Originally three of us were booked in for two days enduro riding in the hills above Marbella with a company called Dust Devils but unfortunately Jeff, who had organised the trip and got us a good deal, had to cancel on doctor’s advice following a shoulder operation. Lance and I therefore met at Leeds/Bradford airport for our Ryanair flight to Malaga on Friday 15th January. Dust Devils picked us up and took us to the 4 star Senator Spa Hotel, Marbella.
The following morning we were again picked up and taken to the company’s base in Marbella and kitted up with helmet, gloves, trousers, knee and elbow pads, boots, water-pack, and what we thought was body armour but was actually just stone protection. At this point we were asked about our riding experience .Both of us have done the BMW Off Road Skills level one course and I had done the i2i machine control 2 day above Sutton Bank. The only other client was a young German, Patrick who had done quite a bit of enduro since being a lad but nothing in the past 5 years. There followed a safety briefing and an outline of the day and then outside to our bikes which were KTM 350 EXCs. We were told that they should always be started in neutral and not, in gear even with the clutch pulled in, as they only had small batteries and were at risk of becoming flat easily. Kick starting was an option but exhausting. To ride on the road, bikes must have a left hand mirror and these were fold away jobs but purely cosmetic with no useful rear view. Initial impression on straddling the bike was how high it was, I am 5’10” and had tip toe contact with the ground. Neutral was devilishly difficult to find and there was no green light to help you.
We had the company owner Bob leading and Carlos, another instructor at the back to keep us together. Off we set with about 20 mins on the road and then a onto a track and then Bob headed straight up a very steep climb onto a more level area .We all followed, Patrick fell off at the very top I just managed the ascent but got caught up with him just over the lip and Lance succumbed on the lower slopes and sensibly went round an easier way. This was not going to be a day for the faint hearted.
We then went on a variety of tracks which varied from smooth flat and the width of one and a half cars, to very narrow steep ,rutted , boulder strewn nasties. On most occasions there were alternatives but not always, however Bob was a good motivator and tutor. Patrick’s previous experience soon shone through and he was not to fall off again. We on the other hand were often separated from our bikes in spectacular fashion but luckily with no injuries. If you are on a steepening slope and don’t keep your weight forward the front end lightens, steering disappears and so did I into the thorn bushes. Lance’s most impressive off was on another steep section; he exited backwards and the bike did a full 360 in the air. My battery soon flattened as I could not find neutral and I swapped bikes with Carlos who either had to bump start it or kick it into life. Lunch was a welcome break, back in Marbella. The afternoon was more tailored to our level and obvious tiredness and we got back to base in one piece.
The following day it was just Lance and myself taken out by Carlos and it was more of a tour than a technical exercise but it was still testing with the main hazards being large sharp breeze block sized boulders on the inside of the track and precipitous drops towards the outside. Take your pick!
There was more time to stop and rest and take in the views today and lunch was in the small picturesque village of Istan close to a large lake; Embalse de la Conception. Lance and I had been using different techniques today, I was standing on pegs all the time (3.5 hours), Lance sat in the saddle. I was knackered but I don’t think he was. I wanted to go back on the road and he was also happy to do so. Carlos spoke no English but we thought we had made our wishes clear with the help of google translate (pista = tarmac in Spanish) and did set off on tarmac but after about 2 miles it was back on the rough stuff. I had a couple of minor offs on corners due to tiredness but manged the more technical bits.
Overall the day had been much more suited to our skills than the first. We celebrated in the usual style with an ice cool lager in the hotel and then a great meal in a surprisingly lively restaurant on the front.
I think Dust Devils is aimed at people with more enduro under their belts than we had but if you are up for a challenge then give it a go.