Paul Bunn works in the office here at Archipelago Choice. Paul’s an avid mountain biker at home in the Lake District and on his recent recce trip to the Azores was very keen to explore the mountain biking on offer in Sao Miguel. When he got back we interviewed him to find out more about his experiences…
Can you tell us a little more about who you went mountain biking with?
My guides on Sao Miguel were André Raposo and Antonio Jorge from Azores Mountain Bike Holidays. Antonio is a three-time Azores regional DH champion and handles most of the guiding. Having cycled on Sao Miguel all his life, he has that invaluable local knowledge you need to be able to plan routes and adapt rides for all weathers and all skill levels. Andre looks after transportation and TLC, with a well-stocked chill-box filled with fruit and water in the back of his mini-bus.
Where did you go?
I opted for one of their uplift day tours based from Agua de Pau on the south cost of the island. We drove up to top of Pico da Barrosa – there’s a fantastic view of Lagoa do Fogo far on your left and on your right is the Atlantico Ocean, 3100ft below. The descents were a really nice mix of tricky technical sections, grassy singletrack, and fast sweeping switchbacks with really loose surfaces of pumice and basalt pebbles. Living the Lake District, I’m more used to hard pointy slate and big boulders, so it did take me a couple of runs to get used to cornering at speed without my front wheel washing out. In other parts of the island, there are also some really nice rooty forest trails (I’ll have to ride those next time!).
Click here to see video footage which shows some of the route Paul took.
What type of bike did you ride?
There’s really no difference to the type of bikes they’re riding on the islands and the bikes we ride in the UK. I simply let them know my height and my own brand of bike (a Nicolai AM), and they built me up a 160mm Kona Coilair that was perfect. The nice thing is Azores MTB can include as much or as little gear as you need: SPDs or flat pedals, full face or open helmets, body armour, gloves etc. Antonio is also a fully qualified mechanic and is happy to help tweak setups before and during your ride.
What was the best bit?
The views, which are spectacular. I think they are particularly astounding because you’re on a relatively small island. Living in the Lakes, I’m not used to seeing the sea from the top of a mountain, normally, you’re looking at the inside of a cloud!. Also, André and Antonio are really clever in the way they plan their routes, making sure you’re not just peddling with your head down all day; you’re exploring on a bike and they’re really keen to exhibit their island.
If you would like to incorporate a half or full days mountain biking into your holiday to the Azores then please let us know!
We’re planning a group guided mountain bike recce trip to explore the mountain biking trails on Sao Miguel this October. If you would like to know more then please call us on 017687 75672 or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org