For the first time, Cappuccino’s steadier section launched an assault on the roads and bars of Mallorca to help build the early season form. Here is a short report of our exploits between 16th and 20th April…
After much anticipation, the first Mallorca Training and Beers Camp for a mixed ‘steady’ group left from Leeds Bradford on April 16th, 12 eager travellers joining new members Phill T and Nicky who had been there a few days already. The trip ran on time so all riders gathered at the Pollensa Park Hotel and managed to assemble their bikes or pick up a hire bike, ready for the opening day ‘leg stretcher’, a 28 mile hilly ride to the lighthouse at Cap Formentor. This proved an eye-opener to the type of riding to be expected from Mallorcan roads, and gave everyone’s lungs and legs a good workout. That evening we were grateful for the buffet-style half board menu in the hotel, though quickly discovered that the hotel beer was vastly inferior to that at Pro Cycle Hire; this being a “Training and Beers Camp”, the important matter of our preferred watering hole was unanimously decided.
43km, 831m of climbing.
This saw the first big challenge, the iconic Sa Calobra (“The Serpent”) ride. After a morning coffee at the nearby Pro Cycle Hire, the whole group set off; everyone showed good group riding skills on the approach to the first climb, Coll de Femenia, though on that climb, the riders soon got strung out. Phill T and Nicky had set off an hour before us, not intending to do the whole ride, but weren’t caught up with until Coll Sa Bataia, where coffees and snacks were had. As the group had become a bit fragmented, nobody visited the monastery at Lluc. The roads were busy with riders all heading for Sa Calobra. After a long, spectacular descent with much arm-ache inducing braking, we regrouped at the bottom in the picturesque coastal village of Sa Calobra; unfortunately one of the hundreds of riders was lying in the road after coming off near to the bottom of the descent, serving as a reminder to us all of the need to take it easy. After a short pause at the bottom we took the only decision open to us, to point our bikes uphill and begin pedalling. Dave and Jean had quickly emerged as the strongest riders in the group, so made short work of the climb, even more remarkable considering Dave had been suffering with a lengthy respiratory problem – chapeau! Dave also made scurrilous allegations of half-wheeling by Jean, which caused much good-humoured café stop banter. The rest of us emerged at the top at our own pace and gathered at the pre-arranged café on the way back towards Sa Bataia for a late lunch. Excellent chicken & chips was served, though our esteemed DS, James, was struggling with his nutrition and was feeling the effects of the climb. We descended via Caimari and rode via the flat lands back to Puerto Pollensa, although managed to get a bit lost and added a few unintentional km by riding to Alcudia and having to return on the coast road. The beers at Pro Cycle Hire tasted good on our arrival back.
111km, 1,948m of climbing.
Saturday’s ride was designed as a ‘day off’ between two days of hills, so we set off after a leisurely breakfast, then coffee, towards the town of Petra. This route took us inland on flat roads, where we practised our group riding skills with shouts of ‘change!’ to rotate the burden of riding on the front. We found a very friendly and accommodating café in the heart of Petra town, where lunch was ordered and enjoyed by all. Nicky had been baptised into group riding though dropped back with Phill T before reaching Petra, but they soon found us and joined for lunch. A few people paid the Rapha shop a visit, but only Elaine succumbed to its temptations, buying Merv a pair of Assos bibshorts and carrying them back in her jersey pockets. Petra was heaving with cyclists of all nationalities, wearing a wide variety of hideous, lurid kit (especially German cycle clubs, we noticed); we decided that the Cappo kit ruled them all. Feeling relaxed, we headed back on the shorter return leg, and had the coast road from Alcudia to negotiate, so we decided to hammer home as best we could. At this point, much to his partner Nicky’s annoyance, Phill T’s heart was stolen by another – Dave’s bike! Phill had a test ride on Dave’s excellent Tarmac S-Works machine; and was seen flashing past the bar at high speed (and emitting loud whooping noises, allegedly); Dave began to worry if he’d ever see his pride and joy again, and Nicky began to see big ££££pound signs coming on!
89km, 391m of climbing.
Sunday was the ‘biggie’, a planned assault on the climb of Puig Major, Mallorca’s highest point and longest climb. Phill T and Nicky had plans for a more leisurely ride together, so with some nervousness, 12 riders set off on the flat opening kilometres, soon establishing a good rhythm as we wound up towards Orient. James, Luke and Cathy opted for a shorter day, splitting off and going up to Sa Bataia again, while the remaining 9 riders fuelled up on pasta at Orient after a stiff first climb of the day with a nasty little headwind at the end. Jean nearly came to grief when the group singled out too quickly and she clipped the wheel in front, causing her to get a nasty twist in her foot. Fortunately she was able to ride on but suffered with a swollen foot for the rest of the day.
On the descent to Bunyola, we suffered the only significant mechanical of the trip and that was only a burst sidewall on Andy’s rear tyre; we fortunately found a cycle shop in Bunyola town and Andy bought a new tyre, expertly fitted by the day’s ride captain, Dave. The next climb was the picturesque Coll de Soller, with numerous switchbacks, before a swooping descent into the very pretty town of Soller. Dave rode up ahead and took ‘action shots’ (!) of us making the ascent, trying to smile for the camera. The big Puig Major climb commenced steadily enough, passing through Fornalutx, before opening up into open country. Dave had been champing at the bit so he went off ahead, leaving 2 groups to follow; the chaps (Andy, Pete, Martin and Phil C), with the girls behind (Catherine, Elaine, Rosie and Jean). Nobody was too sure where the climb finished, though both groups soon ran out of water and were having to resort to gels to get up there. It was a monotonous plod through wooded hillsides, and different in character and scenery to the Sa Calobra climb. After a tunnel, Dave was waiting and informed us that this was actually the top, much to everyone’s relief. The guys waited at the top for the girls to get there, and then we quickly pushed on as it was quite chilly up there at around 1,000m altitude. A quick coffee at the stone aqueduct café, then some stellar descending followed, all the way down from Coll de Femenia. Dave, Pete and Phil C led the flat last 5km from the front, at a good clip into a stiff onshore headwind, before we completely emptied our legs on the 100m Strava segment back to the hotel – joint honours to James and Andy for their time of 14 seconds! 136km, 2,290m of climbing. (Cathy snuck out for a ride with Elaine the next morning and bagged the QOM with a fine time of 18 seconds – allez allez!!)
The day before, Jean had had the forethought to book us into Tolo’s for dinner, Bradley Wiggins’s favourite café and cycling Mecca. Most people were craving steak, so we did a lot to support the local beef industry, washed down by some excellent wine and DS James’s generous contribution of a round of the local ouzo-style aniseed firewater. More drinks at the beach-side bar followed to round off a tiring but rewarding day and see out the trip in fine style.
The only hitch came on the last day when Pete lost his passport at Palma airport having checked in but before going through passport control. Despite efforts to find it he had to stay in Mallorca and apply for an emergency passport the next day. So it didn’t feel quite right saying goodbye to each other at LBA with one rider missing; but we hope for a speedy return for Pete.
Massive thanks to DS James for researching the trip and putting it together, and to all riders for making it a memorable one. Great cycling done, good friendships made, and pride at being part of this great club. With Leeds to Paris in 2014, Mallorca in 2015, the expectation is for this kind of trip every year – what have we started!
Total trip stats:
Distance ridden: 379km (235 miles)
Ascent 5,460m (17,913 feet)
Puncture count: Nil
Burst tyre count: 1
Calories consumed: too numerous to count
Riders left in Mallorca: 2 Pete (see above) and Jean (who extended her trip)
KOMs / QOMs achieved : 1 (kudos to Cathy)