Monday, 28 February 2011

Spain slows down

Just days after the new regional government of Catalonia announced that it was scrapping the previous administration's "variable speed" measure, which effectively limited speed on motorways in a 20 km radius around Barcelona to 80 kph (but could bring it down to as low as 20 kph if deemed necessary...), at the end of last week the central Spanish government announced that it was going to impose a blanket speed limit of 110 kph on all motorways and dual carriageways as of 7th March.

This sign now belongs to the past...

The reasons given by the government are the bid to carry out large-scale fuel savings and concerns about fuel supply in view of the political and social unrest in the Arab world. On examination both reasons seem rather laughable. First of all, modern cars (and motorbikes, for that matter) don't burn that much fuel when they're cruising along at 120 kph in top gear, which means that the supposed fuel savings obtained by dropping the speed to 110 kph (68 mph) are so slight that they won't make much difference in the medium term, which is how most government plans work.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Spring is in the air

At the moment, my professional life is a whirl. Hardly did I return from my skiing holiday that I was snowed under with work, which seems to be par for the course for me. And today, although I had a substantial workload to deal with, I decided to take the old girl out for a spin and actually have a normal Sunday: i.e. not working.

I chose my destination very much at the last moment, and decided to go down to the "Mas del Plata" residential estate, which is some 40 kilometres or so inland from Tarragona. My aim wasn't to go house hunting, but instead to visit a landmark that has made this estate famous the world over for Anime fans: a 15 metre high resin and fibreglass statue of Mazinger Z (for those of you who are unfamiliar with Japanese anime series of the Seventies, read this and all will be explained: - ed.). When I set out from home, the weather didn't look very promising, but by the time I peeled off the motorway at El Vendrell, there was hardly a grey cloud in the sky, and there was a promise of a fine day.

As I took to the back roads towards my destination, I remembered that I would be passing not far away from another curious landmark: the Sanctuary of Montferri, a small chapel built just before the Spanish Civil War and aimed to celebrate two of Catalonia's great treasures: the mountain of Montserrat and the architect Antoni Gaudí. So I took to an even smaller back road and finally arrived in the car park, to find myself surrounded by coach loads of OAPs.

I had to scare the blue-rinse brigade away for this one!
Photograph: © The Thruxtonian/Marc Michon, Feb. 2011

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Triumph Thruxton "Transformer"

I have often heard that a Triumph Thruxton is only good for showing off on a sunny day in front of one's favourite bar. Rubbish! I find that it makes a pretty good bike for solo touring!

Before: Café Tourer. Pipe and slippers under the seat...
Photograph © The Thruxtonian/Marc Michon, Feb. 2011

After: Café Racer. Ready to Race to the Ace!
Photograph © The Thruxtonian/Marc Michon, Feb. 2011

By the way, if you want to know where the parcel rack comes from, it's a home-made (not by me, I should add) item that used to be a bar stool in a previous life - I kid you not!