So just before the school holidays begin in Portugal (12 weeks off school!!), we started Elvis at an Enduro School, (Escola de Enduro) which is taught by two brothers and takes place at Escuderia Castelo Branco, which about 40 minutes away from us.
We have passed the race track many times on the way to the city to get building supplies and other lack lusture items, but one time on my way back, I (Mike) decided to pop into their office and have a chat about what they offer at Escuderia.
I found out they are the biggest motoring event organisation in Portugal. They handle most of the main rallies here (all accept WRC), and also have a brand new, full size, outdoor track for racing on 270cc karts, they organise auto cross, Baja events, enduro… basically all forms of motorsports are pretty much covered by the team at ECB.
When I went in I met a guy called Miguel who is one of the photographers and organisers of the events run by ECB. I told him that we’ve moved here recently and once he found out I had a son who was a keen rider he was delighted to tell me about the free Enduro school that is running once a month. They utilize the main Enduro track and a special, ”flatter” track which is great for gaining confidence on the bikes.
I was told that there were even some quads Elvis could use for free, donated by the GNR (the Police).
The only thing he needed to bring was boots, gloves and helmet – check.
The enduro school is the second saturday of the month so we noted it on the calender and made sure we left the day free.
The Saturday arrived and we set off to get there early. As we didn’t have to bring anything aside from Elvis’ safety gear we left his quad and electric bike at home. We didn’t really know what to expect so the first time was all about seeing what it was like, whether elvis would like it and how it’s all set up.
We arrived at 9am but it was really quiet and for a moment I thought I may have the wrong day! But I was then told it wasn’t until 10am when most people start to rock up. Although if we had have bought our own bikes, we could have actually gone on the track straight away which was worth noting for the future.
We went and had a drink by the go kart track (which is huge) then waited for some of the staff to bring us a quad. The first one that turned up wasn’t great, and didn’t have a battery so they went away and bought us another one, the quad bikes clearly aren’t used that much as it was a nightmare to get it started but the staff were great, didn’t give up and eventually got it running.
After about half an hour, the place was quite busy and despite my novice Portuguese language skills I met some lovely parents and kids, who were all just as excited as Elvis and myself.
Elvis did many laps of the starter track, which was effectively just an oval loop, on the 50cc quad. He had some direction from myslef and the two brothers who run the school.
Once they could see he was confident, they said we could run on part of the main track so Elvis could get a feel for the banks, hills, weight transfer and everything else that is different to road riding.
This was superb. The teaching style was quite open, rather than hammering into the kids the rules – it was more, “get a feel for the track and the bike and if you feel confident you can go on to the next part”.
Joao did admit to me that quads weren’t their speciality and it was more mx and enduro bikes that were taking part. Apart from Elvis on this day of course. Elvis is confident on a quad bike, he has his own so he’s used to riding them, his is a larger engine and a larger quad so I explained to Joao that I was confident Elvis was fine and experienced enough, so Joao let me take the lead with the direction for for Elvis riding the quad, which was perfect.
Every half hour or so they would come over and comment on Elvis’ riding, and throw in little pointers such as “he needs to get used to standing” or, ”leaning”. It wasn’t full on, it was relaxed and I felt the level of input they had was perfect.
After a couple of hours, a few chats with other members and some senior Enduro riders that had come along as well it was clear Elvis wanted to stop using the quad and start using bikes instead. (the smell of 2 stroke in the morning, and all that).
So in short we had a great few hours, no money spent (other than drinks – it did get hot) and we met some lovely people in the process.
Before we arrived I was a bit anxious because of not having a good grasp of the language yet and I though I might feel a bit of an outcast but everyone was really welcoming, super friendly and they all made elvis felt like he had always part of the team.
I highly recommend it for all kids, even older teens. One thing that was great to see was that there were a few girls involved too which was awesome in what is stereotypically a man’s macho sport.
In total it was about 4 hours long, Elvis worked hard, had loads of fun and by the end of the session he had already gained so much confidence. We packed his stuff away jumped in the car and headed back home… Elvis was fast alseep 5 minutes into the journey – he loved it.
My head was then excitedly filled with getting him his first 2 stroke petrol motorcycle! Even though he has an electric off road motorbike, it was obvious that the battery wouldn’t be sufficient enough for these events.
So I guess now we’re bike shopping….let’s see what we can find!
Until next time………