Mallorca Autumn Training Camp

Mallorca Autumn Training Camp

As we were arriving on the Tuesday evening I had arranged to pick up my hired bike around 10am Wednesday morning. I duly headed down to the Procycle Hire Shop in Porto Pollensa and was given my Massi Carbon steed from Bruce, the shop owner, who was a former pro continental rider. Bruce informed me that there would be a “mixed ability” group leaving the shop the following morning. I told him that I would try to join them, attached my Garmin and set off on a solo pedal. Heading from Porto Pollensa I passed our villa and carried on to Sa Pobla via a wee swatch around Pollensa town. It was quite windy but hot and I unzipped my cycling top to cool down as I headed towards Alcudia. We had stayed there before and I thought I’d have a wee look around some of our old haunts. On the approach to the resort I felt a sharp pain in my stomach. I had been stung by a wasp or something similar and it was f’ing sore. Having scooted round Alcudia I joined the coast road and returned towards Porto Pollensa before cutting off onto a wee backroad for Pollensa. First impressions were that the Massi was a little heavier than the sylphlike Ruby, but quite stiff, sporting the bulletproof 105 and thankfully the brakes were on the right bars. The saddle was a little less forgiving than my Selle Italia but hey ho.

First days stats 31.8 miles            2 hrs 01 min        15.7 mph average            800 feet climbed                                              1600 calories

Feeling slightly apprehensive about joining the mixed ability group I arrived at the shop at 8.50am. There were around 6 bodies there and I laid my bike against the wall and got talking to a nice guy called Kevin from Barnet. He was around my age and as we shot the shit more cyclists appeared. By the time of depart there were 17 in the colourful looking group and we rolled off from the shop. Kevin and I made a schoolboy error and tucked in behind Bruce and his mate, 2nd in the group and riding 2 up. The pace was fairly high and the rest were content to sit in and shelter  behind us. My lofty position of second in the peleton wasn’t to last long as we hit the first climb of the day and I was quickly passed by virtually everyone. As I was to find out the sight of a climb coincided with a distinct increase in testosterone levels on an almost directly proportional ratio to the percentage of the hill. Shortly afterwards Bruce was stung on the head by a bee and we had to stop in the next village at a pharmacy. No complaints from me. We took the opportunity for a caffeine injection in the lovely wee village square. We then headed off again through Campanet and Caimari and started the major climb of the day to Lluc. This was a 5 mile climb. Again the testosterone levels raised and most of the group crept away up the road until they were no longer visible. I was passed by two guys and decided to try to hold the wheel of the second one. He paced me for about half of the climb and then started to struggle himself as another guy went past us. I decided to follow him and opened a gap of around 30 metres but I felt guilty and dropped back to help my pacer. “Only a mile or so to go” he encouraged “you’re nearly there”. “I’m back to help you” I told him. He held my wheel for the last mile and we crested together at the petrol station / cafe. I was pleased to see about 4 guys finish behind me as I was starting to worry that I’d be last. A cold bottle of coke is always nice on a hot day but this one tasted f’ing brilliant. The coke was followed by some water and the bottles were topped up.

 

After a climb like that there must be a descent and what a descent it was. I told myself that I was Francesco Nibali and off we went. These guys were great climbers but could they descend? I finished in the top half on the way down, hitting 43mph, the fastest I have ever been on a bike. A couple of times I thought I was going to be Tommy Voeckler as I nearly ran out of road. Some of the hairpin bends were tight and I had a few wee hairy moments. Bill told us the next day that he and Bruce hit 61mph coming down!!

Second days stats            44.6 miles            2 hrs 48 min        15.9 mph average            2700 feet climbed                                            2400 calories

On the Friday I turned up again at the shop and there were 5 of us in total ready for a wee planned trip to Formentor. Kevin was there with Billy and Stevie (2 guys from Bathgate and members of the West Lothian Clarion) and an English guy called Chris. We had quite a long climb out of Porto Pollensa and up to a lovely viewing point.

The lads had dropped me again and had caught their breath by the time I arrived. They gave me 5 mins or so to catch mine and off we went on the descent. There was a wee car in front of us and we were draughting behind it for a bit and buzzing around him but he was going too slow for us and we flew past him and he couldn’t keep up with us. There was then a section of really poor road, the only one I came across on the island, for about 4 miles before we hit the base of the next climb. I was just behind Kevin at this point when his chain snapped. As none of us had a chain splitter or speed link we had to leave him, climb to the top of the next hill and Bill contacted his wife to send the shop owner to Kevin’s rescue.

We then pedalled through the tunnel which was pretty hairy. It was really dark and about 300 metres long with large ditches on either side of the road. As we got towards the end one of the Bathgate boys shouted “take yer sunglasses off, it’s much brighter then”. What a bunch a fannies!!

We then made it to the Formentor lighthouse which had some lovely views and a cafe which served up cracking big cakes and nice coffee. We met up with a guy from Manchester called Mike who joined us for the return journey.

The road in snaking down the hill in the background.

On the way back we met Kevin who’s bike had been fitted with a new chain. He had about 5 miles to go to get to the lighthouse. I gave him the sunglasses tip for the tunnel and set off in pursuit of the others who had dropped me again. The lads had waited for me again at the first viewing point and we dropped into Porto Pollensa on another cracking descent after a two minute break. I descended with Stevie who told me that he had wiped out last year on the descent of the Duke’s pass and ended up with 20 stitches in his thigh!

Third days stats                 32 miles                2 hrs 33 min        13.9 mph average            3200 feet climbed                                            1872 calories

On the Saturday it was another organised ride from the shop. There were 12 guys out and we had more of a rolling route which covered 53 miles at an average speed of around 17 mph.  This time there was a long winding rolling section of quiet road where they cranked the speed up to about 23 or 24mph for quite a while. I managed to keep up with the pace as the route was much flatter and I was feeling quite strong.

Kevin, myself and the rest of the lads having coffee in the shadow of the church in the lovely wee village square of Campanet.

Fourth days stats             53 miles                3 hrs 05 min        17.1 mph average            1500 feet climbed                                            2700 calories

5 of us met on the Sunday after I had persuaded the kids that it would be a bad idea to spend the day at the waterpark at the weekend. This time the roll call was Kevin, Mike, Ray from Birmingham and Conor from Dublin. Conor dropped off after about 10 miles and we continued on a small reversal of the previous days route. We completed 45 miles on the rolling route and finished with 25mph for 20 mins followed by a slight easing of pace and then about 24mph for 5 miles. I took a turn on the front to haul us along the shoreline but buckled with about a mile to go. I was done.

It was a great holiday and the cycling was the best I’ve ever experienced. I met a lot of nice guys who are also very strong cyclists. Would love to do it again. Anyone up for it?

 

First days stats                  31.8 miles            2 hrs 01 min        15.7 mph average            800 feet climbed                                              1600 calories

Second days stats            44.6 miles            2 hrs 48 min        15.9 mph average            2700 feet climbed                                            2400 calories

Third days stats                 32 miles                2 hrs 33 min        13.9 mph average            3200 feet climbed                                            1872 calories

Fourth days stats             53 miles                3 hrs 05 min        17.1 mph average            1500 feet climbed                                            2700 calories

Fifth days stats                 45 miles                2 hrs 27 min        18.1 mph average            1300 feet climbed                                            2525 calories

Totals                                    210 miles             13 hrs 15 mins    16.1 mph average            9500 feet climbed                                            11097 calories