So, the Mallorca 225 it was and ultimate failure. Can’t call it anything else I’m afraid, as we did intend to smash the 312. But having completed the rainy 167 in 2016 and the 225last year, it was supposed to be the long one this year.
The disappointment was fleeting and by Sunday morning sat outside Club Pollença at the lively Sunday morning market, we were determined to redouble our effort next year and earn the 312 medal – which we now have for this year and could wear around town if we wanted to but it would be fraud.
Stan arrived in Pollença, my home town, on Friday lunchtime with his better half, having been up since 3am to fly down to sunny Mallorca from Manchester. Not ideal preparation when you need to be up at 5am mañana to get to the start line on time. Next year a Thursday arrival would be better. We visited the Expo and goodie bag pick up in Playa de Muro. Collecting our shirts and numbers was easy, very well organised and quick.
We went to say hi to the guys from Rapha, as I’m a club member, and generally enjoyed the atmosphere around the resort, checking out the opposition – sorry, fellow cycling enthusiasts. Then back to Pollença for an early evening meal and bed for Stan.
We arrived at the start line in good order Saturday having driven over to Playa de Muro with the bikes from Pollença. We passed many cyclists in the dark, on the way, adding mileage – sorry kilometerage (it’s in the rules) to what was already going to be a long day. Glad we had the car. It took us 7 minutes to roll over the start line from our place in the queue, which was pretty good as it must have taken the folk at the back of our 8,000 strong peloton much longer. The atmosphere at the start was great, there were some fit looking serious competitors around. Our Indy Fab SSRs certainly caught the eye and I’m pretty sure were unique in the peloton.
Our first stop was the roundabout in Pollenca, a pinch point, which should be better marshalled (friends reported much squealing of brakes, curb hopping and crashes) for a cheeky cafe con leche enroute supplied by Franny and a photo opportunity.
(Photo: courtesy of Perry Johnson – http://www.existe.net/)
Then onwards and upwards for a long ride down the Tramuntana mountain range and hopefully making the cut off point in 4 1/2 hours, so that we could attempt the long routes. I’m pretty sure this new time limit, cut off point, was introduced at the last minute by the organisers – pressure! – because last year there were thousands of cyclists still descending out of the mountains, as the roads were being reopened, a dangerous situation indeed. We made it with 10 minutes to spare, which was a relief and enjoyed a short rest at the first feed station. Our first mistake was to try eat a couple of dry pre-packed ham sandwiches, which took too long, but the Coca Cola was refreshing.
Back on our way it was good to see the less well known south western part of the Tramuntana and the picturesque coastline, through the towns of Banyalbufar, Estellencs, es Capdella (second feed station) and out of the mountains via Puigpunyent (scene of our downfall) and Esporles. The pace group wearing polka dot 312 jerseys passed us half way up the last climb out of Puigpunyent and we just couldn’t hold their wheels.
This group do the 312 at the exact pace required to complete it in 14 hours, so we knew now that we were falling behind. On our way out of the mountains through Esporles we joined a big group moving at a good speed and were hopeful of catching the pace group up. At one stage I’m sure I saw them in the distance – though it could have been a mirage as we were out of liquids and gagging for the fuel stop in Lloseta. I expected to see the group here taking on water and supplies but alas, no. By the time we were moving again and approaching the juncture where you head for an Arta party or the 225 finish in Playa de Muro, we worked out that we were maybe 1/2 hour off the pace and heading to be timed out of the long one. So not wanting to arrive at the party as it finished, we headed for an early beer.
Next year, with bigger guns to power through the mountains at a better pace and a little less weight on board – belly! – I’m confident we’ll finally crack the 312. We know what it will take now and are already in training, heading for the Arta party. Overall – a wonderful cycling celebration on the beautiful island of Mallorca. Highly recommended!!!