AN off-road adventure motorbike series roared around Kielder Forest for the first time last weekend.

The Adventure Spec Challenge, in partnership with rally bike race organiser Rallymoto, was launched last year, with a high profile event in Wales attracting competitors from across Europe.

This year however, the event has tripled in size by hosting new events at Kielder and the Isle of Man.

Last weekend, 147 competitors made it to the start line for the inaugural Kielder 500. Competitors faced a tough challenge - a 250km course which twisted and turned through the North Tyne countryside on Saturday and Sunday.

Starting out at Bellingham, the route was based around sections of Kielder Forest, the north side of Kielder Reservoir, and included a checkpoint at Kielder Castle.

To run the event, RallyMoto teamed up with adventure kit retailers Adventure Spec, who are also running the Adventure Spec Challenge as part of the series. This meant that, whilst on the road, riders were tasked with navigating the course using a road book, creating an ‘adventure style’ race for motorcycles over 140kg.

Points are awarded depending on the placing of each competitor in the three rallies, with the overall winner getting an entry into the Estrela 2000; a five-day road book event for adventure bikes in Portugal later this year. And of the 147 competitors at Kielder, 17 riders were best placed to finish in the gold medal position.

Race director Robert Hughes, of event organisers Rallymoto, said the event was a huge success.

“It was the first year we have been at Kielder but we’re definitely looking to come back again next year,” he said.

“The weather was a bit mixed over the two days but this didn’t affect the driving conditions at all, and the route was able to fully operate to its full potential. It was an absolutely fantastic weekend, and great to see so many people involved.”

A spokesman from Adventure Spec, said: “I found it hard to believe it was possible to ride 500km of back-to-back open trails in such beautiful scenery, and still be in the UK.” The next 500 event takes place on May 25 and 26 in Wales.