Last Saturday I was invited to join Gran Tourismo Spain who provide scooter tours in Almería – an experience I can highly recommend – it was a great day out!
Arriving in the morning I was met by Ian, who is a very affable chap, at a local bar and guided to his house a couple of minutes away. There I was welcomed with a cup of tea, and introduced to the scooter as well as the guys I’d be tagging along with that day. Neil, Jason and Pete are members of the 60’s Scooter Club based in Woking, Surrey and all obviously experienced riders. This was their second visit to Gran Tourismo Spain.
It’s quite some time since I’ve been on two wheels so I thought it best to point this out to Ian. Back in the day I used to scream around like a madman on and off road – but I was feeling rusty and thought it best to point this out. Ian reassured me that I’d be fine and subsequently paced the ride accordingly whilst I got my confidence back. I made the mistake (I should have known better) of mentioning that I was more of a motorcycle guy, which obviously set me up for a bit of ribbing from the boys throughout the day. Whilst out on the ride I did make what I felt were a couple of mistakes, but found the Scomardi 125 scooters that make up the fleet very forgiving; they were very easy to ride and easily manageable for anyone with at least some experience of riding on two wheels.
The ride itself was great; funnily enough the route planned that day was out to my home town of Vélez-Blanco! Ian has carefully planned his routes to take in the scenery from quiet and well maintained back road that are used rarely even by locals. Always having my destination in mind we travelled on roads only a few kilometres away from where I live that I hadn’t yet discovered. My confidence on the scooter grew as we twisted and turned through roads winding through the mountains. Experiencing the landscape on two wheels is quite a different experience from driving, you definitely feel more ‘connected’ than when travelling by car. Anyone who’s ever ridden a scooter or motorcycle will know exactly what I mean by that…
The tours are interspersed by various coffee and lunch stops throughout the day – and in this particular instance, much laddish banter! The group that very kindly allowed me to tag on to their holiday for the day were a ‘good bunch of lads’, and their company very much added to the experience. (I still have my notes, so expect the blackmail demands in the post Pete, Jason and Neil) :)
If there’s ever the perfect example of how moving overseas presents a great opportunity to turn a hobby into a business, Gran Tourismo Spain is a shining example. The business was set-up just over a year ago up by lifelong scooter enthusiast Ian Duncason and his wife Sue. Back in the UK Ian was a career soldier who had also owned a taxi company for a few years before moving to Spain, and Sue is a former teacher.
Ian and Sue have two Mod/scooter themed apartments available and can cater up to parties of 5 for three or six day guided riding tours and they also offer guided day trips. Whilst perfect for scooter club members and experienced scooter riders, from my experience I think anyone with some experience on two wheels and a wish to get off the beaten track and see the unique landscape of Almería that so many tourists miss would very much enjoy the guided tours. I did.
To ride the scooters you must be over 26 and have held a full UK licence for more than three years.