Ride 2: Sunday: A pointless there and back again?
.....or 'That's no way to refer to Sa Calobra'
We were all in fine spirits. Despite eating and drinking way to much the previous night we arrived at breakfast eager to discuss the next challenge. It was simple. Today we would cycle further and climb for longer. The focus of the ride would be Sa Calobra. We would get there by cycling through the island, climb up to the MA-10 from Selva again, (climb for 2.6km for 155 meters vertical at 6%, reaching the top of the Coll de Cais Reis, though I didn’t mention that to Lukey) and then descend 10km into the bay at the bottom of the many hairpin bends. Malc and I had climbed this only once before and it was tough. It was a steady 7.1%, but peaked in places at 11.5%. It was certainly comparable to the Puig. Armed with these facts we headed off.
The first couple of hours we made steady progress and reached Selva before lunch. Some discussion occurred over when it was a good time to eat. We elected to carry on and get something at the bottom of the Sa Calobra (though from memory the restaurants where poor and expensive). Before we reached the MA-10 there was a small case of an 8 km climb at approx 5.5%. Nothing too taxing, but sufficient to increase the pulse. Malc took the lead, Lukey was in the middle, I was at the back. I wasn't trusted to be at the front! It was a steady, even climb. The MA-10 appeared, we turned left and descended for the most part. It was such fun, getting the line just right and weaving our way down the mountain passes. Sometimes I got the line alittle wrong as well and this resulted in some teeth grinding and very hard braking! Feeling good we approached the turning for Sa Calobra where Lukey realised he'd been slightly misled. "I thought it was downhill to Sa Calobra?" he said. "It is," I replied, "But you need to climb first." He wasn’t very impressed with that.
Reaching the top, we enjoyed a commanding view of the mountains around us. We were blessed with another glorious day, the sunshine made a very welcome change from the dreary weather at home. After a 360 degree turn, we were treated with a view of at least some of the road below. Antonio Paretti built the road in 1932 and it's one of the most famous routes in Mallorca. The road simply snakes its way down to the sea shore, culminating at the Torrent de Pareis gorge (which looks like something out of a set of Jurassic Park. It’s fantastic). 10km down, up 10km. Very straight-forward. I was excited. I'd only climbed this on a triple. This time it would a standard.....
I took off, flying round the bends. The road was practically empty and there was plenty of room to see any on-coming cars. I was drifting all over the road, cutting each corner slightly differently. It was exhilarating. There's nothing remotely like this at home. I was clocking miles in less than 2 minutes. I was at the bottom in no time. I did a piece to video and waited for the guys to arrive, which they soon did. They were not quite as thrilled as me and even less so at the climb back up. But we were here now! After some ridiculously expensive and out of date snacks we decided it was time to climb back up. The technique would be the same, Malc and I would sandwich Lukey for as long as possible and take it from there. And so the climb began......
Malc was at perfect pace and we meandered our way up the tarmac pass. There was no talking, just panting. We were making decent progress. It was head down, 'keep-the-pedal-turning' stuff. About half way up, Lukey suffered a stutter. Hitting some road debris he lost his momentum and more importantly his rhythm. "I'm stopping." he said, "You guys carry on." "Sure?" we replied, "Yup" he said. So we did. I edged ahead and took the pacing on. As the road wound its way around the mountain we could see Lukey firstly taking a breather and secondly making his own way up. He was doing fine. Malc was getting more laboured as the kilometres clicked by. With 2 km to go he told me to go. I felt strong. I had a gear to spare, so I took off. I started to pressure the legs to see how far ahead I could get. I snatched a quick look behind when I rode under the elevated section of the road; it was empty. Now was the time to get out of the saddle and push for home. The last stretch was tough going – 12% in places. There it was! The signpost indicating the extent of our labour. I'd done it. I cycled past and climbed the crest of the hill, spinning around and free-wheeling back to the lay by nearby. It felt good to finally stop.
Malc appeared about 5 minutes later. He finished strongly too and joined me (on the road). It was a while before he caught his breathe. Into view came Lukey. Or so we thought. Or rather, assumed, I should say. In my defence I wasn’t wearing my glasses. However as he came closer we realised it wasn't Lukey. He was quite a large bloke. However we were now holding a homemade finish line tape, so we were committed. Making the best of it, we subsequently cheered a stranger home instead. He was very out of breath but I think he appreciated the effort. "You're mate is behind me," he said helpfully, and with that Lukey came into view. We did the same finish line thing, but I'm not sure that really bothered Luke. It had been a tough 10km. Some moments later Luke caught his breath and gave his account of proceedings.
Rested, we descended the Coll de Cais Reis back onto the MA-10. The plan was to return to Part de Pollenca on the main road and enjoy the 8km or so descent to the hotel. Considering the climbing we'd done, we rode steadily back, weaving around as a group of three all the way home. Other than the errant goats on the road as we were hacking our way down the mountain, the return leg was trouble free. Light was failing and it was getting cold. A few kit changes later we were in the hotel, congratulating each other on another good days riding. We'd put two good days climbing in, circa 3km vertical. All good practice for the following day. What was needed now was a beer and dinner and some sleep.......
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