Winter blues buster trip in Andalusia with ToroAdventure

February is known to be the coldest month of the year in Central Europe. While desperately waiting for spring, our inbox pops up with an invitation from Lyndon, boss of ToroAdventure: “Hey, want to enjoy three days of adventure riding around Malaga on brand new R1200GS?” Can you really refuse such an invitation? I don’t think so!

It doesn’t take long after you have touched ground in Malaga to realize that your stay in the area will be fantastic. The ride from the airport to ToroAdventure’s HQ is already exotic with the sea on one side and the mountains on the other! I crossed Spain quite a few times over the last years, but I never came to Andalusia before, so I’m discovering the area with brand new eyes and no specific expectations.

Because of its central location Malaga is a great starting point to explore the region. You’re only 1h30 drive away from the famous rock of Gibraltar, 2h from Sevilla -  the capital of the region - and 1h30 from the the Sierra Nevada ski slopes (it’s winter remember?).

But that’s no excuse to miss a visit of the city itself. Pablo Picasso was born in Malaga in 1881; the city evidently hosts a wonderful Picasso-museum. Moreover, the city centre offers great sightseeing.

When you become tired of walking you can relax at the seaside where you can have a coffee with the sound of the waves crashing on the shore as an eternal soundtrack.

But we’re not here to negotiate the small streets of a busy city, we’re here to discover wide-open space and enjoy scenic rides!

And we know we won’t be disappointed!

The sun is just rising above the horizon when the complete team meets at breakfast. Four Norwegian Vikings have also accepted Lyndon’s invitation and are lucky to escape their damn freezing winter. The stereo system is playing some loud & heavy Rock’n Roll to make sure everyone is awake. “That’s how we start proper adventure at Toro”, says Lyndon.

My kind of adventure!

Enough talk, it’s time to ride.

The sun has been warming the bikes for an hour already and the luggage is loaded in the huge aluminium cases. It’s time to press the start button and hit the road!

After a short highway section we leave the tourists and the beaches behind to head up north. That’s where the fun roads are! Short after Almogia the roads starts to wind and we find ourselves surrounded by olive trees. This is the perfect setting to see how the bike reacts to curvy roads. It’s the first time ever that I ride a GS and I must admit that the bike is surprisingly easy to handle, despite the weight.

The electronics makes you feel very confident and encourage you to turn the throttle every time you see a winding road ahead…loving it!  

As we pass the Plaza de Andalucía in the first picturesque village, Villanueva de la Concepción, we see five older men sitting on a bench, probably wondering if they had too many Sherry already as they watch six exact same R1200GS Rallye drive by….

The village is at the foot of the Torcal natural area; a few kilometres further Lyndon stops for a panoramic view over the valley: “It’s time to switch the bikes to enduro-mode gentlemen!”.

Oh well, I’m not an off-road rider, so I’m not entirely enthusiast about taking trails with such a heavy bike but I get the basics from Lyndon: “Soft on the arms, weight on the rear and look far in front….” - “Follow my lead!”

OK! No time for hesitation…..

The trail goes along a hill in middle of almond trees, which are already flowering surrounded by beautiful nature. The trail is easy and I’m getting more and more comfortable with the GS.

The Rallye colour certainly flatters the ego!

Spain is fantastic to ride as the weather is always enjoyable, the roads are fantastic, the landscapes are great and - last but not least - you can stop pretty much anywhere and find great food in any café-bar. After a good pulpo a la parrilla it’s time to get back in the saddle for a few more k’s of mixing on and off-road.

The GS allows you to enjoy both and feel comfortable in every situation! We’re getting around the Sierra Nevada (snowy mountain range, literally) taking the north side. The mountain section holds 20 peaks over 3’000 meters with the highest being the Veleta at 3,394m and it offers great eyesight from the valley.

The sun is already setting when we reach Tio Tobas casas cuevas (cave houses) where we’ll stay for the night; we’re just at the foot of the mountains.

No rest for the cow-boys

The next morning we wake-up under a clear sky and a beautiful sunrise. The peaks in front of us are full of snow as it has rained/snowed most of the night.

We’re more than happy to mount our bikes for another day of adventure. We’ll spend most of the day off-road today. First we ride along a railroad in middle of open fields. The violent rains of the night have created a small layer of sticky mud so it doesn’t take long before I start drifting...and fall. That’s how we learn, isn’t it?

Shortly after one of the Norwegian Viking drops his bike too (solidarity!). Thanks buddy, I’m feeling better now.
 

After the railroad the scenery changes as we go into a dry riverbed. The roads become more technical: there are a lot of rocks and the trail is sometimes getting softer.

We cross the path of some shepherds who are quite surprised to see big bikes in the riverbed. We also run into wild dogs that are not very happy to see us going through their hunting domains.

No reason to linger, here! Full gas!

It’s the middle of the afternoon when we see the signs “Texas Hollywood” in the Tabernas desert. After leaving the bikes on the parking lot we enter the village just like kids entering a theme park.

Stepping into the main avenue we pass the Union bank and the Sheriff’s building before reaching the Saloon. Watch your back, cowboys could show-up any time!

The village looks more like a ghost town to us, but it offers daily western shows, the best being played during the weekends.

We enjoy a walk in the western movies backdrop before heading to Tabernas where we’ll stay for the night.

Hasta Luego

The next day I leave the rest of the team at the hotel to ride back to Malaga on my own as I wanted to stop at various spots on the way to make pics; I didn’t want to slow their pace. “Hasta Luego amigos!”

I spend most of the morning riding the A348 which follows the curves of the mountain range. The road is sometimes fast and wide, sometimes narrow and curvy but always spectacular.

After Tablate I leave the Sierra Nevada behind to head to the Parque Natural Sierras de Tejeda which forms the natural frontier between the provinces of Malaga and Granada. I take a break at the Viñuela artificial lake for a souvenir photo. The level of the water is terribly low, the locals are getting more and more worried since the precipitations keep declining year after year.

Back behind the handlebar I take the fast but scenic A356 which leads me through olive trees fields and mountain peaks.

I reach Alhaurin el Grande after three days of amazing rides, with a big smile on my face when I remember all the landscapes I’ve seen. It hurts a bit to give the keys back to Lyndon. What if I miss the flight home tomorrow? Maybe I could ride back to Belgium? What do you say Lyndon?

The beemer is never too shy for a beauty shot in the sun.

 

See our 3 days trip in Andalusia here (download GPX available): Winter blues buster trip with Toro Adventure. (Please note that no off-road section is used in the trip, we replaced those by roads sections).
 

ToroAdventure

They have been present in the region for more than ten years, Torotrail is their enduro section and ToroAdventure the big bike section. They offer guided and solo tours in Spain, Portugal and even Morocco.

The perfect short trip to clean your head and breathe some fresh air. 90% of returning customers can’t be wrong!

Check out their tours here: http://www.toroadventure.com/

Where next?

Explore the best roads around and plan your next trip based on those roads.

 

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