Mallorca: days 4 & 5
It is an understatement to say that Mallorca becomes the cycling capital of the world in the late winter/early spring. With the bad weather largely behind us, the roads were veritably clogged with pairs of legs pumping carbon-fibre (or alloy, as the case may be!). On the rainy day yesterday, few groups had been in evidence, but solo cyclists like myself had been everywhere. Now the groups and clubs are out in force, fighting for road space. Road vehicles must be out-numbered by cyclists, at least by 5-1, and you note a certain respect amongst drivers for the pervasive presence of the pedal-pushers. They even stop on roundbouts to let pelotons take priority. Without a doubt, cyclists are the mainstay of the local economy during these dormant months of the season, and many of the locals do their little bit to make them feel welcome.
The threat of more rain dictated the route: stay on low ground and ´motor´ the miles. Direction south: across the albufera (the closest thing to fenland) following tiny country lanes to the ancient town of Sant Llorenc where (unbelievably) we found a cafe in the plaza where we were the only cyclists! And the hunks of home-made cake were enormous! But they provided the power to the legs to take on a few challenging little climbs and justify a second stop in the village of Sineu, where most of us indulged in baguette sandwiches, big enough to ´pop´ your tyres under the added weight! And….yes…we did have a puncture in the group……. Now, a question: how many people are required to mend a puncture?…….. Well, in this case, five volunteered their services……a question of too many cooks….? Not at all……it was mended in a trice.
A welcome little touch in each cafe are the segments of orange doled out in their dozens to thirsty cyclists. And free of charge.
Distance: 141 kms/ 88 miles
Dishearteningly, the morning greeted us with overladen skies and another threat of rain. Everyone dressed for the part, hoping the worst would not be inflicted upon us. But our outward route was flat and winding, intertwining with dozens of other groups from the four corners of northern Europe (but mainly Germans) as we headed through Santa Maria to Bunyola. Our stop there, to fill the empty reserves after nearly 45 miles of cycling, was overshadowed a little with the knowledge of the enormous climb to come. The Coll d´Honor was to take us to 550 metres at an average gradient of 5.9%, then after a dip downwards, on to climb the Orient at 490 metres. These climbs break up the cohesion of any group, but after re-grouping at the top, you enjoy the long, very fast descent, frequently touching over 40 mph (60 kph). It is hard to adequately describe the sense of exhiliration……….
Distance: 130 kms/80 miles