I arrived in Andorra late on Friday night, full of anticipation of our enduro motorbike holiday and really wondering what was ahead of me. At the hotel that evening we all met up and got to know each other a wee bit better aided by the necessary lubrication - seemed like a good bunch of blokes. The bikes - (almost virginal KTM 525 exc Racing) were all sorted prior to our arrival and ready to go - there was a massive air of anticipation and excitement in the air for our early start on the dirtbikes next morning.
After pigging out and loaded up on eggs and coffee spanish style, we were off. First day and first time on a trail bike for me since a while and off down the hill in the fresh morning through the largely abandoned streets of Andorra (early to bed and early to rise is NOT Spanish). We met the other boys at a Servo half an hour down the road who had gotten up even earlier and done an extra couple of hours biking over the mountain!! Jeez, these guys are keen!!
Last bit of nervous chatter and we blasted off into the mountains. Our tour guide is really onto it and explains everything really clearly and carefully and man he can ride that bike. First impression - what the f*ck have I let myself in for, this thing is tall (feet barely touch the ground) pulls like an Auckland grammar schoolboy, has 113kg all up and will stand on the back wheel at will in 3rd - as the rest of the lads disappear in the dust up the rocky winding trail.
First couple of hours behind us, and things are settling down, there is a big range of riding ability - some fast and smooth, others wild and wide. Our tour guide is up front - I'm still feeling our way but getting into the swing of things, doesn't matter what you throw at these things they just go forward - amazing bikes. The system of checks at turns and crossing and generally everything is totally well organised. Dave is in the back up jeep following the route as close as possible (including spare bikes). Main rules are to keep within your own ability, no crashing and no punctures - both of which carry the penalty of shouting a round of beers that evening (god forbid shouting these englishmen with an open tab). What is really good is that everyone is totally cool about waiting an extra minute or so for me to arrive at the checkpoints - everyone is just plain and simple having a great time.
The scenery was just totally amazing, roosting off into the Pyrenees - its a jungle - you wouldn't believe you were in Europe - river crossings, high mountains - awesome!! First day lunch in a wee town in the middle of nowhere and you would kill for the food, absolutely top notch. Off again and some harder riding in the afternoon - so much so that before getting to Camprodon, me and one other took the get out route - back to the hotel on the road instead of another hour in the hills with the other boys. Top hotel in this small town all made out of rocks, with dinner that night - wine and food again excellent.
Up the next day and down to Roses at the Mediterranean coast. By this stage I was getting into the groove and not holding everyone up too much, happy that I had done all of the mountain bike training and absolutely loving it. Down and out of the jungle at the end of the day and there were some loops with single walking type trails which I really enjoyed. At this time we got to see that the check system really worked due to the fact that I forgot to tell everyone except myself that I was not the tail end charlie anymore. 10 minutes lost finding everyone again and then the the last 20 ks or so on the road to Roses. As soon as we got to the beach one of the boys decided he had reached Dakar or somewhere and jumped in the ocean with (most) of his gear on to celebrate. We had a beer at the beach, patted each other on the back and that night hit the town really hard - the next day's rest was definitely required. Our schedule was a bit tighter than usual and it was up for breakfast early and the boys were off with organised transport back to the airport and home. The bikes gear and everything else was packed up and back to Andorra on the trailer. If you choose to ride back, there is normally a rest day at Roses, then the 2 days back OR a shorter route is taken back all in one day without the stopover in Camprodon (300 ks in a day - only for the serious enduro riders.....).
To sum it all up - a total buzz, excellent organisation, no stress - riding with a current BSB rider (Glen Richards), and ex motoGP winner (Simon Crafar), and an ex UK national champion moto-cross rider (can't remember his name - Mick somebody (sorry Mick)) and the likes of me all going at their own pace enjoying the company scenery food and bikes - recommend it to anyone.
Read Craig's article in German.