Katy Curd’s Epic Trans Madeira 2022 Diary
What an epic adventure!
Trans Madeira had so much appeal to me. A new island to explore, I love travelling, experiencing different cultures and what better way to explore an island than on your bike. The multi-day racing is also a new style of racing to me. Big distances every day for 5 days, this was the part that made me most nervous. One of my favourite things to do is riding trails blind, but it’s a whole other ball game racing blind. Trying to ride trails as fast as you feel comfortable, trying to process so much information at speed, taking risks or playing it safe, never knowing how hard to push as you never know how long the trails are… I loved it.
I was crazy nervous before heading out to Trans Madeira. The fear of the unknown, not knowing if I would actually be able to complete the event, nervous of the trails, not knowing what to take with me, the list goes on but from the moment I touched down in Madeira I felt welcomed; meeting fellow racers in the airport, signing on, building our bikes, the event was so well organised, from day 1 everything ran super slick. The nerves were long gone the second my feet reached the sand for our first camp.
Getting stuck into the racing, the first day was also the biggest at 60km & 900m climbing (which turned into 1300m) over 7 stages of racing.
This was the biggest day I’ve ever had on my bike and it was challenging. The climbs were brutally long and steep, the stages were a complete mix, from short and super flowy to long, rocky and tech. You never knew what you were throwing yourself into. After just day 1 it felt like a huge accomplishment to simply make it through the day. Reality set in to all of us as we reached camp as we realised there was another 4 days to follow…!
Coming back to camp, chatting to all the people about their day, hearing stories of peoples experiences was so nice but by far the best thing about each and every day was the food! The organisers had done an amazing job, day and night to make sure each and everyone of us replenished after burning who knows how many calories and it was really good food.
Day 2 was the biggest challenge for me. The trails were amazing but three stages in my body was depleted. Even after a stacked plate of food the day before, along with all the snacks in between, my blood sugar hit rock bottom twice. The struggle was real, I was shaking, feeling dizzy trying to eat anything and everything I could to just feel the slightest bit normal again.
A big learning curve to enduro racing, fuelling your body with the right food and staying hydrated is key. Luckily the spirit of the other racers took me through the second day, and we managed to finish knackered but still smiling!
I’m not sure what to say about day 3 apart from this is what made the trip so epic. Day 3 was a real adventure. 48km, 4 stages 1680m climbing, 2980m descending. By 10.30am we had done two stages already but little did we know what stood between us and stage 3.
We climbed up and over the most beautiful mountain, 12km of this smallest ridge balanced way out on the edge.. A good 2 hours of solid hike-a-bike, so steep and tech, you had no choice but to carry your bike on your shoulders and simply put one foot in front of the other. The views were incredible, I had to stop so many times just to take everything in.
After climbing and traversing along the 12km ridge way we were ducking our way through tunnels along a Levada, head torches on, following a two foot wide path whilst ducking for the curve of the tunnel the whole way through. It really felt like a proper adventure.
“My god, these stages, blew my mind, just before I dropped in a photographer said don’t hold back, give it everything and the dirt will hold you.
I did exactly that and my god he wasn’t wrong. It felt like surfing on a bike or carving turns on a snowboard for a whole four minutes, its was insane”
I’m going to put it out there and say this was my best day on a bike I think I’ve ever had, ever! Despite ripping a hole in my tyre on stage one and crashing on stage 4, I was beaming ear to ear after this day and still buzzing from it now. The trails were so good, the dirt on every single stage was predicable, the trails fast, blowing up deep dusty turns, I was in heaven. Nothing could wipe the smile off my face and this one day would be the reason I will sign up to race Trans Madeira again!
There was a different vibe on camp, everyone was so drained from 4 days riding already but excited to finish. 6 more stages and we had all completed what seemed impossible at the start of the week. Everyone I spoke to just wanted to end the day in one piece, ride fast but not take risks. I’m not going to lie, I was knackered, my body was really feeling four days of back to back racing. Aston Tutt and I were making up songs on every climb, trying to motivate ourselves to the top of the hill.
The top of stage 6, the last stage on the last day, my god did it ever feel good to get there. And maybe the best stage of the day, full of jumps and drops, super fast, dusty and then greeted with a beer, a medal and a cheer from the organisation at the bottom of the stage, what a feeling! The best thing about the whole day is sleeping in a 5 start hotel which after 5 nights in a tent feels like you are royalty!
A real sense of accomplishment just finishing the event, looking back now it was one of the best weeks I’ve had on my bike. Madeira island is so beautiful, the constant change in scenery from East, South, North and West was amazing to explore. The people you meet on the trip, friendships made with people from all over the world.
The mental barriers you push through just to make it each day. Everything from camping to the food to the riding was simply amazing, you couldn’t fault the organisers and it really is a trip of a life time.
“One for the bucket list whether you are into racing or not, this trip is epic!”