No More Hills

In April 2010 I picked up cycling again for the first time in a long time. This is where I'll describe where I've come from, where I'm going and along the way try to communicate why I've discovered a passion for cycling I haven't had since I was a kid.
~ Wednesday, March 16 ~
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Mallorca - Ride 2

I’m sitting here in my compression tights (it’s been a tough day), trying not to fall asleep.This will therefore be a short post, probably :-)

The plan was to try the Sa Calobra. A 6 mile climb from sea level (it’s apparently traditional to get your rear wheel wet in the sea before starting. at low tide*) . to the peak at 680 meters which is reputed to be Mallorca’s toughest ascent. The morning sky didn’t bode well however, and we decided to ride up to the top and see what the weather conditions looked like before making the decent into the bay prior to climbing back up.

To cut a long story short the group agreed that the weather really wasn’t ideal for the tricky decent and following climb. This was decided at the cafe near Lluc (575m). Getting there involved a beautiful climb through forested mountain sides twisting and turning with no sense of there being an end in sight. I’d decided to pace myself and limit my effort to 150bpm or below on the 6/7% gradient. This meant a speed of around 8mph for me at my current level of fitness and I was pleasantly surprised at how well I managed to maintain this over the 5miles of the climb, arriving well within my limits and feeling good. I was therefore a bit disappointed not to make it to Sa Calobra but listened to the advice of those with better local knowledge.

We descended south, down from Lluc and what a descent it was. I had a great time pushing faster and faster whilst watching out for treacherous damp patches and the over grabby rear brake that locked up as I tried to scrub speed in the approach to the first corner. I was a little disappointed not to get over 40mph but the straights weren’t long enough despite raising my heart-rate above lactate threshold levels sprinting out of the hairpins. It was quite some time before the grin left my face after we hit the bottom.

The rest of the ride was flat but dominated by a strong wind. From the base of the descent the first 15-20miles of rolling countryside were into a strong headwind and this combined with different fitness levels, climbing abilities and strength in the wind meant the group broke up regularly, isolating those that couldn’t stick with front group. This included myself and I was close to my limit . Trying on the downhill sections, where I’m fast, to close gaps that built on the short climbs, where I had to slow in order not to blow up.

The cafe stop in Sineu couldn’t have come at a better time, the food and hot chocolate were very welcome and the stop was cleverly timed to keep us out of the heavy rain shower.

Leaving Sineu was a dramatic contrast to the tired entrance, Buoyed by the food and the now powerful tailwind I got carried away enjoying myself rolling at 40mph down a very slight gradient. A quick check of the ever useful HRM showed that there was no way I could keep this up and I dropped the pace to a more managable speed and as we headed to the coast road and the hotel today’s guide and another strong rider took the front and held the group together which meant I spent the remaining 20miles clipping along at a good rate sheltered in the group.

Tomorrow will be a light recovery ride before, hopefully, tackling Sa Calobra on Friday!

Summary

  • 72.3miles in 4hrs 31mins, 16.0mph, 2627kcal (surely more?) and ~1100m of climbing
  • Highlights:
    • Descending from the peak
    • Riding at 40mph on near flat ground
  • Enjoyable day in the end but very very tough due to the wind rather than the climbing
  • Verdict on compact chainsets: Essential for the hills, rubbish with a strong tailwind :-)

* I strongly uspect I was being wound up here ;-)

Tags: cycling descent mallorca wind speed tough
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