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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Madeira mountain biking trails