By Sophie Sadler
When Isabel Moreira saw a Facebook challenge asking if anyone was up for cycling Portugal´s mythical Estrada Nacional 2 (EN2), she jumped at the chance.
There was just one problem; she didn´t own a bike or cycle. This did not stop her joining the challenger Odete and committing to the endeavour.
She bought a mountain bike and after her first ride of 10km was exhausted. The Estrada Nacional 2 is 739 km long and crosses Portugal from north to south from the city of Chaves in the very north of Portugal, to the city of Faro in the Algarve. She is not averse to physical challenges, however, and is this year competing in the National Masters Athletics in Javelin and Shot put, which she is training for simultaneously!
She reasoned that if she was going to do this, she wanted it to be for a good cause. After taking a psychology degree, Isabel did an internship at the CASLAS children’s home in Lagos. While working here she recognised the importance of donations for this, and other similar homes, to help disadvantaged young people.
She made up her mind to use the cycle ride as a platform to raise awareness of these institutions and create a voice for all the children´s homes across Portugal. The challenge became known as Every Mile a Smile.
Isabel describes Odete as “a true force of nature”. She turned 50 just a week before Isabel and decided she wanted to celebrate the event by climbing Kilimanjaro! She has also run a few marathons, always in support of children’s causes. She is also a volunteer at Casa Nossa Sra do Carmo, which is why it was natural for both ladies to do this adventure with this purpose.
Isabel and Odete are embarking on the challenge on 10 October along with a campervan with publicity advertising a new Facebook page where homes can post if they need support or donations.
They are being supported by the Algarve Delegation of the Portuguese Cycling Federation, Triathlon Groups, the Câmara Municipal de Lagos, the Câmara Municipal de Faro, the Rotary Club de Lagos and the Portuguese Institute for Sports and Youth. Odete and Isabel are asking people to join them along the route or come and cheer them on at the finish line.
Isabel admits that obtaining the necessary licenses to allow the event to go ahead has been stressful. Still, she is now looking forward to the 8-day cycle and enjoying some of the beautiful scenery on this famous route.
Tomorrow has supported Lar de Jovens Nossa Senhora do Carmo Youth Home, for many years. In 2019 our charity T.A.C.T, along with the Luz Foundation, bought the home a car, which they tell me has been invaluable this year. Due to COVID-19, most of their activities and camps were cancelled, so the car allowed staff to take groups to the beach and pools. It has also enabled one of their girls to join an equestrian school in the Alentejo, where she weekly boards. This young girl has achieved her dream, and we hope that Isabel and Odete’s ambitious challenge will help other children achieve theirs.
Donations: PT50 0036 0179 99100078676 33