Sunday, 5 May 2013

Majorca Part 2

Its a long one so forget about your Sunday paper and give it a go!

Day 3 was a bit of a chilled out rest day ride…it was supposed to be anyway.  David P, Jean and I decided to head up the coast for a coffee and a short 25mile ride to ease the legs into the sportive on the Saturday.  We stopped at Tolo’s cafĂ© which is Wiggin’s hangout when he is in Majorca.  There is a signed yellow jersey framed in there from him (see below).  Again the coffee and company was exceptional and we headed out to the Cap de Formentor for a spin up to the first viewing point.  This was my first real taste of the climbs I could be expecting the next day as I had flown in a day after the big ride for Sunvelo.  It was a couple of kilometres long between 5-10% in gradient.  I managed it quite easily and this instilled a bit of confidence in me for the next day.  Unfortunately this is where the enjoyment was tempered.  My build up to the sportive had gone as well as I could have wanted.  200+ miles in the three weeks building up to the event and another 250 under the belt including the sportive in Majorca had made me pretty confident.  Other then the wobble the previous day when trying to get my foot out of the pedal I was 100% confident of my preparation.  We arrived at the car park at the first viewing area.  I tried to take my foot out of the pedal…it didn’t budge…I tried again still no joy…I start to panic a little but think I will go round the car park and try again buy myself a bit of time…unfortunately a car pulled out which sent me towards a bush which I thought wouldn’t be to bad to have a lie down in better then the tarmac.  Unfortunately I had not seen the small protruding rocks to the right of the bush which when I came off I landed full force on with my elbow puncturing it and leaving a nice proportion of DNA on the floor.  It knocked me sick a bit to as I hate seeing blood especially my own.  I was a bit dazed didn’t see the views or take any pictures which I am annoyed about.  David and Jean did there best to pick me up and stem the flow of blood from my elbow, which eventually reduced to a small trickle.  We then went back descending the climb which was fun even though my elbow was hurting.  On the way home we stopped off at one of the many pharmacies where a kindly old Majorcan lady cleaned up the wound using a liquid antiseptic which was a tad painful.  Once back at the hotel David P used some steri-strips to seal the gash/puncture wound.  Needless to say I had enjoyed the ride but was fuming at myself for the way in which I had injured myself. 
Here is the route for you to have a nosey at.

D-Day – It was an early start up at 0400 for a 0500 breakfast.  I had managed to get a few hours sleep despite not being able to sleep in my favoured position due to the elbow and also that in the night I knocked the elbow a couple of time, which obviously woke me up.  Everyone was quiet at breakfast as the weather was looking ominous.  We met in the garage at 06:00 and had a final check of equipment and some pictures done.  I had opted for bib shorts and short sleeve jersey with windbreak gillet.  Even though it was raining the temperature was still between 15-20 degrees and the rain was warm to so was bearable.  I don’t think I regretted the kit decision even when the weather was at its peak due to the warmness the only place I really struggled was on the massive decent from the Puig de Muir (video from last year of the descent - mountain which took around 20 minutes and was averaged at about 24mph.  That kind of gives you an idea of how big the climb was also!  We arrived at the start for 0645 for a starting time of 0700.  The Germans had got there first, sure there is a sun bed joke in there somewhere, and there was already a big build up of riders.  The support team for Sunvelo where happily snapping pictures of our tired and pensive faces and doing there best to cheer us up which they had success with.  At the briefing the previous evening we had spoken about getting a group together and looking after each other but it was already clear at the start this was going to be difficult with the volume of riders there.  We set off at 0700 and within the first 20km we had split as a group and where just riding as best we could sitting in groups with other participants.  I didn’t see anyone for around 30miles from our group.  The first hour was quick as the race was neutralised for safety reasons coming out of Alcudia.  Once the police split off the sportive exploded.  Fast riders going off and a real selection of riders being made and distributed into many groups.  I found myself on the first climb alone but this was what I had expected and wanted.  I am not the best climber and didn’t want to hold people up.  I was climbing at a steady rate of between 7 – 11mph depending on the gradient.  Lots of people where passing me but I was not to concerned about what anyone else was doing just trying to tempo away and get to the top.  The first 60km of the ride where were the mountains and climbs where coming thick and fast.  I knew once I had done this part that the rest would play to my advantage of being faster on descents and on the rolling flats we had.

The weather had really closed in now and the rain was heavy for around 100km.  There were patches of sun but mostly rain and a persistent fog which unfortunately blocked off some of the views we would have seen.  Fortunately when it we descended from the Puig de Muir it was dry and safe and gave us some fantastic views into the valleys below.  It was like looking out of an aeroplane window coming into land.  All of the houses and roads where so tiny.  As you can see from the video above the descent can only be described as epic.  Barry and I had linked up just before the descent and rode most of the rest of the way together until the crash…more to come on that.  One rider took it upon himself to nearly kill himself on the descent making some rash overtaking manoeuvres and nearly getting taken out by a coach.  A number of riders where shaking there heads and shouting at him in different languages.  We hit the second food stop which had been taken over by a load of tanned Italian looking chaps all huddled under the gazebo sheltering from the rain.  I managed to get in and get a couple of rolls and a tin or two of coke for me and Barry.  An Italian gentleman started to shout at me but as I didn’t speak the language so I just smiled, shrugged and walked away with the loot!  We set off again and saw the split for the race those doing the 167km and those doing the 312km.  We made absolutely sure we turned onto the 167km.  We started to pick up speed down another decent and headed on to the flatter part of the course.  We had picked up Tony from Sunvelo and a German chap who we had been speaking to whilst going up the climbs.  Barry and I upped the pace to a decent 21-22mph and started to motor.  When I next turned around we had picked up around ten riders.  I said to Barry ok mate you have done a lot of work lets start rolling through and letting the others take a turn then we can get home faster.  Barry pulled in in front of me and I gave the signal for another rider to come through.  Our German friend Uwe kindly obliged then nothing.  I waited a few seconds then tried again.  Nobody wanted to come through and help.  They all just wanted to tag on and sit in the wheels.  This upset me a little but there wasn’t really much I could do.  As we were taking the next roundabout the crash happened.  We were single file with me following Barry’s wheel when Barry must have hit something on the road or a bit of oil.  Both of Barry’s wheels went from under him and he skidded on the tarmac.  We were travelling at about 22mph and I had very little time to react.  Barry had slid away from the bike slightly as he had come away from his toe straps if he hadn’t I would have gone straight over his torso as I went over the back wheel.  I somehow managed to stay on the bike and ended up on the wrong side of the road again.  Fortunately no traffic.  Barry got to the side of the road and I could see that his rear derailleur was a right off.  Barry was relatively unhurt with a bit of road rash down his left leg.  My bike miraculously was in good shape.  We made sure Barry was ok and then set off to see if we could link up with the support car and send them back to Barry.  The others had just ridden off without a thought for Barry.  Tony and I set off I was pulling Tony along for sometime and we met with the car about 5 miles away grabbing some food and letting them know what had happened.  Then we set off again.  Some time after this is when I had my first puncture.  I was just ticking along nicely when the dreaded noise occurred.  I stopped to change it but was having issues getting the tyre off as I was cold and tired by now having covered around 80miles.  An Irish guy came to my rescue and sorted the tyre out.  He then left me to put some air in.  I couldn’t get the valve out far enough to put any in.  A German trio stopped to help.  That’s when we found out that the Irish chap hadn’t taken off the circlet on the valve and it was inside the tyre.  I felt stupid but the German people where really nice about it and sorted it out.  After putting some air in I set off again.  I came across Morris and Barry…yes Barry he had fixed the bike with a stick at the roadside and managed to continue.  We rode on for a bit but then Barry’s bike completely broke as the rear mech sheered from the bike.  Day over for Barry and an immense feeling of sadness that he would not be able to complete the ride.  We had ridden together through 70% of the course through the hills and I was gutted for him.  A few miles after we had left Barry I began to feel bumps through the rear tyre.  Morris and I pulled over and the tyre was soft.  Slow puncture.  I nearly gave up then I thought of the kids with cancer and that Evie and Lindz were waiting at the finish for me.  I pumped some air in and carried on as I was close to the finish.  I was very angry at this point.  The effect of two punctures, crap weather and Barry having to stop had enraged me and I apologise to all the people who I rode past at speed cursing under my breath.  It took another couple of stops to reinflate the tyre then I was home or so I thought.  Just to top things off I had taken a wrong turning and was now at the far side of Alcudia.  So I had just done an extra 10 miles for fun.  I finally got back on track and rode down the finishing straight.  There where still a number of people there and the announcer said “James Crossland, United Kingdom” I put on my best attempt of a smile and crossed the finishing line to cheers from Lindsey and Evie.  I was glad to have finished and be home.  The official time was 8hrs 29minutes by the board.  My Garmin read close to 7hours but I think there was about 40minutes of unrecorded due to the crash and punctures after which I had forgotten to start the timer again.  I was pleased with the time not knowing the route and with so many issues.  I was under the 9 hour mark and got my finishers jersey.

The sportive itself was epic.  I would love to do it again in the sunshine although I think the weather was better for it not being to hot.  The climbs where long and hard and the descents where amazing.  The Majorcan people and countryside did a great job of keeping my spirits up during the ride and there was a real sense of achievement at the end of the sportive.  I would recommend whole heartedly to anyone to go and cycle in Majorca and to do so with SunVelo.

Ride stats for you

Thanks for reading guys hope you enjoyed it!

Bit of a picture gallery for you also.  I seem to be eating in most of the pictures...nothing new there then!

Barry and one of the support ladies

Mr David Percival

At the start
In the dark at the start

Check out the standing water

Half way up a mountain

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Majorca Part 1

The trip was the first part of a bigger picture for me for 2013.  Raising money for Cyclists Fighting Cancer throughout the year via a number of sportives through the year.  

I was looking to do a few days cycling then the Majorca 167 sportive as the first part of the challenge.  I had been to see the best physio in Manchester Marek Holowenko ( in preperation and he had sorted my legs right out!  I took the girls with me in the hope that they would have a great time and to spend some time with them over the few days.  The first thing I noticed on the coach to the hotel was the enormous amount of cyclists around.  It was a utopia for cycling.  I was beginning to get very excited about the prospect of being part of the community.  We had booked with Sunvelo ( who are a cycling adventure holiday company based in Alcudia on the island.  The hotel was the Viva Blue, which was very nice and had ticked all the boxes.  We were looking for half board, nice rooms, kids activities and importantly for me cycling setup.  The hotel provided an excellent range of food for breakfast and evening meals.  I was astounded by the variety there was something for everyone and the food was always excellent.  Dave from Sunvelo was my contact for booking and everything went very smoothly.  This was the case when dealing with Sunvelo for the entirety of the holiday.  The weather was to prove a different matter over the five days we were there.  The first couple of days where nice with a strong breeze.  After that it was mostly wind and rain and would stay this way for the sportive on the Saturday.

We had booked the same week as two friends of ours David and Jean Percival and the friendship was strengthened through the week via the cycling and the meals we all shared together.  Evie was in her element drawing with Jean which was really nice to see.  David also looked after me when I had a bit of a spill on our easy ride day (more to come in part 2).

The first days riding was very windy and we had Dave the company boss leading us out.  The ride took in the beautiful Majorcan countryside and involved a coffee and cake stop something that reoccurred throughout the riding on different days.  I had my new pedals (Look Keo Carbon) attached to the Ridley Orion bike I had rented from SunVelo.  I was very impressed with them as they provided a tight attachment and were light.  I am saving them for my new bike which hopefully I will be able to purchase later in the year.  The Ridley was really nice and was the first full carbon bike I have ridden.  I didn’t have any complaints over the four days with the bike although I did have three punctures during the week.  This was probably down to me being too heavy still though.  I did however have some small issues with my new pedals and new cleats in that they were a little too good and had me struggling to release when we stopped.  We had just left the coffee stop and I was beginning to see what strong riders Dave and one of our companions Harald from Norway were.  They were dragging us along at a fair old pace just manageable for me but dropping a few of the others on the small drags.  Harald was residing on Gran Canaria for the winter and was doing 120km a day over the mountains there.  The legs on this guy were massive and near the end he decided to leave us on the climb of the day Cancellara style and head back to Alcudia.  As we reached the climb there was a stop sign, which I had seen around 200 metres before we got there but was having issues getting my foot from the clip…this resulted in me turning the wrong way up the road and round a traffic island trying not to fall off and ending up facing the oncoming traffic.  Luckily there wasn't any and other then worrying Dave a bit I ended up unclipped on the climb but in the big ring.  I had to dismount and change the gears manually very embarrassing as a few groups of Germans went past looking at me in disgust.  I climbed back on to the group with a little assistance from David P.  I met Barry for the first time today also he was struggling a little to stay with the group but working together we arrived back into Alcudia with the group.  Barry improved through the whole trip and was a very tenacious rider especially using toe straps!

Here is the first days ride with a few stats if you are interested!

Day 2 saw another 0930 start we all met at 0800 for breakfast, which really fostered a team atmosphere throughout the holiday.  Today I would be riding with Alistair, who I found out after the ride was a double bronze Commonwealth track cycling medallist, David P, Nathan and Barry.  Alistair took some massive turns on the front into the wind at a very decent pace he had the biggest calves I have ever seen!  It was all Barry and I could do to sit behind him and David P!  We had cake and coffee at a small place outside of Alcudia and got there doing about 22 mph average the whole time.  It was a recurrent theme that the coffee was cheap and nice tasting.  As I love coffee this was a massive plus.  We tucked in behind Alistair and David but about 20km from the end of the ride I had my first puncture.  Alistair gave me a masterclass on how to change a tyre.  Even though I can do it he took about 5 mins!  Nathan left us to go and have a look at one of the local climbs later we found out that he had got some way away and then the heavens opened and drove him back to Alcudia.  Alistair then led us back to Alcudia being buffeted by the wind off the sea.

Here is the second days ride with a few stats!

The second part will be arriving shortly and will have some video and a few pics :-)