Jérémy lives the life that most of us only dare dream about; earning his money from the things he loves. When the French guy who speaks pretty good German had enough of his boring job and the cold German winters, he risked it all by moving to Madeira. In this interview he shares with us his amazing story.

Jérémy hat es geschafft: Er lebt seinen Traum auf der Blumeninsel Madeira.
Jérémy is living his dream on Madeira. In this interview he tells us more about his story.

ENDURO: Hi Jérémy, how are you? Would you please introduce yourself to our readers first.
Jérémy: Doing great, thanks! I’m Jérémy Frotey, 35, French. I was born in Bourgogne, where the best wines of the world are made. And grew up in the Alpes Maritimes, where the best mountain bikers of the world are made.

ENDURO: A French guy who speaks pretty good German and lives in Madeira, how does this happen?
Jérémy: After I finished my studies in France (Telecom Engineering), I moved to Hamburg, attracted by its culture and night-life. I loved Hamburg so much, but after 10 years, when I reconnected with biking after a few years hiatus, I got bored of the dark, wet, cold winters. I started looking for warm winter destinations, and I was lucky enough to be able to bring along my job with me, working remotely as a software engineer for a French company. I tried Barcelona, Lisbon, and finally discovered Madeira and immediately fell in love. I met enthusiastic local riders and realized the huge potential of the island to welcome riders from all over the world.

ENDURO: Software engineer, marketing manager, bike guide, race organizer and shuttle driver, it seems you are multi talented?
Jérémy: Jack of all trades, master of none! Well, for many of these, I learned on the go, and I’m still learning every day! But mostly I have a great team of colleagues, that excel in some of these specialties. Joselino Sanchez who has been head guide and main trailbuilder. Ricardo Pinto, main organizer of the Sandokan Enduro, and very involved in trail building and lobbying for MTB with the local government. Dobromir Dobrev, our winter season guest guide for two years…. and a whole local scene of fervent mountain bikers.

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ENDURO: So you quit your job to work full time here on Madeira, what is your motivation? I’m pretty sure it’s not about the money.
Jérémy: Well, there is definitely more money in software than in mountain biking. But I was interested in creating my own thing, build something to last in the future. And also bring a fresh perspective, as an outsider of that ‘industry’. In addition, of course, when you are passionate about bikes, everything you do in relation doesn’t really feel like work.

Die Vegetation auf Madeira ist extrem abwechslungsreich, die Trails auf der Insel ebenfalls!
Not only the trails are amazing. The nature is beautifull as well!

ENDURO: Why Madeira? why not one of the other well known islands?
Jérémy: It started with a bit of luck (I was in Lisbon, had a few free days, flights were cheap, a friend wanted to come check out the waves, and me the mountains). Then I instantly fell in love. It’s amazing how much contrast you can have in such a small place. Alpine pasture, transitioning into pine, then eucalyptus forests, ending on cactus-covered red cliffs plunging in the ocean. Or on the North coast, magical forests with centenarian trees, lush Jurassic Park jungle and waterfalls ending on black sand beaches.. In just one day, it can feel like you are riding in so many different places, with the changes of terrain, vegetation, light.. or even in just one trail! Many other reasons as well.. The food is amazing! Meat, fish, seafood, fruits.. and very affordable. I guess it is my French heritage, but gastronomy is an important part of what I offer in our MTB holidays. Bringing our guests to the best places where locals go to eat, not tourists, sharing the insider knowledge.

Jeremy Interview-83

ENDURO: Coming here for a couple of days was great but how is it to live on such a small island? I bet you can’t find a big party scene and good bars are rare, does it getting boring?
Jérémy: The island is small, but so ‘wrinkled’ that after 5 years, there are still so many valleys and gorges that I haven’t explored yet. Regarding the cultural life, well, obviously, it’s limited, but there are are still some great bars, and collectives that organize great events (MadeiraDig, MMIFF, etc..). The rhythm is not the same, it’s more ‘once a month’ than ’10 things to choose from every day’, but it’s just a different lifestyle which I don’t mind switching to. I enjoy living in a charming oceanside village, traversed by cute pedestrian alleys, lulled by the sound of world-class surf waves, and most of all, close to our trails. In 30 minutes by car, I can also be in the main city, Funchal, that has 110,000 inhabitants.

ENDURO: I was pretty impressed how many people participated in the Sandokan Enduro Race and one of the riders told me there are many more races on Madeira, how is the riding scene here?
Jérémy: Our Sandokan Enduro was special, as it was the race that, so far, has attracted the most people from outside of Madeira, 60 out of 100 entrants. The scene is great here! There has been a strong downhill culture for 15 years, with 100+ riders, and now the Enduro scene has grown a lot over the past few years, reaching about 50 riders. There are some very fast locals, and many weekend warriors, sharing the same trails and the inevitable post-ride Poncha (drink with local rum, orange/lemon fresh juice and honey). The Enduro Madeira Series counts 4 races, and there is a one-day regional championship (there is also DH, urban DH, XC, road.. the cycling calendar is well packed!)

Easy living also in the capital Funchal.
Easy living also in the capital Funchal.

ENDURO: On Madeira everything is a little bit more relaxed and seems less strictly organized. We German love rigid organization, how do you handle that easy way of life?
Jérémy: It’s the Southern way.. Things are flexible, time is relative.. I had to learn this and adapt. When we have guests who require a stricter way of doing things, I act as buffer and mediate, making sure everything goes smoothly. For example, I will give locals an earlier meeting hour, to make sure they show up on time.

ENDURO: You are part of the Bikulture Team, how long have you been working on the business and who else is involved?
Jérémy: I co-founded Bikulture 3 years ago, although we had already been preparing the project for almost two years previous to that. The team is expanding at the moment, with exciting projects for 2016.

Jérémy and his friend and collague Jo.
Jérémy and his friend and colleague Jo.

ENDURO: Having summer all year long sounds cool, but do you never miss the winter?
Jérémy: NO! I haven’t been into winter sports since I was a teenager, so I don’t really miss snow. And I very much enjoy having a BBQ outside for Christmas, spending the winter wearing shorts, not having heating in my house, going swimming in the 20°C ocean for new year’s day,..hmm, shall i continue?

ENDURO:Tell us more about the riding here on Madeira, what makes this island so special?
Jérémy: Like I explained earlier, the variety is amazing. From one trail to the next, you can feel like you are riding in different parts of the world. The scenery is breathtaking. I love the mix of mountains and ocean, being so close. You can be at 1500 m altitude, and yet just a few kilometers away from the coast, enjoying a stunning view, actually noticing the roundness of the Earth. The fact that it’s not crowded like other famous destinations, and the friendly locals are also a factor helping shape the best riding experience.

 Jérémy likes to go full speed!
Jérémy likes to go full speed!

ENDURO: What is your favorite trail?
Jérémy: The Sandokan trail! (that gave the name to the event). It’s short, but a great summary of the riding here in the South-West of Madeira. Alternating tunnels of vegetation, fast grassy bits, cow line singletracks and rock gardens, it definitely puts a smile on your face!

Jeremy Interview-80-4

ENDURO: Can you give our readers some tips before they come to visit you in Madeira?
Jérémy: Make sure your bikes are ready to resist some serious abuse! So, yeah, forget about being lightweight, and switch to DH mode. Reinforced tyres, etc.. As for any bike adventure, bring some spares if you have ‘exotic’ parts. Pack both a swimsuit and a rain jacket. If you have trouble finding some cheap flights, ask us, we might be able to help. And bring us a bottle of your favourite beverage from home, we will trade it for some Poncha!

ENDURO: Thanks for taking the time to chat to us!
Jérémy: Thank you! See you soon in Madeira…

Click here to read our travelstory about Madeira with some good tips.

Words: Christoph Bayer Pictures: Christoph Bayer, Sascha Bamberg, Motion Studios, Bruno Santos

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