For me it was one of those rare days when everything feels just right, the rain enforced day off yesterday must have done me some good 🙂
It was an early start, forcing down breakfast at 5:30 and hitting the road at 6am for the 8 mile run to the start in Alcudia, it was still dark and lights were needed!
Lots of cyclists on the road, all heading for the start line – about 1,700 of us riding the first 90k together, over the big hills before the 167K route and 312K route split at Valldemossa.
The start at 7am was the usual frenetic stuff, even though it is neutralised for the first 26K, it didn’t feel like it, as everyone jostled for position – it was here we lost Ciaran. Speeding back to Pollensa where we left at 6am and then on to the first climb of Femenia. I was feeling good, much better climbing in the cool rather than searing heat, but Jim has a loooooonnnggggg day ahead, so we kept it sensible. Still managed to pass Sean Kelly though (okay, he had stopped with a mechanical, but a scalps a scalp) 🙂
The Femenia climb had the desired effect of splitting the mass up and we found our own pace. Not much respite as we went over the lumpy bits to the viaduct before the shorter climb of the Puig Major. The descent off the Puig into Soller is one of the best I have ever done, not too technical and seems to go on forever.
The road then immediately kicks up for the fantastic climb to Deia, scenery is absolutely stunning and pretty sure an endorphin rush hit me as I felt like I was flying and had the biggest smile as we swept up to the feed station. I must have really needed a drink as I sped past Miguel Indurain to get a cheese roll and water, leaving Jim to stand and watch him cycle off. As we set off, Ciaran appeared!
The short descent towards Valldemossa is where we parted company with Jim, as Ciaran and me were doing the 167K and Jim the full 312K (as I type this he is still out there and it will be dark when he gets back to the hotel, chapeau).
Descent from Valldemossa is great, again not technical with big sweeping corners. We picked up a small group and sped towards Santa Maria. Ciaran was happy at his own pace (this being his first century ride) and so gave me permission to crack on. The small group soon splintered as a Royal Marine led the charge with us all trying to hang on to his wheel. The route was lumpier than I remembered as we headed to Alaro, Selva, Pollensa and then back towards Alcudia. I’m sure I saw a sign saying 10K to go as my new Marine friend dragged me round towards the finish, but it didn’t half go on and on. I was beginning to think we had missed a turning, but we hadn’t and we reached familiar territory (in far more than 10K). Then with 1K to go you hit the main Alcudia road, turn at the roundabout and on to the finishing straight and the final effort to get over the line.
The route is fantastic, the weather was brilliant and the organisation first class (good signage and marshals at every junction, felt like closed roads as you were waved through every junction and roundabout).
At the finish I picked up my goody bag (t shirt and water bottle and got a cycling top when we signed on too) and then on to the food tent for a BIG plate of pasta and water. Ciaran appeared soon after, his first century (and some) in the bag.
Fergus, Ian, Jamie and James had come to the finish to meet us and David McC was even seen on the course doing some marshaling before meeting us too. Was nice to see some friendly faces, but even nicer to see a full blown legend – Miguel Indurain was happy to get his photo taken with everyone and was a fantastic end to the day.