DAY 1 – 80km +2.390m
We started in Funchal, the capital of Madeira, and it was a pleasant start… for 10 minutes. After that we tasted what was, at the time, the steepest road I have ever ridden. It was unbelievable, we had to ride in zig-zag using all the street. And we weren't even out of Funchal. So we can say that it was a hard start… jajaja.
After suffering a little bit more, we left the city and entered a less populated area, we started to see the green colors of Madeira. We were headed to Ponta de Sao Lourenço, the easternmost point of the island.
Ponta de Sao Lourenço is a completely treeless landscape where the oranges and browns are the main colors. We rode to the end where we could see the sharpen rocks of volcanic origin.
We turned back and we were headed to Porto da Cruz, riding through a steep 4km pass, until we reached Miradouro do Curtado and rode down to Santana where we stopped for the first night.
DAY 2 – 70km +2.930m
This was the big day on the paper we had a hors category climb of 12km, from the sea level to +1000m. We started in Santanta and riding through the road ER101 we went by a more rural area where the houses where in the middle of the small fields. Small uphills and small downhills, it was a nice warm up for the day ahead.
We cross the small towns of Sao Jorge, Boaventura and Ponta Delgada, nice road near the coast, all curves, ups and downs and a couple of tunnels and a short steep parts until we made it to the town of Sao Vicente.
We stopped at Sao Vicente for a small snack and get ready for the biggest climb to the Miradouro da Encumeada; from +0m to +1000m in just 12km, with an average slope of 10% steep with some parts reaching 16%.
Even we knew what was coming it was tough. We never rode a climb like that, the steepness was unbelievable, but the scenery was unbeatable. It was like they build the road in the middle of the forest, so deep, so green and so full of life, you could hear a thousand birds.
After some suffering we reached the top and you could see both the north and the south coast of the island. You realise the steepness of the climb when you started with a 25ºC and sunny weather and when you reach the top its all foggy, you can feel the cold wind and there are 12ºC.
It was time to go down, the hotel for that night was in Ponta do Sol ( Ribeira Brava), so it was a 17km downhill. It was nice to finish the day with a fun and fast downhill.
DAY 3 – 95km +1.840m
We started day 3 with a transfer from the hotel (Ponta do Sol) to the Miradouro da Encumeada and we rode a short road with a couple of tunnels and curves with nice views to the valley.
The sun shined when we started pedalling but suddenly the fog covered all the valley and we had to put the jacket. Even we were 16km from the sea, we were at +1.200m the wind was really cold.
It was, again, a steep but pleasant climb. Then we reached the top, the fog went away and the landscape changed drastically. It was a big flat area full of windmills and the road turned from “u” turns and slopes to straight and flat. Then, Andreu had a flat tyre and we changed without problem whatsoever.
After the long straights we started the downhill to Porto Moniz. A 15km descent from +1.300m to the sea. At the start it was nice, some chill downhill after all the long and steep uphills we did the days before. However, the downhill got steeper and the road was not really soft. We could start to feel the arms and the hands after some minutes as if we were in a long trail, and again, we could feel the warmer temperatures as we went down.
A quick break to Porto Moniz and back on the bike, to do a 2,7km and +500m climb. It was tough but with nice views to the coast and the cliffs. After that the road soften and entered a more deep forest area while we saw the sunset. More short ups and downs we got caught by the night and the fog again.
The hotel was some km away and it started to rain a bit, luckily we were near the coast and it was not cold. Finally, made it to Calheta where we would spend the last night.
DAY 4 – 51km +1.350m
The last day it was the chilliest one, which was great after the last 3 days. Still we had more than 1.300m of altitude to cover in 51km. Starting from Calheta, we rode the road that goes beside the coast, and like the other days, we didn't have a long flat section, it was climbing or riding downhill all the time, only that day weren't long.
We crossed Ribeira Brava, Camara de Lobos, until we already saw Funchal, again, after 4 long days. We saw a more urban area all the day, we left the lost and lonely roads surrounded by deep forests. Instead we saw a lot of banana fields.
After 4 days, 297km, +8.530m and countless hours on the bike, we have to say we loved Madeira, despite the hard climbs, it is worth it. To be honest, I don't think you can see so many different sceneries in so few kms. We recommend to go, but we also recommend to put some training hours before so you will enjoy a lot more the island, because its really tough.
For any questions you have regarding the trip or anything else you can contact me through my Instagram or mail: firstname.lastname@example.org !
Hope you liked this article as much as we did riding Madeira!
MADEIRA AT A GLANCE
DAY 1 (80km +2.390m) – from FUNCHAL to SANTANA
DAY 2 (70km +2.930m) – from SANTANA to PONTA DO SOL
DAY 3 (95km +1.840m) – from ENCUMEADA to CALHETA
DAY 4 (51km +1.350m) – from CALHETA to FUNCHAL
297km – +8.530m
You can see the route map and if you go to Komoot you will find the collection of the 4 days around Madeira and you can even download the track, pretty awesome, I know.