Has anyone road cycled Madeira?

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Jon in Sweden
Posts: 121
Joined: 22 May 2022, 12:53pm

Has anyone road cycled Madeira?

Post by Jon in Sweden »

I'm looking for a late October cycling holiday destination for next year and Madeira has piqued my interest.

It looks very undeveloped, rustic and wild. It also looks like I'd be spending a hell of a lot of time in the granny ring (ie, easiest gear) as the inclines are savage.

Just wondering if any of you guys and gals had been there?

Many thanks! 8)
oldtimer99
Posts: 99
Joined: 19 Mar 2013, 8:26pm

Re: Has anyone road cycled Madeira?

Post by oldtimer99 »

It just so happens I'm there now....without the bike.
Roads are good....lovely tarmac.
Drivers are good...not much traffic and very aware.
The roads are hilariously steep. I'm using a hire car. Had it for a week. Got into 5th gear once. 8o% of my driving has been in 1st or 2nd gear.
Have seen one road cyclist and a dozen mtb riders.
If you're young enough, fit enough and brave enough......
Jon in Sweden
Posts: 121
Joined: 22 May 2022, 12:53pm

Re: Has anyone road cycled Madeira?

Post by Jon in Sweden »

oldtimer99 wrote: 22 Nov 2022, 8:52pm It just so happens I'm there now....without the bike.
Roads are good....lovely tarmac.
Drivers are good...not much traffic and very aware.
The roads are hilariously steep. I'm using a hire car. Had it for a week. Got into 5th gear once. 8o% of my driving has been in 1st or 2nd gear.
Have seen one road cyclist and a dozen mtb riders.
If you're young enough, fit enough and brave enough......
Ah that's super - thanks for the insight!

I have been thinking about either Gran Canaria or Tenerife, but on a whim checked out Madeira. I honesty thought that Plotaroute was having technical issues as I couldn't believe how steep the hills were. And then I looked at some videos and photos ..... :shock:

I wonder if I can persuade anyone from our village to come along?! I'm not sure any of them are mad enough.
Richard Fairhurst
Posts: 1868
Joined: 2 Mar 2008, 4:57pm
Location: Charlbury, Oxfordshire

Re: Has anyone road cycled Madeira?

Post by Richard Fairhurst »

Exactly what oldtimer says. We've been several times on holiday - it's quite a kid-friendly place, especially with the level walks along the levadas (drainage channels). But you would be incredibly brave to tackle some of the roads on a bike!

My favourite are the roads like this - https://goo.gl/maps/cbxHnVNGrBNtMxHc7 - which have steps cut into the centre of the road as they'd be unwalkable otherwise.

Still, some of the scenery is gorgeous... https://goo.gl/maps/M3Dk1g9hZX5LXJhD7
cycle.travel - maps, journey-planner, route guides and city guides
simonhill
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Joined: 13 Jan 2007, 11:28am
Location: Essex

Re: Has anyone road cycled Madeira?

Post by simonhill »

I went years ago (Maggie was on the throne) on a cheap flight and travelled around by bus and hitching. I remember there not being a lot there outside Funchal.

I looked again during covid as they were allowing entry. After looking at roads, etc I decided there wasn't enough to be able to string any decent rides together.

I went to mainland Portugal instead and had a wonderful time.
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MrsHJ
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Joined: 19 Aug 2010, 1:03pm
Location: Dartmouth, Devon.

Re: Has anyone road cycled Madeira?

Post by MrsHJ »

We walked the levadas around 2000.

It was lovely in many ways but I got a bit agrophobic. Not that many routes and not easy to get off. Safe to say that when him indoors sails around the world on retirement I’ll be cycling!

The place we were staying was a bit dull and full of mature German tourists (ie probably the age we are now!) so we checked out and toured around the pousadas (Portuguese paradors) instead. There don’t seem to be many now but one was at the highest point on the island (or close to it), one on a wild coast and one in a wine making area if I remember correctly.

https://www.expedia.co.uk/Ribeira-Brava ... nformation
Jules59
Posts: 302
Joined: 16 Jan 2019, 2:34pm

Re: Has anyone road cycled Madeira?

Post by Jules59 »

Visited Madeira in 2014.
Enjoyed it immensely- its quite an extreme island in many ways - scary runway, very steep hills, hot and dry, black beaches, quiet pine forests, interesting restaurants and piles of salted cod in the supermarkets, .
It takes ages to drive anywhere as the roads are so wiggly
Walking up the hills was hard enough for me, never mind cycling.
Walking the Pico de Ruivo is thrilling, if you like very narrow paths and steep drops.
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millimole
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Joined: 18 Feb 2007, 5:41pm
Location: Leicester

Re: Has anyone road cycled Madeira?

Post by millimole »

It's a while since we last went. My impression was that the main population was strung around the coast and centred on Funchal. We were using public transport and walking - I felt that the roads were narrow and steep with too many hired cars with drivers not seemingly used to those roads.
I remember thinking that it wasn't the sort of place I'd like to be cycling.
Leicester; Riding my Hetchins since 1971; Day rides on my Dawes; Going to the shops on a Decathlon Hoprider
simonhill
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Joined: 13 Jan 2007, 11:28am
Location: Essex

Re: Has anyone road cycled Madeira?

Post by simonhill »

The other problem is getting there. It is a very difficult airport to land at. There are occasional reports of planes circling, then refuelling in Canaries before returning to UK about 10 hours later, with you still on board.
dondelion
Posts: 59
Joined: 13 Sep 2014, 10:48am

Re: Has anyone road cycled Madeira?

Post by dondelion »

I've not ridden there but stayed there for a couple of months during Covid when our 2 year bike tour was rudely interrupted. It was safer and cheaper to stay there in a small non tourist town in a damp cheap Airbnb than staying in the UK. I'll echo that a lot of the roads are ridiculously steep, some of their driveways seemed to be 50% gradients or worse! There just aren't that many interesting roads, we stayed in Sao Vicente on the north side and I the only roads I'd want to ride would really be the coastal road to Porto Moniz and the roads around the plateau of Paul de Serra. Virtually all of the coasts are built up. there are limited roads in the interior and lots of the roads are full of tourist traffic and buses. Even with a mountain bike there are only a few rideable tracks. There are lots of quiet insanely steep residential roads of course so if you just want the exercise, do reps of them! It's definitely spectacular and has some unique ecosystems but we left our bikes at home and didn't feel the urge to rent any once we were there. Go hiking there instead, it's awesome!
Jon in Sweden
Posts: 121
Joined: 22 May 2022, 12:53pm

Re: Has anyone road cycled Madeira?

Post by Jon in Sweden »

Thanks for all the feedback folks.

On reflection, it might be best to stick to one of the more common choices. Gran Canaria really appeals - it looks far easier to do circular routes without backtracking than on Tenerife.
rareposter
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Joined: 27 Aug 2014, 2:40pm

Re: Has anyone road cycled Madeira?

Post by rareposter »

Jon in Sweden wrote: 25 Nov 2022, 9:12am Thanks for all the feedback folks.

On reflection, it might be best to stick to one of the more common choices. Gran Canaria really appeals - it looks far easier to do circular routes without backtracking than on Tenerife.
Gran Canaria is amazing, I've been a few times.
Most cyclists go to Maspalomas in the south (warmer, access to beaches) but actually the best riding is in the north. The mountains up around Cruz de Tejeda, Artenara etc are spectacular.
It's hilly - you won't find a flat route! But it is stunning. Much greener and slightly cooler than the south. Traffic generally very courteous.

Some of the road surfaces aren't great and wider tyres are a good shout but equally some are super smooth. It's a bit pot luck in places.

The climb up to Pico de las Nieves, the highest point on the island is a good one, you can do it from absolute sea level if you want a challenge!
Jon in Sweden
Posts: 121
Joined: 22 May 2022, 12:53pm

Re: Has anyone road cycled Madeira?

Post by Jon in Sweden »

rareposter wrote: 25 Nov 2022, 9:42am
Jon in Sweden wrote: 25 Nov 2022, 9:12am Thanks for all the feedback folks.

On reflection, it might be best to stick to one of the more common choices. Gran Canaria really appeals - it looks far easier to do circular routes without backtracking than on Tenerife.
Gran Canaria is amazing, I've been a few times.
Most cyclists go to Maspalomas in the south (warmer, access to beaches) but actually the best riding is in the north. The mountains up around Cruz de Tejeda, Artenara etc are spectacular.
It's hilly - you won't find a flat route! But it is stunning. Much greener and slightly cooler than the south. Traffic generally very courteous.

Some of the road surfaces aren't great and wider tyres are a good shout but equally some are super smooth. It's a bit pot luck in places.

The climb up to Pico de las Nieves, the highest point on the island is a good one, you can do it from absolute sea level if you want a challenge!
Thanks for the encouragement!

I'll trying to collect a rabble of guys from our cycling club for November next year. We were looking at getting accommodation more or less in the centre so that we an go in any direction and avoid repeating the same routes too much.

The Google Street View images do make it look incredible. It works out quite cheaply too, as a week away. I love hills, so it's my idea of heaven.
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