Exercise Northern Long Ride 19 was an adventurous training (AT) expedition to the mountains of Andalucía, Spain for 2nd Infantry Training Battalion (2 ITB) based in Catterick. Organized by Captain Lalit Thapa, 4 (Iraq) Platoon Commander, the aim was to promote courage, leadership, physical robustness and team cohesion in order to enhance the operational effectiveness of the unit by boosting the morale of the permanent staff. The AT package was mainly focused on two activities, hill waling and mountain biking.
12 service personnel across the ranks from 2 ITB deployed to the Pure Mountains farmhouse located on an altitude of 1600m on the Rocky Mountains of Berchules, Granada Spain. A heartily and homely welcome from Jenny and Tim (expedition hosts) made us feel like we never left our home. The icing on the cake was the weather, which was like the one we had before we left United Kingdom, wet and windy.
On the first day of the expedition we started the hike from the farmhouse with beautiful scenery before us and walked 26 kms over 6hrs. This produced some very tired legs with the altitude reached at the highest point of 1950m above sea level.
The next few days was going to be fun, after all we loved the mountains and the idea of riding a bike on those mountains was exciting. I can hardly express the feelings that went through my heart and mind while riding the bikes on the mountains, which resemble the hilly regions of Nepal. The scenic views, perfect weather that had materialised, the company and the routes for the cycling was something to cherish. The routes were very challenging and demanding, as they were designed for advanced riders so some of our team members would step off the bikes and carry them on their shoulders on the more difficult sections.
We left the mountains with a very short hike back down to the village of Berchules. The next phase of the expedition was a city excursion to Malaga. The city excursion was designed to explore the Spanish culture and traditions. We tried the electric scooters out, visited the Picasso museum, undertook a coastal walk. Despite the physical side of the expedition it gave the members a really good time to rest and recuperate their minds.