This one week event is the creation of Austin VINCE whose first round the world ride in 1995 was called “Mondo Enduro”. This was in the days before anyone had heard of “adventure motorcyling” and had not been seriously attempted before. Austin and his brother with a few other mates set off on Suzuki DR350s and spent many months and thousands of miles on the road. This video gives a few more details of the trip…

Mondo Enduro

Nowadays there are lots of people that have followed in Austin’s footsteps and he decided it would be a good idea to create an event that would give people a taste of adventure without all the unknowns and risks. This was called “Mini Mondo” and has been running for a number of years. The format is to set off for a week into the Spanish Pyrenees, rough camping every night and carrying everything you need on the bike. Washing is only possible when the route passes a mountain stream !

Dougie has done a few of these but I’ve never been attracted to the rough camping idea. Fortunatly Austin came up with a new idea which he originally christened “Marriott Mondo” – this would follow the same routes as the Mini Mondo but with the advantage of being able to stay in “proper” accommodation each evening – like a Mini Mondo for softies, which suited me fine – Dougie and I signed up. Unfortunately Austin received a legal “cease and desist” notice from the Marriott legal team and renamed the event Motel Mondo – only these aren’t motels but country farmhouses that are well off the beaten track and definitely not on AirBnB.

The Mondo Team

We assembled in the nominated hotel car park – a motley bunch of 14 riders and their machines to be ably guided by Austin and his right hand man Dai Jones. Unfortunately the event was over subscribed as there is a limit in some areas on the maximum number of riders in a group (6). Dougie saved the day by volunteering to lead a third group. There was quite a range of machinery and quite a few intrepid souls had ridden all the way down from the UK – a couple of Husqvarna 701s, a Triumph Tiger 800 and the ubiquitous Honda CRF 250Ls. A few guys had hired bikes locally, one of which was Steve’s DR650 which came with a rucksack full of spares. This was just as well as he managed to drop it in the car park and bust a brake lever..

Lever replacement before starting…

The DR proved to be one of the more troublesome bikes as it developed an oil leak which dripped onto the exhaust and ensured the bike was always followed by a blue haze and a strong smell of burning oil. Still he kept it topped up and it lasted the week.

Rather than write a long description of each day, I’ll let the photos and captions speak for themselves… We were blessed with great weather and the views at every turn were stunning. The places we stayed were great and every meal was a Catalan meatfest…

Not more bloody motorbikes…
Riding the trails…
View from one of the overnight stops…
Mind the drop…
Another overnight stop with a view…
Austin’s heavily loaded bike with his mascot…
Photo : Austin VINCE
Photo : Austin VINCE
Photo : Austin VINCE
Photo : Austin VINCE
Settling in for the evening…
Photo : Simon ALDRIDGE
Settled in for the evening…

As the teams and sleeping arrangements were mixed up over the days we gradually got to know everyone on the trip. On this particular evening Austin decided to have a game of “Brush with Celebrity” – where each person in turn gets to tell a story about their own celebrity encounter. The one that I liked best was from Rich who held up his phone and played a video message addressed to our group from Mark Webber – turns out that Rich is his personal trainer !

Getting some help loading my bike in the morning…
Views forever…
The meatfest doesn’t stop at breakfast time..
Lunch stop, careful Austin’s baguette may be loaded…
Lots of photo opportunities…
Selfie time…
On top of the world after an epic hill climb…

On the afternoon of the last day, the groups were split up to take different routes, some people wanted to get away early and take the early bath and others wanted to keep going. I chose to go with Dai’s group as he was offering a very challenging and very long hill climb. It was brilliant fun ! After the climb one of the others decided he had done enough and headed back. That just left Dai, Achilleas and myself and we had a blast. Dai kept upping the pace which was great fun and we got back to the hotel buzzing.

One of the traditions of the Mondo events is that someone volunteers to be the diarist for each day – and makes a record of all the interesting things that happen. The author then reads out the diary at the end of the day, telling amusing tales of the day’s events. This is usually very well received as eveyone has had a drink or two by then. I volunteered to do the diary on the last day, which was a tall order as the preceeding days had been very amusing. I won’t bore you with the full story but I did go “off piste” a bit and talked about some of the riders and their bikes – especially the clown that turned up on a two stroke… The most impressive ride of the week was down to Gary who managed to wrestle his huge Triumph Tiger around without any serious mishaps. I composed a limeric for him…

There once was a rider called Gary
Who thought he had entered a rally
With balls of brass and puckered arse
His skills on his bike were uncanny

To finish off the diary reading I decided a sing song would be a good idea and chose the Frank Sinatra song “My Way” as a base – I can’t sing at all so probably sounded a bit more like the Sid Vicious version of the same song. I also changed the title and got everyone to join in with the chorus line…


And now, the end is near
And so we face the final diary
My friends, I’ll say it clear
And make it up so it’s rhymly
We lived a week that’s full
We traveled each and every byway
And more, much more than this
We did it our way

Regrets, we’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention
We did what we had to do
And saw it through to avoid detention
Our guides made each gnarly route
Each dusty track along the byway
And more, much more than this
We did it our way

Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew
When the muddy dust obscured the view
But through it all, when there was doubt
We ate it up and spat it out
We faced it all, and we stood tall
And did it our way

We’ve loved the varied rides
We’ve had our fill, our dose of sunshine
And now, as aches subside
We fortify with food and red wine
To think we did all that
And may I say, not in a shy way
Oh, no, oh, no, not me
We did it our way

Yes, it was our way

Until next time…