Madeira is different, it isn’t a bike park, it isn’t naturally formed trails, it hasn’t evolved over the centuries and it hasn’t been a huge private multimillion dollar investment project. It’s been hand built by a small group of fanatics who went in search of unique opportunities in all four corners of the island to build, reclaim, open up and dig, and dig some more, creating a very unique set of circumstances on this jewel in the Atlantic Ocean.

It’s mid-summer and we have arrived in Madeira with Andrew Neethling ex pro downhill racer and Moving the Needle podcast host. It’s sunny, warm and spirits are high as we land on this spectacular Atlantic island for a week of riding, trail building, filming and getting to know the locals.

We are met on landside of the airport by John Fernandes, local trail builder, event organiser, guide, and key player in the local mountain bike scene. He is all things mountain biking on Madeira and certainly looks the part with his tricked out black pick up truck, EVOC tailgate pad and dust covered bike hanging off the back.

We have had the pleasure of being on the island for an EWS race event with the world’s top riders and being shown around by the guy who has made it all happen. During our time with John we got to understand to what extent he has shaped the island’s mountain bike community into what we all know and love today. It’s not been an easy road, it rarely is, but from what we have seen it has been worth it.

John has been instrumental in pushing the creation of mountain biking in Madeira, from trails, to infrastructure and events, to pro video shoots, which is why we are here. So that Andrew can delve deeper into what makes this island tick, why trails exist here and what impact this has had on this sleepy island.

After 8 days on Madeira, Andrew had one takeaway comment – “Build it and they will come”.

Photos credit – H+I Adventures

Thu 19th May, 2022 @ 6:30 pm

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