Shirkers - A Daytrip to Majorca
Rather disappointingly the organisers of 2015 Tour de France seemed to ignore my requests to ensure a stage passed close enough to Calais for the International Shirkers to fit in a daytrip, but out of this disappointment was born the idea of the Majorca Daytrip !
“Can’t be done, it’s too expensive!” said some, “Too much hassle, it’s not worth the effort!” said others, but undeterred, a hard core of International Shirkers rose to the challenge to take on the ultimate (so far) Shirkers Day Out on 30 September.
Five of us (Myself, Debbie, Penny, Omar and Sally) assembled blearily eyed chez Mortleman at 3.30 AM for departure in the Mortlebus to Gatwick. (Actually to be accurate, four of us arrived at 3.30 with Penny rocked up 5 minutes late, anxiously clutching the presentation she was going to have to present the next day and probably having already prepared lunched for 2 kids and husband!).
Some confusion at Gatwick over our prebooked parking where the attendant wanted to know what carpark we were booked in and what the reg number of the Mortlebus was – both of which seemed quite reasonable questions, but both of which were way beyond Sally at 4 in the morning.
Parking was eventually negotiated, Omar’s mate Adam was met up with, check-in was smooth, and security cleared with only Omar’s gas bottles taken away (for future reference, apparently they would have been ok if they had “Air” written on the outside - so get a marker pen out if you ever want to take gas on a plane!).
Breakfast was taken at Pret, except for Omar and Adam who sloped off to the flying Horse Weatherspoons ostensibly for scrambled egg on toast, but we suspect for a burger and pint of lager. Departure was delayed 25 mins to 0625 but we still arrive at Palma at 0930 local time to be greeted by TORRENTIAL RAIN !!!!! which eased only slightly during the 5 minute taxi ride to the bike hire shop (no point taking your own bike when you can hire a carbon frame ultegra equipped steed for €30). Bikes were sorted and we met up with my mate Will who I hadn’t seen for 25 years (but got in touch with through the wonders of Facebook!).
The start of the ride at 1000 was wet and flat as we rolled along a very impressive cyclepath around the edge of Palma by the deserted beach, and then just as we turned off the cyclepath after crossing an 8 inch deep flood I got first puncture of the day! I'm not really that good at punctures but will did a great job locating a shard of glass in the tyre and refitting it and we were soon off on our way tackling the 5.7km 306m climb of Col de Sa Creu (Strava cat 2, 4,099th / 6,100). By the time we got to the top it had just about stopped raining and we rolled along to Calvia for first coffee of the day sat outside in the almost sunshine.
After a few kilometres of uneventful riding I noticed my left cleat had about 180o of float instead of the more normal 5 o ! and was, as a consequence, completely un-removable from the pedal! Investigation (with me sprawled on my back with foot, pedal and bike in the air) revealed I had only one bolt attaching the cleat with one other lost for good and the third hanging precariously with no obvious means of attachment! Not even Omar and Adam (who both seemed like very organised types of cyclists) could rustle up a decent tool of any use, but with a bit of sign language, a couple of guys in a little garage workshop in the next village soon had the job (and my foot) in hand and I was released from bike and cleat bolted in with a quite fearsome display of force by Omar.
More hills followed, (principally, but not limited to Col de sa Gramola 5.3kms, 268m, and #####) as we rode in decent weather along the beautiful almost car free coast ride before a well-deserved lunch stop at Estellencs consisting of 6 plates of Pasta Bolagnaise plus a bowl of something completely weird and unrecognisable for Sally.
After lunch, a brief shower, another 25kms and a couple more hills we regrouped at 1630 at Esporles with only an hour and a half available to get back to the bike shop in time to get on 1945 flight home. It had looked tight with 35kms remaining showing on the trusty Garmin and there was much talk of “taxis grande” with bikes in the boot, but a craft shortcut to miss out a last loop through the mountains miraculously appeared to save the day and we TT’d it (honest!) back to Palma along the gently descending main road through rain more tumultuous than even Noah ever imagined.
A final “interesting” 5kms through Palma rush hour traffic and then 8kms along the beachside cyclepath completed 99kms of riding (damn! why didn’t we do another 1km loop along the front!) with 2,500m climbing (which is most I’ve ever done in a day!) and we were returning bikes at 1745 and back to Palma airport in time for a bite to eat and a beer before boarding for home.
The Mortlebus got us back to Sevenoaks at 2200 at the end of an incredible day.
Thanks to all that came along and made it the ultimate International Shirkers dayout, and happy domestic shirking to all!
And finally, in response to the doubts –
Can it be done ? - Yes it most certainly can
Is it too expensive ? – No it’s not (£110 for flights, €30 for bike hire, £15 for car park and taxis)
Is it too much hassle ? – Getting up at 0300 isn’t fun, but absolutely worth it for a day riding in Majorca
Is it worth it ? – Most definitely yes! We had lots of fun, and all for less than £150. Even with dodgy weather we had a great day, and if the sun had shone (as it does on 85% of September day) it would have been awesome
And finally, finally
Would I do it again ? - Without a doubt ! The Tour de France doesn’t lend itself to a daytrip next year so something else will have to be done. Suggestions are welcome, but a lap of Lake Geneva is currently under investigation, or maybe, break the 1 day only option and have an overnight in Majorca which opens up all sorts of opportunities!
Dave L – Chief International Shirker