Mallorca 312 Dispatch
Find out how we got on when we rode the epic Mallorca 312 sportive.
During the last 6 months there has been one thing at the back of our minds, reminding us that weekends are not for rest and no matter what the weather is like we should be out on our bikes. As we’ve mentioned in previous journal posts much of our recent cycling time has been spent training for the Mallorca 312, a mass participation sportive that covers 312 kilometres with roughly 4,500 metres of climbing. A couple of weekends ago it was time to put all our training to the test as we lined up ready to start the event.
We arrived in Mallorca the Wednesday before the event, which was scheduled to take place on the following Saturday, and we were greeted by something that as Brits we are more than used to; pouring rain. Luckily as the week progressed and the countdown to the event unfolded the weather improved a little and we were able to get out on the road to test our legs up some of the climbs which awaited us during the 312.
Rather dauntingly Saturday morning came around in no time and before we knew it we sat in the hotel restaurant at 5:30am trying to cram as much food in as possible. The 312 start time was 7am (local time) and we were staying around 10 miles away from the start.Outside the hotel it was still dark and a light rain had started to fall. As we rode to the start line there was little conversation between our group, which is not surprising given the early start and task ahead. We joined the many other groups of cyclists making what seemed to be a silent ritualistic pilgrimage to the start in Alcudia. As we approached the start the sheer size of the event really began to make itself apparent. 4500 riders had made the start line. There were people from all around the world and of many different abilities from ex Tour winners such Steven Roche and Pedro Delgado to cycling enthusiasts like ourselves. The atmosphere at the start line was electric and you soon forgot about how early in the morning it actually was.
So it began.
Rolling through the start line it was a strange feeling to think it would be nearly half a day later that we would roll across this point again. As we rode toward the first climb of the day, we made good use of the flatter roads to get a good position further up the gigantic peloton. And then the climbing began and seemed to go on forever, near enough 60 miles of climbing. We hit a good rhythm as we hit the climb and pushed on ahead others from our group. This part of the route was stunning, and with the event being closed roads it was even more fun. Taking in the full sinuous Ma-10 the route lead you over the mountainous passes around Soller all the way over to Andratx. The stunning views helped take away the fatigue for a few seconds and the slippery descents certainly made you forget about your tiredness and made you concentrate on you technique. Fuelled by a combination of excitement, nervousness and Clif bars time flew by and we had ticked off the first 100 miles. That was a big milestone for us and not bad timing as it was only 12 o clock.
The first feed station was carnage, bikes everywhere, people climbing over one another to get sandwiches, gels and any other form of sustenance on offer. We stood back and watched as the action unfolded, the atmosphere felt pretty frantic, which added a real element of stress to the ride, so we moved on. From here onwards the terrain was rolling dotted by a number of short sharp hills, which felt much longer and harder than they normally should. This year the Mallorca 312 offered 3 different route options, most of which were very similar, taking in many of the same roads, however they varied slightly in distance. There was a route of 167km, one for 232km and finally the full distance of 312km. The 167km route turned off relatively early, however the 232km route played a cruel game with you mind in that it actually finished at the same point as the 312km route would eventually finish, however it was down to you as a rider to decide whether or not you wanted to resist the temptation of turning toward the finish line or to embark on the final 80km loop. Any of the distances were a huge achievement for most riders.
Jumping between large groups of other riders, taking shelter from the wind and occasionally getting strung out on the front for way too long we approached the break point between the 232 and the 312 routes. The last 40km had been instense, feeling more like a race than an endurance event at many times. With tired legs, but all the will in the world, the 312 had to be done.
The final loop was much flatter in comparison the rest of the route, but a block headwind on the return loop held no punches. Again we tried to use the groups of other riders on the road to take shelter. As we entered back into Alcudia fans cheered all along the roadside giving a much needed energy boost to anyone still turning the pedals. Small crowds had been present along the whole route, with many of the villages embracing a carnival like atmosphere to welcome the many riders.
As we crossed the line the surreal feeling of pride and relief washed over us. We very rarely enter events like this or in fact ever ride the distance that we did on that Saturday but if you are going to spend that long on your bike that is the place to do it. Thumbs up to everyone who took part and chapeau.