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Off-road motorcycle tour in Portugal with Dakar Rally legend Ruben Faria

Off-road motorcycle touring in Portugal with Ruben Faria

Craig Parkes discovers the delights of an off-road motorbike tour in Portugal with Dakar Rally legend Ruben Faria. 

I might never have imagined that on a cold and wet Wednesday in mid-December I’d be travelling to Faro, Portugal to hit the paths with a Dakar Rally veteran. I obtained my fortunate break once I acquired an opportunity telephone name from an previous trail driving pal, Dave, who’s a daily contributor at Adventure Bike Rider magazine.

Someone from the magazine was as a result of journey out to Portugal to journey with Ruben Faria Journey Tours, however a mishap on two wheels meant they might not go. Needing to fill the area at brief notice, the opportunity was prolonged to me and I took me all of 5 seconds to determine. Work? Or driving off-road trails in Portugal? A couple of days later and I found myself in Gatwick.

New faces

One of the great issues about travelling alone is the individuals you get to satisfy alongside the best way. Whereas I was sat at a bar in the departure corridor, a younger Kiwi man asked me if I might take his photograph for him – he’d just received his nautical engineer certificates and apparently it’s tradition to get an image of yourself holding both the certificates and a pint of Guinness.

We obtained speaking, and as soon as I mentioned my journey he proceeded to inform me how he used to work in a motorbike store in New Zealand, and how he’d go driving with Chris Birch, KTM’s god on two wheels.

That night time, I landed in Faro, grabbed some dinner and obtained myself to bed early for decide up the subsequent day. Within the morning, the facility of bikes shaped one other fascinating conversation as I began talking to a Dutch man. He turned out to be an enormous motocross fan who attended every GP at his native circuit, Assen.

Meeting Ruben Faria

Off-road motorcycle touring in Portugal with Ruben Faria
Dakar Rally legend Ruben Faria

At eight:30am, Ruben picked me up from my lodge. Instantly it’s clear that he’s a very friendly chap and he’s straightforward to speak to. I used to be launched to the other passengers within the automotive, Mathias Brunner, from a French motorbike magazine, and Ruben’s occasion coordinator.

We headed for breakfast and, on the best way, I received the prospect to speak to Ruben concerning the tours he’s operating. He explained that, as long as a gaggle is made up of riders of an analogous talent degree, he can tailor the driving to go well with anybody. In truth, he has a small monitor on-hand to lean primary off-road expertise if need be.

It wasn’t lengthy earlier than we met our bikes, taking a short drive to the well-known Portimao Circuit where Ruben’s crew have been ready for us. His two important workforce members are Lewis, the mechanic and backup rider, and Evil (yep, Evil), who drives the backup van. There was solely 4 of us on this trip, though it’s attainable for the crew to cater for teams of as much as 10 riders.

Driving KTM 450 EXCs

Off-road motorcycle touring in Portugal with Ruben Faria

The climate was dry, about 12C with a number of clouds; a pleasing feeling in December. The bikes, KTM 450 EXCs, have been all lined up, wanting immaculately ready and labelled up with our names. They’re perfectly suited to the kind of terrain we have been going to be driving, with GPS models mounted to the handlebars, every one displaying the day’s route.

I received turned into my driving gear and Lewis introduced me to the bike, taking the ritual very critically and taking his time to make actual changes of lever positions and brakes to go well with me perfectly. I used to be made to feel like I used to be a part of a Dakar Rally group given the superb organisation and a spotlight to element.

The attention to element continued as far as the timings for the day and the preparations all through have been involved. It was as if Ruben had taken his Dakar experience of a exact timetable and applied it to his excursions. Every part that was meant to happen did occur, and all the time when it was planned to.

Hitting the paths

Off-road motorcycle touring in Portugal with Ruben Faria

As we set off, Ruben took the lead, with Mathias and me within the middle, followed by Lewis on the back. There was just a few metres of tarmac before we hit the dust, with the first few miles being fairly clean, fast-paced, flowing gravel tracks.

It was instantly obvious that Ruben could be very snug with velocity, and from the start it was troublesome to maintain tempo with him. In fact, keeping up with the Dakar rider isn’t vital as you possibly can comply with the GPS route at your personal pace and Lewis will all the time be following behind.

After a number of extra miles I had settled into the bike and I took a while to admire my surroundings. All the surrounding hills and valleys have been riddled with tracks and the mind boggles at simply how much driving there’s to be down in southern Portugal.

Awesome driving expertise

Off-road motorcycle touring in Portugal with Ruben Faria

Each 15 to 20 minutes, Ruben would pull over and verify that everybody was snug with the driving and that every little thing was OK with the bikes. He was aware of taking good care of all the riders to ensure everybody was driving inside their potential.

The experience had kicked off at 10:30am and, aside from a number of cease checks, had been pretty full on. I used to be following Ruben, watching in awe as he navigated the tracks, making every turn so precisely and with ease, it was a pleasure to observe.

There are some great trails alongside the best way, and Ruben and his group has spent a number of time compiling routes of the perfect in the area. Should you favor quick trails, you’ve acquired it, and for those who’d favor slower, extra technical tracks, then the blokes have gotten you coated.

Prime nosh

Off-road touring in Portugal with Ruben Faria

Round lunchtime, we arrived on the coast, stopping at a lovely, conventional Portuguese restaurant overlooking the ocean. We parked the bikes towards the hand rail of the ocean view platform and took within the scenery. Ruben explained that in the summertime it’s virtually inconceivable to get a booking at this restaurant because it has a number of the best seafood out there in the space.

We sat down for lunch and commenced exchanging tales of the morning’s experience whereas enjoying some wonderful meals. Earlier than heading off for the afternoon’s experience, we hung around for a bit and soaked up the views. The driving of the afternoon was slightly more technical than that of the morning, but simply as gratifying with numerous winding single tracks going up into the mountains.

As the day went on I used to be feeling far more comfy with my bike and it was simpler to keep tempo and great to have some challenging hill climbs to attempt.

Lashed by rain

Off-road motorcycle touring in Portugal with Ruben Faria

After tearing by means of the hills, we took a change of course and commenced to go again in the direction of the coast, this was a very fascinating a part of the journey because it was on a sand street solely 10m from the cliff edge of the coast.

All the when you might see the waves of the Atlantic crashing towards the rocks under, sending white water spraying excessive into the air. We stopped briefly to absorb the view, and as we did so the climate changed for the more severe. Heavy rain began to lash down, however not even these circumstances might detract from how nice this space was to experience.

The rain eased off after an hour or so and we continued to wind our method alongside the coast earlier than chopping again inland to our evening lodging in Pedralva, a gorgeous complicated of small cottages on a hillside.

Eating out like locals

Off-road motorcycle touring in Portugal with Ruben Faria

Ruben advised the story of how the cottages have been nearly derelict at one time, until a gaggle of buddies purchased them and utterly renovated each of them in their own particular person fashion and named every one after a special seashore in the space.

Staying right here was really an excellent experience and as soon as I entered my condominium I felt the welcoming warmth and couldn’t wait to get out of my moist driving gear. It was now 6pm and the plan had been made for pickup at 7pm for dinner at an area restaurant. It was good to have an hour to chill out and enjoy the room.

We have been pushed to a stupendous traditional Portuguese restaurant for dinner and Ruben selected a diversified array of dishes so that we might pattern several types of native food. The restaurant employees have been all very friendly and the quality of service was wonderful. Extra importantly, the food was superb! (This appeared to be the case all over the place we stopped).

Again to the coast

Off-road motorcycle touring in Portugal with Ruben Faria

I discovered myself consuming and having fun with many things I might have never had dreamt of ordering myself and, after the meal, we have been treated to ‘medronhos’, a robust spirit constructed from the fruit timber that develop wild everywhere in the hills. It is stated that the spirit is so pure that, should you have been to get drunk on it, you’d wake up with no hangover.

The subsequent morning, as a result of the previous night’s coastal journey had been dampened by the climate, we requested Ruben if we might return now that the climate was a lot better. The temperature was up, the solar was out, and the skies have been blue, so off we headed.

We took a slightly totally different route back to the coast, starting with some technical trails and steep climbs. As we crested the last hill, the Atlantic Ocean stretched over the horizon. As is normal for the Atlantic, the waves have been excessive, and it was a very lovely sight. We took a moment to soak up the view and take some footage watching the waves crash towards the rocks.

The motorbike tour in Portugal expertise

Off-road motorcycle touring in Portugal with Ruben Faria

It was now noticeably hotter than the day gone by, so our jackets have been off, and we set off on the day’s experience. The going was extra technical than the day earlier than, with a lot of single monitor and lose, steep rocky climbs testing riders and bikes alike. The path terrain was so different over the 2 days, as we had ridden over mud, rock, grass, gravel and sand.

I used to be starting to get hungry, so was happy to arrive at the day’s lunch cease. The venue was a busy roadside restaurant which is seemingly very fashionable because of the fantastic cuisine that’s out there. Again, Ruben and his colleagues selected quite a lot of dishes from the menu and we sampled the foods out there. An entire octopus wouldn’t be one thing I’d normally choose, however it wasn’t dangerous…

That afternoon, after lunch, we spent a lot more time in the hills, tackling some really steep climbs. This was my favourite half. We wound our means by means of single-track trails till we got here throughout what seemed to me like a nationwide park. There have been lovely timber throughout us, with rocky streams that we rode along, ending with a water crossing. I asked Ruben concerning the place and he confirmed that it was a nationwide park and that the route we had taken, despite it seeming too good to be true, was completely authorized!

Everybody back to Ruben’s

Off-road motorbike tour in Portugal with Ruben Faria

We rode a short while on tarmac back to Ruben’s home, and round the back was his bike workshop the place two of his Dakar bikes and his Dakar trophy caught my eye. After drooling over all these, we have been taken to our last night time’s accommodation, a converted farmhouse with particular person flats.

After freshening up, Ruben took us to his start city of Olhao, a coastal resort with a strip of inviting bars and restaurants. We parked up and walked into the one Ruben had chosen. Over a scrumptious dinner we spoke about his Dakar experience of eating. He explained that in the course of the day the one practical food to hold was cereal bars, and after two weeks of them along with a camel pack containing water as much as 40C, things acquired a bit robust!

More than a motorcycle journey

Off-road motorcycle touring in Portugal with Ruben Faria

To sum up my expertise of the Ruben Faria Journey Tour; it’s not just about driving, it’s about seeing Portugal, appreciating the gorgeous panorama in the space, observing the culture around you, assembly new individuals and attending to taste all the delicious native delicacies.

The tours are designed for any capability, even in case you are an entire newbie with no expertise of driving off-road, with protected coaching areas out there to follow in before venturing onto the paths. For me, probably the most exceptional factor about the entire trip was Ruben and his close crew, they are all so pleasant and attentive, I really feel like I arrived as a customer but left as a mate.

The paths are a few of the greatest I’ve ever ridden, and I shall be going again someday to enjoy the experience yet again.

Who is Ruben Faria?

Off-road motorcycle touring in Portugal with Ruben Faria

Ruben began driving bikes at the age of five. At that time, within the Algarve, it was troublesome to get Japanese youngsters’ bikes, so his father built custom rides for him from numerous elements of previous bikes.

At 12 years of age he had his first proper motorbike, a 1980 Honda CR125, which he used to compete in national motocross championships. After this, he moved onto the Baja championship, and gained twice on a Yamaha YZ426.

In 2006, he discovered himself on the beginning line of the Dakar Rally, and ended up making some great occasions and even one stage win. In 2010, he was a staff rider with KTM manufacturing unit and Cyril Despres, the place he raced up till 2017, when he suffered a nasty damage that pressured him to cease competing. His greatest performance in the Dakar got here in 2013, where he placed second general.

In the present day, Ruben continues to be involved with the Dakar Rally, however as a workforce supervisor, but he began operating tours in Portugal in 2014 after associates would comment on how implausible the driving was in his local areas.

Normally, an off-road tour overlaying such a big area would create points with residents and land house owners, but Ruben could be very well-known within the Algarve and could be very respectful of other individuals, taking the time to wave or acknowledge as we rode by. Going forward, Ruben plans to run excursions that cowl the whole of Portugal, from north to south.

Need to journey the trails of the Algarve? Here’s how you can…

Off-road motorcycle touring in Portugal with Ruben Faria

Get there

Flights from the UK to Faro Airport, the Algarve’s principal transport hub, are common and reasonably priced. With a flight time of around 2 hours 45 minutes, you’ll be taking a look at prices from round £110, with costs being significantly cheaper in the off season.

Journey with Ruben Faria

While there’s nothing to say you couldn’t flip up in Faro, rent a motorcycle and hit the trails your self, to take advantage of your time and to make sure you get to journey one of the best filth tracks around, you’d be better off trusting the specialists.

Ruben Faria Adventure Excursions presents a choice of trail driving tours the place the emphasis is on driving arduous (but inside your means) in the day and enjoyable in type and luxury within the evenings. Ruben’s staff will be sure to see the most effective sights, experience the most effective routes, and dine in one of the best restaurants round, with bike rent and package rent obtainable, which means you gained’t have to faff round with hold baggage on your flight.

For extra info on Ruben’s tours, including pricing and availability, head to

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