantee it, and a route which might not be wholly compliant with the trails used or the off-road regulations of the modern world. Overlay on to top of this lot, and based on the forecast being ‘good weather’ and not ’wet and windy’, everything needs to fit inside the ultimate back pack, the Swiss Army rucksack. This rucksack I’m using is a design classic and is from the early 1980s, just like the Bultaco Sherpa.
So what’s behind the name, Tour de Bultaco? Just like the Tour de France, it’s a stage adventure with small stages in different places, maybe different countries, involving different weather, and if the situation arises where this Bultaco needs to go to the doctors to be fixed, there’s another one sitting on the substitute’s bench to take over, although it is red and a 350 Sherpa, but still a Bultaco, so it fits the title of the adventure.
If you’re a well structured sort of person, you would be asking me something like, “what are the expected outcomes of the stages?” or “have you completely thought this through?”. I am a (fairly) structured person and I’m going to try not to ask myself these questions, but there are some real journey criteria that will guide me, limit me, and give me flexibility, which are: the bike used must always be a Bultaco; there must be minimal road riding, so 90% off-road: stages must be a minimum of 2 days, so an over-night (or not) stop is required: other people on their Bultaco’s can join in, but the total bikes in the group cannot exceed 3 at any one time; The bikes need to be mostly together physically, although a simultaeneus and parallel ride by some of the group in another continent with regular connection via FaceTime or Skype might be doable in these modern times. Most importantly, fine food and drink stops must feature heavily in the journey, and with a soundtrack where possible. Apart from that lot, anything goes.
So, welcome to Part 1, Stage 1. I have no clue how many stages that there will be, or when they will take place, so this introduction to the journey and the Tour de Bultaco is of ‘the vague news’ type, which means; something might happen, sometime, with some people, somewhere. I appreciate that this sounds a bit like that UK Government’s approach to Brexit, so I’m hoping this tour is a lot more enjoyable and my bank balance doesn’t lose value like the British Pound is/has etc.
In case you are mildly interested, this Bultaco is a 1981 250, and was one of the last batches to be shipped from the Catalan factory before it closed its doors and the production lines went silent. Apparently, the last batches of bikes that left the factory had a right mix of parts on them. This bike is original and was delivered to a dealer in France for re-sale. Those of you that know what a white framed 198 model should look like will have spotted this one wearing an older model seat and fibreglass fuel tank. Technically these two are wrong for the period, but when you need to ship bikes out, anything can get bolted on, and this one is how it left the factory, which makes it special in my mind as it is unusual, and I like unusual. Like all Bultaco motos, this one has ‘soul baby’.
So, let me manage your expectations here. Unlike a book with thought through chapters, I haven’t got a clue when the complete Tour de Bultaco journey will be done, which could take years or as long as I’m still able to kick start it.
So here’s the scene setter: stage 1 starts on an August summers day in Switzerland, the weather is good, the bag is packed, the bike is kick-started and……………………………..I’ll report back after Stage 1 is complete, some day, about some stuff etc etc…….
All photos by the Author