James Tewnion heads off-road under the Spanish sunshine with Adventure Riding Centre, a British company running dirt biking experiences near Malaga.
What is it?
It’s two full days riding off-road in the beautiful hills and mountains near Mijas. It’s organised by Adventure Rider Centre, where Kaz looks after the logistics and Baz is out on the bikes leading the way, with a small team of instructors.
How often does it happen?
The team goes out riding every day and you book on for as many days as you want. I’ve found two days to be enough as you are out for the best part of eight hours each day. Baz rides almost all year round and will accommodate you at almost any time of the year. I’ve been twice and have avoided the height of summer as it can get incredibly hot.
What did you get up to while you were there?
On my trip I rode a 350cc Husqvarna dirt bike in some of the most interesting and challenging terrain I have ever seen. We started off in the ‘play area’, a patch of land near ARC’s HQ. Playing around on a few climbs and trails gives Baz some idea of your ability so he can tailor the day for you.
"The grin factor is amazing and you come back a much better rider"
We rode some crazy terrain, one I found most interesting was an old river bed. It was just part of our ride but it felt naughty, like we weren’t supposed to be there as at one point a river had run through.
The surface was really loose and there were large rocks to look out for, making it quite technical. At certain points on that trail, you were riding under bridges and roads; it was a unique experience.
On the second day we requested a trail ride, just trying to dial it down as day one was hard going and had taken its toll on us. Baz chose the perfect route – not easy but great riding, manageable and with beautiful scenery. We covered about 130 miles over the two days.
Did you enjoy it?
Having previously ridden there as an absolute novice back in January 2017, I knew what to expect. But I took even more from it this time around.
Photography: ADVENTURE RIDER CENTRE
Riding off-road with Baz is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done on two wheels, but the rewards are huge.
The hill climbs are steep and complicated (especially compared to the flat fenlands of Lincolnshire where I normally ride). Also, being in the heat on a bike for six to eight hours really takes its toll.
The sheer grin factor is amazing but also you come back a much better rider. It’s impossible to ride with Baz and not take something from him. In my case this time it was a better understanding of body placement on the bike, as well as a lovely set of bruised ribs. I thoroughly enjoyed the two days riding and can’t wait to get back over there to do it again.
What was the best bit?
Riding on terrain that you cannot find in the UK. Plus, the sheer number of off-road trails available is unreal. I have now done four days riding over there and not seen the same section twice.
"The tuition was fantastic and has taken my bike control to the next level"
The on-hand instruction is a huge positive; Baz and the team really know how to ride off road and know how to explain it you. I spent a good few hours with Andreas, one of the other guides, practising riding down steep descents. The tuition was fantastic and has taken my bike control to the next level.
Anything you would like them to improve?
I can’t think of anything. They have been doing this a while and it’s seamless. From booking with them to being collected from the airport and then onto the bikes, it’s a slick operation.
What did you learn from the experience?
I took a lot more this time around than on my last visit. My main focus this time was on body position and riding downhill.
Photography: ADVENTURE RIDER CENTRE
Getting up a hill is OK as you eventually run out of steam if you get it wrong; going downhill, it all starts to get sketchy if you’re not in control.
Right at the beginning of day one I told Andreas I’d be happy if I could get to the top of one particular climb and back down again by the end of day two. With instruction and coaching I’d been up and down three or four times before lunch on the first day.
Would you recommend it to a friend?
Yes, absolutely. I’m already in the process of booking to go back. And if I had friends I’m sure they’d come with me!
What sort of person would get the most out of doing the event?
It’s aimed at off-road and adventure riders but everyone can’t enjoy it. You’d have to be up for a challenge, but it is really rewarding.
How much does it cost?
The 2022 cost for the trip I took in 2018 is €770 (£645 in March 2022). That includes transfers from Malaga Airport, three nights’ bed and breakfast accommodation and two days of riding, with transfers from the hotel to the riding centre. The price includes hire of riding kit, Sherco enduro bikes, fuel and as much tuition as you need. Find out more info on the Adventure Rider Centre website.