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Video & Photo Story: An Inside Look At Freeride Madeira in 'Shaping an Island'

Nov 2, 2022
by iXS  


Words: iXS

Madeira is known as a world-class bike destination. Riders from all over the globe love the beautiful landscapes, great weather and, above all, the huge variety of awesome trails this place has to offer. But trails don’t fall from the sky. It needs hours of work, dedication, and a team of passionate people to build them. In the first episode of iXS Trail Stories, we take a deeper look into the work of Freeride Madeira who have shaped more than trails on the island.


Madeira - a real pearl in the Atlantic Ocean
If you are a mountain biker and never heard about Madeira, you must have spent the past years living under a rock. It’s a real diamond in the Atlantic Ocean and a dream destination for almost every biker. What makes Madeira so special is that you can find all five continents and all four seasons on this island which is only 57 km long and 22 km wide. Due to the island's beautiful and diverse nature, Madeira is also referred to as the flower island. But not only nature is super diverse on Madeira, the trails also vary immensely. But how did Madeira get such a great reputation within the global bike community?

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bigquotesThe diversity that Madeira has to offer is unbelievable. The island changes after almost every corner.

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Cruisin’ into the sunset. That’s how a perfect day on the bike should end.

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Stunning landscapes, different microclimates and beautiful diverse nature make Madeira a magical place.

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The Story of Freeride Madeira
Three guys play a major role in the development of the island: John, Rob and Filipe. Three friends with a deep love for mountain biking. It started in the year 2010 when the three did a bike trip to Portes du Soleil, one of the most popular bike destinations in the alps. In the middle of the bike park, surrounded by huge mountains and tons of trails, it dawned on them that Madeira had the ingredients to measure up to bike parks like Portes du Soleil. The landscape, the mild climate all year long, and the stunning views could position the island as a world-class bike destination. There was only one thing missing –proper trails. They spent their free time digging and maintaining, and as soon as the company earned enough money, they hired their first full-time trail builder: Alex.

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The team of Freeride Madeira believes that there is no great business without great trails.

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Even rainy days are still epic on Madeira. No matter the weather, the crew can be found working on the trails 5 days out of the week.

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The water channels are called Levadas and can be found all over the Island. The way next to them is pretty flat and brings the team deep into the forest to build their trails.

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Headlamps are mandatory for trail building on Madeira
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Often they have to go through tiny tunnels to reach the trail they are working on.

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A lot of trails a so remote or in such a deep forest, you can’t reach them with machines


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What does trail building in Madeira look like? Well, that’s impossible to explain in one sentence. Not only does the kind of work they have to do during the year vary significantly, but so do the terrain and techniques. You can have a proper rainforest with perfect loam on one side, and then a real sea of rocks on the other. Depending on the terrain, the team uses techniques, that have been used on the island for hundreds of years in agriculture. Over the years, the team of Freeride Madeira has built more than 20 trails with a length of 250 km on the island. Building and maintaining never end and to offer the best experience while growing the trail network, Freeride Madeira invests 20% of the company’s income to build new trails and maintain existing ones.


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Depending on the terrain, the team uses techniques that have been used on the island for hundreds of years in agriculture.

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bigquotesIt’s so cool that some brands see the effort that we’ve put in, like iXS, for example, and support us, support trail builders.John Fernandes

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Freeride Madeira is giving back 20% of their income to the Trails

Shape more than Trails
In the past, big wildfires caused huge damage to parts of the island. To protect what they love, Freeride Madeira works closely with the team of the ecoloquical park of Funchal. Together they realized the first official trail on the island and planted thousands of trees to reforest damaged parts. But working in the forest is only one part of the prevention. It goes alongside supporting the local community and getting more kids on bikes, giving the island’s next generation the chance to explore mountain biking and its opportunities.

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Over the years they planted thousands of trees on the island.


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With the development of the island as a world-class bike destination, Freeride Madeira has not only created their own business, but created business opportunities for others too. And we at iXS are honored to support the team at Freeride Madeira. Through their hard work and passion, they’re shaping more than just a world-class riding destination – they’re shaping the whole island.

#livetraillife


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Cheers guys! Thank you for the incredible work you put into shaping the whole island!


Posted In:
Stories Videos IXS


Author Info:
ixsmtb avatar

Member since Mar 23, 2011
20 articles

21 Comments
  • 14 1
 Feeling grateful to work together with Freeride Madeira and IXS all year round in making Madeira, a little paradise in the middle of the Atlantic, the place we call home, one of the best mountain bike destinations in the World! Thank you Freeride Madeira for the vision, passion and hard work for the sport we all love!
  • 8 0
 Having just returned from a few days riding over in Madeira with these guys this place and the team at Freeride Madeira are truly awesome, the quality and variety of the trails is just unreal (half the time it was pissing it down with rain and the riding was still great)
  • 4 0
 My whole family is from this island and I have YET to visit. I NEED to get there asap !!!!
  • 5 0
 Its a long bloody way from Australia to Madeira island, but I made the trip this year and am glad I did. The Trans Madeira/Freeride Madeira crew are amazing people and they've really made a unique gem of trails over there. Would love to get back there.
  • 7 0
 It's my dream to ride the red dirt of Madeira all day long and then chill on the beach in my Enve poncho.
  • 3 0
 If you have the money, do it. Go on the freeride madeira website and book a trip. These guys are the best. We rode something like 110k vertical feet of descending in five days. The vibes are awesome, Funchal has great food and drink. John and the crew will leave you with a taste of Madeira's culture, otherworldly trail riding, and its a great excuse to go to a corner of the world that not many visit.
  • 1 0
 How much did it cost for the whole trip?
  • 1 0
 Finally made it Madeira after a 2 year delay. It was everything you could ever ask for - amazing trails, amazing guides @Freeride Madeira, and the poncha wasn't bad either! Such a special place. The effort and pride that has gone in to building a world class trail network is incredible and it shows in the trails.
  • 1 0
 Did a day with another guiding company near Calheta and It was amazing. Such a beautiful Island and a fantastic landscape . Something there for everyone whether on or off a bike. Totally unique.
  • 3 0
 I've visited twice now and absolutely love it. Give me a job trail building and ill move there now!
  • 1 0
 Soooooo good to Know your love for the enduro, all mountain, trail sport and way of life....sounds like #guardatrails....kindof...Smile
  • 1 0
 Good work, great resume for what actually happened in Madeira trails, the only company that make words into actions ! Thank you
  • 1 0
 Beautiful trails and scenery. Hope to make the visit sometime to ride around!
  • 2 0
 "if you want ducks, make a lake!"
  • 1 0
 Kinda funny they have a clip of trail builders shredding up their own berms Otherwise, great video and props to these guys!
  • 1 0
 after visiting the freeride folks in May, I have literal dreams of going back
  • 1 0
 The pricing for that kind of experience is great, assuming I'm reading their website correctly.
  • 1 0
 Some of the best trails ever IMHO, the Freeride crew are exceptional, as are the local people.
  • 1 0
 Been five times and will be back - simply epic
  • 1 0
 Good job guys!
  • 1 0
 Amazing guys!!







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