Majorca by Gretchen
We landed in Majorca in the middle of a Spring heatwave; high 20s, no wind, and clear blue sky. No…wait, that was last year. OK, so it wasn't exactly tropical but at least we had left the UK and there were even rumours of some new road improvement work in the mountains. Excitement was building. I could almost smell the new tarmac as we left the airport. The forecast was 'fair to middling' for the first few days, but it looked more promising later in the week. Who cared! I had brand spanking new cyclefit shoes and the culinary delights of the all-you-can-eat buffet were beckoning. GPM10/Cyclefit training camps don't get much better than this.
Sunday saw us chomping at the bit and we rolled out at the unheralded hour of 9:13am, faffing kept to an absolute minimum. Mark was running a tight ship as usual. But wait…no uncles Phil and Jules? Who was going to REALLY look after us? We were reassured that Jules was making a gap in his hectic social calendar and would be joining us later that day, but sadly an old injury meant that Phil would be supporting us from base. So it was with a heavy heart that we set off. Or maybe that was just me spending too long at the breakfast buffet. Anyway rainclouds were threatening so we kept up a steady pace and, just before lunch, arrived at the bottom of the first and only climb of the day. Just in time to be thwarted by the Majorcan armed police, who had closed the roads for a half ironman. Rescued by some quick thinking and a bit of pigeon Spanish (thanks John) we relocated our lunch to the quaint town square in Petra, donned some rain jackets then headed back to base, ably guided by superstar rider Gareth, our resident guide for the week.
On Monday we were woken by high winds and actual rain, so at breakfast it was designated as an unscheduled 'pre-rest' day (the rest that you have before you have actually done anything). I'm actually quite familiar with the concept. A few of us seized the opportunity to sqander even more money on non-essential cycling kit by heading to the Rapha pop-up shop in Alcudia, where we enjoyed a bit of the local cafe/cycling culture - only without the cycling. From there we decided that even more 'pre-loading' of calories were required so we headed to a restaurant to sample the local speciality of 'mixed seafood' Paella, or that non-local speciality, 'fillet steak and lots of potatoes'. Suffice to say, a spin over to the lighthouse was probably not the wisest of post-lunch activities but, based on performances, we gathered strong evidence to suggest that fillet steak really is the training cyclist lunch of choice. And surely its the only feasible explanation for Chris and Colin getting up there so fast.
So to Tuesday, when we embarked on the riding proper. First up was Col de Femenia on the way to the viaduct, a lovely climb that broke the group up slightly, reconvening at the top for a coffee/refuel. From there the fantastic descent down Puig Major, through the town of Soller, and lunch at the most charming layby I've ever had the good fortune to eat half a ham/cheese/lettuce/honey baguette. For this find we have to thank Stevie G, our very capable sous chef/guide for the week. From there the notorious 'slog up from Deia', best ridden with a chatty Irishman who will do his best to distract you from the surprising steepness of the gradient. A quick coffee stop in Valldemossa and we were off on the long drag back across the island. Only this time it wasn't quite so long, thanks largely to the man- mountain that was Colin and Danish Mark, (think less pastry, more breadstick) who sat on the front and brought us seamlessly back home despite a minor roundabout hiccup (could have happened to anyone). I believe there may have been a sprint finish in front of the hotel but by the time I got back the podium had been dismantled and protein drinks finished. I thought Steve from Hull was looking quietly happy with his efforts though.
Wednesday was the scheduled restday, which we had already used, so we took a spin out to the little village of Arta. From there we had the option of more coffee or a spin over to a monastry along some quiet back roads with some very cool switchbacks, finally giving way to a great sea view. Unfortunately for Richard his (unbeknown) slow puncture got fed up with being slow and blew up while he was taking a tight corner. We'll never know the final verdict on those test Lightweights, but what we do know is that Rich wins the 'Hardman of the Week' award for riding for the next two days with a very purple, swollen, sprained right hand. That and the fact he finally donated his toewarmers to a greater cause, but lets go with the sprained hand. Anyway, it was back to the hotel to sample the various epicurean delights of the buffet, everyone aware of the impending challenge of the next day.
By Thursday the weather had really started to come to the party, and armwarmers and gilets were being discarded in favour of the Spring/Summer 2012 GPM10 collection. There was another early roll-out and everyone made a decent push up Col d'Orient, to regroup and recover with a coffee and cake from the friendliest barista on the island. From there the second climb of the day was the Col de Soller, again a great wee climb to work up an appetite for lunch. And before we knew it we were at the bottom of Puig Major, dumping even more layers, and trying not to think about how long the descent had been on Monday. All I remember from last year is that I had been told off for talking too much, so this time decided to put the oxygen to better use and did my best to get a lift off Irish Ian and Simon B. It was 'tap, tap, tap' all the way until the huge relief of finally seeing the dark at the start of the tunnel. Gareth was at the top to hand out water and food and generally pick up the pieces. Next was an awesome spin down to the viaduct, and onwards down the twisting turning descent of the newly sealed switchbacks and the roll back to the hotel. Just shy of 150 km and almost 2500m of climbing. A great day on the bike, hard to beat.
Friday came too soon. How could this be our last day? We headed up to the viaduct via Col de Batalla, past the cafe (what, no coffee?) and paused only to enjoy the view at the top of Sa Colobra. This was the best descent on the island bar none, only tempered by the fact that we still had to climb all the way back up. We took on some gels and bars at the bottom and eventually turned our bikes to face the inevitable. This was probably my favourite climb of the week with fantastic views back over the water. After an easier start it provides some testing gradients and switchbacks nearer the top, made even more difficult by the presence of a pro female triathlete gliding past doing 'hill repeats'. At least she provided great fodder for conversation over the baguettes - "Exactly HOW many repeats do you think she's doing?!". From there, all there was left was the final descent on the supersmooth new tarmac, straight down to Port de Pollencia waterfront for a very enjoyable pint in the afternoon sun. Coffee only goes so far.
It was an awesome finish to a great week with GPM10. Everyone had a fantastic time and big thanks to Mark, Gareth, Steve, and Jules for making it all happen.