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Life Goals: Riding The Pyrénées With Cyril Despres

The Andorra 500 motorcycle rally, organized by motorsport legend Cyril Despres
To regulate this, Despres & Co. have turned to modern GPS technology. Each bike is outfitted with a Tripy electronic road book during scrutineering. At the end of each day, the Tripy units are handed in, the data extracted, and the route for the next day loaded up.

It gives the event the rally spirit that Despres was looking for when he first conceived it, while still keeping things accessible.

The Andorra 500 motorcycle rally, organized by motorsport legend Cyril Despres
“This is why we call it a classic motorcycle rally. Because when you start in the morning from the hotel, you don’t know where to go, you don’t know where the special stages are and you don’t know where the refueling points are.

“But everything is in your road book.”

The Andorra 500 motorcycle rally, organized by motorsport legend Cyril Despres
In between riding, the vibe is laid back and the emphasis on having a good time. There are numerous coffee and lunch stops—with just the kind of cuisine you’d expect from the region. And each bivouac is kept lively with sideshows, from live music to trials bike demos.

But more than anything, Cyril Despres wants the Andorra 500 to be a rider’s event. And so far, he’s pulled it off spectacularly. Many of last year’s entrants enjoyed it so much, they’ve returned for a second helping.

The Andorra 500 motorcycle rally, organized by motorsport legend Cyril Despres
This time around they can look forward to more mileage, and even better road surfaces. (Some of the roads have been prepped for the Tour de France, which is passing through later this year).

A bit of fun’s been worked in too: “There’s one stage which is in the middle of the mountain, where it’s easy to find some good downhill,” Despres tells us.

“So we decided to make a special stage where you need to make the fastest time, without the engine. It’s a few kilometers going down the road with just the weight of yourself and your bike.”

The Andorra 500 motorcycle rally, organized by motorsport legend Cyril Despres
“For me, it’s the most important that people are really enjoying what we are doing, and the way we are doing it—pure pleasure.”

Despres will be following the race in his Peugeot, to make sure things run smoothly. He’s got some mates flying the flag on two wheels though—most notably fellow Dakar winner Stéphane Peterhansel. He rode a Yamaha XT600 in last year’s event (pictured below), but will be aboard a customized Yamaha XS650 this time. “It’s a crazy bike,” says Despres, “and he enjoyed the race so much last year that he wanted to come back.”

The Andorra 500 motorcycle rally, organized by motorsport legend Cyril DespresThanks to the format of the event, Average Joe has just as much chance of winning as a seasoned vet like Peterhansel. Last year’s second place finisher was 60 years old—and the Andorra 500 was his first ever race.

Despite a warm invitation from M. Despres, we’re thousands of miles away from Europe and unable to attend. But if you’re within riding range…maybe it’s time to book that Friday off work?

Facebook | Instagram | Images courtesy of the Andorra 500 and Web Factory Andorra

UPDATE The 2016 event was a huge success. Here’s a great little clip showing the highlights.

The Andorra 500 motorcycle rally, organized by motorsport legend Cyril Despres

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