Treasures of Atlantis

Steep, deep and untracked—the fertile volcanic soil of the Azores also happens to make for some ultra-loamy trail conditions. Guide and purveyor of the local bike scene, Carlos Dos Santos, leads the author through a chute while touring the trail offerings for his planned Trans-Atlantis enduro race.

Treasures of Atlantis Exploring the Volcanic Riches of the Azores Archipelago

Long before “enduro” became a buzzword, I found myself in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, on two islands of the West African archipelago Cape Verde, racing my bike blind down the steep trails of a volcano.

I was there for an early enduro-style event—the third installment of the Urge Fabien Barel invitational series in 2011—and the experience completely changed the course of my cycling journey. I instantly became hooked on the thrill of multiday, blind racing adventures, and the farther off the beaten track they were, the better.

I also grew to love sharing these experiences with the many like-minded people I’d suffer with along the way. Looking back over the last decade, it’s not the race results I remember. What I cherish most are the interesting, passionate people I’ve come to know on these adventures. One of those people is Carlos “The Dreamer” Dos Santos, a native of the Portuguese archipelago known as the Azores.

I first met Carlos in Aínsa, Spain, where I was working for the Enduro World Series (EWS) following my retirement from five years of EWS racing. Carlos was visiting to pitch the Azores as a race stop for the EWS, and he joined our crew on a prerace reconnaissance ride as we were doing final course preparation for the forthcoming Aínsa event. We spent the day riding together and he never stopped talking about his beloved Azores. I was struck by his incredible passion for his islands and their trails, and I left Aínsa daydreaming of all the singletrack waiting to be sampled on this mysterious archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic.

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