Evans Cycles recently teamed up with Team Raleigh and their sponsors High5 to give a couple of customers a bit of a break from the seemingly endless winter weather, and to help them Keep on Riding this year.
We offered one winner the opportunity to fly out with a couple of friends and spend a long weekend in Mallorca, staying with Team Raleigh, towards the end of their ten day training camp.
Our lucky competition winner turned out to be Anthony, a seasoned Wyndymilla rider who has only missed about three club rides this year. Anthony brought with him two friends, Paul, an ex-TT rider and Nigel, who was excited to test out his beautiful new Condor.
The trio set off with Michelle from Marketing at Evans Cycles (me), and the big cheese at High5, Tim, for a weekend of riding up mountains and cruising the smooth, flat roads between. It only took a short hop of a flight, and a little complicated negotiation involving bike boxes and a slightly-too-small-van, before we arrived at a small apartment complex outside Port Alcudia, where the team were staying.
Team Raleigh’s troop of cyclists were sunkissed and a little weary faced after their week of training. The hotel had been their base for the week, and everything had a Raleigh theme, with ‘Team Raleigh’ signs at the base of each staircase and a workshop kitted out with a fleet of shiny looking, well maintained black Raleigh bikes – each kitted out with Cole wheels and Fizik saddles.
The guys, all fairly few in years (the youngest being just nineteen) wore their smart Raleigh uniform throughout the trip, swapping from identical trainers, Raleigh tshirts and jackets to swish black and white riding kit, which included everything down to uniform overshoes and gloves. A selection of the team are based together in Derby, but some live further afield and for them this was their only chance to train and hang out together, so they were keen to be a united group for the week.
Alongside the team were swanny’s ready to take care of their needs, preparing drinks in the morning, and putting together perfect High5 mussettes, as well as a mechanic to make sure the bikes were in smooth running order. Manager Cherie and director Eddie were present to follow the team rides in their van, and our competition winners had their own support vehicle, thankfully driven by Mr High5, Tim.
With introductions over, all that was left was to go to bed and prepare for the next day’s ride. The boys were winding down now, and planning a recovery ride. Where to? Sa Colobra- one of Mallorca’s most iconic climbs.
Over breakfast, Tim prepped our competition winners on the perfect nutrition for the ride ahead – and re-inforced the importance of always eating enough, and never letting the carb-tank get empty. With all the advice carefully digested, the guys mounted their bikes and set out behind the team towards the long and towering climb. Team Raleigh told us the ride was ‘flat’ until we would reach Sa Colobra – so the winners and I were a little alarmed when the road began to climb.
Having been to the island before, I soon realised this climb was pretty memorable –Coll de Sa Batalla is a pretty long climb with a petrol station at the top that I know fairly well. The peloton split quickly – ready to re-group somewhere at the top. Each of us chugged away, and I watched Anthony’s Wyndymilla kit appear every so often on the swithbacks just ahead of me, and gave him a wave as he stopped on a corner to photograph the gang emerge before the final section of climbing. I met with the Raleigh guys at the top, all looking fairly fresh, as they made decisions as to who was going right for Sa Colobra, and who would go left for an easier ride.
For us on our first day, there was only one choice. One mountain conquered; next on the list was the real monster of Sa Colobra. We left Team Raleigh to continue their ride and followed on our own,less-pro-speed amble – briefly catching sight of a few of them completing their climb as we whooshed down the first few switchbacks.
Sa Colobra is a long and winding road that only really goes up or down, depending upon the direction in which you approach it. We went down, had some lunch, and then went back up. The beauty of Sa Colobra is that the views of the road behind you on the climb are enough to blow away some of the ache that builds up in your legs – and though there really is no rest from the climb, it’s steady and we all found we could get into a rhythm of left, right, left, right pedal action.
Each member of the group rounded the crest with a sense of pride – this climb was just about getting up, not about the time in which it took. The ride back had it’s up-diddly-ups and down-diddly downs, and we were all pleased to see the hotel on our return. The Raleigh guys had been promised some free beer at a local bar, and being the end of a tough week we felt we had to go and celebrate with them – it would surely be rude not to.
Day two was a little less sunny, and we all donned a few extra layers before riding in a neat peloton to Port Polentia, about 10k away. The team were on their last legs and looking for a real recovery day, so driving 25-30mph winds were probably not what they fancied. Working together in an orderly pace line they chugged along the sea front, with us neatly positioned in the group. The wind was a constant enemy, and when myself and Anthony were only two from the front, we were a little concerned our own turn as windbreakers would see the entire peloton adopt a track stand position behind us. Thankfully we got there pretty quickly and didn’t have to take our turn.
Finally wind was joined by rain and we decided to hide in a cafe with the guys until the downpour ended. When it did, the winners and I set off to the famous lighthouse, with Tim following behind. The lighthouse, on the very end of the island and atop ‘Cap de Formentor’, is beautiful, but the ride there involves a fair bit of climbing, along the way some swooping descents, and a very scary very dark tunnel that reminded me I probably should have attached my rear light.
The route to the lighthouse is mainly up on the way out, with just a couple of downs to give the legs some rest, so we were pleased to arrive at the top of the crest.
There was a little climbing still to be done, but more than half of the return journey was going to go down, which was good to know as we finished up our coffee and cake and headed back to the road.
We finally made it back to the apartment and once again were off out for the evening, to celebrate a very special birthday of Paul’s. Over dinner, Tim told us more about the benefits of proper fuelling, and everyone agreed that they had felt the benefits of following his advice over the last
With the Raleigh team packed up, and their bikes ready to be shipped home, the winners and I headed out for a last ride. We all hoped for a calmer day on day three- but alas the wind wasn’t letting up. A shorter ride was called for, as 30mph cross winds were beginning to feel less of a hassle and more a hazard. Paul tucked down low and Anthony provided a shield for me as I struggled a bit to actually hold my bike straight. We stopped for an espresso (or two, or three..) before making our way back to the hotel to pack the bikes and wave goodbye to the team.
The guys trundled their matching suitcases behind them as they boarded a coach. After a hard ten days of hard training most of them were pleased to be going back to the comfort of their homes. Each of them would return to follow their own training programme, mainly being reunited along the
way for races and events. Our own little team headed off for one final stroll along the beach, contemplating our own 2013 plans for the hopefully fast approaching summer.
The island of Mallorca, throughout our trip, had been crawling with cyclists from clear seasoned pros like Raleigh, and the Sky guys staying not far away, to club riders and individuals rolling up and over the mountains. It’s clear that in January and early February, whilst the UK is wet and windy and sometimes even snowy, Mallorca is the mecca for cyclists. You can get from one end of the island to the other in a day, train for the hills or blast the flat, and catch a glimpse of the sun to keep you going when the riding gets tough.
Our troop certainly agreed that even just a long weekend away was enough to have them fired up for the adventures of summer 2013, and the journey home was as much about planning the year ahead and pondering further escapes to the island as it was reminiscing the weekend of riding just gone.