bikebritain News December 19, 2012

Ride 4: Tuesday: Back Pain, Lightning and Lighthouses.

....or put another way, our 'bonus' day. 

By now most parts of my body were aching. I was awoken by thunder, then lightning. From here, it seemed unlikely we would make a 4th day in the saddle. The rain was hammering down and it's not received wisdom to go cycling in a thunderstorm. Fortunately for us we didn't have to since it had relented before breakfast, a fact I happily shared with Malc and Lukey. The reception, was, at best, lukewarm. 

Breakfast consumed, it looked grey overhead but not threatening enough to call the ride off. Off we went, steadily, heading towards the Cap de Formentor; basically a lighthouse at the end of a (very bumpy and exposed) 18 km coastal road. We had already claimed the first mountain complex, a 3 km climb that peaked at 220 meters. Malc broke away, and I thought about letting him go, it this was the last day so I could pretty much dump what I had left, whenever I wanted. The gap was 60 meters and after some work I caught up with him. We rode over the top and waited a few moments for Lukey to join us. The opposing decent was enjoyable and the road surface good. At the bottom the road split to either continue or head towards to the beach resort at Formentor. We continued onwards. Almost immediately the road deteriorated and I started to rain. Bad sign. My jacket was wind resistant, not waterproof. If this continued I'd get wet. 

I got very wet. In fact, we all got very wet.

We rode on and the weather deteriorated. It was raining hard and the dark grey clouds were here for the duration. It was also getting windy. We rode through an unexpected tunnel, checked Lukey was still with us and continued. Eventually, stuck a rocky outpost, the lighthouse loomed out of the gloom. One final climb later, Malc and I were hiding under bush debating the relative merits of staying there or cycling back. Amazingly, the cafe was closed (imagine that, in November, in the rain) which was now absolutely pelting down. Momentarily, Luke joined us, commenting that every time he joined yours truly on an 'event' (RIDE24 2011, RIDE24 2012 & now) he always got wet. I regarded this as a bit harsh since (a) we'd had 3 fantastic, sunny days and (b) I wasn't in charge of the weather. This notwithstanding, we headed back and rode immediately into the wind. We were all very cold by now. Malc had prepared best, in full Winter kit, but Luke and I had chosen 'Summer' gear....

We stoically rode on. We all plied our way up the 4 km, 220 meter climb at a steady pace and enjoyed the hack down the other side. We were strung out alittle by now and I decided not to wait but head for home. Surface water doesn't really describe the runoff I rode through on the way back. We were on the clock at the hotel and we didn't wish to outstay our welcome. I dragged the bike upstairs and was promptly engaged in conversation with the hotel manager regarding keeping the bikes in our room. However, (fortunately for us) she didn't seem bothered we were leaving almost 3 hours after our allotted departure time. I jumped straight into the shower, keen to warm up. The other guys appeared a few minutes later. 

Summary

We had made it! Just 42 km in total for the final mornings ride but 907 meters vertical climbed nevertheless. Add this to the 344 km already ridden it meant we had climbed the best part of 8km over the 4 outings. For someone who had never ridden terrain like this before, Luke had acquitted himself very well. Plenty of grit and shear wilfulness, he had ascended everything the island and our route planning had thrown at him. Perhaps this was his turning point? Perhaps he will now embrace the art of hill climbing? I'm sure he'll share his thoughts on this later. Malc was also pleased with his efforts. He'd put in some hard mileage and paced us up a few of the mountains as a team. 'Power' had returned to his legs after a poor year (in his own words) last year. As for Mallorca, I had completed my 'unfinished business'. I had climbed both Sa Calobra and the Puig in relative comfort. I had managed to stay out of my lowest gear on both occasions and proven to myself I could cycle around Mallorca using standard gearing without feeling as if I  was teetering on the brink of a cardiac arrest. We'd covered some respectable distance and seen parts of the island we had not visited before. All in all, and not being with the family withstanding, it had been a great way to spend 5 days. 

We will return. I'm not sure when, but Mallorca still has plenty to offer those of us afflicted with the need to climb mountains on a bike. And perhaps next time there might be more of us....

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