Thursday, July 07, 2016

Sa Calobra, a Mallorcan Mountain Meander...

As many of my loyal and devoted readers know I quite enjoy a sensible and sociable bike ride with chums. 

The key word there is sensible so it's unclear to me why I keep agreeing to do very tough rides which would be testing for fit skinny young folk but turn out to be exceedingly arduous for this plump old fool.

Anyway, last year I agreed to a sponsored climb of Mont Ventoux and we raised about a quarter of a million quid for disadvantaged inner city kids through the Laureus foundation. 
You can read about it here ... 

So, predictably, when they decided to do something similar this year they contacted me and I, unpredictably, offered a very unpredictable "Yes".

All too quickly July loomed and along with another 80 or so cyclists, a sweaty mix of the good, the bad and the very, very ugly we did three days of extremely testing Mallorcan cycling culminating in the infamous Sa Calobra climb.

A few facts

  • 3 days of 90+ km in 35 degree heat.
  • Sa Calobra is a 10km downhill to a tiny port followed, (inevitably, there’s only one road) by  2,297 vertical feet, over 10km of tarmac, of sheer slow, arduous, solid uphill grind.
  • Going down took me about 17 minutes, coming up took an hour and 46 minutes. going down I hit 72kph, coming up I averaged just over 5kph.
  • Of all the 28,115 cyclists who have recorded the climb on Strava, only 262 were slower than me. 
  • However, (and I suspect this a weight-related anomaly) when going down the mountain 15,337 were slower. 
  • The team (and that includes me, and more importantly my generous sponsors) raised over £200,000 on this event

Highlights for me, beyond the major challenge of the Sa Calobra climb, were firstly, a 6 or 7 km section where I managed to get myself onto the tail of the Irish National Team, training on the island, they were barrelling along at an astonishing pace,with very little visible effort and by clinging close to them I enjoyed a terrifically fast blast through some delightful undulations from the Lluc junction to the top of the next climb. It was very kind of them not to simply put the hammer down and accelerate away from their very grateful tailgater.  

Second highlight of the trip was a splendid afternoon ride to Cap Formentor, a classic and very beautiful route but due to a mechanical problem with my rented bike I ended up having to borrow a bike from one of our team, Sheila. She was taking the afternoon off and I was just able to get the saddle high enough that despite it being four centimetres shorter than my own frame size I was able to ride a somewhat cramped but fast and fun trip to the lighthouse. 

So, a great trip overall, how do I feel?

It was tough stuff but pretty trivial compared to the daily existence of some of the kids that hopefully we've now helped to have a slightly better life.

If you care to see some of our snaps from the event there’s a little slideshow 
 Click me for the videohere

or click on the exhausted chap in the photo ...

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