So as the last push in our training for the Mallorca 312, we headed to Calpe in Spain in search of miles, hills and good weather. And wow did it deliver! Our decision to go to Calpe was mostly based on this amazing article by Cycling Tips.
Our aim before we left was 500km and 10,000 of climbing – in the end we did most of that in one day! Our total came out at 600km and over 13,500m of climbing. An absolute record breaker for me, that’s for sure.
Alongside some excellent rides with the rest of my family, my cycling partner-in-crime and I set off on a 200km ‘hilly’ ride, again based on the route the Cycling Tips boys used. We left the villa as the sun came up, and everyone piled out of bed to see us off. As the sun rose we flew through Calpe and Altea along the busiest section of road. Once through Altea we turned to the hills, and started climbing. Pretty soon we left the busy roads behind us, and we were on our own.
We had maybe underestimated how much climbing was involved in the day, and up the first big climb of the day the Puerto de Tudons (15km @ 5% no less!) gave us a taste for what we had let ourselves in for, but we were blissfully ignorant at this point in the morning.
We made good time, climbing and descending well (there wasn’t much flat!). Further and further into the mountains we headed, there were no cars, no other cyclists, no other people. Just two girls and their bikes, at times it was eery and so quiet (except from my creaky cleat!) After a quick pit-stop at Guadalest, we carried on. It was decided that we would stop for lunch at Tarbena, which was 9km uphill, on the climb all I could think about was the ham and cheese sandwich I would be having at the top. But alas, the only restaurant open wouldn’t serve us, so we had a squashed cake from our pockets and carried on. This would be theme for the rest of the day!
The scenery was amazing and it felt like a real privilege to be able to cycle to these amazing places. It was like our own private closed road events, not a car in sight! As we climbed up and swooped down mountains together, I couldn’t help but smile, this is what cycling is about, freedom, friendship and yes, going fast! All was going well until we ran out of water, not a problem we thought, we could see a village on the Garmin, we’ll stop there…
Firstly, why are Spanish towns always built on hills?! It was exhausting/frustrating pedalling up through each town looking for water, or a shop or cafe, or anything at all! But these villages were like ghost towns, just nothing. Luckily we found a municipal fountain at one village, and then later bought a small cafe’s full stock of lemon ice tea between us! This just about kept us going, and it was a good job we had packed our pockets well as there was certainly no food to be had. Although we didn’t get stressed or angry about this, it did waste a lot of time, when we could have been making good progress. This was compounded by some dodgy choices of roads when route planning, the Garmin seemed intent on taking us on the Cyclocross Tour of Spain!
You would think that at this point, we would be getting pretty cross with each other, but no, we just giggled and carried on cycling!! And once you were on the move the scenery took over any problems as you gawped around you, it made me feel insignificant. We passed countless hours this way, pedalling uphill, touring a ghost village, carrying on. Until we finally saw the sea again!
The descent from the top of Val D’Ebbo to Peggo has to be one of the best descents I’ve ever done, it was everything you want, good vision, excellent hairpins followed by some swooping straights. At the bottom we had a small (premature) celebration, thinking (wrongly) that now it was flat all the way home! Oh no, how wrong we were! We instantly turned away from the sea and started climbing again!!
At this point I thought I would feel miserable and tired, but all the trudging through the English winter had prepared me well, and my legs carried on pedalling. After a few final last pulls uphill we finally reached Parcent and Xalo, we knew we were on the way home! And we would finish in the light, having made excellent time. This spurred us on and we raced home for a celebratory champagne as we watched the sun set.
So that’s 210km and 5,500m of climbing with a good average speed ticked off. Bring on Mallorca!!!