Let’s not meet in a dark alley

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Trip Summary

Name: Cheesy Rider
Destination: Faro Rally, Portugal
Distance: 2,550 kms (1,593 miles)
Vehicle: Chopped Honda C90

Trip Diary

Pass the angle grinder
When all is lost, turn to Jesus
Let’s not meet in a dark alley
In the shadow of death
Seize the day, not the engine

Let’s not meet in a dark alley

You get the chance to see a lot of scenery at 50 kmh. Portugal had it by the bucket load. Occasionally on a long open stretch we wished the bikes had 3 more gears and 150 more horsepower but somehow there was something very soothing knowing that we couldn’t get done for speeding no matter how hard we tried. Only fleeting glances to check the fork welds detracted from the feeling of total well-being.

In the wilderness of Portuguese national parks we were free to ride as we pleased. The hustle and bustle of normal life was left behind. The traffic dwindled to nothing and the roads turned to tracks. Off-roading on an 8ft long moped with no front suspension is not recommended for contact lens wearers or those that wish to father children.

The vibration through the handlebars was enough to make our hands go numb and nuts and bolts were coming loose at an alarming rate. Fortunately this only affected non- essential items like wheel spindles and exhaust mountings.

Up ahead we saw billowing clouds of grey smoke. Convinced that one of the bikes had finally seized we raced on to catch up and almost ploughed into a forest fire. After some frantic back-peddling we retreated and went another route. The forest fires turned out to be widespread and planes circled overhead dumping tonnes of water to dampen down the flames. At least the smell of burning wood from the trees temporarily masked the smell of burning oil from our bikes. We pressed on and began the long meander down towards the Algarve and our ultimate destination, the Moto Faro Rally.

A meeting point with plenty of escape routes

Six weeks before the trip an email had been sent to our website. “This is Moto Clube Faro – we are interested in your trip – we would like to meet.” After the initial excitement it dawned on us that perhaps on the other end of the email were ten massive chain-wielding bikers who had taken exception to our blatant piss-taking attempt to gatecrash their party. The Moto Faro Rally is Europe’s biggest biker festival.

It transpired that one of the high-ranking member so their club was an ex-pat living in Portugal and was visiting England to see family. We were reassured when he mentioned family as this meant that he hadn’t previously killed them and fled the country. After agreeing a meeting point with plenty of escape routes, “Stan the Man” appeared.

With goatee beard, cut off denim and wall to wall tattoos, he certainly looked the part. The broken wrist he was sporting was due to a bike crash two weeks earlier. After tea and biscuits it soon became clear that the Moto Clube Faro had a sense of humour. They were looking forward to our arrival and had a few plans up their sleeve. Quite what, we didn’t know yet. The Club he assured us, would welcome us with open arms.

< Part 1 When all is lost, turn to Jesus

> Part 3 In the shadow of death