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  #1  
Old 5 Mar 2013
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Spanish Civil War Tour, September 8th -12th, 2013

Hi,

I'm organising a five day tour of some of the key sites in Aragon and Catalonia. The tour is based around two camp sites and is for a maximum of twelve bikes/riders. There are no fees but I'm writing a handbook of the War to aid people on tours such as this one. If riders want a pre-publication copy please would they cover the cost of printing these.

We start in the central Pyrenees border crossing that was used by refugees and the resistance during and after the Civil war and by allied airmen crossing into neutral Spain during WW2.



Day 2 is focussed on a little known battleground, the Battle of the Segre, with the object of getting aquainted with the conditions of history of this complicated conflict, also looking at some of the technical details: at the first camp site I'll have reference books detailing the military hardware used by both sides and we'll be able to look at restored battle sites to see how the forces were deployed. We'll also visit abandoned towns and villages with a view to understanding some of the economic and social conditions that, according to some historians, are the key to understanding why the conflict happened.



Day 3 takes a long sweep over the Aragon front, including visiting the trenches where George Orwell served in the Republican army - the inspiration for the film, 'Land and Freedom' - and the totally devastated town of Belchite, which has been left as a permanent reminder/monument to the conflict. This is a long hard ride and takes us from the Pyrenean camp site to a lovely site located in the Priorat wine region - not that this is important at all - via the amazing Los Monegros desert:



BTW: the mysterious dark stranger in this image is none other than our very own Barcelona Pat, adventure hero extraordinaire and dedicated fundraiser for UNICEF

Days 4 concentrates on the Battle of the Ebro - the SCW's equivalent to the Somme.

Day 5 is optional with two possibilities: a second day visiting lesser known and inaccessible site on the Ebro battlefield with me as the guide; or riders can depart the group and can join a guided tour of Barcelona's wartime experiences. These tours are run by my good friend and sometimes collaborator, Nick Lloyd. As such this part of the tour is independent of my input. Nick is a professional guide and fees apply to his input.

The tour is on road except for short stretches of well maintained gravel roads that access specific sites - plus the odd short cut But the Day 5 option in the Ebro is trail orientated.

Anyone interested can contact me by PM or take a look at my blog for more details.

Regs

Simon
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Last edited by TheSpanishBiker; 13 Mar 2013 at 18:39.
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Old 5 Mar 2013
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Looks good mate. Who knows if I'll be around (I don't ) but you sure are covering some pretty impressive countryside.

Catch up soon
Pat
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Old 9 Mar 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barcelona Pat View Post
Looks good mate. Who knows if I'll be around (I don't ) but you sure are covering some pretty impressive countryside.

Catch up soon
Pat
Thanks Pat,

I'm sure we can meet some time a do a recce ourselves there!

Meanwhile I'm doing a lot of riding and research for my Spanish Civil War tour in July. Tomorrow I'm spending the day around the Ebro battleground where I've discovered almost literally hundreds of sites to visit - a 600 kms itinerary just on trails!

Meanwhile, an image from last year's HISS rally in the Pyrenees, where the tour will start:



The mountain that appears in between the mirrors on my bike is called 'Sant Corneli' (Cornelius) and was the scene of one of the most bloody battles of the war.

Here's an eye witness report that appeared in the La Vanguardia newspaper a few years ago:

“...El principal obstáculo lo constituía la montaña de San Cornelio, en las estribaciones de la Serra de Carreu (Pallars Jussà), punto clave para el dominio de la extensa Conca de Tremp. Y allí durante tres días y sus noches, tuvieron lugar combates de los más sangrientos de la guerra en Cataluña, por el gran número de muertos y heridos habidos en tan poco tiempo, quedando materialmente deshecha la unidad republicana (4° Batallón de la 134 Brigada Mixta) formada en su mayor parte por bisoños jóvenes catalanes del reemplazo de 1940, que intentó en vano una y otra vez conquistar la fortificada y bien guarnecida cima.”

My Translation:

“...The mountain of San Cornelio, was the main obstacle in the foothills to the Serra de Carreu (Pallars Jussà) - that's the spiky bit to the left of the photo - , (a) key point for the domain of the extensive Conca de Tremp. And there during three days and nights, they held bouts of the bloodiest (fighting) of the war in Catalonia, for the large number of deaths and injuries incurred in such a short time, being materially undone (weak, short of munitions, etc.) (the) Republican unit (4 ° 134 mixed Brigade battalion) formed predominantly by novice reserves from the Catalan youth (not scheduled to be conscripted until the 1940 intake), tried in vain to reconquer the fortified and well supplied peak."

It got much worse than this - Franco's Moorish troops, feared and loathed for their brutality, neither took nor gave quarter. After the war bodies were found at the bottom of the cliffs you can see on the south face of the mountaintop - similar to the rest of the sierra - the interpretation was that injured of captured troops were simply thrown over the cliff edge

Link to photo
You can't ride a bike there - perhaps that's a good thing - but as you can see the 'memorial' cross, usually in Spain to praise the victors at the expense of the vanquished, has been left to its fate.

Regs

Simon
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Old 9 Mar 2013
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Clash of dates

I like the theme and the effort you are putting into the tour, but the dates suck, as the Americans tend to say.
Right around that time there are:-

1. the BMW Motorrad weekend in Garmisch Partenkischen which pulls in 1000s of riders from just about everywhere.

2. The Stella Alpina sunday ride which has run for the past 40+ years and is always on the second Sunday in July. Again, loads of riders from all over Europe turn out for this.

Just letting you know for future reference.
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Old 11 Mar 2013
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Originally Posted by Walkabout View Post
I like the theme and the effort you are putting into the tour, but the dates suck, as the Americans tend to say.
Right around that time there are:-

1. the BMW Motorrad weekend in Garmisch Partenkischen which pulls in 1000s of riders from just about everywhere.

2. The Stella Alpina sunday ride which has run for the past 40+ years and is always on the second Sunday in July. Again, loads of riders from all over Europe turn out for this.

Just letting you know for future reference.
Hi Dave,

Thanks for this - hadn't really taken these bigger events into consideration partly because whatever date you chose there's always something going on - including my own HISS rallies

I take your point but I'm not at all sure that the same folks who go to the Stella would be keen on my little tour - there's also the anniversary of the Ebro Battle on the last weekend of July, when the whole area is full of folks and later in August the camp sites are full.

As it stands the dates are still up for grabs as no-one has made a definite comitment

Meanwhile, I've been plodding around on the terrain finding lots of interesting sites, this was yesterday, March 10th:



The view from fortified positions overlooking the Ebro



One of numerous monuments dotted around the landscape - this one is unusual in that it's post-democracy and honours the dead on both sides.

Regs

Simon
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Old 11 Mar 2013
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While I'm at it, just a couple more from the Pyrenean region:


This Romanesque hermitage became the scene of fierce fighting on Christmas Eve, 1937, when it changed hands several times during the night with terrible loss of life. If you zoom in you'll see that the façade is literally riddled with bullet holes! (hint - first look at the cut stone archway to get your eye in to the damage, then look at how the fire was concentrated on the window above - where there's room for just one or two rifles or perhaps a light machine gun to fire from!)


A Republican bunker - unrestored and ready for action again, perhaps! This is located overlooking one of Motorrad's regular Pyrenean tour routes. From the road it is totally invisible, but from the machine gunner's view inside the bunker the vista is 100% deadly as it s just 50 metres from a 200 metre stretch of road backed by cliffs - if only they knew

Regs

Simon
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Old 13 Mar 2013
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Hi,

I've decided to change the dates for the tour as a) I'm busy doing something else, b) I've found that there's so much material available I need more time to research and c) it'll be too bloomin' hot in July to ride any trails

Regs

Simon
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Old 14 Mar 2013
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Hi Simon, hope you're well! I may well be up for this but won't know for sure till later in the year. Is there a date to be signed up by? Love to Polly! Regards Jim.
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Old 14 Mar 2013
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Hi Jim,

Great to hear from you and better still to know your keen on the tour!

There's no cut off date as I'm not having guides, etc. printed like the HISS, but I'm setting a limit of a dozen bikes as otherwise we could run into legal difficulties as bigger groups need all sorts of permissions, indemnities, etc.

I'm still deciding which forum to use for the mother thread, with up to date attendees, etc. but in any event I'll keep your place pencilled in until you can confirm either way.

The limit is to bikes, so if Tress is riding pillion that's no problem. You both know the Camping Collegats and based on how you liked that I'm certain you'll love the Camping Poboleda

Love to Tress and Tommy

Simon
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Old 14 Mar 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheSpanishBiker View Post
Hi,

I've decided to change the dates for the tour as a) I'm busy doing something else, b) I've found that there's so much material available I need more time to research and c) it'll be too bloomin' hot in July to ride any trails

Regs

Simon
Simon,
I'll take that to mean that the dates are going back, rather than forward, but you have carefully avoided committing to a particular month - do you have one in mind?
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Old 15 Mar 2013
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Simon,
I'll take that to mean that the dates are going back, rather than forward, but you have carefully avoided committing to a particular month - do you have one in mind?
Hi Dave,

Sorry about this - I changed the topic heading but forgot to add the details in my post - silly boy!

So, the new dates are: September 8th to 13th, 2013.

Regs

Simon
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