Written by Elle and B-Rizz (yes, you read that right)
“If we ever happen to be in Spain during GP season we HAVE to go to a race!”
This was a deal we made with each other over ten years ago when Elle first started sharing B´s love for motorcycle racing (let’s be clear—watching motorcycle racing).
Well, seeing as we now live in Spain, there was no choice but to buy tickets to this season’s final Moto GP race for the championship in Valencia!
Luckily for us, Valencia is only a 4.5 hour drive from our home in Logrono (and a beautiful drive at that!). Once we made the decision to go, the race was only three weeks away. We quickly bought 3-day passes, hired a rental car, and booked two nights in a hostel (the hotel costs were out of control for the weekend—I’m talking $300/night minnnn— and thankfully we´ve seen our fair share of hostels so we weren’t phased!).
We got up well before sunrise on a cold Friday morning and made our way southeast to Valencia, Spain’s third largest city known for its museums, beaches, and mix of old architecture and new futuristic structures. Though we could have spent a lovely weekend exploring the many sights, these three days were about one thing and one thing only: Moto GP!
We made it to the track by noon and were happy to find an organized parking system with plenty of workers flagging us to a lovely spot only a few minutes’ walk from the entrance. We made our way through the circuit to our grandstand seats just in time to catch a glimpse of the afternoon practice session.
That first scream of the GP bikes put the biggest smiles on our faces and brought us right back to our first (and only other) visit to a Moto GP track back in 2008 when we road-tripped to the Laguna Seca circuit in Monterrey, CA. It was the trip that solidified E as a true fan (B had been die-hard for years at that point), and an unforgettable time together. We were thrilled to relive that experience with the added thrill of it being in Spain!
As soon as the practice sessions started the seemed to finish and it was time for us to head to the city center (only 20 minutes by car) and check into our hostel for a much-needed afternoon siesta.
Cue small snafu…
As we went to the counter to check-in, the desk-dude asked for our passports. I brought mine since I had made the reservation under my name only, but Brian left his hours away back home in Logrono. Shit. We pleaded with desk-dude to let us stay, but he wouldn’t budge. We moved to the corner of the hostel to make a game-plan, and the best we could think of was to give B’s NIE (Spanish residency) number to the guy and hope we would cut us a break. We casually strolled back up to the desk and did our best “innocent travelers” shtick and thank goodness desk-dude changed his tune! He took down B’s NIE number, gave us a grave warning that “if the police find out that this number is wrong I can be in big trouble”. We were quite sure that the Spanish police had better things to do, but assured him that it was correct and he gave us the key. Success!
We spent the first afternoon napping, seeing just a bit of the city, and grabbing a quick bite at a local Italian restaurant for one of the best pasta meals we’ve ever tasted. We went to bed early and set our alarms for tomorrow’s events.
Saturday is qualifying day, and we spent our time strolling through the many vendors at the track selling everything from t-shirts to replica helmets. Every hour or so there would be another qualifying session and the crowds would rush to their seats to watch the GP riders try and put in their best lap for the best starting position for the big race on Sunday. We were happy to see our favorite rider, Valentino Rossi qualify in 7th, and the two riders who were both in the running for the championship (the Spaniard Marc Marquez and the Italian Andrea Dovizioso) qualify in 1st and 9th respectively, prepping us fans for a great race!
We left the track for another great meal in the city, this time an amazing hole-in-the-wall vegan place that Elle overheard two girls talking about in the shared hostel bathroom. Another early night (thankfully we could sleep through the blaring music from the hostel common room below us) and early alarm for the big race on Sunday!
Sunday morning: we quickly got ready, packed our things, and wolfed down the free breakfast of croissants, juice and cereal and got in the car with (what we thought was) plenty of time to get to the track. We perhaps didn’t factor in just how many Moto GP fans there are in Spain, and we sat in traffic for well over an hour just to get to the parking lot. We were funneled into one of the furthest lots, a big sandy/dirt lot that we figured would at least be easy to leave from since it was so close to the exit. We speed-walked through the thousands of cars and thankfully made it to the track just in time for a quick pee-stop and some sodas from the concessions and got to our seats for the big race!
Watching the race was an entirely different experience than watching the two previous days of practice and qualifying. The stands were PACKED, and everyone was in the mood for a party. It was an atmosphere we can’t describe, but one that we couldn’t get enough of!
As the race began, the tensions stayed high as almost everyone around us cheered and rooted for the Spanish rider, Marc Marquez (a country icon) to get a good enough position and score enough points to take home the season’s championship trophy. Each time the bikes shot past our section, we screamed with delight or groaned with agony to see who was leading the race. At one point, Marquez had a near-crash, going off the track and somehow saving it, giving the Spanish crowd a collective near-heart-attack! Then, with just a few laps left, Dovizioso pushed just a little too hard, took a corner right in front of our grandstand a bit too fast, and went off the track. He tried to save it, but eventually fell and knew his fate. The cheering for this poor rider’s loss was simply wild, but we couldn’t help but join in the following enthusiastic roars for the new fact that Marquez would be the new champion.
Marquez didn’t in fact end up winning this particular race, but had earned enough points throughout the season to give him the season trophy. The day’s winner was another Spaniard, making this Valencia race truly one to celebrate and remember.
After cheers-ing our beers and sodas with the strangers around us, we began the long and hot walk back to our car. We were high on the race energy and soaked up our last bits of the crazy experience that is a Moto GP race. As we got in our car to make the 5-hour journey home, we were bummed to see that our near-to-the-exit dirt parking lot had become what can only be described as a CLUSTER. With the friendly flaggers nowhere to be seem (presumably celebrating in a racetrack bar), it was a free-for-all. With the added bonus of a large sandy hill at the exit that multiple cars couldn’t get out of without the physical push of their back-bumper by their passengers, it took 45 minutes to get from our parking spot to the road, but we made it out!
And despite the few glitches, we had the most amazing weekend watching a sport we love in a country we love with thousands of like-minded fans! It was an unforgettable three days, and we are anxiously awaiting the 2018 GP calendar release so that we can make it to as many of these weekends as possible in the new season!