It is only fitting that we share our inaugural Woodmancote Wheelers 2016 Tour in Majorca with you all, albeit it does break the “What goes on tour, stays on tour” principle, so some stories will remain a club secret!
Prior to arrival at the airport, we received sad news that one of the group was unable to travel, Ryan England aka Ramon, due to a recent diagnosis of Bacterial Tonsillitis. This meant one of the group would now be rooming on their own and was starting to take the news personally that no-one wanted to share with him! Upon arrival at the airport in two separate vehicles, each of the groups were pleased to get through check in and security, except when we just sat down for a cheeky cooked breakfast, we heard a female voice on the tannoy “Would a Miguel Woods flying to Palma please contact the ground staff?”….would we now be reduced to 6 riders?
After a brief discussion behind closed doors, a pair of latex gloves and Shank’s pony, Miguel was escorted to collect his luggage and remove his offending item, the CO2 gas canister! When he returned to the gate to re-unite with the wheelers, he was welcomed with a cheer and then got told most of the group had them in their luggage too, how very unlucky. We successfully boarded the flight like 7 excitable puppies that had never left home before.
When we departed the airplane, the weather was sunny with a slight breeze and the forecast for the week was dry but windy on the mountain climbs. We were greeted at the airport by a cheery long haired spainard holding a home made Woodmancote Wheelers sign at the request of Chairman Miguel. After a pleasant journey on the executive mini bus we arrived at our apartments where other cycling groups were hanging out, so we were not alone.
We took a short walk to Puerto Pollenca to collect our hire bikes from Pro Cycles who were brilliant and couldn’t do enough to adjust our bikes to fit including the saddle swap for Mr Secretary who was embarrassed to admit he owned such an item! Digger was posing on his Italian stallion the “Cool Colnago” while the rest of us were very happy with our “Massi fergusons”. At this point the cafe con lecha and cake started in the adjoining cafe, to give us energy to cycle back 2km to our apartments and personal bike hanger.
In the evening, we all took a leisurely stroll to the beach harbour and chose a restaurant specifically with pizza & pasta ready to carb up for the next day. We behaved with the alcohol intake on only a few beers and a bottle of Rioja…..rude not to really.
Mentally and physically this was the big day with the infamous Sa Calobra mountain climb ahead of us with 6 miles of climbing up an average 7% gradient and anything up to an hour was respectable. The total route was 60 miles with 7000ft of climbing, joy!
Firstly, we had to tackle the 22 miles of category 2 & 3 climbs to get to the mountain top before the scary descent. Luckily, we found a cafe 15 miles in for a quick re-fuel of coffee and almond cake, which went down a treat and after being offered free water and newspapers to protect us from the wind, we decided to stop here on the way back too.
As we started the descent of Sa Calobra and the 27 hairpin bends, we were rudely interrupted a third of the way down by a queue of cars and collection of c40 cyclists halted at a stop sign. Initially, we were concerned a cyclist had fallen off one of the sharp cliff faces, but thank goodness it was only a skateboarder being filmed by an aerial camera drone descending down the mountain! After a short rest and getting cold we battled with the blustery winds which were scary in places on the open faces of the mountain and hampered the Chairman beating the mountain descent speed record!
We re-grouped at the base of the mountain in another cafe to warm up and take on some healthy soup & pasta for the journey back up the mountain. After being rushed by Cookie most of us were suffering from indigestion, just what you need to climb a mountain with no gaviscon packed. The rule of climbing the mountain at your own pace was adhered to and everyone enjoyed the scenery and the challenge since shown on the team videos. What a great personal achievement for everyone with the Chairman getting a hatful of PBs compared to his first attempt nearly a year ago (taken off 7 mins) of the climb itself.
After getting to the top, we re-grouped at the base of the next descent with lots of emotional hugs before we revisited the friendly cafe from earlier and decided the shortest descent back was the best answer. We were glad to be back at base to download the ride to Strava, request a cheeky massage from our room mates and get ready for our evening ahead.
The aim of day two was to loosen the legs on a flat ride which covered 73 miles and 3000ft of climbing, very similar to a longer club ride really.
The weather was bright and breezy and the loop of NW Majorca took in some lovely villages with more cafe stops. Our first stop was in a village called Buger and a cafe recommended by the Chairman with its own bakery. The cakes were superb while we reflected on our Sa Calobra achievement and new nicknames for Paul!
After some “follow the line” navigation by Digger we found ourselves 40 miles on, in the beautiful town square of Petra. It was full of tables of cyclists having lunch and the sun was beating down, so much so, the burnt pale skin of Neil was in sharp contrast to the gleaming olive skin of Ant. The last 5 miles seemed to go on forever as our tired legs and bodies were returned to the apartments, to download our ride to Strava and relax before our night out.
Another day of climbing was planned to the lighthouse “Cap Formentor” the furthest NW tip of the island. The start was delayed until mid morning due to the thunderstorms the night before and we planned to be climbing 3000ft over 30 miles.
Similar to previous days the weather was bright & breezy and the mountain climb was scary in places as we were blown around on the mountain cliffs. Digger reminded us of the steep element through the mountain tunnel and as we passed through realised it was not fun cycling in the dark for 100 metres!
When we reached the lighthouse on the mountain edge, we were pleased to see a cafe and lots of cyclists onsite enjoying their lunch with amazing views out to sea. The return journey was better with more downhill until the final climb back up to the start cafe where we took more photos of the amazing scenary.
We returned to the apartments to relax ahead of our final night out where we visited the infamous Tolos restaurant full of cycling memorabilia, as well as seeing the Madison Genesis pro team who were dining in the same place. It was a great location to finish our 2016 cycling tour and we dined at a table with Bradley Wiggins hour record & Tour de France bikes above our heads!
Our return trip to the airport the next day was sad leaving such a lovely part of the island with warmish weather, but we had a great time together with no injuries, lots of memories and friendly banter.
Finally, all of the above was made even more worthwhile with many friends & family back home sponsoring our mountain climb on day one having raised just over £2500 to date, towards our annual charity goal of £5000. This is all for the great cause of Heartburn Cancer UK who are delighted with our charitable achievements from this trip.
You will notice there is still some banter around the group since arriving back and you may have already heard phrases like “Car back Doris!”, “Keep talking to me” and “Anyone got any eggs?”. You are more than welcome to join in, as it reminds us all what a great cycling club we are part of and may this continue for many years, including a 2017 Club Tour…….watch this space!