The Enduro World Series is all about exploring new locations and epic trails, as well as pushing the limits of the riders and the sport. Always fresh, always exciting, and more often than not with a little unknown thrown in for good measure. For the third round of the series here in Madeira, it's safe to say all of those boxes have been checked. Some many times over, especially the unknown.
A tiny island, isolated and all alone far out in the Atlantic Ocean, Madeira seems to generate its own weather throughout the day. And with so many microclimates that vary with elevation and exposure to the sea and wind, no single stage is guaranteed to be the same from top to bottom. Racers may start in gale force wind and rain on one stage, then just a few kilometers away on a different peak everything is dry and sunny. Then in about twenty minutes that will all change once again. The stages themselves are a mix of fast ridge lines, rock gardens, loamy, deciduous forest, and hard packed clay—the latter of which is slick as ice when wet, especially that of the red variety found at the bottom of Stage 1.
Practice went off in every condition imaginable other than snow (thankfully) and bikes and bodies have been taking a beating over nine stages the past few days. With two big race days ahead and a few more doses of the unknown still left to go, it's anyone's guess what will go down on the steeps of Madeira.
Grab your tearoffs, duck the roost, and enjoy this visual preview of the weekend's big show…