Mallorca: days 2 & 3
If you are enjoying warm sunshine, please spare a thought for the people of Mallorca who are enduring some of the most uncharacteristic weather for the first days of spring (I know your heart bleeds for us!). Today has seen the island lashed by strong winds and heavy rain that has put a halt to the training routines of many cycling groups. But better conditions are promised for tomorrow :0)
What should have seen a sortie to one of the most gruesome climbs, and descents, of the island (Sa Calobra), was postponed to a better day. In its place we did the more gentle ascent of the Coll de Femenia (7.5kms to 515 metres, with an average gradient of 5.5%), but the descent was precipitous, with numerous switchbacks and scary moments. And despite donning extra layers, everyone was perished with the cold when they arrived in Selva for a well-deserved break.
The route back was a relatively civilised cruise through narrow country lanes, many of which do not even feature on cycling maps of the island. The wayside vineyards lay dormant from their over-wintering, awaiting the warmth of a spring sun to stir them into life.
Distance: 97kms/60 miles
There were two options today: 1) stay warm, comfortable and dry but feel miserable or 2) get cold, wet and uncomfortable but ultimately feel happy that you kicked that leg over the crossbar and headed out to the wilderness. Planned rides were cancelled (mainly for safety reasons), so everyone made their own arrangements. Wisely, or unwisely, I dug out the steed and headed off along the coast to Alcudia and beyond, and discovered a cross-wind that had me leaning at (what seemed like) a 45 degree angle. Unnerving to say the least. I pressed on towards Artá, then turned inland to Petra and Sineu, and discovered how localised the weather really was. From flooded roads to dry roads (within 5kms), from head winds to cross winds, from dark thundering skies to the hint of promised sunshine…………there was never a dull moment.
Distance: 100kms/63 miles
Things happening in Spain
1. The completion of the Spanish Magna Carta in 1812 was celebrating its bicentenary in Cadiz, with the presence of the King and Queen and the President of Government.
2. March 19th, Feast of St Joseph. This is the highlight of the huge fiesta in Valencia (Las Fallas), when they burn nearly 800 satiric effigies (many as big as a house) around the city. The fire-brigades are kept very busy, and the consumption of alcohol breaks all records.
3. The local language on Mallorca is Mallorquín (a dialect of Catalan). A recent local government bill has decided that fluency in Mallorquín will no longer be needed for jobs in government, the civil service or teaching. A local teacher is 2 weeks into a hunger strike in protest. He is willing to sacrifice his life to see the preservation of the local language. If he persists for another couple of weeks, expect to see reports of this in your country´s press.