Day 1 – The Mountains Win Again

2/23

Mallorcan Countryside
Today was the 3rd ride here in Mallorca and I decided to go on my favorite route – Palma > Col de Soller > Puig Major > Col de Soller > Palma.  I was wasn’t feeling great but just getting in the miles on this ride is good enough for an out-of-shape guy like me.

I got to Col de Soller and started the climb just when another large group of 15 or so riders was starting up.  I managed to pass most of them right at the start except for 3 guys who sprinted right from the start.  2 guys got a gap on the 3rd guy and I sat in behind him.  But I immediately felt ashamed riding behind him… because he was on a mountain bike!!!  Granted it was a stripped down mountain bike (more like a city bike) with rigid fork and painted in stealth black.  He appeared to be young probably not more than 20 years old, and was pushing a huge gear (42×12 I think) which was the max gear on his bike (that most people would use for going down!)  I struggled to keep pace but never surrendered more than 1 meter.  On our way up, a pro flew by us.  He sprinted out of the saddle as his race number (still left over from a race this weekend perhaps?) Waved goodbye to both of us as his bike canted from side-to-side.  The race number was mounted behind the seat tube – in pro fashion and his number “2” indicated that whatever race he was in, he was a probably a favorite.  30 seconds later, another pro sprinted by us but not quite as fast (judging from the volume of the sonic booms).  I didn’t really react or change my pace at all since trying to keep up with this mountain biker was a tall enough order for my feeble fitness.  Finally near the top, the mountain biker either exploded or wanted to take in the sights as he veered off to the side with just 3 or 4 switchbacks before the summit.

I crested the top in 15 minutes 6 seconds.  My fastest time doing the 3.16 mile climb by a few seconds.  However, it required an average heart rate of 178 bpm.. indicating that my fitness last year may have been better as I was only a few seconds slower but only at 167 bpm average.  And I had trouble keeping up with someone on a mountain bike??  I began to think my next bike was going to be a wheelchair.

After a quick descent into Soller I started the long 11.5 mile climb up Puig Mayor, the highest peak on Mallorca.  It’s a long climb but features a mild gradient.  I snapped a few photos while riding but a quick glance over my shoulder revealed two riders quickly approaching.  They were the same 2 riders that blasted up Col du Soller.  We exchanged greetings and they added “Vamos! Vamos!” Their pace was not as fast as up Soller so I tried to keep in contact.  They both appeared to be Spanish riders on domestic or European pro teams.  When I got home, I did a little research to discover that one was a rider on Corratec and had an article in CyclingNews about his transfer to Corratec last year, citing his strong climbing abilities.  The other was from a Spanish professional team that I was not familiar with but also appeared to be strong.

I managed to ride behind him for a few minutes before we quickly caught 2 more riders who joined our impromptu group that snowballed as we rolled up the mountain.  The 2 new riders did not look as strong but were on some sort of racing team.  I was trying to judge exactly how hard these pro guys were pushing themselves as I’m sure my perceived exertion was an exponential function of theirs.  The two pros were able to exchange words as they climbed yet there was copious amounts of visible sweat on the Corratec rider’s face.  After 5 minutes or so, the riders who we had caught up with drifted back and we again were down to just 3.  After another 5 minutes, the 2 pros suddenly turned off to the side of the road, with one looking down at his rear wheel and probably wanted to check it.  I continued on and reached the top of Puig Mayor and the gorgeous turquoise lakes that are nested between the high altitude peaks.

I did a small descent just prior to turning around only to see 5 members of Team Milram climbing up.  I reached the turn-around point and started the climb… although I really didn’t think it was realistic to think I would catch another glimpse of them with a strong headwind and 10% gradient climb ahead… oh yeah, and the fact that they are Team Milram.

I returned back to Palma and finished out the ride just in time to be celebrated with a glorious sunset along the beach promenade. Ahhh.

It’s always easier to push yourself when you have a few carrots to chase, I guess.

  • Distance: 91.2 miles
  • Time: 5 hours 41 minutes
  • Avg Speed: 16 mph
  • Max Speed: 46 mph
  • Avg HR: 145 bpm
  • Max HR: 189 bpm
  • Climbing: 8353 feet
  • Calories: 3742
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