With rounds of the MotoGP and World Superbikes held here in the Algarve, it is fair to say that motorcycling is a popular sport in Portugal. The country even has a global superstar in Miguel Oliveira, who finished fifth at the recent Portuguese MotoGP. But there is far more to motorcycling than just track racing. Anton Nicholls is the owner of Algarve Trailriding. He explains why the Algarve offers the perfect setting to go off-road.
“The Algarve is a wonderful area to ride an off-road bike. It’s extremely accessible and there are very few restrictions compared to other European countries. There are so many tracks and trails in the bush to enjoy if you have a legal bike. It’s actually an undiscovered part of Europe in terms of off-road motorbike riding.”
Anton has been mad about motorbikes since he was seven years old. He grew up on a farm in Wales where, as he puts it, he “had the freedom to ride around sixteen acres.” He was a talented young rider and soon earned a motocross sponsorship. However, for various reasons, the dream of turning professional didn’t materialise – but his love of motorbikes never diminished.
It was a twist of fate that allowed him to continue his dream of off-road riding later in life. “I had a bad experience where I became very ill down in West Africa. I almost died, but it gave me a new perspective. Later, I moved to the Algarve and around six years ago I decided to start the trail riding business.”
Today, Anton takes out small groups (between two and five people) to the trails around the western Algarve. Aside from taking in the beautiful scenery, Anton is keen to point out that trail riding is all about the adventure. “A lot of my clients have been inspired by the BBC series Long Way Down (with Charley Boorman and Ewan McGregor), where they went on round-the-world motorbike journeys. This ‘adventure-style’ riding has since become a massive industry.”
I ask Anton about his clients and the level of experience required to ride the trails. Refreshingly, Anton assures me that trail riding has a wide demographic. “Last year, we had a ladies-only training week. I also do beginners courses for those who want to try to ride off-road for the first time.”
“It’s all about the off-road,” he reminds me. Do you know what? I believe him.