We never intended to ride the Trans Euro Train in Spain. Our original plan was to travel mostly pavement, visiting each of the virtual push-pins from our online map of places we wanted to see in Spain. The region of Murcia had a few museums that we wanted to experience in Cartagena – The Roman Theatre and the National Museum of Underwater Archaeology.
Change is the only constant in life.~Heraclitus
So on March 14th, we arranged an Airbnb that was in the countryside but provided a short ride to Cartagena where we could enjoy the city’s restaurants, beaches, and museums. Unfortunately the world pandemic known as COVID-19 had vastly different plans for us and the thousands of full-time motorcycle travelers throughout the world.
Spain was especially hit hard by the pandemic. On March 14th, the prime minister declared a country-wide state of alarm which put most of Spain under a strict lock-down quarantine. It wasn’t until after 56 days, that most of Spain had contained the infection rate enough to start the deescalation phases. Phase I, which started on May 11th, brought the hope that we could once again start traveling again – even if it was restricted to the relatively small region of Murcia.
Trans Euro Trail
The Trans Euro Trail (TET) is a system of off-road oriented trails that travel through 33 European counties and total over 31,700 miles (51,000 km). “Linemen” from each country are designated to provide regular updates to the trail and GPX route which can be downloaded for free at https://transeurotrail.org/
Since travel was limited to providences, we were only allowed to enjoy a 119 mile (192 km) section of the TET that travels within the region of Murcia.
The TET route snaking through the north of Murcia
After 56 days of lockdown, we were incredibly excited to be on our BMW G650GS motorcycles and riding together once again. We packed the minimal: camera equipment, 5 liters of water, a spare tube and pump, and a lunch with a small thermos so we could enjoy a cold Pepsi halfway through the trail.
A short hour of riding on the Autovia brought us to the north of the region.
This is wine country with beautiful vineyards being tended to by local farmers.
The last bit of pavement before reaching the trailhead
Getting some dirt under the tires
Running the 50/50 branded Heidenau K60 Scout tires
Our two mules, both BMW G650GSs, enjoying a break
We didn’t know what to expect when we reached the TET. A year ago, we had ridden the TET in the Netherland and Belgium and each of these counties seemed to have their own surprising challenges. Although the Netherlands was relatively flat, there was a long section of deep sand that made travel difficult on moderate weight motorcycles with luggage. In Belgium, it was the mud. A recent rain had turned much of the route into a muddy mess that created it own unique slippery challenges.
What we found on this Spanish portion of the TET was relatively easy traveling with wide gravel and dirt roads. There were some short sections which turned into single tracks and one section with a water crossing followed by a steep climb. Although the trails weren’t too challenging, they made up for it with pure natural beauty. I found myself reminiscing; the smells, temperature, and terrain brought back summer memories of growing up in the mountains of northern Colorado.
Spring flowers along the trail
Amazing valley views would spring from between pine trees
Taking in the wonderful countyside of Murcia
Natural beauty from horizon to horizon
Abandoned homes seemed all to common along this portion of the TET. Spain was especially hit hard by the global finacial crisisof 2008–2014. Nearly one in four Spanish citizens were unemployed in 2012 which forced many property and farm forecloses.
Homes being taken back by time and nature
Enjoying the open road and moderate temperatures of late May
Life is good
The mules grazing while we enjoyed our packed lunch
I was surprised at how little of the TET route was paved. We would only occasionally ride on some pavement for a few kilometers before jointing dirt and gravel roads once again.
Watch for cows!
Riding over stone bridges
Taking a short break from filming
Open roads that were nearly all to ourselves
During the entire time we’re on the trail we didn’t see another motorcyclist or vehicle. We only ran across farmers, working the vineyards, and two hikers. As we passed the hikers, I though I heard one of them speak in English, which surprised me because English is not commonly spoken in these rural regions of Spain. A little further down the trail, and during a steep decent, Chantil dropped her mule. As I returned to help her pick it up, the hikers ran down to help and asked “Are you OK?” in perfect English. It turns out that one of them was from Miami and noticed our Florida plates as we passed by! We talked for a little while and they seemed impressed with our travels enough to say “These motorcycle came all the way from the USA? You two are crazy!” It’s a small, and crazy, world sometimes.
Overall, we had a great time on the entire Murcia portion of the TET and I would easily recommend this portion of the route to anyone riding any type of adventure motorcycle. You defiantly don’t need a lightweight dirt bike to enjoy the wide roads and beautiful views of this portion of the Spanish TET. Thanks to the lineman, Fernando Gost Bellver, for mapping and sharing this route with the motorcycle community.
Caravaca de la Cruz, Spain
As a bonus, we had the chance to park our mules, change into some tourist clothes, and enjoy the charming and historic town of Caravaca de la Cruz.
Caravaca is the fifth Holy City of Catholic Christianity; a title it shares with Rome, Jerusalem, Santiago de Compostela and Camaleñ. The town is dominated by the Roman Catholic Santuario de la Vera Cruz (Sanctuary of True Cross). This Catholic sanctuary houses a miraculous cross that Catholics believe came from the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified.
This town dates back to the Middle Ages so many of the streets are steep and extremely narrow with buildings aligned at various angles.
A tight fit – even for our medium sized motorcyles
Exploring the quite streets by foot during siesta
Stray cats roam the streets; kept fed by grannies in nearby flats
Sometimes you have to get off the motorcycle to experience the culture of a region. We wished that we could have explored and learned more about Caravaca, however our experience was limited to walking the streets since all the tourist sites were closed due to COVID-19.
More Travel on the Horizon
Although we were limited to the region of Murcia for this trip, it made us think about the possibility of trying to experience more of the TET throughout Spain. If all goes as expected we will be able to leave this region and continue traveling after the state of alarm ends on June 21st. We’ve already started planning to ride some portions of the TET in Southern Spain. More to come…