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April 14, 2012 at 5:37 am #21663
For all those off to sunny climbs, the weather is looking goodApril 14, 2012 at 7:34 am #24631April 14, 2012 at 7:48 am #24632butcherboyMember
Huw came over last night to help with packing the bike. 3 hours later we finally got it in the case!! What a palava. And we got to do it all again to come back. I might cycle home!April 14, 2012 at 6:18 pm #24633
..bike stripped and cleaned (2kg lighter) and hair cut (1kg lighter). Just the shit, shower and shave to go and will be ready for the hills.April 19, 2012 at 6:45 pm #24636Sweaty EdsMemberApril 21, 2012 at 7:46 am #24637celiaMember
Love The Rain, Live Your DreamApril 23, 2012 at 6:09 pm #24643
Due to IT issues, the account of our trip to Mallorca will now have to take the form of a historical narrative, rather than the hoped for contemporaneous reporting from the front line. I will attempt, however, to keep the air of anticipation and suspense by posting one day at a time.
Those who were able to access the internet whilst away fought off the pangs of homesickness by avidly following the Narberth Blog. I am pleased to confirm that the Sweaty Ed Weather Forecasting Service was clearly operating at a similar level of accuracy to that of the Met Office, however, have yet to receive any feedback on the once-in-a-lifetime sausage sale, or hear any reports on the levels of debauchery and depravity reached in the sleepy village of Ludchurch during our absence.
Anyway, on with the Blog…
With my legendary sense of timing, we arrived at Bristol Airport at 2.45, well in time for the opening of the check-in at 4.15. After an abortive kip on a cold floor we headed for the coffee shop and met up with John and Gareth from Pembroke Dock who were adherents of the N B Coaching sect. So engrossed were we in discussing the trip that we missed the opening of the check in and joined a sizable queue with a motley assortment of Aces (Nicola, Carlton, Carl, Jenina, Pat, Victoria and Nick) who had staggered over the road from their B&B. No sign of Andrew and Huw….
Once bags and bikes were checked in we hung about for a bit speculating if they had over-slept or broken down but then thought sod it, they never wait for us, and went through to Departures, only to find the grinning pair with faces buried in a bacon butty. They had got to the front of the queue when check in opened and gone straight through without a thought for the rest of us (I would say typical, but it would be wasted…).
The flight was full and uneventful and in no time we were waiting in trepidation for the delivery of the bikes. One by one they rolled into view with no obvious signs of distress. Next up, we met our transfer to the hotel. The mini-bus was fine, but the trailer was clearly too small. Despite the valiant efforts of the driver, they would not fit and so to everyone’s relief he gave up trying to crush them in and off loaded a couple to the his mate’s van parked next door.
We arrived at the Hotel Duva by about 12 and as the rooms were not all ready, we set about putting the bikes together. With a bit of mutual support we were all soon doing test rides around the basement car park clunking up and down the gears in self-satisfied manner, apart from one.
Huddled over his bike was Andrew who could not get his saddle on as the seat post was stuck in the frame. Try as everyone might, it would not budge. Andrew was crestfallen, it was like child staring at his favourite teddy bear who’s head had just come off. This was serious and necessitated a trip into town for help…
Kim and John’s hired bikes were late being delivered and so we missed the group ‘off’ to the Cap de Formentor Lighthouse deciding that food was a necessity before attempting what was billed by Nick as a bit of a ‘leg stretcher’. Kim, John, Gareth and I therefore did our own ride out there and whilst the weather was trying it’s best to improve, it was still overcast with a bit of drizzle occasionally (1-0 to Sweaty). This gentle ride turned out to be a 25 mile out and back trip with 860m of climbing. It was, however, spectacular with sections of hairpin climbs and descents; nothing too steep, just very long. The road surface was variable to say the least with quite a few descents on broken tarmac with loose graven on the corners (and bloody big drops off the side!)
On the way out we saw Andrew and Huw coming back having completed only half the ride, with Andrew mounted on a very unfamiliar red steed that he had rented for the afternoon whilst his favourite toy was being seen too. They we rushing back to get a prognosis.
The regimented regime required us to go for buffet supper at 6.30 to be at the team meeting for 7.30. There was no shortage, or variety, of food which was in unlimited supply. Carb-loading heaven.
Over supper, Huw gave us an update on the first operation as a disconsolate Andrew stared forlornly into his food. No immediate appointments were available at the recommended surgery and so an alternative around the corner was found. The mechanic there at first tried some gentle persuasion before getting out the hammer (Andrew winching at every blow as Huw played out the scene with a bread roll), but to no avail, ‘there is nothing more I can do, but you are welcome to get a second opinion’. After some pleading an evening slot was found at the ProCycle hire shop so after choking back the tears as he stuffed the last of his gammon steak and chips down his neck, Andrew decided to forsake the evening meeting to go and comfort his beloved Kuota during what might well be its last few hours on earth.
Meanwhile, we were briefed by the team leaders for the following day’s excursion. A relatively flat 60mile circuit with a café stop was planned (we had ask the Aces what one of those was). There was much debate about which if the 4 groups to be in and we all plumped for 2b (after many predictable Shakespearean references…). Due to the numbers, 2b was to be split the following morning into 2b(a) and 2b(b) but more of that in the next instalment.
We had now been up for nearly 36 hours so after a quick nightcap it was off for an early night.
To be continued….April 24, 2012 at 6:04 pm #24644
Breakfast was at 7.30 to 8.00 each day comprising a buffet of limitless proportions. We were now settling into a routine along ethnic lines with the Dynamos on one table, Aces on another. Whilst Huw and Andrew played sausage Jenga on their plate, Kim and I went for the healthier, more continental, option. The only limit on consumption was the queue for the coffee and juice machine making any more than 2 (dry) Weetabix a potentially dehydrating experience.
Andrew arrived at breakfast looking like all his Christmases had come at once. The Kuota had made it through the night following a complex operation involving what sounded like a cross between gynaecology and keyhole surgery. The seat was now firmly attached to the seat post.
Resplendent in our Dynamos kit, we waited in nervous anticipation for the start of the ride. The weather had cleared up and we glistened in the sunlight covered in Factor 20. As had been mentioned the night before, the 2b group was to be split to make it more manageable. The two group leaders announced that there would be a faster group led by Paul ‘Doddsey’ Dodds and a slower group led by Sean.
Needless to say Andrew and Huw opted for the faster group along with Gareth and John (I don’t think he had his hearing aid turned up). Kim and I, along with the Aces, went for the remedial group…
In contrast to Doddsey, Sean, one of the elder statesman of our sport, proved to be a very patient and charming leader. We had an initial discussion about group riding ‘Legros’ style where we cycle two abreast, wheel to wheel, with the outer rider on the front moving to the head on the inside on a regular basis. This in theory provided for a social rolling peloton. Again, as with the café stops, this concept of group riding was completely alien to Kim and I.
Concentration was clearly the name of the game; one eye on what is going on in front and one on the wheel in front of you. Given the state of some of the roads and the drop off the side, trust in your fellow cyclists was all important. Being a skilled exponent of the sport, this was like water off a duck’s back and 5 minutes into the ride I smashed my front wheel into the rear derailleur of a very expensive looking Pinarello. Needless to say the rather amazonian pilot of the bike was not best pleased and she never spoke a word to me all week. Making friends and influencing people…
The idea of this rotating peloton was I understood to promote social discourse in the group as you had the opportunity to chat to the rider alongside you for intermittent periods of time. It soon became clear that a number of the women in our group were not there to make new friends and any attempt at conversation was met with silence or a mono-syllabic answer. It must just be me I thought, but no others said the same thing.
We also had the obligatory teacher’s pet who had been along the to the camp before and insisted in scuttling up and down the line to report on progress to Sir, handing out fatuous advice and generally getting on everybody’s tits. However, it became clear later in the week that Mr Blobby was a bit of a one trick pony and as soon as the road went up, he went backwards. Even our dear old flat-earther Sweaty Ed would have wiped the floor with him.
Anyway, a lovely paced ride on generally flat roads had us in no time in Petra for a lunch stop having covered some 30 miles at 15mph. Approaching our destination down narrow streets, we had our first incident. An oncoming car slowed the head of the group but a wave of panicked breaking passed down the peloton faster than the speed of sound so warnings arrived too late. I managed to unclip just in time but behind was carnage with Nik in the centre of a tangle of bikes and limbs. Luckily this resulted in only a flesh wound and we were soon on our way again.
The main square is a mecca for cyclists and the place was heaving with hundreds of bikes from the many training camps and bike touring groups on the Island. Sitting in the blazing sun, we tucked into baguettes and coffee. A brief chat with Andrew and Huw confirmed that we had made the right choice as they had been whipped along at an altogether faster pace with instructions given in a rather more direct manner by Doddsey.
The striking feature of the first day was the sheer number of other cyclists about; all generally (apart from the Germans…) riding in disciplined groups of 15 to 20 riders two abreast. Overtaking manoeuvres were quite complex (four abreast at times) and occasionally groups getting tangled up. We also had to keep an eye out for groups coming the other way on sometimes narrow roads.
After a leisurely break we were on our way back with a bit of a pull out of the town before dropping down onto the coast road. The afternoon sea breeze had got up by then and taking your turn on the front was hard work.
We were back to the hotel by mid-afternoon having covered some relatively flat 60 miles; ‘flat’ being yet another alien concept to Pembrokeshire contingent.
Next up supper. With a Monastery ride planned for the next day (for some reason they delighted in building them on the top of any available hill) and a 60 mile ride completed it was time to step up a gear with the food intake that was to be a feature of the rest of the ride.
In general, we started with a large plate of salad, followed by two plates on the main courses on offer (the second plate being chips if nothing else was available) and then pudding. The trick was to be able to eat this fast enough to get to the meeting at 7.30. Huw had been suffering with a cold the week before and was clearly not at his best with his appetite failing him, the same could not be said for Andrew who appeared to be on some sort of comparative taste-testing mission all week.
The meetings followed a regular format allowing firstly for a ‘Doddsey tip’ (generally not forthcoming and when it did come was not repeatable) and then some observations on the day’s ride. The meeting then concluded with the plan for the next day and a rush for the bar…
Spending every night at the poolside bar enabled us to develop a rapport with the barman that would become our undoing later in the week. Pat and Brian, clearly stuck in some deluded time warp, decided that in the public good they should try and empty the mythical European wine lake single handed while the rest of us got an early night.April 24, 2012 at 7:05 pm #24645
For these interested here are stats from last week
Monday 22 Miles 1.5 Time 12.5Average 2100Gain ft
Tuesday 59 Miles 3.24Time 17.2Average 2211Gain ft
Wednesday 86 Miles 5.25Time 16.0Average 4011Gain ft
Thursday 23 Miles 1.44Time 13.0Average 305Gain ft
Friday 58 Miles 4.26Time 12.8Average 6411Gain ft
Saturday 39 Miles 2.31Time 15.0Average 886Gain ft
Sunday 83 Miles 6.07Time 13.6Average 8802Gain ft
Total 370miles 24.07hrs 15.0Average 24726 ft gain
These are my stats gives an idea of what we completed, Ian speedo did not work so he has no idea what he done, and on Saturday Andrew decided he had not done enough and went to the lighthouse, another 26 miles 2600 ft climbing.April 26, 2012 at 12:56 pm #24650
Another large breakfast in anticipation of the first test of the week; a climb to the Salvador Monastery after a 40 mile ride across the island.
It was at this point, having told everybody that my bike, cleaned to within an inch of its life, was working like a sewing machine, it started to play up. I could not get the chain to stay on the largest cog on the rear cassette which was not ideal heading for the hills.
We set off in our two groups as the day before, but this time there was a bit of shuffling of the pack. John decided to drop down to the remedial group and several moved up wanting more of a challenge.
The ride over to Felanitx, the nearest town, saw the first punctures of the week; two in quick succession. Tooled up with more SIS gels than you could shake a stick at, I took one just before the first puncture and then worried it would get burned up standing at the side of the road rather than (hopefully) powering me up the mountain. The gels were provided free by SIS hoping no doubt we would became addicted by the end of the week. When they were handed out, it was even suggested that eating cake and coffee at the lunch stop could undermine their effectiveness.
Having failed to ingratiate myself with the ladies, I worked on the Texans. There were 50 Texans over from Dallas for the week as apparently they don’t have any hills. It did seem a rather long way to come and I did express surprise that if they wanted to cycle up hills, they hadn’t built one. This attempt at humour was met with lengthy analysis about why it would not be practical, but it passed the time.
We met up with the other part of the group at the foot of the climb, some 5km uphill at about 5%. Group 2a set off slightly before us but very soon Kim and I were cruising past a few of them feeling very smug. One victim at the foot of the hill was Huw who was as shocked to see us go past as we were. However, in his ‘defence’, he had been recovering from a cold with the coughing and spluttering masking the sound of his Di2 working the gears. Huw’s explanation was that as I could not get into my bottom gear I had physically to go faster.
Nic, not to be outdone, went past Mr Blobby who accused her of cheating by using a triple.
The climb was very popular with not only our party, so it was pretty congested with bikes going up and then down at speed with a few cars mixed in for good measure. Overtaking on the way up had to be done carefully and at one point a bike going so slowly that the rider was on the point of falling off veered into my path forcing me on the other side of the road into the path of a fast descending cyclist. I didn’t really see what happened but others said it was very close.
We met Andrew and Gareth the mountain goat at the top of the climb and were allowed about 5 minutes to grab a few pictures of the stunning panorama before it was time for the decent. This we took rather carefully. On the way down we saw Huw and Andrew on the side of the road helping one of their group with a puncture.
There was a regroup at the base of the climb before a headlong charge into Felanitx to get the best table for lunch. In this rush to beat the Germans, something went horribly wrong with the counting. Sat in the main square, basking in the sun, I got a call from Andrew. ‘Where are you mate, everybody just f**ked off and left us’. ‘I’ll talk to Doddsy’ I replied and went to report the missing in action. In true ‘shoot the messenger’ style, Doddsy let rip with a chain of obscenities and a frosty conversation ensued with Sean about who was responsible. It also became clear that one of our group, Dave the Texan was missing.
Eventually a less than happy Andrew appeared (it took us about 10 circuits of the town to find the square) complaining that he had told lots of people in his group on the way down that they had a puncture. Apparently someone had been sent up to look for them but didn’t know who Andrew and Huw were. Anyway, recriminations were saved for the eventing meeting. Dave the Texan arrived about 5 minutes before we left and had to forsake lunch. This may of course have been a good thing based on the advice from SIS!
A nice roll home ensued and with 80 miles under our belt it was into the pool with a protein recovery drink to repair damaged muscle fibres. Numbed into a false sense of security by the cold water, I took the irrational decision to go the whole hog and have a swim. This of course then lay down the challenge to the rest of the Dynamos and assorted hangers on who felt obliged to do the same. I managed about 8 lengths before getting out and then much to everyone’s amusement sat shivering violently for about 5 minutes trying to get warm; I simply don’t have the insulating layer of blubber that graced several other members of our party.
Pre-dinner drinks was followed by the usual carb fest, although Huw was still struggling with his appetite. After supper we were off to the evening meeting for some recriminations over the day’s events on the road. It was clear that even in response to some stiff cross-examination from Andrew, no one was going to put their hand up to making a mistake leaving them languishing on a hillside. This was disappointing, but the point had been made.
So all that was left was a few drinks at the bar in the knowledge the next day was a rest day with a 25mile round trip to the Chocolate Factory Café down the coast.April 26, 2012 at 4:08 pm #24651RogerMember
Just thought I give some reader feedback to the author by way of support and encouragement..enjoying every chapter and eagerly awaiting the next installment…..my Italian week was probably not quite as eventful..and all I will say about the Italian cyclists that I cycled with is that they’re all on a par with Nick Gibbon and absolutely love hills …I met not one but two ex Italian national amateur champions
A high point for me was riding in a small Italian peleton at 25mph with wind at our backs (obviously),beautiful sunshine and the Adriatic lapping 5 m away…ahhhh! a distant memory looking the slate grey sky hereApril 26, 2012 at 8:03 pm #24652
Roger What was that down hill 😆April 26, 2012 at 8:15 pm #24653RogerMember
On the flat mate!…the wind was very strong though ! Have you recovered?April 26, 2012 at 8:44 pm #24654April 27, 2012 at 5:37 pm #24655Sweaty EdsMember
Whilst watching I realised a couple of things;
1. I recognise everyone from their backsides.
2. It was just like a Sunday club run, except something wasn’t quite right. On a Sunday, rather than passing everyone as Nick has done, everyone slowly disappears away from me into the far distance. I have watched the clip backwards and that is much more like the real thing!
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