Last year, we had the pleasure to experience the ARTIC Pirineos Road & Trail Challenge for the first time in a chilly and rainy Biescas, Spain. After our go on the Road Challenger, we were certain we wanted to return for the 5th edition in order to take on the Trail Challenge. Here’s what happened.
Written by:


REV’IT!’s Senior Brand Relations Manager in the adventure scene; living the dream after turning his passion for motorcycles into a career promoting the REV’IT! Adventure collection all over Europe. See you out on the trails!

Roderik van der Heijden
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What is ARTIC all about?

The ARTIC Pirineos challenge is something different. It is not just about riding motorcycle routes through spectacular landscapes. You have to stop for a series of challenges during the ride. During these challenges, you can earn points which, in the end, will give you chance to win prizes at the end of the event.

It takes place in Spain – each year is a new location! – and it’s not classified as a race, so you can ride the routes at your own pace. After completing each route, you receive a stamp in your ARTIC passport from the organization. You can participate in the ARTIC challenge with any type of motorcycle because there are two different challenges: Trail and Road.

This year we took on the Trail Challenge with a team of 3 riders consisting of myself, our Brand Developer Erik, and Raoul from Rakatanga tours who we met at the start of our riding day. It was very helpful to have a Spanish rider with us because all the instructions were written in Spanish. Fortunately, Raoul spoke English very well because we no hablo español!

Our training school partner, Enduro Park Spain, and their partner, Ducati Spain, were kind enough to arrange two bikes for us, a Scrambler Desert Sled for Erik and a Multistrada 950 for me. Not bad at all!

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Take the bull by the horns

We were a bit anxious at the start of the riding day because it was going to be the first time we had to ride big adventure bikes on hard rocky trails. We had some experience riding more lightweight bikes in the sand in the Netherlands, but this was a totally different animal. To make the day even more challenging, the weather forecast predicted a scorching hot day with temperatures reaching almost 40°C. The complete opposite of the rain and cold weather we experienced last year. We just had to take the bull by its horns and ride head first into this challenge.

We filled our hydra backpacks to the brim to make sure we didn’t get dehydrated during the day of riding in blazing heat. We opened up all the vents on our jackets and trousers, put our helmets on, and we received the first map of the first route: Trail Norte.

The start signal was given by the organizer Emilio and off we went, with healthy dose of anxiety – and excitement – in regard to the adventure that was ahead of us. The first miles on the Ducatis were on asphalt, and then we quickly turned right into a very rocky dirt road. Here we go… Yikes! These rocks are big! After spending half an hour on the Ducatis, we started getting used to them and we got used to bouncing around on the challenging rocky trails. We soon learned to just keep the gas open and keep your momentum going while steering clear of the really big rocks.

You heard the rocks constantly bouncing of the skid plate during the ride. A new sound for us Dutch riders, you hardly encounter any rocks on the trails in the Netherlands! We got into the flow and we picked up the pace a bit. Wow, these trails are fun. The first route was short, technical, but sweet with a few challenges around a cold river and a beautiful waterfall. At the first checkpoint, we all had big smiles on our faces. And that was only the first route of the day!

The next route (Trail Este) was even more beautiful, and the scenery was breathtaking. Blue skies, green trees, and high mountains surrounded us while we were cruising along the trails. The last part of the second route was very challenging, and the checkpoint on the top of the mountain came exactly at the right time. 

We needed a break from the intense off-road riding. At the checkpoint we had to build a kite with twigs we collected along the route combined with a piece of paper and some sticky tape. Fortunately, my kite build was a success and it stayed up in the air long enough to score the maximum points. Unfortunately, not everybody had the same luck with their kites.


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Burning up

During the middle of the day, the temperature started to rise and rise towards 40 degrees Celsius, so we decided to take a break on the hottest moment of the day. After a nice lunch back in Benasque, we went back into the mountains for the third route of the day: Trail Sur. It was very hot down in the valley on the way to the route, and it felt like riding around in an oven.

Luckily, the off-road trail took us a bit higher into the mountains where the temperature was a bit more tolerable - but not by much! This route proved to be quite challenging and the heat only made it more difficult. The sun was burning us up and our body temperatures were reaching the limit. On the top of the mountain we had to do a challenge that involved finding flags in a big field with high grass.

It took us a while before we found all the flags. All the searching and walking around in full motorcycle gear in the burning sun was a bit too much for our bodies. We decided to take a break in the shade because we started to overheat. After the break, we went down the mountain to the next checkpoint where we received some cold water from the organization.

It was time to head back to the finish. It was starting to get a bit later in the afternoon so the temperature started to drop and we had a relaxing ride back into Benasque to the finish of the event. Slightly exhausted but very satisfied we parked our Ducatis at the Enduropark stand. We collected the final stamp in our ARTIC passport and cracked open a very well deserved cold beer! Wow this day was a lot of fun!

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After the finish, there was a big dinner in the local town hall. During the dinner there was an awards ceremony where the riders that collected the most points during the challenge received their prizes from the event sponsors. One lucky rider went home with a brand new REV’IT! Offtrack outfit from our new SS19 adventure collection! This edition of ARTIC Pirineos was very different to last year’s - mainly because of the hot weather - but one thing stayed the same: the great atmosphere.

Everybody was having a lot of fun and there was a very relaxed vibe during the whole event. It was great to connect with the riders, our REV’IT! dealers and ambassadors that where attending, and to catch up with them with a cold drink in our hands. Like last year, the whole event was organized perfectly and we would like to thank the ARTIC organization for putting together another great event this year. We can’t wait to do it again next year.

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The ARTIC challenge is all about riding beautiful roads, completing fun tasks along the way, while enjoying the amazing scenery and having a fun with great people. If you have the opportunity to enter an ARTIC challenge in the future, we highly recommend you to do it. You won’t be disappointed.


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