lunes, 30 de mayo de 2022

Puig Major + Soller

Kingston Wheelers training camp in Mallorca day 3. The climbers day.

What a great day of cycling. You wouldn’t believe it.

The day started with JFW wearing a culotte that probably belonged to Tom Simpson. It was the right decision. Probably worn out after so many years of usage, the piece was so thin that it was perfect for the warm temperatures we are enjoying. It also had the additional benefit of being almost transparent. Giving us all a magnificent view of JFW’s (very) lower part of his back. What better way of starting a ride than enjoying the view of an Apollo’s like body. 

Then the climb to Puig Major came and the day continued its strike of happy moments. The Pope attacked the climb and went away. It is always great to see a riding mate going for it. Attacking the group. Opening a gap with ease. How much we all enjoyed it. 

Then it was Dai. For a few meters “GC” Denis, Richard L. and myself were sitting on his wheel but when the gradient increased he pushed it a little bit and opened a gap. I enjoyed the feeling of keeping my own pace, with “GC” Denis and Richard L. sitting on my wheel, and seeing Dai riding up the hill like he were dancing. Such a moment of content euforia. 

Once the three amigos found ourselves alone I had the privilege of pacing our small group. So happy to be getting the 5% drag of having “GC” Denis and Richard L. on my wheel. What a selfishless gesture from them contributing to make my effort more bearable. I thank them a thousand times in my thoughts (I wasn’t able to talk).

Then Bidders came from behind. Caught us, passed us and gave us the opportunity to admire his effortless climbing style. Not everyday you have the opportunity to enjoy being passed up a hill by a rider relaxed as he was doing errands. Bidders, a rider that could punish you if he wanted, was magnanimous and let us climb at our own pace. What a team player.

And then it was Puig Major. What a mountain. Impossible to know where the top is. Constantly surprising you with an unexpected steepness. Sometimes steep, sometimes downhill. What a better way of keeping the climbing entertaining. Who doesn’t enjoy a nice climbing surprise. Anything to make pacing your “friends” more interesting. 

Puig Major was so surprising that when we sprinted for what looked like the top of the climb “GC” Denis took the sprint. How happy I was for him. A shame Richard L. was not there to enjoy that view. So many times “GC” Denis had sacrificed himself for my sprinting and climbing aspirations that I was delighted to see him passing me just before the top of the climb. What a great effort.

But the best was yet to come… the climb to Soller. 

What a beautiful climb. What a great pleasure to ride it with a group of selfisless riders. First Dai wanted to set the pace for us not caring about sacrificing his own chances of taking the climb. Then “GC” Denis decided to give us space. What better way than dropping himself gently and allowing me to sit in Rupert’s wheel. And then JFW. Oh JFW was magnificent. He insisted on showing us the (very) low part of his back while he was riding playfully alongside Rupert and myself. Calling the cars and riders that were descending, making jokes, I swear that at a given moment he even whistled. Is there a better way of making the pain and suffering of a hard climb more bearable to your riding mates?  Yes, there is. It is more bearable if Rupert insists on taking every single hairpin bend with a bit of a push introducing a great deal of diversity in our climbing. You can’t imagine how much I enjoyed closing that little gap one hairpin bend after another. Bear in mind that Soller, on the north side has almost 30 hairpin bends. That’s plenty of entertainment. What else can you ask for?

What about a beautiful sprint to the top of the climb. JFW decided it was Rupert and me to play after all the effort we had put into the climb. I started to sprint first. Full of power. Opening a big gap very quickly. A few cyclists that were outside of the bar that is at the top started to cheer us. Isn’t it great to sprint in front of spectators that understand the sport? What a great spectacle we gave them when Rupert passed me about 5 meters before the line. I was so happy for him! After all the effort he had put leading me, pretty much the whole climb, divine justice was made and he took the sprint at the top… in front of spectators… with me shouting words of encouragement. I almost cried of joy. I was so happy for him that run out of words in English and had to switch to Spanish to shout more expressions of happiness. That climb to Soller is one that I don’t think I’ll forget. That’s how happy I was.

With 75km downhill / flat to get home you would think there was not much else to enjoy in this ride but you would be wrong. We still had time for two more moments of pure happiness.

What else would be seeing TY resurrecting and attacking the group with me and Rupert on his wheel. He has made such a big effort to be here with us, he even trained doing hill reps to get him fit for the challenges of this trip. He invested in the best technology to make sure his bicycle was in pristine riding order and fully reliable for the challenge of this training camp. What else could Rupert and I have done but helping him with his effort of breaking away from the group. 

Impressed with the 300w that it was taking me to keep with TY’s wheel every time I was hitting the front I was slowing down a little bit the pace to make sure TY could be successful in his breakaway. In fact, I needed a pee stop and refused to stop to maximize his chances of success. 

Unfortunately for TY, as very often happens, the peloton caught the breakaway. Everyone was very understanding of the explanation I gave them and that was a moment of pure happiness. Topped with JFW’s comment “Javier you don’t need to give us any explanation, we know you”. I had another look at the (very) low part of his back and I felt true what true friendship and understanding each other is. 

We still had time for a little last moment of joy. The sprint to the house.

Rupert leading the way. Me seating on his wheel. Me jumping and giving him a surprise. Him reacting and keeping my wheel. Me missing the turn to the house. He getting to the door first. Me, unable to congratulate him because I was out of breath but internally very, very happy for him.

As I was saying: What a great day of cycling! A day we will be very happy to remind each other for years to come.

The ride in Strava:

Take care 

Javier Arias González

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