Exploring & Racing on the Portuguese Island of Madeira

Sep 17, 2018 at 8:47
by Yaroslav Alpizar  


I love Portugal, I really do. Having visited many of their local spots and covering their active Enduro Series and mountain biking scene in general I always get asked: "Have you been in Madeira? No? Then go ASAP!!" And here I am, one week into this paradise on Earth. One week of not just riding the best trails, but also getting to know their gastronomy, culture, and history, thanks to Madeira Enduro Meeting organizers and Clube Naval do Seixal.

With some of the best guides in the island, Alexandre, Marcos and Leonardo, we got to know the best-hidden gems. And I can tell you for sure that each and every riding spot is unique on its own. Take your car, drive 30 minutes and you are in the middle of the laurisilva rainforest, surrounded by what seems to be fog, but is just the clouds loaded with humid air. Drive another 30 minutes and find yourself on a dry alpine-like terrain, dusty and rocky. 30 more minutes and you are in a nonstop vegetation tunnel where slippery is just a way of life.

Seixal our camp base for the rest of the week small and quiet village overlooking the ocean
Seixal, our camp base for the rest of the week, small and quiet village overlooking the ocean

Into he heart of the forest
Into the heart of the forest
Getting to know local history
Getting to know local history

Impossible to have a better venue for race briefing and podiums ceremenoy
Impossible to have a better venue for race briefing and podiums ceremony

Madeira is not a big island, but it has some impressive mountains, reaching 1,868m on Pico Ruvio and 1,818m on Pico de Arriero. Due to its strategic location, huge banks of clouds loaded with rain are usually stopped on the northern side of the island, making that area very humid and with a sub-tropical kind of vegetation and the known laurisilva forest. South then makes for the sunnier side of the island, as well as more dusty and dry. Take that, a couple centuries of people walking from village to village and you've got yourself a wide network of trails. And those are the trails that several different local organizations, together with the help of local authorities, are recovering to create a paradise for mountain bikers.

Deep in the laurisilva forest trails are completely covered on vegetation
Deep in the laurisilva forest, trails are completely covered in vegetation, @bryan-regnier enjoying himself

Did I say slippery and wet
Did I say slippery and wet?
Vegetation tunnels everywhere
Vegetation tunnels everywhere

Loose high on the mountains and above the clouds
Loose high on the mountains and above the clouds

YT rider Ace Hayden took the opportunity to discover the island race his first ever enduro race and get some rad shooting on the sunset
YT rider Ace Hayden took the opportunity to discover the island, race his first ever Enduro race and get some rad shooting at sunset

Madeira has a rich history and culture and amazing gastronomy and wine traditions. Funchal is the capital of the island, where the famous (or infamous) airport is located and it has a vibrant economy, pushed by tourism and the non stop coming and going of trans-Atlantic cruises. One day is not enough to explore the narrow streets, vibrant with life. A stop on the well known Blandy's wine cellar, with seven generations on this noble art, and enjoying their wine tasting rituals, is a must. The nearby farmers & fish market, the known Mercado dos Lavradores, is also mandatory.

Did you know maracuja has more than 10 different variants Well if not come to Madeira to try it
Did you know maracuja has more than 10 different variants? Well, if not, come to Madeira to try it

In the well known Mercado dos Lavradores you can find fresh fish fruits vegetables and flowers. Tuna is delicious by the way
In the well known Mercado dos Lavradores you can find fresh fish, fruits, vegetables and local exotic flowers
The flowers and in general vegetation variety is enormous
The flowers and in general the variety of vegetation is enormous

Not just riding event organizers also want to show all local products as this old winery in Funchal with 7 generations in the making
Not just riding, event organizers also want to show all local products, like this old winery in Funchal, with 7 generations in the making

All along your rides black walls made with volcanic rock and vineyards will be your companions
All along your ride, black walls made with volcanic rock and vineyards will be your companions
From Madrid Spain Sergio Zurdo is the Endurama championship organizer but Madeira is his second home
From Madrid, Spain, Zurdo is the Endurama championship organizer, but Madeira is his second home

No words to describe this well known and iconic trail of Madeira well maintained by locals and used couple of times on the EWS
No words to describe this well known and iconic trail of Madeira, well maintained by locals and used a couple of times on the EWS

After a couple days of relaxing and riding everywhere, is time for a race. To close an awesome weekend, the Madeira Enduro Meeting organized the 4th race of the Madeira Enduro Cup. The race took place in the highly protected area of Fanal and Porto Moniz. Six stages, to complete almost 30km with a 1,200m climb and 1,500m descent. On the training day on Saturday, shuttles were allowed as usual in every race in Portugal. Riders from all corners of the island arrived on Saturday for the urban prologue. As special guests, YT Industries riders, Frenchman Bryan Regnier and Canadian Ace Layden, took part in the event. For Ace, it was his first ever enduro race.

Getting ready for the race first race plate for Ace Hayden YT rider usually found smashing BC trails and building sick freeride lines
Getting ready for the race, first race plate for Ace Hayden, YT rider usually found smashing BC trails and building sick freeride lines

Fast Fast Full gas until the black sand beach
Fast! Fast! Full gas until the black sand beach

Volcanic rock walls on the watch
Volcanic rock walls on the watch
Digo 2nd on Juniors category smashing trough Seixal stairs on the urban prologue
Digo, 2nd on Juniors category smashing trough Seixal stairs on the urban prologue

One of the few spots with Sun on the Fanal area SS1 was fast and muddy
One of the few spots with Sun on the Fanal area, SS1 was fast and muddy

Vegetation tunnels in Fanal area humidity is constant so watch out for the slippery rocks amp roots
Vegetation tunnels in Fanal area, humidity is constant so watch out for the slippery rocks & roots
Marcos local guide he knows the island as its own hand showing how is done on a sketchy section
Marcos, a local guide who knows the island as well as the back of his own hand, shows how is done on a sketchy section

Last meters of SS6 everyone is having fun kids don t try this at home
Last meters of SS6, everyone is having fun. Kids, don't try this at home

French YT rider Bryan Regnier enjoying himself on his first enduro race after a while
French YT rider Bryan Regnier enjoying himself on his first enduro race after a while

Don t know what you re looking at but I m just checking my phone says Ace
I don't know what you're looking at, but I'm just checking my phone, says Ace

Elite winners of the 4th race of the Madeira Enduro Cup
Elite winners of the 4th race of the Madeira Enduro Cup

Results

Elite Men

1st. Paulo Batista — 00:24:16
2nd. Tiago Freitas — 00:24:57
3rd. Jose Gouveia — 00:25:12
4th. Valter Freitas — 00:25:45
5th. Mario Renato Costa — 00:26:08
Open category

1st. Roberto Pombo — 00:24:45
2nd. Tiago Vieira — 00:26:59
3rd. Mitchel Ace — 00:27:08
4th. Philip Rother — 00:27:14
5th. Ivan Roxo — 00:27:33



MENTIONS: @YTIndustries



Madeira mountain biking trails


13 Comments

  • + 2
 Did a 2 day enduro/dh tour and bike rental with Freeride Madeira this July. It was top notch. I highly recommend the trails and the Freeride gang. Rui is an awesome guide and a straight shredder. I am ready to go back!
  • + 1
 Been to Madeira 2x now hands down one of the best places on Earth.
Unfortunately I visited freeride mountain biking guide shop the first time I went to Madeira and was met with a pretty blunt cold and unwelcoming vibe. Perhaps it was because I didn’t look like a mtb guy ? I’m 25 not 85 so Who knows ! So after literally 5 mins of talking I decided that I’d rather spend my money else where on the island.

So my first visit to Madeira was magical despite freeride Madeira not being very friendly. (My experience)
My second visit to Madeira was some what even better, we had thought about taking our bikes but then last minute decided to just hike. So we did we hiked 10-15 miles a day 6 days straight on some of the most beautiful trails we’d walked and met some fantastic people hired a car etc etc. So third time out it’ll be our bikes and our own hire car and some map hunting. ????
  • + 1
 I am literally just off the island, and pre booked my trip with the Freeride Madeira guys and can honestly say it was easy and welcoming even with my 100 awkward questions before I arrived. Bike set up for a UK rider, and suspension perfect. Bike working sharp and given an awesome tour of the island. Around 7 or 8 trails with lunch in the middle with the steepest and most technical riding I have ever come across.

Please if you go back to the island, use the guys. Pre book (small deposit required) and everything is sitting waiting for you.

Agreed hiking is awesome and the most beautiful place I've ever seen. \m/
  • + 1
 I totally forgot to link to the guys that organize this event, from Mountainbike Madeira they can tailor a full trip with all your requirements, shuttles, lodging, pick up/drop at airport, etc, etc. And man, the views they have from the hotel and the restaurant at the beach, on the Club Naval do Seixal, unbelievable
  • + 3
 All I can think of when I hear madeira is ratboy shredding that mountain
  • + 2
 I’ve just booked a day riding with Freeride Madeira on the 27th, looking forward to it :-)
  • + 2
 You will NOT be disappointed...enjoy!
  • + 2
 It was brilliant but so punishing my arms were jelly at the end of the day. If anyone find them selves in Madeira find a way to get the wife, girlfriend whatever to give a day pass to go and ride.
  • + 2
 would love to go there some day...
  • + 2
 Awesome place! I can't wait to go back
  • + 2
 Gonna spend Xmas there... Can't wait!
  • + 2
 My home! so proud!
  • + 2
 TOP! Portugal!!

Post a Comment



You must login to Pinkbike.
Don't have an account? Sign up

Join Pinkbike  Login
Copyright © 2000 - 2019. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv56 0.024041
Mobile Version of Website