Town: Establishments (Majorca/Spain)
Road Race 100K distance
5.5K climb from the start
As you may have read (on cyclingillustrated.com), I am having the pleasure of spending some time with my wife, Dotsie and the U.S. Team in Majorca, Spain. Majorca is a wonderful island in Spain and cycling is HUGE. So, when the opportunity presented itself to do a road race, I thought….what the heck, I’ve had my fair share of riding in Europe, but not racing, so I figured this could be really fun; how different can it be compared to racing at home in SoCal?
Like many races here, the event turns out to be a town festival; the crowds come out, bars are packed and enthusiasts are everywhere. This race was no different. The Establishments Road Race is apparently known as one of the harder races on the island (THINK: Devils combo with SLR: oh boy, not sure I really wanted to sign up for that) and this race was the 11th edition (read: these local guys knew this course like the back of their hands).
The race staged with all Masters, Elite, U23 (and my wife) starting together and the strong survived. Pre-Reg was about 120 people and the final start list was just over 150. Roads are narrow; then throw in about 3-4 roundabouts, a stair step( 5.5K) climb, switchback descent and you have a pretty entertaining race.
I had no clue who anybody was. Fortunately, I was able to get my first group race in with Toni Colom (formerly of Astana) and I trained with the island hero David Muntaner (Spanish Olympic team-True Bad Ass); so, I got a little respect because people saw pictures of my ride with Toni, and David was racing, so I was able to watch him a bit and stay semi-safe. Of course, I didn’t understand the language so I staged in the scorching heat but at the very back. My wife, of course, staged in the front row and posed for photos. She knows the way to roll in Europe is to show up a bit late for the start, and back up to the start line pretending you are clueless and don’t know any better. Damn, these roads were NARROW, I wasn’t sure how any passing would take place.
The gun went off; we weaved thru narrow roads. Holy Cow, we were going straight into the climb and it was strung out like a Dave Toll runway model. I did what I could to avoid the dropped riders and moved forward. We got 6K into the race (5.5K of which were uphill) and I was maxed out! I said to myself, ‘if we go up that thing that fast each lap, I’m not going to finish.’ We went over the KOM line (yes, KOM every lap-so it was no walk in the park) and we descended down a sweeping road with a few very tight switchbacks. Once we got off the descent, I looked back; I was LAST wheel and there were probably only about 45 of us in the pack.
I knew it was vital to move forward so I wouldn’t get caught up in any roundabout carnage. It shouldn’t have been a big deal; I race socal crits…NOT. So, I quickly learned that we race close in crits but these guys had no problem leaning on each other thru turns, 3 abreast. I got the pinch once and grabbed a handful of brakes and that didn’t go over well. So, I resorted to eating massive wind; that hurt. Now my HR was maxed because I couldn’t get position; I knew the next few laps were not going to be good.
The 2nd lap started uneventfully, other than my buddy, David, dropping the hammer up the climb and shredding the group to about 25 guys. Once we got down the descent, the attacks began. I wasn’t sure who the team players were I so tried to feel the flow of the attacks and chasers. Low and behold, the signals went up and a good move was right in front of me. We were all maxed so I hit it with a rider that looked like he could roll and we pinched off; about 300 meters later, 1 other joined us. It was windy and we were about 4K from the climb; I was hoping we would get some good company because 3 guys were not going to make it with 3 laps to go. We all took solid pulls, and to my surprise, 4 others joined us. It appeared to be a good selection of jerseys; I took a quick glance back and we were easily 40 seconds up the road.
We went up the climb for the 3rd time and we had a 1-minute+ gap; two motorcycles were with us and one wheel car. This was the move! No real excitement on lap 3 we just had a nice rotation taking place and it was good. I had no clue how big the gap was because everybody was speaking Spanish, so I occasionally looked back and couldn’t see anything.
On the 4th time up the climb I noticed it was HOT, 100+ degrees. I had feeds but damn, it was HOT! At the base of the climb I got a pinch in my calf, CRAP! Was I going to make it? It was time to sit and conserve, and spin this out. Now my 6 friends were not too happy with me; bummer, I couldn’t communicate with them. Towards the top of the climb I suffered but didn’t cramp; I did, however, get gapped by another guy over the KOM line as he was trying to grab a bottle. Now we were about 5 bike lengths off and I was not sure if the rider in front of me was blown or what. So, on the first switchback, I dove in under him and figured I could close the gap by the next switchback if i dove again; it worked the first time. I took the next switchback HOT and fully washed-out and slid across the road on my butt; of course the guy behind me T-boned me. I couldn’t believe it! Without even thinking to check my bike, (Specialized Venge-thanks Surf City☺), I just hopped back on, chain off, hoods crooked, shorts torn open; it was a mess. The motorcycle was asking me if I was okay (tam bien? tam bien?) and all I was thinking was, “I’ve made it this far, there’s no way I’m not getting back on that break! ” I adjusted my bike on the descent and took some stupid risks, fueled by adrenaline, and found myself in a full-on MAX-pursuit chasing 6 others. It took about 3K but I got on; I was so pumped I just rolled right into the rotation.
Last lap! It was on; my legs were pinching, and I hoped to make it over the climb. Midway up the climb, my buddy David came flying by us with 8 guys hanging on for dear life, and our group scrambled to get on that train and it was shattered. Whew, fortunately, he eased up over the KOM line and all 15 of us got back on down the descent. Lots of attacks were taking place, it was epic! Up the final little bump, about 2K from the line, an Elite rider rolled up to me and said, “You’re 40?” “Yes, I said.” He proceeded, “you won!” “What?” Then it dawned on me that they scored the categories separately, and I was the winner! Final results: 12th overall with all categories, 1st in the 40+ class and only 41 finishers.
Hope you enjoyed. Anybody looking for a good getaway vacation with perfect riding should consider Majorca! And I highly recommend doing a race.