Majorca 312 - 2016 Edition
We arrived in Majorca to cold and rain. This was not in the manual. Together with smooth tarmac, I had been banking on the warm sun to miraculously boost my riding average. Happily day two conditions were much improved allowing me to develop a comedy bikers tan whilst enjoying a leisurely ride, coffee, lunch and even a little shop with Nick around Alcudia and Pollenca. Lucky for Nick he had to collect his brother from the airport so husband had to deal with mucho faffing for the rest of the evening. Spare bag for the support vehicle with a mountain of stuff (only used it once), spare bag for husband with another mountain of stuff (didn't use it at all) and third mountain of stuff to secrete around my body in the morning. Sorted.
The ride and the 14hour maximum time allowed countdown clock started at 7am. Needless to say I was keen to get there early. Having agreed to meet Nick and Grant on the way to the start, I think they were both a little surprised when I knocked their door down and handed them their toothpaste. Once Nick had dug his bike out from underneath 20 others (clearly it helped that I was throwing them out of the way) we were off in the rain and the dark to the start to join the other 4397 riders. There was a helluva lot of nervous chit chat mostly revolving around where we would each first go to the loo (me at 94km behind a wall).
We heard the ride start and slowly the heaving masses began to move forward and eventually we were through the arch. Nick was off like a bullet and I knew, all being well, I wouldn't see him again until the finish. So to the task at hand- 312km and 4.5km of vertical. Whizzed past husband (who then spent the rest of the day in traffic jams all over Majorca never quite coinciding with my progress) but didn't see Glenda at Puerto Pollenca. The green polka dotted sweepers were ominously roadside at the start of the climbing clapping us through before bringing up the rear. Happily I didn't see them again.
The next 70km was tough but you knew it would be so I hunkered down and got on with the climbing. The 14km descent into Soller was COLD and a bit treacherous. One girl had splatted at the bottom on some tram tracks and one guy I passed (on the way up!!!) from Yorkshire CC had managed to come off twice. Most were being sensible on the descents. My hours hurtling down ski slopes certainly helped. Finally I made it to the cut off point st 92km with 20mins to spare. The 167kmers turned left and I turned right. Happy. The second feed station (hadn't bothered with the first) quickly followed and was a very welcome respite. The scenery had been breathtaking.
Onto the new bolted on 65km Adratz loop. Two words: xxxxxxx hilly. However, the weather had improved and the landscape was stunning but...Finally at the top of the last switch-backed ascent a feed station which was handy as by now I had developed a craving for coke from absolutely nowhere.
Finally an opportunity to ride in a group and I latched on for a fast 40kms or so. Fabulous. Met up with the support car and inhaled a cheese sandwich, another coke, took some clothes off (not all), restocked and was off again. The route back to Alcudia and the 232km point was flatish and was spent tagging onto groups, being dropped, tagging on and consuming another coke. Decision time. Stop at 232 or go for the 312. I can tell you that at absolutely no point did I think I was stopping if I was within the time limit. Reached the cut off but with only 10mins to spare (cut off times are tight but there were 100s behind- not sure how that works). At this point I knew I was going to do it and actually felt quite emotional.
Onto the final loop to Arta. Beautiful rolling countryside but by now the rolls felt like 17% climbs. Despite the thunderous clouds the rain held off. Refreshed was a delicious orange and water from a local supporter I waved away the offer of a beer at Arta where plenty had stopped. Only one thing on my mind- the finish. Eventually was swept up by a group of Spanish in pink for the final 12km to the end. Too busy holding back the tears I forgot to celebrate through the finish! Spotted husband and Nick, who had put in an amazing performance, at the side and was delighted to receive congratulatory hugs.
It is an amazing ride in a beautiful part of the world. Fantastic organisation especially the traffic and safety management. When you do it hopefully the sun will shine.
Thank you to all who helped me on the long training rides, especially Bill and Glen.