I’m mindful that EWS Madeira is as consigned to the history books as my motivation seems to be at the moment, but although the world has moved on, I still had some final drops of Island content to squeeze out to add to the decay of the Internet. To make sure it grabs at least 4.5% of your content consuming mindshare, I’ve attempted to mix it up as much as a suburban cul du sac key swapping party.
A little bit of Dirty Video, an overly opinionated summary of Madeira as a location and then a drunken rant to round things out. Yes, I’m most likely trying to ignore not being an Trans Provence in perfect weather.
The Madeiran EWS Dirty Video
A relatively authentic confession here, this shredit feels a little boring… Its an ocean of POV and whilst I tried to be selective, 9 minutes over 9 Race stages is still a reasonable girth to try and consume. Still, should hopefully be as exciting as having a wank in the toilets at work, depending on where you work and the toilet configuration I guess:
That hopefully gave you a good feel for the variety of trails Madeira has to offer, which just like the trails, has us sliding awkwardly to the next topic…
The Madeira experience
I think the important piece of context here is the build up… Or more to the point, the potentially unrealistic expectations that may have ultimately been placed on this Island paradise. I’ve mentioned before that often the best nights out are those that are impromptu or pop up at the last minute and end up with you covered in honey & feathers with an optional pool ball in your mouth…. Ah, goooood times.
It never really felt like Madeira quite got in that space to be honest, more falling into the opposite camp where it was overhyped or over anticipated here at Dirty HQ. After all, this was THE big trip for 2017, so it surely had to be mental right?! It should rub awesome sauce all over me and lick it off RIGHT?!
Does it feel weird to type this up and say it was slightly ‘Meh‘? Fuck yes… I’ve thought about it a lot, hence the tardiness of the wrap up, but ultimately authenticity must prevail, especially in a 2017 which seems geared up to eliminate facts and anything that resembles a genuine view. I know the bulk of attendees won’t agree with me, but there were others that had the same vibe.
Maybe it was the tyranny of distance… Maybe there was too much waiting around… Maybe I’ve become a location snob… Maybe it was the bizarre volume of shady as fuck looking Goats… Maybe it was the WTF weather action… Or those fiddly stages? I could go on and on with these non value add shoulder shrugging questions while sounding like an uptight cunt, but instead here’s some things to chew on like one of those aforementioned goats if you’re considering the trip:
- Its a long way – Ok, so not if you’re from the UK or Europe, pretty easy hop and there’s a shit load of low cost direct flights into that Cray Cray airport. But from anywhere else in the world, it may feel like a big hike, which I suspect raises expectations
- Disbursement – It pays to set aside plenty of time if you’re coming, as the trails are disbursed across the Island, which means a reasonable amount of van time to get around to access everything. Its not a set and forget single location set up, so talk to the boys at Freeride Madeira about the best place to stay for maximising trails and minimising travel
- Them trails – This is what you’ll care about the most, and its a mix of some absolute gold with plenty of stuff that is either meh commuting or just ok. In 6 days of riding we didn’t see it all obviously, but based on what I did see, I didn’t feel that it was compelling enough for a return trip. Obviously if you’re a single flight away you’d most likely be back, but the inconsistency of the riding set up hasn’t made me feel like I need transit through Lisbon airport again. File under: Good to have seen it, lots of other places to scope out instead
- The set up – It was a pretty busy week with the EWS in town obviously, so my advice is to head there with a full crew and try to lock out a dedicated tour set up with the Freeride Madeira guys. Important to note its pretty relaxed, so pack your OCD meds and embrace the long lunch action and laid back approach. Highly recommend banking some beach time as well, that Atlantic set up is good times. We stayed in Machico, which was pretty low key and I suspect a better option than Funchal, which is tourist rammed. Best bike shops are there though and they’re well equipped should you fuck anything up. Don’t get into the Taxi with the dude wearing a pink polo shirt and pink cowboy hat, should have been a sign I guess, but its hard to spot WRC drivers sometimes.
Having said all that, you can’t deny the scenery is fucking epic… It fluctuates between Jurassic park to constant reminder that yes, you’re actually in the middle of the fucking Atlantic:
Ultimately I’m not sure why the spark never ignited with Madeira, as I know for a lot of people it did. Good to have been and seen some awesome vista’s, but I guess we can’t always enforce the stoke, even if anti-social media says we have to.
A random drunken rant about… Tires!
There’s been a lot of bitching about tires recently, including from myself, mainly as my fingers are as weak as squirrel piss and I can’t get a double down Maxxis onto a carbon rim without children laughing at me and hitting me with sticks…. 2017 has been about insane politicians, rain and tire destruction.
Madeira wrecked tires and PRO dreams in equal measure. Jesse Melamed for example was only 2 stages away from that highly anticipated first EWS win when BANG… I think about 4 or 5 riders ultimately handed over the lead of the race or a podium spot thanks to more rubber being destroyed than a saturday night at a Thai brothel.
I know Chris Ball put the tire massacre into context with some solid stats, but there’s no denying that modern ENDURO bikes and suspension are making tires their bitch, or if you want to be politically correct with some corporate cuntspeak:
“We’ve now reached a critical point in the development lifecycle across the entire enduro equipment ecosystem where tire Technology appears to be the most likely candidate for unplanned failures, or providing the greatest degradation in performance delivery on the platform. If not arrested, this fundamental lack of synergy will continue to escalate the potential risk of unforeseen failures”
In other words, tires are becoming a bit of a cunt, especially as they’re left behind by frame innovations. But here’s where context is important. Much like rigging elections or committing treason, this situation always finds it’s way back to: Money.
Let’s take Maxxis as an example, mainly as they make what is widely considered the best tire known to man, the DHF, in 2.5 of course, its basically the Arnie of tires:
Maxxis of course are owned by Cheng Shin Rubber, who in 2015 had global revenue of $3.85 Billion, yes with a motherfucking ‘B’. Of course the bulk of the revenue coming from tires for: passenger cars, buses, trucks, light trucks, motorcycles, ATV’s, race karts, trailers, industrial and lawn & garden… Oh, and bikes.
Would I love a $40, 700 gram ENDURO tire that never punctured, was easy to install for my pussy paws, would last the whole season, could take any gnar punishment, never tore a sidewall or cut through the tread, could handle any DH course I could find and was so soft and supple that it not only glued my bike to the ground, but also made love to my hands because I could run any pressure I wanted? You bet a free lap dance I would, who the fuck wouldn’t?!
Well, if 100 million new people got into Enduro next week, chances are it wouldn’t take long for that tire to find its way onto our bikes to super charge our first world happiness. The money tap would be gushing and Tire companies would switch across engineers from the Light Truck Division faster than you can come up with a new tire Technology acronym to stick on a Maxxis sidewall.
But then of course, getting into an EWS round would be virtually impossible if you consider at least 20% of that 100m suddenly wanted to race an EWS Round and they were fast… As in, faster than me… Imagine the qualifying path… Holy fuck that…
So, when I think about the unintended consequences, I’m happy to remain mildly unhappy. Stay as you are tires, after all, its racing and we need shit to bitch about irrationally. Pass me a fresh Minion so I can work out if its come out of the mould a bit fucked…
Right then, on to France we go! Oh, right… For those that wanted to know what happen to Barrie’s cunted hand, my inspiration for shutting the fuck up and racing in Madeira, well, after EWS Ireland, Barrie decided that he should really get that stick out at last: