Desire for freedom

Olympus Digital Camera

I try to ride in the French and Italian Alps every summer, but last year, I can’t say why, the mountains tasted different to me. Well, perhaps it has something to do with the fact that, while contemplating the beautiful landscape, for some reason I went back in time, to eight decades ago

I would dare to say that there is not a single motorcyclist who does not consider the motorcycle a way to feel free. When the hours of confinement weigh heavily, perhaps you get through the day better by remembering that your motorcycle is waiting for you. The motorcycle unites balance, passion and freedom.

The French Alps as a refuge

During last summer’s trip through Europe with Tormenta, my BMW F800 GS, I fell in love – even more so – with the French Alps. I try to ride in the French and Italian Alps every summer, but last year, I can’t say why, the mountains tasted different to me. Well, perhaps it has something to do with the fact that, while contemplating the beautiful landscape, for some reason I went back in time, eight decades ago.

In those same mountains of the French Alps, those retaliated from the Spanish Civil War took refuge. Once the war ended, on April 1, 1939, the republicans and anarchists escaped to France to avoid imprisonment, torture and even execution. The truth is that France was not a guarantee for them, quite the opposite. From Strasbourg prison they were deported to the Nazi concentration camps in Mauthausen  and Gusen, Austria. There, after being used as slaves and enduring torture, they ended up being murdered in the gas chamber with the approval of the Spanish dictator. My grandfather Mariano was one of them. After spending 13 months in the Mauthausen and Gusen concentration camps, he was murdered in the latter at the age of 33, on January 14, 1942. The story is long, so I will limit myself to recounting only the sensations that I perceived when rolling and camping in those beautiful mountains full of human and inhuman stories.

Melting ferodo

I rode along the asphalt of the winding French ports at a light pace, having fun, making curves without stopping and trying to make each line perfect. He had left Italy behind and only a couple of days ago he had changed the rear brake pads and tires. Thanks to my friend Vale, who lives near Imola, I was able to get a set of new brake pads for Tormenta’s rear brake. I left Ourense with new rear brake pads, which didn’t even last 6,000 kilometers. Going through the “tornanti” with the bike loaded, going downhill and at a happy pace is what it has to offer. The driving difference on mountain roads between an R1200 GS (or R1250 GS) and the F800GS is substantial. The big sister’s boxer briefs retain much more so you can reach the curve more comfortably. The new BMW R1250 GS, which I was able to test in Morocco last year for two months, is a motorcycle that makes everything, or almost everything, easy for you. On the other hand, the F800 GS is a motorcycle that requires more sensitivity when riding, which for me translates into fun. Anyway, I admit that I am very easy-going and I have a good time with both of them.

Enjoying loneliness in company

I wanted to watch the sunset from the top of some mountain. There wasn’t much daylight left, so I chose a track, then a path, and another, over a fence, another path, another fence and found myself in a perfect spot to set up the tent and relax taking in the magnificent scenery. The effusive green of the mountains, the streams, the flowers, the snowy mountain that I could see right in front of me, in short, it was a place to let my head free itself from absolutely everything, reflect, clarify ideas, think about the people who We want to give them a sigh, love nature and feel, in my case, the steps of those who one day remained in those mountains to live their last days of freedom. There I felt free, and also lucky to know that the next day I would pack up camp, enjoy the views, get on my motorcycle and continue my trip. I also felt especially accompanied. Maybe my grandfather had walked on that same land. Maybe something of him remained there. Who knows, maybe it was he who wanted me to discover that place and showed me the way.

A shared experience

In the morning the sun looked splendid and the river water sparkled. The cows grazed and sniffed at Tormenta. It seems that they had a good “feeling” between them. I was amused by the situation, so I captured that moment with my camera. When the cows moved away I began to take down the tent and collect the luggage. I loaded the motorcycle and got on it. Before starting the engine I looked around and dedicated a few words to my grandfather and his companions: “Semper liberi” (Latin, “always free”). I will not hide that one or two tears fell from my eyelids. Maybe there were three.

Tormenta and I descended the mountain, having fun again, until we reached the asphalt. The journey continued. More visits to friends and family awaited me along the route. He continued, yes, he continued enjoying the freedom with Tormenta.

Alpes franceses en BMW F800 GS

In memory of him

This text, this humble experience is a small tribute to him, to Mariano Arcos Trallero, my grandfather. Also to his wife, my grandmother, and his two children, my uncle and especially my mother. For those of us who are passionate about motorcycles, we experience freedom exponentially. Enjoy it, take care of it and live it.

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