Elba Trail Week – A Travelogue

The floating wild boar group rocks Napoleon’s exile. What sounds like the title of an audio book is actually a travelogue by nine passionate bikers who explored the island of Elba on their enduro bikes. The shuttle driver tells …

At the end of October we started our trip to Elba. The long journey from the Stubaital could not harm us over-motivated bikers. We just left the gray, endless highways behind and arrived in the small port town of Piombino. From there, the nine-seater including trailer went by ferry to Elba.
Our small group enjoyed the longed-for view from the deck and already here discussed for the first time the popular animals on Elba – wild boars. “How had the black coats managed to colonize this island?” we wondered. This question should still occupy us often.

Day 1: Through mines and lunar landscapes

The first tour started with a shuttle ride to Capoliveri. Some races and world cups are held here in the famous bike park. In a veritable jungle of countless trails, we followed the “Legend Cup” signage. As the name suggests, this is a playful cross-country course worth seeing and, above all, riding, which stretches across what feels like the entire Calamita peninsula.
With flow it went downhill and in addition to the heat, the uphills were also sweaty.
Directly at the sea there are mines with rusty machines, which were used for mineral mining in the old days. Several of them are found on this peninsula.
The descent to the Vallone mine is particularly rewarding. Red rock gives the scenery the ambience of a lunar landscape. There are suitable lines for all bikers. Jumps, steep descents and ramps can be built in individually. At the end of the trail, the sand turns black and makes for a particularly mystical setting.
Via a fast descent between countless cacti we reached the beach “Spiagga Innamorata” and enjoyed a cool beer there. A jump into the still surprisingly pleasant sea was of course not to be missed.
But where were all the wild boars that you supposedly meet everywhere on Elba? The first impressive day came to an end without having sighted even a single animal.

Day 2: The Wild Boar Trail and its nine bandits

We woke up on the second day with a particularly red sunrise and welcomed the shuttle taking us to the observation deck “Le Panche”. A steep passage for “cranking (wild) pigs” followed.
Once at the top, we chose the trail across Red Lake to Rio Marina. The eponymous coloration of this water comes from iron oxides. Intoxicated by the fast, yet rocky trails, we took it with humor that Red Lake had unfortunately dried up this fall.
With another shuttle ride we reached the viewing platform again and took on the legendary trail “Cinghiale” (translated: wild boar trail). There we could see the tracks of the industrious wild boars. Parts of the casual path were dug up neatly. The wild boars had done a tremendous job. But still we did not get to see any of the animals.
Once again, questions arose about the surprisingly rare species: How had the animals actually come to this island? Floating? Discussing we roared over the trail “Buca del Bandito” towards Bagnaia. Dirty as bandits, we treated ourselves to an aperitif in a beach bar there and let the day end.

Day 3: On supposedly easy trails

Another bike day was coming up and the hope of seeing a wild boar was undiminished. The shuttle took us up to Monte Perone.
Enthusiastically we completed the first pushing passages and the descent to the idyllic village of Marciana. From there, we took a paved path to the “Madonna del Monte”; an ascent that can be classified as a real uphill challenge. Despite some unevenness, however, experienced people manage to choose suitable paths for themselves and reach the church in the saddle. The last ramp made our calves glow once again. However, this feat of strength paid off enormously, because now a fast flow trail lay ahead of us.
Finally, our guide announced the trail “Raggio Verde” and described it as challenging, but easily manageable. Motivated we started into the trail, but we were surprised by a technically challenging path dug up by wild boars. The “easily manageable trail” turned out to be a decent challenge. Our bike ego was destroyed. In between, however, we were rewarded by unique, passable rock slabs.
By the time we reached the stone steps of the first houses of Patresi, we were quite warm. At the main road, the shuttle picked us up. Packed with Italian snacks, we looked for a suitable spot in front of Marciana and took a “siesta”.
Recovered from the break, the shuttle took us again to Monte Perone. We opted for a trail that ran south towards Cavoli. The short uphill as the entry was described as “slightly blocked”. The reality showed again a richly bumpy path with recurring sliding passages and a final rock slab to overcome.
From the top, countless routes lead down to the sea and make bikers’ hearts beat faster. Huge granite slabs lent themselves to incredible photo backdrops. Scorched earth adds another wow effect to these shots.
Captivated by these impressions, we reached the beach of Cavoli and enjoyed the sunset. And as if we hadn’t experienced enough, an animal ran into us on this trip home, of all things. Unfortunately, it did not take time for a photo, but 18 eyes testify that this was clearly a real wild boar.
Countless animal immigration theories were discussed and our curiosity grew to find the answer to the question of how the wild boars came to the island.

Day 4: A Shuttle day is a good day

During the shuttle ride we spotted a wild boar again and were thrilled. But shortly afterwards, nervousness overcame us. One wrong turn and we were stuck in the narrow streets of La Pila. The only thing that helped was folding in the mirrors and holding my breath. Finally we reached the advertised water source in the direction of Monte Perone.
Not even 50 meters of altitude had to be cranked by ourselves and already we were rewarded with fast, built trails. Countless variants are available for selection. From Zucca 1 and Zucca 2 to Tozzicarletto are all recommended. At high speed, you should not overlook individual jumps. On the last descent to Marina di Campo we were challenged by great slabs and technical stone steps.
In keeping with the cliché, we then consumed a hearty pizza right by the sea and processed our bike impressions. Fascinated by the water, the thought arose whether wild boars had actually reached the island by swimming?
“How many wild pigs had to have swum off the mainland to breed here?” Biology met mathematics as the sea lapped in friendly waves. But don’t worry: Despite creative theories and ideas, we kept our eyes on the essentials: biking.
Off in the shuttle and up towards Lacona! A fast technical descent was ahead. Stones, boulders and dry earth had to be overcome. Once we reached the bottom, we were rewarded with a gorgeous sandy beach and could let our souls dangle.

Day 5: “Hakuna Matata

The last bike day. Despite a nascent melancholy in our hearts, we were looking forward to the upcoming trails. With the shuttle to Lacona we immediately went to the first trail towards Marina di Campo. Well warmed up, we got a snack and shuttled to Marciana – the small, quiet village with the sweaty path to the church “Madonna del Monte”, which we already knew from day 3.
Pushed by the exciting experiences of the last days, we bravely fought our way up once again and there we took the already known path towards Patresi. This time, however, we kept to the left and made the first deep meters. The upcoming ridge forced us to push the bike.
And suddenly the foremost of our group saw a family of wild boars. It was important to remain calm so as not to frighten the animals. When we reached the highest point, we could see Corsica in the distance. A technically demanding trail with recurring high steps lay ahead of us. The length of this trail was also impressive.
Garnished with many loops and curves, we made the first kilometers. Inspired by the descent, we reached the small village of Chiessi. There, huge slabs of rock stretch out directly on the sea, inviting you to stroll along the water – a worthy place to end our trail week.
We took home unforgettable beautiful moments from these days on Elba. And we, the “Swimming Wild Boar Group”, are still puzzling over the theories of how wild boars came to Elba.