On Wednesday 24 April, 21 MCC members met at the Orchard Pub to embark on the clubs sixth annual cycling trip to Mallorca. As usual Mick Battle had a comprehensive plan for the following six days to test the capacities of all present.
A late flight and transfer found us at the excellent Hotel Condesa at the ungodly hour of 3am. That prompted a quick retreat for a few hours sleep before the action would begin.
At 9.30 the bikes arrived, delivered by bikeexperiencemallorca.com. The usual adjustments took place and it was noticed that several had brought their own saddles, perhaps a reminder of uncomfortable days on a rental. The bikes were top notch, varying from Giant TCRs to high –spec Pinarellos for the flashier types. Bike rental in Mallorca is about 60% of the cost of bike rental anywhere else in Europe so one can afford to upgrade!
Two groups formed, one consisting of twelve headed east towards Arta and the climb to the beautiful and remote Ermita de Betlem. This included a very pleasant coffee (and pizza for some) stop at La Bicyclette in Arta.
The hardier souls headed into the Tramuntura mountains and divided into groups of five and four. One group travelled to Soller and took on the magnificent climb up to Puig Major (12km @ 6%) and completed 143 punishing kms before arriving back to the hotel. The other group couldn’t resist the charms of the iconic and beautiful Sa Calobra climb (9.7km @ 7%). They completed 110km with 2200m climbing, not bad for a first day!
One of the challenges of staying at Hotel Condesa is trying to stay away from the superb buffet and avoid piling on the kgs. After all there is much carb loading to be done and we couldn’t find a carb we didn’t like. It is easier to stay away from the poolside bar just by thinking of what traumas lie ahead.
Day 2 was always going to be easy and a gentle 56km trip through the farmlands was combined with a very pleasant coffee stop at Pollenca.
Sign in for the Sportive and gazing at the stupendous selection of bikes and gear occupied much of the evening. The Sportive itself is confined to about 9000 cyclists. This year was the tenth anniversary and the organisers had welcomed back all of the previous guests of honour. They included Miguel Indurain, Sean Kelly, Carlos Sastre, Ivan Basso, Pedro Horillo and many others. Special guest this year was Alberto Contador who wore the number 312 bib.
Mallorca is alive with cyclists, an estimated 80,000 pedallers on the island for the week. Generally both cars and cyclists behave well, though there are inevitably a few flashpoints.
It is not an expectation that all MCCs should attempt the sportive and so, seventeen souls with varying levels of ambition gathered at 6.15am on Saturday to head down to the starting line. An uncharacteristic cock-up on the part of the organisers meant that we did not get to pass under the starting banner until 7.30am.
What a day for a long cycle! The sun shone but not too warm and there wasn’t a breath of breeze. The roads were closed to traffic all along the routes and the surfaces were generally excellent with the exception of a few places through the farmyards near the end.
Thirteen members completed the 167kms which had over 2600m climbing. Chairman Eugene was involved in a crash after about 20km but managed to return to Pollenca, get a replacement bike and finish the 167. Now there is a committed cyclist!
Four more members managed the gruelling 225km with a huge 4000m climbing. This year nobody matched the eight MCC members who had previously cycled the awesome 312 because the roads closed early and prevented at least one member from attempting the huge distance. Most of the climbing takes place in the first half of the journey and the second half has quite an exhilarating long gentle descent, coupled with a few little stingers to remind one of the pain. The sense of achievement was palpable back at the hotel and then we had the opportunity to check out the Plastic Paddy just down the street. A few beers helped ease the pain and contribute to a great occasion.
Sunday brought a slightly later start and a few gentle recovery spins to ease the legs, though a few decided to take a trip out to Rhonda (100km) and race back.
Again the group split on Monday with most heading to Cap Formentor Lighthouse, another iconic route on this beautiful island. The smaller group headed back to the mountains, through Selva and down the superb descent to Pollenca.
The bikes were returned and we began our return journey at 6.00pm, tired but all intact as we had arrived.
A presentation was made to Mick Battle who hands over the organisational reins after this most successful trip. The company was great, the sun shone all week and the craic was mighty.
We look forward to next year already.