Musings of a Mountain Biker

Hi, Gilly here, I hope you are enjoying the trails and keeping hydrated, making the most of the multitude of terrific cafes we have for your pit stops on route.

As I write this month’s article, I’m reflecting on how much I have enjoyed the fantastic sports fest on TV over the past couple of months (opportune time to sprain my ankle!). I have indulged in the Netball World Cup, the Women’s Football World Cup and the Cycling World Championships – happy days. 

The latter, an 11-day mega event from Glasgow, is the first of its kind. Each cycling discipline held its World Championships at a single combined event and with 13 titles up for grabs across road racing, time trials, e-MTB, para-cycling, downhill, cross country, indoor track, BMX racing, and freestyle. There was a lot to tune in to.

Did you know you don’t have to go as far as Glasgow to see great racing – we have it on our doorstep? There is a very comprehensive list of local events on the website of the Associação de Ciclismo do Algar. I have dropped a link below for reference. And recently, I had the pleasure of meeting with Maria Genoveva from the sports services department at the City Hall in Lagos, who was keen to share the details of the Lagos-hosted leg of the Algarve Cup XCM with me.

What is XCM? 

XC stands for cross country and is a specific style/discipline of mountain biking. It is an adrenalin-filled mix of singletracks, climbs, fast descents and occasional jumps, usually through forests with mud and rocks along the way. It is more about endurance rather than technical skill, with milder trails than the downhill or enduro disciplines. 

XCM is a cross-country marathon; as the name suggests, it is a long-distance cross-country race. Depending on the course, the distance can be up to 140 km on a single lap or multiple shorter distance laps and the riders race against each other for the fastest completion time. On the route, there will be designated zones where the riders can take on refreshments and get technical support, but in between these areas, they need to be self-sufficient, carrying their own spare tubes and tools.

Like all disciplines, XC has its own specific bike geometry and is designed for agility and speed, but any mountain bike can get beginners started. 

What is the VI Algarve Cup XCM – Lagos?

It is an annual mountain bike cross-country event held in and around the forest of Barão São João. The date for your diary this year is Sunday, 22 October. 

There are two races running simultaneously: marathon (72 km with 1,700 m elevation gain) and half marathon (49 km with 1,200 m elevation gain). 

Part of the Algarve Regional Championships, the competition is ‘open’, which means non-affiliated and amateur riders can enjoy the event and compete alongside the pros.

There are 14 different entry classifications for men, women, juniors and para-cyclists to incorporate different age groups and levels of ability. Entry is online via the Portuguese Federation for Cycling site at (inscricoes-prova-regional for federated riders and ciclismo-para-todos for non-federated riders).

The action starts and finishes at the BTT centre, where riders will start gathering from 8 am, culminating in the presentation of trophies for the winners of all the categories in the afternoon – with a little Algarvian hospitality thrown in, I’m sure.

The initiative is jointly organised by Câmara Municipal de Lagos and the two local MTB clubs, Grupo Popular das Portelas and Associação Amigos de Almádena – for any regular readers, you may remember I recently chatted with Luis from AAA, who rides out every week looking for and planning new routes and trails specifically for this event. Good luck to everyone participating and thanks to all the organisers and volunteers that make this event possible.

As always, reach out if you want to share your events with us at:

After successfully testing my ankle on an eMTB this week, I’ll be back in my happy place soon. I hope to see you out there. Have fun and ride safely!


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