‘It’s a water tower’, explains Robert, ‘to feed the golf course. They got permission to build it on the understanding they made it look ‘old’. They then ran out of money so it isn’t used.’
The climb up to the tower is a steep, loose, third gear blast, with a few rocks and holes towards the summit just to make it that bit harder. I circle around the tower, then park up to give it a closer look, swinging open the steel bar door to take a peak inside. It’s a curious mix of olde worlde architecture, industrial fittings, and wooden beams so crusty-looking that you wouldn’t trust to hold your bike up, let alone a tower and a good few tonnes of water.
Lunch is at the GENUINELY old (350 years plus) inn, Finca La Mota, and we settle into some hearty local cuisine in the shaded garden…
The Devil Rides Again
Fed and watered, we take a route back out past the tower. A narrow sunken streambed runs alongside the trail, and whilst half the group skirts around it, some of us drop in amongst the square-edged rocks and awkwardly stepped dirt to test our trials prowess. It’s not hugely tricky - the challenge comes in riding it feet-up…
Having exited the stream (and scored a ‘clean’ to boot), a system of roads sits unfinished and abandoned - presumably intended to serve the non-existent golf club - and we hop up and down curbs wherever the track meets tarmac, before heading out through a wide ‘savannah’ - the long grass hiding another unofficial practice track rather than lions and wildebeest - and off into the cooling air of some nearby woods.
The dirt road is brilliant white, far more pure than the yellowy-white of chalk lanes back home, and with a blazing sun overhead the contrast between the dense woodland and open trail is almost blinding. I can only imagine what it’s like working in the nearby dolomite quarry, where they blast the mineral out of the ground and dust kicked-up by the heavy machinery hangs in the air like a heavy fog.
There’s apparently a trail which runs through the quarry, but we don’t take it. Instead we tackle an undulating lane of loose, shifting, stones and broad stepped rockslabs, before hitting some more forestry road and a lovely winding singletrack spiderwebbed with tree roots. Our surroundings flit between woodland and open hills, alternating every few miles.
Sitting at the head of a valley for a well-earned rest, we can hear the dull roar of a big diesel motor hidden somewhere among the trees below. Something big is slowly grinding its way back and forth on the track below, and all I can think of is the opening scene to the Italian Job…
Dropping slowly down into the valley, humming some Matt Munro, and sure enough just a few hundred yards down the track a grader is smoothing out the dirt, whilst a road-roller compacts the surface behind it. It only serves to highlight the fact that such trails are used in the exact same way as tarmac roads, and if there’s the SLIGHTEST chance of getting a battered old Seat along a track don’t be too surprised if you round a corner to find said battered old Seat creaking and bouncing its way towards you!
It’s the last trail of the day, and even though there’s nothing technical to get excited about it does allow us to flow through hairpin bends and enjoy some great views down towards the huge Reservoir of the Conception. Every so often the apex of the tight right-handers will be soft sand, camouflaged the exact same colour as the surrounding dust, and the front will shimmy and try to tuck if you’re not quick enough on the gas to save it.
The trail leads down onto a tarmac road, though the fun doesn’t stop as it’s equally as tortuous (and thankfully far more grippy than the suburban streets). We eventually roll into Marbella parched and dusty, but with some great riding under our wheels.