In 2004 it was a tsunami in Thailand. In 2005 it was a hurricane in Cuba. Now in 2010 my arrival in Majorca heralded the first heavy snowfall the island had seen in 25 years. Fortunately I had omitted to tell clubmates Phil ‘Steady’ Ember and Luke ‘Wünderkind’ Wallis that I was the harbinger of freak weather and natural disasters, and both joined me on the island for a pre-season training camp. For all of us it was the first time cycling there, and after hammering ourselves for miles on smooth Majorcan roads, we returned to face the forthcoming season with strong legs and absolutely no hint of a tan whatsoever. These are some of the things we encountered on our trip:
Like every other cyclist on the island, we had travelled to Majorca in search of some warm weather riding. After enduring one of the harshest winters in recent times – and missing out on countless opportunities to ride because of it – we looked forward to clocking up plenty of miles in the warmth of the Spanish sun. What we got instead was snow. And not just a little dusting, or a light flurry – proper snow. The local TV news reported on the mounting panic, publishing emergency telephone numbers for those finding themselves in snow-related peril. Braver citizens ventured out to wonder at the unusual phenomenon, awestruck by the beauty of this winter wonderland. Snowmen began to spring up across the island. Fortunately for us, the snow stopped and by the next day the roads were cleared and we were back out on the bikes.
As much as I am reticent to tar a whole nation with one brush, German cyclists stick out like a sore thumb. Riding Cube bikes (almost without exception), in large groups four abreast at a steady 19kmph, studiously avoiding all the glorious roads featuring any form of hill, the Germans make cycling in Majorca look organised, co-ordinated and disciplined. And dull and slow. Which possibly explains why they are all rather on the rotund side?
After long consecutive days in the saddle, our legs certainly let us know that they weren’t too happy with the arrangement. Groaning in the morning, creaking in the evening. Each ride started with a tussle between will and legs. After several miles of disagreement, will finally won out and legs were subdued into performing normal duties. By the end of our trip, the words of Jens Voigt – ‘Shut up legs!’ – had become our mantra.
However, despite the weather, and despite the Germans, our trip was made worthwhile by the muy bueno Majorcan roads. Mostly velvety smooth, they were a welcome relief from the misery of bumps, gravel and potholes that plague our British roads. Combine that with some testing mountain climbs – such as the famous switch backs of the Sa Calobra – and stunning scenery, and my plans for 2011 already feature a return trip to the island.