Having been left bikeless for nearly two months due to an ambitious engine rebuild undertaking that had escalated into a mammoth, Kafkaesque project with no end in sight, I’d found myself losing my sanity – slowly at first, then all of a sudden. Stuck somewhere in the Andalusian countryside fruitlessly negotiating with a local dealership for weeks on end with no promising result on the horizon, I began suffering from acute soul shrinkage caused by never-ending “possibly tomorrow, potentially next week” promises and being bikeless for weeks.
As luck would have it, it turned out I had the best neighbour imaginable. Lyndon Foster, founder at Toro Trail, shot me a message on social media asking if I was in the area, and it was nothing short of a miracle to find out I was staying in the same little village as the Toro Trail base. After a glorious evening of sharing beers and adventure stories, a plot emerged: we’d go riding Lyndon’s Huskies on the Andalusian trails, come hell or high water.
I confess, I felt shaky putting my gear on the next morning, and it wasn’t due to the amount of beers demolished the night before. Lyndon, thoroughly cosmopolitan yet unmistakeably British, has lived and ridden in Andalucia for a decade, taking people on off-road riding tours in Southern Spain and Morocco. After listening to his hilarious stories of accidentally entering the King’s private resort while attempting to ride the ski slopes in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, various off-roading adventures and misadventures in Spain, and realizing I’ve met a madman on a mission to better the world through dirt biking, I concluded that Toro Trail, in essence, was a two-wheel refugee camp for lost souls seeking freedom, adventure, and serious abuse on gnarly local trails.
Having listened to Lyndon’s stories, I expected to be chased around some insanely technical single track, mercilessly put through my paces riding impossible terrain… and fail spectacularly: I’m an underwhelmingly mediocre rider, so facing a session with Lyndon aboard his sprightly Husqvarna 250’s, I felt anxiously unsure of myself. Still, I’d never pass an opportunity like that, and in the morning, as my partner and I showed up at the Toro Trail base, I braced for what was to come.
Toro Trail is a stunning compound tucked away among the Andalusian hills, featuring a swimming pool, a dream garage hosting a fleet of dirt and adventure bikes, and an enduro track nearby. Lyndon lives on the site; his downstairs living area is decorated with two motorcycles parked next to the breakfast bar, and his garage with an inbuilt workshop left me drooling. After a short brief, we jumped on the Huskies and took off into the backcountry following Lyndon on wide open gravel roads.
Right off the bat, I realized this wasn’t going to be what I expected. Lots of people are excellent riders, but very few are amazing teachers. Lyndon is both: instead of bolting off into the hills and expecting us to monkey see, monkey do, Lyndon first took us on graded dirt roads to see how we felt. Keeping an eye on us both, Lyndon led us along the trails stopping every once in a while to give us some feedback and correct bad habits; as we progressed from gravel roads to narrow trails, hill climbs, and steep descents, I felt like I wasn’t just having a ridiculous amount of fun riding the Husky – I was learning a ton in the process.
Steep descents would usually instil a sense of terror in me, ending up in frantic stomping on the rear brake and half skidding, half tumbling down the hill, but with Lyndon’s advice and a calm, easy-going confidence peppered with jokes and cheers, I felt increasingly better as we wove our way through the countryside. Soon, we were off rolling across the rocky hills and chasing Lyndon on faster gravel roads, soaking up the tips and screaming our heads off with laughter during short breaks.
Towards the end of the ride, I felt like a duckling who’d thoroughly imprinted on Lyndon: I’ve gone on off-road training tours and sessions before, but Lyndon has an extraordinary knack of being encouraging, hysterically funny, and having an endless well of empathy all at the same time. You know you’re riding with a madman capable of some seriously gnarly stuff, and you’re going to be pushed to test your limits – but the push will be so gradual and gentle you won’t even realize it until you’re already doing better, and that’s Lyndon’s talent. That, plus the copious the doses of crazy stories and dry humour.
Of course, me being, well, me, I did manage to come off the bike in the least likely place imaginable; rounding a perfectly solid, wide corner on a graded dirt road, I went over the tank just a little too much losing my front wheel and diving into the dirt face first, learning a valuable lesson on over-confidence and pondering the differences between my tractor-like DR650 and a lightweight Husqvarna 250 in the process. All is well that ends well,however, and although I still owe Lyndon a handguard I’d trashed with my spectacular dismount, we made it back to Toro Trail base in one piece and dutifully celebrated the outing in the nearby town.
Although I finally got my bike back and I’m hitting the road soon, I hope I get to ride with Lyndon again, whether in Spain or in Morocco. A one of a kind experience with a one of a kind human – and I feel like it’s not just my hill descents and balance on the footpegs that got better, but my soul, too.