The main symbol of Ponte de Lima, that together with the river names the town, is its bridge, dated to Roman times.
I could mention a million reasons for you to visit Ponte de Lima
, and I'll do that in just a second. Ponte de Lima is named Portugal's oldest villa, located in Minho, north of Portugal. This was actually my second time visiting and it's noticeable that the region has been growing for the last five years as a mountain biking destination where you can feel that the local government supports and loves everything that it's biking related. That's why Ponte de Lima currently has a massive pumptrack, a bike park and local associations that add the essence of enduro mountain biking to the area.
When I was invited by Pé do Negro Mountain Bike Center
and Sandro Silva, the man with a plan to get the name of Ponte de Lima out there and Enduro Challenge
organizer, I was immediately excited to join the race for multiple reasons. From the friendly environment the north of Portugal is known for, the delicious food, the historical city center and its old streets, the cold and fresh green wine, the infinite hills and mountains that surround the area and the trails that make this a unique destination for all types of riders.
The bull represents one of the most famous events of Ponte de Lima, called Vaca das Cordas, which is basically letting cows on the loose through the streets and giving them wine for a drink while locals try to run for their life. Seems fun and could easily become a new enduro race category.
Oh, the streets of Ponte de Lima are a joy to walk by. Calm, clean and beautiful.
And this is how you read the newspaper around here.
I was brave enough to try Arroz de Sarrabulho and it is delicious. It's a traditional Minho dish with rice and slices of meat which are then spiced and marinated in cumin and red wine and then cooked in blood. Yep, blood. Give it a try because it is delicious.
Ponte de Lima is also a must-stop location for Caminho de Santiago, a route that many bikers and pilgrims jump on. From France to Portugal, that's a good idea for your next adventure.
A grand total of over 32km of racing with 1,500m of ascent and descent, all starting in the same area, near Capela da Senhora das Dores, Bárrio. Under a super hot and dry weather - our hopes for a bit of rain weren't heard – 200 riders trained and raced five challenging stages, where temperatures reached over 30ºC. There hasn't been any rain for over four months and dirt turned into dust, which made this second edition of the Enduro Challenge completely different from last year's, where riders faced fog, rain, and cold all weekend. Training Day – Saturday
Carlos Parente got a crew from Madeira and Azores to join the race. His driving skills weren't that good...
It's all about the details. Tiago 'Gaulês' Freitas knows that. Banana power.
Ruben Gouveia, one of the Enduro World Series Madeira trail builders, didn't forget his 'traditional' helmet.
The stoke was real. Diogo Silva pushing his way to the top of SS1 for some extra training.
The views over Ponte de Lima and its famous Roman bridge are just phenomenal.
The top of SS1 is special. Left to right to avoid the big boulders. Elisio Melo was one of the first guys in training.
Fast and open singletracks of SS1.
Line choice and rolling over big rocks – welcome to Pe do Negro.
No shuttle assistance from this point forward and almost no one used it all over the weekend. Ana Leite excited to get to the top.
Did I mention that it was dry and dusty? Jose Ferreira loving it!
These wild horses are faster than you, trust me.
Racing between Absolute Black race tape.
Last year's winner, Jose 'Meira' Oliveira, was on a mission to keep his title.
Camera cleaning is a real thing after this weekend.
Follow me bro.
Worse that racing in the mud according to some riders.
'Oh look, a penny!' No riders were hurt. Just a bit...
Inside or outside? After 200 riders, there was no easy line.
Not an easy weekend for Carlos dos Santos from the Azores Islands. 'We don't usually have dust in Azores, so I just wanted to give it a taste.' - he said.
Just a casual Saturday stroll in Ponte de Lima.
What to say about SS3? It's a downhill track with loads of jumps and gaps, which was a problem for some...
Not a problem for these guys!
M30 racer, Bruno Marinho, styling it up!
'I'm just going to stay here and enjoy the rest of the day'
Send it bro! Diogo Silva never missed a chance to get air time.
After jumps and gaps on SS3 it was flat out to the bottom!
Caldo Verde, beer, Bifanas and more beer for lunch.
One more run before lunch. SS5 delivering the good stuff! Claudia Vasconcelos between the tape.
The man to beat, Jose 'Meira' Oliveira.
Carlos Parente trying not to get distracted with SS5 scenery.
Diogo Silva was having too much fun during training. Style is his middle name.
The office that satisfies all your needs. Yaroslav Zhuravlev chilling out after a day of riding.
Race Day – Sunday
Don't even bother washing that... tomorrow dust waits for you again.
After a first full and hot day of training, there were 200 riders on the start line ready to face Pé do Negro trails. Another feature about Enduro Challenge Ponte de Lima is that is part of the Atlantic Enduro
series, which consists of four races along the year – Terras de Bouro, Celorico da Beira, Ponte de Lima and Madeira Island. Five long and challenging stages, most of them dusty and with hard compact ground filled with rocks and boulders. The highlight definitely goes to SS4 – Absolute Black
, a 2.3km long stage that was completely different from all others, with an open singletrack in the beginning, followed by some technical rock gardens, a section that went through an old house and all rest going through old vine paths.
Good morning Ponte de Lima.
Timing chip – check. Radio journalist with high-tech headphones – check!
When you really don't want to lose your timing chip! #EnduroHacks
Tiago 'Gaules' Freitas would 'kill' the competition on SS1 but a crash on SS4 would call off the day.
'Please God, help me to survive this race' – Roberto Chaves, M30 rider.
The longest transition of the day to the top of SS1 – Arcela where riders would drop 300 meters in 2.5km.
All eyes on this guy, Jose Borges, Enduro World Series #19. Even so, Borges couldn't win the first two stages of the day.
BRAPPPPP. Lets go!
Fast and consistent, Jose 'Meira' Oliveira would take second place on SS1 and overall.
Don't shift your focus.
Overall fifth place to Diogo Silva in the Elite category.
After crashing hard on Friday and Saturday, Ruben Gouveia was racing at his best, getting a 58th overall.
Tiago Mano going for a fourth place overall.
Nuno Sousa was one of the fastest guys we saw riding this weekend and came up with an eighth place overall.
Some riders fell the need to have more water during training, where four litters weren't enough for a complete day of riding. The organizers to get 200 liters tanks distributed along the route, especially before dropping to SS2 – Fun Zone.
Scenery change in Ponte de Lima. These transitions are gorgeous... and a bit fresher than the usual open fire roads.
Insert your chip here and start the clocks!
Tic tac, the clock is ticking. Joao Pedro Gomes won the M30 class, with a sixth place as the worst stage result.
SS2 – Fun Zone was 1.8km long and 200 meters drop. FFF – Fun, flowy and... fun.
Guilherme Simoes charging down SS2 for a top 15 overall result.
Jose Fonseca throwing shapes and getting 27th in SS2.
Loamy terrain all the way down.
I bet all riders were smiling going down this trail.
Not the best weekend for one of the nicest guys out there, Carlos Parente...
Needs a stronger wheelset.
18th place overall to M30 class riders Tiago Fernandes.
Too much crashing but never too much #GoodTimes.
Roberto Chaves with his 29" XL was loving SS2 rock gardens, getting a 13th place overall and 5th place in M30 class.
SS3 – Varziela was 2.5km long and can be defined as the local downhill track with 400 meters drop.
Quick feedzone stop before dropping in.
I think SS3 was Diogo Silva's favorite stage. Photos confirm that. He got sixth place even throwing table tops.
First man down SS4 – Absolute Black, Jose 'Meira' Oliveira. Again, 2nd place in this stage.
It all starts with open and fast singletracks but soon everything got steeper and narrower.
This is the kind of riding Jose Borges loves, getting 1st place with 14 seconds over Meira.
The challenge was quickly taken to the next level. Carlos Parente decided to join the media crew which he said it was harder that racing. Thanks for that!
Rumors say that some riders had to cut handlebars to fit in these doors. It was tight.
Fourth place in the M30 class for Bruno Marinho.
SS4 went through an urban zone making it the highlight of the entire event.
While the top stages were 100% dry, this last part was kind of a jungle.
These old vine paths make the perfect place to hold an enduro race, and Ponte de Lima has hundreds of these!
One stage to go. SS5 – Maxxis was 2.2km long with 325m downhill.
Doesn't get much better than this!
Style it up bro! Andre Leite Rodrigues got a third place overall.
Final sprints to finish line.
One more berm...
Rehydratation much needed and much deserved at the end of the race.
Enduro Challenge welcomed racers from Algarve, Madeira, Azores, Lisbon, and Spain. Time to pack and get back to reality.
Women's podium. Ana Leite was stocked for the win, followed by Ana Lopes and Gabriela Ferraz.
Men's podium. Jose Borges took the win, followed by Jose 'Meira' Oliveira and Andre Leite Rodrigues.
The fastest Woman and Man of SS4 – Absolute Black got a special award! #OvalRevolution
1) José Borges – 21:13m
2) José Oliveira – 22:00m
3) André Leite Rodrigues – 22:36m Women
1) Ana Leite – 30:14m
2) Ana Lopes – 35:25m
3) Gabriela Ferraz – 44:34mM30
1) João Pedro Gomes – 23:10m
2) Carlos Lopes – 24:22m
3) Dimitri Silva – 24:24m M40
1) Jesus Juanes – 24:57m
2) Bruno Morais – 25:06m
3) José Gonzáles – 25:13m M50
1) Joaquim Dias – 28:28m
2) Abel Lisboa – 36:08m
3) José Pires – 46:20mYouth
1) Tiago Silva – 27:34mJunior Men
1) Tiago Fernandes – 24:39m
2) Francisco Ruivo – 26:50m
3) Nuno Silvestre – 32:47m Open
1) Filinto Reis – 16:02m
2) Elisio Melo – 16:24m
3) Francisco Sequeira – 16:25mPhotos:
Antonio Abreu, MADproductionsSpecial thanks
to Sandro Silva, Pé do Negro Mountain Bike Center
, Visit Ponte de Lima
, Absolute Black
and all race partners.