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surfermarksurfermark Posts: 2
edited October 2007 in Tour & expedition
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Has anyone any info on cycling (preferably road but MTB also) Madiera Nov- March time? What are the roads like?


  • The MechanicThe Mechanic Posts: 1,277
    I have been on holiday to Madeira but not on a bike. There is one flatish road on the plateau on the top but otherwise, every road is either vertically up or vertically down with hairpins every 2 meters. A circuit of the island would be very challenging indeed. Another thing to bear in mind is, apart from the tourist hire cars (the drivers of which are usually scared witless), every Maderian driver thinks he/she is Marcus Gronholm.

    Have a great holiday.
    I have only two things to say to that; Bo***cks
  • cpeacheycpeachey Posts: 1,057
    Leave your bike at home and take your walking shoes. The Lavadas make for very pleasant walks. I would'nt want to even drive there!
  • allactionallaction Posts: 209
    I agree with the above. Some of the roads there are barely walkable never mind cyclable.
  • ASC1951ASC1951 Posts: 992
    I had a week cycling there a couple of years ago. After the Canaries and Mallorca I found it desperately steep. Although I'm nowhere near as fit as in my youth I can generally still grind my way up big hills, but I had to abandon one route out of Funchal after three miles of straight 1:8.

    That said, I did get three excellent days out of a week's riding and from sea level to Pico Ariero was a great ride, with stunning views at the top, like looking along the Cuillin Ridge. I even did half a mile along the footpath before admitting that in plastic soled rigid road shoes I stood a good chance of lobbing off to my death.

    If you want some simple unfussy accomodation (about €25 a night), try the Mirasol B&B in Funchal. This was the only time I've flown without arranging anywhere to stay and I happened upon the proprietor at the airport. Top bloke - even drove me and my clutter back to the airport for free at the end of the week. and [email protected]

    Next time I would take some walking boots as well. The levada and mountain walking is unlike anywhere else in Europe.
  • knedlickyknedlicky Posts: 3,097
    I've looked at Madeira, with the idea of a Winter/Spring break too, but the Madeira tourist office only lists mountain-biking after several water and mountain sports and doesn't mention road cycling at all. I wondered if that was a reflection of the facilities you'd find (routes, services, etc) and reception you'd get (off motorists, locals, etc).

    Having said that I did find on the Net a couple of small cycling companies at Caniço de Baixo which for about £30 will organise a day-long tour with a guide, either on-road with racing bike or off-road with MTB (MTB routes use the levadas). The price includes provision of a bike (racing bike with Shimano 105 or better) and the other necessary bulky stuff like helmet and water bottle (though not shoes).
    Apparently if you book three tours it costs about £80, i.e. you get a slight reduction. I don't know if the tours need a minimum number of participants to take place (I've found in Italy and Austria, guides will still take you at the basic price even if you're the only one).

    One of these two companies also offer bike hire if you just want to ride on your own, for about £15-20 for one day or £65-80 (depending on model) for a week.

    I can understand some of the comments above - it seems that, outside the towns, no route of any length is flatter than 7% and that even a tour of only 80-90 km will include at least 1500 m climbing, with roads at 18% not uncommon. For that reason, one probably needs to be in reasonable condition on arrival. In fact, one of the Canico cycling companies advertises its road bike tours as good training for Alpine sportives (though Madeira in Winter is a bit far ahead for the Marmotte in July).

    In contrast to some of what is said above, I heard most roads are in good condition, and with little traffic outside the towns (I read there's a sort of motorway for traffic just wanting to cross the island), but seems from above comments, I may have been misinformed.
    I haven't decided yet.
  • ASC1951ASC1951 Posts: 992
    knedlicky wrote:
    In contrast to some of what is said above, I heard most roads are in good condition, and with little traffic outside the towns
    That was certainly what I found.
  • I go to Madeira regularly for the walking and it was only on the most recent trip in September that I saw, on two separate occasions, road cyclists for the first time. One was on a rare flat couple of km in Madalena do Mar, the other nearby but braving some of the many tunnels on the new roads. You could in theory do a circuit of the island on the older roads that, while hardly devoid of hills, also spend a lot of time hugging contours. There's even a Tour de Madeira, some of which I caught on local TV there last month, though didn't encounter in the flesh.

    Alongside upgrading of some of the island's main footpaths, there are now some newly signed mtb routes - there's a network up near the Fonte de Bispo above Prazares, for instance.
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