With Mallorca a mere distant memory it’s time I got round to writing my blog on what was an awesome week! Great cycling, great weather, great roads and great company!
Having missed last year’s trip due to my wife taking not well I was particularly looking forward to it this year, especially after all the stories from those attending last year.
I have to admit, and Gilly will confirm, as the trip rapidly approached I was a little down with my cycling, I was carrying a little more weight than I’d have liked and I just wasn’t feeling it on the bike. My legs ached at any sight of a hill never mind how they actually felt when I hit the climb!
Nevertheless the day had arrived, Saturday 18th April 2015, the day I headed off for my very first cycling trip abroad! The team sheet boasted 10 names:
- Stevie Potter
- Davie Docherty
- Andy Bennet
We had the Aussie branch of the Whitelee Warriors joining us in the shape of Davie Docherty. It’s been 3 years since I’d last seen Docky and 6 years since he escaped the Scottish weather to build on his tan in Australia. I have to say the 6 years in Oz has added some colour to the traditional milk bottle white, us Scots usually promote. To be fair, a milk bottle looks tanned compared to me!
Saturday 18th April – Day 1
Arriving at the airport, thanks to a lift from Willie in his minibus, we met up with the rest of the travelling party, checked in and watched as our bikes disappeared down the luggage belt behind the scenes, wondering if we’d be reunited in the same condition at the other end.
With the bags all checked in it was time to hit the bar…… the breakfast bar! This was a cycling holiday and not a ski holiday! As we sat tucking into bacon rolls and bottles of water Docky commented on how it was changed days. Had this been 10 years ago and a ski holiday we’d already have spanked a bottle of Buckie on the way into the airport, just to freshen our breath you understand, and would now be lubricating the vocal chords with an ice cold lager or 10!
But hey, this was a cycling holiday and we’re all athletes now……. please note I use that term loosely……
Having arrived at the hotel it was time to get the bikes built and head out for a cheeky wee leg spinner. Gilly managed to get the first and thankfully the last puncture of the holiday! Having built his bike up and inflated the tyres he then discovered that the front tyre had deflated almost instantly. Must’ve nicked the tube when fitting it.
It was now time to experience my first miles in the sun soaked island of Mallorca, on smooth roads and with vehicle drivers more chilled out than Cheech and Chong!
We headed off for a quick spin to loosen the legs and managed to rack up a nice 32 miler, however it wasn’t without incident! As we came to a junction with about 10 miles to go Euan looked the wrong way and saw a car coming so stopped. Stevie who was coming behind him looked the correct way and saw the road was clear and continued…… right into the back of Euan, ripping his rear derailleur off, snapping the mech hanger in the process and crashing to the deck himself! After accessing the damage and turning his bike into a single speed, we headed off back to the hotel with Euan powering ahead.
The most gutting part for Euan was that he had a spare mech hanger……. only issue was it was in his tool box back in Stonehaven! Things weren’t good as we toured various bike shops on the island in search of a new hanger but were unsuccessful, resulting in Euan having to hire a bike for the rest of the week, kindly paid for by Stevie.
So that was day one over and done with. I felt a little heavy legged and slow on the climbs which turned out to be the brake blocks rubbing as pointed out by Euan. Really enjoyed my first experienced of cycling on the roads of Mallorca in glourious sunshine!
A well deserved pint or two was had before heading down for dinner followed by a visit to the pub for further refreshments.
Sunday 19th April – Day 2
Day 2 started with a breakfast in the hotel. I opted for a proper athletes breakfast consisting of bacon, sausages, beans and toast…… and several glasses of fresh orange to rehydrate.
The sun was yet again bursting the skies so factor 50 it was, don’t want to lose my milk bottle appearance now do I! Water stops were a plenty as the temperatures soared.
We managed to rattle in 48 miles with 2,700ft of climbing including the climb out of Caimari up Lluc I believe it was. I felt really good on the climbs today, makes a difference when you’re brake blocks aren’t rubbing and working against you! Lol
As per the norm we finished off the day with a cold beer at the Pro Cycle Cafe followed by buffet tea in the hotel before heading out for a few more light refreshments.
Monday 20th April – Day 3
Day 3 started like all the other days, buffet breakfast for athletes then heading out on the bikes. I could really get used this this daily routine!
What would be the course for today I wonder? Well, having had a fairly tough day yesterday and the legs feeling a little tired we left the route planning to the very capable Docky. His suggestion was a flat day….. now at this point let me clear something up….. there appears to either be a language barrier or the definition of Flat varies between the English and Australian dictionary!
So off we set on our flat, *cough cough day which involved 78.65 miles and 4,062 ft of flat hills! Yet again the scenery was awesome helped but the glorious yellow ball in the sky which I think they call the sun.
The notable climb of the day was over Orient which offered some breathtaking views, and to be fair wasn’t that bad a climb after all, either that or I was getting stronger!
Today it was Gilly’s turn to come off the bike. We approached a junction in one of the small villages we visited and came to a halt for the traffic. As we moved off Gilly managed to topple and hit the deck resulting in a scrape to his arm and knee, nothing a Mr Bump plaster wouldn’t solve!
Another great day was had in the saddle followed by a well earned cold beer while trying to work out from the elevation chart on my Garmin how that route could possible be classed as flat!
Tuesday 21st April – Day 4
Day 4 was to prove to be the toughest day of the holiday as we tackled the infamous Sa Calobra!
This really was a tough day in the saddle covering 62 miles with 6,352 ft of climbing. Sa Calobra was by far the hardest climb of the day and week but you also had 3 big climbs to get to Sa Calobra!
I’m not going to bore you with pedal stroke by pedal stroke account of the day, mainly because I can’t remember all the details but one thing I do remember, and it certainly will live with me forever, is that feeling when I arrived at the top of Sa Calobra. Now I’m talking about the top before we decent into Sa Calobra to climb back up! I know how crazy is that, cycling down this beast of a mountain just to climb back up!
So I reach the top of Sa Calobra, the Colls Des Reis to give it it’s proper title, pull into the side and look down……… all I can say is Wow!!!! I was totally blown away with what lay beneath me, the winding roads, the switchbacks, the scenery, it was just out of this world! I was buzzing, with a little bit of nervousness thrown in for good measures.
I’ve watched the Youtube videos, I seen numerous pics in magazines and online, I’ve even seen the pics from those who went last year but none of that could prepare me for what I saw in front of me! No book, magazine video or story did justice to this magnificent sight! Apologies for going on about it but you really need to stand at the top and look down to appreciate it in all it’s glory!
After standing for several minutes gaping in awe, I picked my jaw up from the smooth tarmac below and started my decent to the foot of Sa Calobra. I’ll admit I’m not the most confident at descending, especially at speed, so I took my time, mostly to take in the stunning views as I knew on the way back up I’d have my head tucked right down chewing the handlebars, concentrating on every pedal stroke, not having the time to take any of the scenery in.
We met up with Andy and his contingent and refuelled on chocolate cake and cans of coke…… well that’s what I refueled on, the others opted for coffees but since I’m not grown up yet coke was my drink of choice. Saying that the powered version may have helped with the climb that lay ahead! Lol
Now was the time, there was no putting it off any longer, it was time to start the 6 miles climb, lasting around an hour, in the baking heat, with an average of 7% incline. This was going to be a challenge, the biggest and longest climb I’ve ever done, that’s without factoring in the added heat which my milk bottle body wasn’t used to! I opted for 500ml of water in my bottle opposed to the full litre it holds, I was conscious of the weight yet wanted to ensure I had enough fluids to get me to the top where I could replenish.
It really was a tough climb, switch back after switch back with the sun beating down, little respite being offered by this beast, no time to take in the stunning views. Each pedal stroke hurt as the already tired legs got tireder. I dug deep and eventually crested the top of this truly wonderful climb.
The hurt and pain was well worth it to experience the climb, the toughest and longest by far that I’ve done to date! Definitely one for the bucket list and one that I look forward to taking head on again next year, carrying a little less weight I hope! Lol
Arriving back in Peurto Pollensa we stopped off for what was a well earned cold beer before heading back to the hotel for dinner then heading out to what was now our local to watch the Barcelona v PSG Champions League Quarter Final.
What a Day!!!!!!
Wednesday 22nd April – Day 5
After yesterday’s tough day today was going to be an easy day, a recovery ride if you like. Immediately Docky was removed from route planning duties to ensure the language barrier didn’t result one of his famous flat days!
The weather was a little overcast today as forecast so we headed to Sineu on what was a flat day, with only 1,125 ft of climbing over 51.54 miles. We decided to stop off in Sineu for lunch and were met with a village that was bustling with locals and tourists alike as it was market day. It was certainly a sight to see but make it a little hard to manoeuvre through with our bikes.
Leaving the main square to head to the next village to find somewhere to eat we came across a small cafe down a side street. This was to be the location of our lunch, though it could well of been our tea as the guy took that long to serve up the complex baguettes we ordered!
As we sat waiting for lunch the rain started, not heavy but raining all the same mixed with some wind. It started getting a little chilly so for the first time and the last time of the holida I put my gillet on.
With lunch eventually served and polished off we set off back to Peutro Pollensa battling with a headwind along the way. As we turned a corner I heard a shout from the front of the group and the chase was on…… a tractor with a trailer was up a head! We caught up with the tractor and drafted at 23mph for around 6 miles…… effortless! Sadly the tractor eventually turned off to a chorus of mild humoured boos. Lol
Can’t complain we managed to draft for 6 miles with very little effort! We were now on our own and headed back for our post ride beer followed by dinner then back out to the local to catch the second Champions League quarter final between Real Madrid and Athletic Madrid.
Another great day in the saddle, albeit a little cooler but by no means cold!
Thursday 23rd April – Day 6
Day 6 was to be another long day in the saddle with the weather back to normal, blistering heat! Panic set in when Docky chirped up with the suggested route for the day! Relatively flat with one main climb he said……… surprisingly it was near enough true!
82 miles and 2,999 ft of climbing was the order of the day to the picturesque Randa. I felt good yet again on the climbs, not in the same league as Docky or Euan I may add, but was very happy with my climbing.
Randa was a lovely wee run. As we approached the foot of the climb it resembled the Radar station with the golf ball…… that was not a good look! Lol
To be fair it turned out not to be as bad a climb as first anticipated or looked, and the views at the top were well worth the climb.
Yip you guessed it, we ended the day with a cold beer as a reward for our efforts! We decided to do something a little different for tea this evening and headed out into Peurto Pollensa and found a steak house. I ordered up the Salmon while everyone else opted for a steak, including Euan who ordered the largest T-Bone steak I’ve ever seen! Fair play to him, he finished the lot!
Friday 24th April – Day 7
Before long our final day of cycling on the sun drenched Island of Mallorca was upon us. Today was going to be another scenic ride, this time to the light house of Cap de Formentor. This run certainly didn’t disappoint and was a fitting end to what was an awesome week of cycling in the sunshine on smooth roads with excellent company!
As we gathered outside the hotel ready to set off Gilly asked if we’d all remembered our lights for the tunnel? No-one else had brought lights so we were given a good stern telling off! Lol
Setting off as a whole group, 10 of us, we rode along the sea front then started the ascent to the light house on what was a popular route and fairly busy road with cyclists, cars and buses alike. After several miles of climbing myself, John and Bill came across the tunnel, the tunnel that supposedly required lights. Turning the corner into the entrance of the tunnel the light at the end was clearly visible, we made our way through without any issue. It wasn’t until about three quarters of the way through that I had to remove my sunglasses as it was getting too dark.
The way back was a completely different issue we were hitting the tunnel and speed and didn’t have time for our eyes to adjust! Suddenly it went completely dark with a car coming towards me. I held the bike as steady and straight as I could not knowing how close I was to the side wall and unable to move my hand from the handlebars to remove my sunglasses!Lesson learnt, next year I’ll take them off before the tunnel! Lol
Soon after exiting from the tunnel we made our final climb to the top of Cap de Fermentor and were presented with absolute stunning views……. oh and a goat!
Stopping for cake and coffee, the most expensive cake and coffee on the Island I may add, Andy decided to do one of his party pieces and fall off his chair, sending his very expensive piece of cake onto the ground! Thankfully he managed to retrieve it before the local goat spied the free feed! Andy had managed to place one of the legs of the chair in the only hole there was, and which was just big enough to suck in the chair leg! To be fair he went down gracefully and pulled off a pose as if he was meant to be laying back on the ground! I shouted to him that I think he got away with it!
I calculated that heading back to the hotel would bring our total miles for the week to 380. A great total but soooo close to 400 and 400 miles sounds so much more, even though it’s only 20 miles more! Lol
Gilly, Bill, Stevie and I decided to add an extended loop on to the return journey to reach that magical 400 miles mark…… we ended up with a grand total of 408.4 miles!
We showered, packed the bikes away and headed down for what would be our last supper on the Island of Mallorca, well for 2015 anyway. We hit the sea front for the final time and enjoyed several beers while reflecting on the which had just past, and past so quickly!
Saturday 25th April – Day 8
That was it, months of waiting and the holiday was now over and done with! The bus picked us up from the hotel and took us to the airport where we boarded the plane back to Glasgow. I got back to the house around 3pm totally shattered, my legs were tired, but I was a very happy man!
What a holiday it was, thoroughly enjoyable, super smooth roads, warm weather and very friendly and laid back drivers! That was one of the things that really stuck out for me, the patience of the drivers in Mallorca. They sat 20-30 yards behind you, never revved their engines or became aggressive, and passed leaving plenty of space when safe to do so! On at least one occasion we approached the roundabout and the car on the roundabout to our left slowed down and stopped to allow us to continue onto the roundabout without having to stop!
Was totally blown away with the holiday, the cycling and the scenery. Gilly was worried prior to going that he was over selling it as he kept going on about how much I’d enjoy it. I can confirm that he didn’t and couldn’t over sell it if he tried! No photos, videos or stories could ever over sell it, you need to experience it for yourself!
Roll on Mallorca 2016!