Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Musings from Mallorca

Day one in Mallorca, cont.

That evening, we meet up with Stacey’s friends, the group that she met last year and convinced her to come here at this time so they could all go riding together. Their average age is 70 – though they still look like they could kick my ass. Plus they all live in Switzerland, and do quick jaunts up the Alps before breakfast. Fun. We’re discussing the ride for the next day, and Andre determines that it’ll be an easy 80k, not hilly.

Stacey: Wait! What?! No hills? I want hills, all uphills! I hate flats – but I can get up the hills so quickly and easily. I just spin right up them. Let’s do all hills!

Me, poking at Stacey’s arm suspiciously: Deanna??

I should mention that Stacey rides a size 44 bike and is about 95 pounds max. No wonder she likes hills. Me….no. That would be a no.

Day Two, the riding begins! Fun!

I’ve picked up my bike the day before, the rental bike, and it seems decent enough though I’ve never head of a bike brand called “Cube.” But how could hundreds of Germans be wrong? Because that’s who else is here, hundreds upon hundreds of Germans – so far I’ve yet to hear a word spoken in English. And we’re all on identical bikes, in some otherworldly form of German conformity.

As we set off on our ride, I notice 2 things: 1) that I should have insisted they change to my pedals, instead of buying the whole “oh, these’ll work” argument, because these are really hard to clip in and out of (and we all know about my history of issues with clipping in and out), and 2) there’s something wrong with my brakes. The left brake, to be exact. It works, kind of – but how big of a problem could this be? After all, today is a non-hilly ride.

So off we go at a casual 20 mph pace for a warm-up. Right into headwinds. I’m trying to keep up, but as soon as I lose the wheel of the person in front of me, forget it, there’s no way I’m catching up unless they all get stopped by a flock of sheep. And so far the sheep aren’t cooperating. Then we start hitting the hills, and I would like to say this: never go on vacation with friends who do drugs, like Stacey apparently does, because she’s still insisting that these are just 5% grades, max, which is about the equivalent of a Chicago overpass. These. Are. Not. 5%. Grades. Cobblestone streets straight up into these villages nestled in the mountains? Not 5% grades. Oh, and those brakes? Yeah, not working so well. I lose track of how many trucks I almost hit or get flattened by. At the top of the next hill, I pick up my gasping heart from the cobblestones and stuff it back in my chest, and soldier on, having pleasant conversations with Stacey.

Stacey: Hey, look at the sheep with their little bells! Aren’t they adorable?

Me: Grunt.

Stacey: And the poppies! I love poppies! It’s so beautiful here!

Me: Hnuh.

Finally, after about 2 hours of this, after yet another hill, I see our little group stopped up ahead, perusing a map. It turns out that they’re looking at said map to figure out an alternate route for me. Yes, I’m being dropped like a hot potato. Which is fine with me – I’m used to riding alone – hell, I’m pretty much riding alone NOW – so what does it matter? First they want to send someone along with me, but I firmly insist that that’s not going to happen. The roads are great here, we’re on an island, for god’s sake – how hard could this be?

We toodle off our separate ways, and within 10 seconds I have to stop to peruse the signs – because the town where I’m supposed to be heading to isn’t on the signs. Well, off to the next town then. Over the next several hours I stop to ask an Italian, a German, and several families of Spanish people for directions. Because the Spanish road signs, unlike the roads themselves, suck. I later find out that all their maps are old and outdated, and they have many roads that don’t exist or aren’t marked or the signage is wrong. That at least I had figured out.

Finally, however, I’m nearing the end, I think – back on the road towards the hotel, which is in the town of Station de Arcudia. Which isn’t on a sign, but Port de Arcudia must be the same thing, right? Wrong. As the young man waiting with his horse and buggy points out, I’ve gone far far north of where I need to be. Of course.

Eventually I do make it back, and go to the ride boards to sign up for one of the group rides the next day, at a slightly less blistering pace. Supposedly. When I meet up with our own group later on, I learn that the only thing that Andre considers “hills” are the actual mountain passes themselves, not these piddly 15-25% grades into the villages. Well, at least tomorrow should be slightly less crazy. And in the meantime, Note to Self: do not spend your winter doing a lousy job of training and then decide hey, I know, I’ll go cycling in Mallorca for a week! You know, where’s it’s extremely windy and there are mountains and we’re riding with a group of people from Switzerland, who spend their days casually cycling the Alps and who consider Mallorca “flat.” In the pantheon of stupid things I’ve done, this could perhaps rank right up there. That is – coming to Mallorca seriously undertrained for hills was a Bad Idea – going to another country – or anywhere for that matter – to go bike riding is never a bad thing.

1 comment:

Roadie in Vancouver said...

I understand totally the need to take a trip to Mallorca, but when your lowly Hawks are set to take on the mighty Cancuks, you are drinking Sangria somewhere sun-soaked? No worries, in 4 more games, the Hawks players will be joining you.

Canucks in a sweep!