Welcome to Part Two of our Mallorca trip debrief. For those that don't know (or clearly aren't on Instagram) we recently spent a week in Mallorca, riding up and flying down hills. For a full run down of the members and roles of Team Dirty Wknd Estrella Viva Velo Pro Cycling (or DWEVVPC for short), as well as a thorough debrief of days one to four of our trip, please - Click Here.
In all honesty - days one to four were the warm up! The prologue in, the correct cycling parlance. Sure, the team took on a few massive hills without really breaking a sweat, but the likes of the Coll de Femenia weren't going to trouble hardened climbers like Veronica and Rachael - they literally eat #hillsforbreakfast! DS Dyll Davies was going to have to find some much tougher climbs for his mountain goats.
Day 5 Ride 1 - San Salvador Monastery (Strava Data)
Day 5 Ride 2 - Alcudia Ice Cream Run (Strava Data)
With a rather 'big day' coming up the following morning, there was some hesitation in the camp as to where to ride on day five. The strava w*nkers in the group were still pretending they were really tough, and were setting off for their 4th day of Colls in a row (so tough), whilst the sprinters and GC contenders were more keen on an ice cream. Mr 'twist my arm then' Rob Chittock had his arm twisted and gave up on his dream of an ice cream. The team split, with a small squad of punishment gluttons heading off for San Salvador Monastery and the rest, eminently more sensibly, riding to Alcudia for ice cream.
The flat ride out to The Monastery was dominated by three things. A small but exciting vintage Fiat 500 rally, a huge hill that dominated the landscape (which we were trying really hard to pretend didn't have a monastery on top) and our, pardon the pun, unholy hangovers! What the hell happened last night? Not a word was spoken for the first hour as our sorry paceline crawled its way to Felanitx and the base of the climb. It was really bad; self appointed GC contender David Lewis didn't even protest at being on the front for literally minutes at a time!
It's not often that a climb looks as big close up as it does from far away, but this was one of those rare occasions. 5km long at 7%; we weren't exactly psyched about getting stuck in. How wrong we were! After a long stretch of steady uphill, we were greeted by a glorious set of twisting switch backs and an ever improving view, as we snaked our way up this perfectly paved stairway to heaven. Perfect corners could be taken nice and wide as the road was empty. The Monastery and a huge stone cross dominate your view at all times; when you finally reach their level the view that greets you is truly sublime - hangover GONE!
If the climb was tremendous the descent was even better. Those same flowing corners, perfectly paved with hardly a car on them meant we could really let rip. The long, struggle of a straight road at the bottom on the way up became an express way on the way down - clocking up speeds of about 80km. Whether it was the elation of the climb and descent, or a touch of God, David B entered second wind city, coming to the front and holding a steady 40kmph to the lunch stop. With a schoolboy charm, Rob was heard to ask 'are we being punished, sir?' The pace slowed as the group entered Petra for lunch.
The rest of the journey back to the hotel was uneventful, as deserted and winding Mallorcan lanes had become old hat now, and the group was dreaming of swimming in the sea. David L had the others in stitches with his best Nairo Quintana impression - amazing how funny not speaking or expressing any signs of life can be! On return to the hotel the main peloton countered tales of glorious climbs and high speeds with 'well we had a two hour ice cream stop'. In an unusual move, nearly the whole team went to bed after dinner without a drop of alcohol. What could bring on such a change in behaviour...?
Day 6 - Slaying Sa Calobra (Strava Data)
Only one thing could keep this team of socialites off the sauce for an evening, and that's Sa Calobra. The Snake - the most fearsome climb on the island at an unrelenting 7% for nearly 10km. However that's not the whole story - it's the sheer madness of this climb that makes it so breathtaking/bonkers. Originally drawn by an 11 year old in his bedroom, some madman went an paved it onto a hill side in Mallorca, and then went and made it the only way up or down to a quaint little fishing village below. This slim road takes cyclists, cars, buses, hopes and dreams down to the bottom, and only lets those with mettle in their veins back to the top!
Boy did the team have mettle! A mostly new bunch of riders, Sa Calobra represented their everest. Out and out climbers Rachael and Veronica had originally decided that the Snake wasn't even worth their time, but a few days on the island convinced them it had it's merits, and they set off on the long descent to the bottom. Class will out as they say, and the climbers sailed to the summit in no time at all, regrouping with the others at the cafe for a celebratory beer (abstinence break over). Huge performances from everyone, with Ryen going under 50 mins, Rob under an hour and David L showing his actual GC credentials with just over 50 mins. Abdullah proved himself the ultimate super domestique by sacrificing his own time to help Veronica. With only one pure-bred sprinter in the team, the grupetto was almost a lonely affair, but thankfully DS Dyll claimed to have a little hammy issue and sat back to keep Sue company. What a guy!
However, as with all big stages, the headline story was surrounded the GC contender. The biggest stages bring out the biggest players, and they don't come much bigger than the GC favourite of DWEVVPC. Having come into the tour a little light on KMs ( only 200 on a bicycle, ever, previous to getting on the plane), future Dame Natalie Jones flew up Sa Calobra in an astonishing 51 minutes. Having previously though the small riser in Regent's Park to be 'pretty tough', this was a monumental achievement. With the yellow jersey sewn up on Sa Calobra, we knew a future tour star had been born. Newspaper reports of needles found in her room and dodgy steaks thankfully proved to be unfounded. All was well and Natalie had won the day!
To say the celebrations were wild that night was an understatement. Kicked out of the restaurant and the bar, the team celebrated in the hotel reception. An afternoon start the following day and the massive achievement of slaying the snake, an unthinkable outcome for many of the team a few days ago, everyone was on cloud nine! Until the next morning that was...
Day 7 - Cap De Formentor (Strava Data)
Sunglasses at breakfast and not much chatter were clear indications of the fun that had been had. Couple that with the weight that had been lifted - 'if we'd completed Sa Calobra, what could be worse?' The confidence gained by the team from having done it was actually visible - despite the hangovers the team bounced out of the hotel in search of the Formentor Lighthouse.
An easy 30km there and back from Pollenca was actually 1000 metres of climbing, and not quite as easy as everyone had hoped. But the weather was beautiful and we took our time, moseying along to the lighthouse for coffee and ice cream. Particular props must go to Rachael for completing this ride. Possibly afraid of showing weakness to the team doctors, Rachael had 'forgotten' to mention she suffered from a small amount of vertigo. The sheer drops into the sea that are often found on the Formentor road were not a very welcome sight! However, the confidence she had gained over the week was plain to see as the peloton, already at the lighthouse, watched as she descended towards us, followed by a long line of cars as she took her place in the road and made sure she was safe and comfortable. Chapeau Rachel!
After completing the Formentor Road (it's much easier on the way back) we stopped at Cafe 1919 in Pollenca for yet more ice cream and to hang out with the other pro teams (there were actual pro teams in the cafe preparing for the following days Mallorca Masters race). Based on our glorious form this week we had been extended a wild card entry, but we politely declined - we had dinner booked round at Wiggo's place!
Tolo's restaurant is famous on the island as a cycling mecca, and not just because it's part owned (apparently) by Sir Brad. Tolo was a pro many years ago, and photos of him and stars of the cycling world adorn the walls, alongside some of Bradley's bikes and jerseys. As well as a cycling mecca, Tolo's also serves excellent food and drinks and is well worth a visit.
An end of trip dinner wouldn't be complete without an awards ceremony! Everyone had impressed the DS so much on this training camp that awards were given out for great achievements. All except Abullah, whose 'Steve Cummings Solo Breaway' award for leading half the group up a hill in the wrong direction, was solely deserved. Pretty sure the DS still hasn't forgiven him for that one! After dinner and a few drinks back at the hotel, the team turned in - not because of fear of a big ride the next day, but because we were knackered! 700km and around 7000 metres of climbing in 7 days is a lot!
Day 8 - Sa Batalla & Puig Major (Strava Data)
Only one ride went out on the final day and with only two riders on it. With the tour over, the majority of the team decided to hang out at the hotel all morning before sauntering into Alcudia old town for a long lunch. Not the two Davids however; they had unfinished business. Unbeknownst to everyone on the trip and at home, David B had been attacking certain hills with the aim of beating arch nemesis Matt Wallis' strava times (high strava w*nkerey indeed). Without mentioning it at all, he had succesfully destroyed Matt's times up Colls de Femenia, Honor and Sa Calobra, with only Sa Batalla left. David L decided to ride that morning to try and wrestle back the leader's jersey from Natalie and to prove that he would, after all, do a turn on the front. After being reminded that the tour was over and therefore he couldn't win the jersey, he decided to revert to type and duly tucked in behind David B's wheel.
The climb of Sa Batalla is a tricky one - the gradient isn't that steep and with a long flat section in the middle you could be forgiven for thinking it's easy. As soon as you get going however, you are quickly reminded that it's not - however the hairpins and view over the valley are certainly worth the climb, as is the cafe at the top. Did David B beat Matt's time? Course he did! An added bonus to the day's ride was that the Davids got to watch the Mallorca Masters race come up the hill behind them - full motorcycle outriders and everything.
After the race was over the guys headed on up the 'backside' of Puig Major, to the highest point on the Island. A long and unrelenting climb, the original plan was to ride down the otherside, turn around and come back up the main, 14km ascent of 'The Pig'. Staring down at Soller from the top of the hill, however, the bottom really did look along way away, so common sense prevailed, and they rode back down the hills to meet the others for lunch!
After returning back to the hotel and grabbing bags and bike boxes we boarded our transfer shuttle with heavy hearts, but vowing to return. The road to the airport runs alongside the Tramuntana mountain range in which we'd spent most of our week, and the altered looks on everyone's faces was something special. We'd driven this same road on the way from the airport a week ago, and the apprehension in the group when looking out over the mountains was palpable. A week and 7000 metres of climbing (and descending) had turned 'we're not going up there are we' into 'bring it on 2018 - I'm going to smash my Sa Calobra time!' A week in Mallorca had successfully turned everyone into more confident cyclists, much better climbers (and descenders) and, most importantly, out and out Strava w*nkers!
Need to improve your climbing, descending or general cyclcing confidence, or do you just want to spend a week cycling in the sun? Join us for a week in Mallorca in April 2018 - Click Here