Sounds interesting, calls for clear lenses . Article courtesy of santa cruz website
Have you ever imagined going down 120 meters - equivalent to a 30-story building – on a bicycle? What about doing that inside a goldmine? Well, then, prepare your emotions because that is going to happen. It is the Red Bull Challenge in the Goldmine.
For the first time, the miners’ workplace is going to stage an adventure on two wheels. The event will take place between March 24th and 26th.
Among the twenty athletes from all over the world, are Markolf Berchtold (Santa Catarina – Brazil) – Brazilian biker best ranked in international competitions -, Nathan Rennie (Santa Cruz Syndicate/SRAM/RockShox)(Australia) and Gee Atherton (England), both among the UCI top 10 ranking, and Kyle Strait (USA). Competitors might reach a speed of up to 60km/h while following the same path that miners used to take in their adventures while searching for gold. The gold is now a R$35 thousand-real award.
The place chosen for the Red Bull Challenge in the Goldmine is “Mina da Passagem” (the Passage Mine) located in Mariana (State of Minas Gerais), a historical city. The mine was deactivated 20 years ago but it still contains the precious metal. Extraction was interrupted because the method used there was very outdated, which would result in loss rather than profit.
This mine is a fantastic place. It has got many galleries and lakes with crystal clear water. It is the biggest goldmine open for public visitation in the world and also a favourite spot for adventure sports.
The competition starts outside the mine. In these stretch bikers will come across eight artificial obstacles to be overcome and natural challenges such as rocks and depressions. At the entrance of the mine the great slope is a completely new scenery in downhill competitions: without sunlight bikers will go 120 meters deep.
“The entrance of the mine and the second curve that gives access to the galleries are the most difficult parts of the competition”, says Tadeu Monteiro, the competition’s technical director. For him this is a competition with a high degree of difficulty. “Athletes will have to prepare to travel the final stretch. It is 60 meters long, which is not common in downhill biking.”
The circuit’s full length is 650 meters. On Thursday, March 23rd, athletes will map out the route on foot. On Friday there will be open free practice. Qualifying rounds will be held on Saturday – the ten best bikers will go to the finals on Sunday, March 26th. The judging criterion for all rounds will be the fastest down-hill time. Awards amount to $35 thousand reais ( equivalent a U$15,000 dollars)
“Mina da Passagem” (Passage Mine) is an old goldmine located 5 km from the historical city center (Mariana). It is today the biggest goldmine open for public visitation. It contains secrets and mysteries that enchant us all.
It is the biggest goldmine in that region and a must-see place for tourists in Mariana. Its exploration started in 1819 and the machinery used from the beginning is still there. During the years of exploration, the Portuguese and the English extracted approximately 35 tons of gold.
Gold was discovered in the mine around 1719. At first, mining was done by slaves and in the 19th century it was mechanized.
Inside the mine the temperature is stable, between 17 and 20°C throughout the year. It has got vast halls, 30 km of tunnels and subterranean lakes with crystal clear water where diving is practiced. A small trolley (kind of wagon with seats) used by the miners at the time of exploration takes tourists lower than 120 meters deep, which is equivalent to a 30-story building.
What children learn in school about the exploration of gold in the State of Minas Gerais can be seen live in the Passage Mine. A visit to the mine is like travelling through Brazilian history and experiencing the miners’ saga in their dangerous search for gold.
Extraction of gold ended in 1984. However, another activity took its place: tourism. In 1999 the mine was open to visitation for diving and, since then, it is the most popular site for cave diving in Brazil.
The City of Mariana
Mariana is located 115km from the state capital Belo Horizonte. It is part of the well-known Gold Circuit in the state and it is considered one of the most beautiful baroque sets of sculpture, painting and architecture in the world. It has 52 thousand inhabitants (data from the latest census). The name “Mariana” was given in honor of the Portuguese king’s wife Dona Maria Ana from Austria.
Nature is exuberant in Mariana. Springs, geographic features, and the soil that hides grottos and mines allow nature lovers to partake in different activities such as hiking, swimming in waterfalls and the practice of radical sports like trekking and mountain biking.
The city was populated as a result of the search for gold. It was founded on July 16th, 1696 – the day explorers Miguel Garcia and Salvador Furtado found gold in a river which was named “Ribeirao de Nossa Senhora do Carmo” (Nossa Senhora do Carmo’s stream).
In 1700 the news of the existence of gold in the region was officially given to Portuguese authorities by Joao Lopes de Lima, who was interested in owning the land.
On April 8th, 1711 Mariana became a village and it was named “Ribeirao do Carmo” by Antonio de Albuquerque Coelho de Carvalho – first governor of the united capitania (administrative division and hereditary fief of the Portuguese state in some of its colonies.) of Sao Paulo and Minas do Ouro. Mariana was the first village founded in the capitania and the only colonial city in Minas Gerais. In 1745 it was promoted to city status.
On July 6th, 1945 it was declared National Monument by The Historical and Artistic Patrimony with a law passed by President Getúlio Vargas.
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