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Friday, May 17, 2019

April 15th: Col d Honor and Col de sa Batalla

 I started the day climbing over Col de Soller again. At this point, I'd climbed over every method out of Port de Soller at least twice, which was disconcerting to me as I'd never done that much duplication on a tour before.

Thus it was that when I got to Bunyola and spotted the climb over Col d'Honor I was excited. The road was a one lane road wide enough for just one car in most places, and none of the festive "century ride" crowding I'd seen on previous days. I wasn't unhappy, as getting the road all to myself was a nice change.

Once on the descent, I rode through many lonely little towns and passed many farming villages, including meadows, until I got close to Lloseta, where once again I encountered large groups of cyclists on the roads. Certainly much more than any car traffic I'd seen so far in Spain. In the beautiful hill town of Selva, I stopped at a supermarket, bought a bottle of water, a banana, and a local sweet from a young woman, which would have been remarkable throughout the rest of Europe, since usually the big cities suck up all the young people from the rural countryside. I loaded up my water bottles and shared the rest with a group of cyclists from England, and then proceeded to climb up Col de sa Batalla.
I was astounded by how many cyclists were on the road, but since this road was also used by car tourists, I was even more astounded by how patiently each car would wait behind a group of cyclists until it was safe to pass. There were no signs of impatience and road rage, which was both remarkable and a pleasant change from USA cycling. The ride felt like a convention of international cyclists, with folks from the Scandinavian countries, Germany (of course), England, Finland, and even Switzerland and Canada. The Europeans in most cases were repeat visitors, coming here to escape rotten weather in their home countries.
Once over the pass, I rode down to the Sa Calobra intersection, and kept going up to the tunnel road, where the number of cyclists dropped dramatically. I met a group of Canadians, who told me that one of them had suffered a bike breakage during the airline transit. "It looked like someone dropped another heavy object onto the padded bike case." The carbon frame had snapped in 2, and though the replacement cost of the bike was $10,000 the airline depreciated it $2,000 for being 4 years old and the cyclists was forced to rent.

On arrival in Soller, I ran into Mike who was already ready to start packing his bike. I got myself settled in, grab all the gear I wanted to stick in the bike box, and went down to join him. It took a good hour to pack, with a significant amount of time getting the bike box to close snugly, and then we were ready. I asked the reception to organize a taxi ride to the airport for early the next morning. "Piaw, how are you going to do without breakfast!" said Mike. "I'll just buy stuff in the markets at dinner time and scarf it down in the room."

We had dinner at El Sabor, bought food for the next morning, and then packed everything in our carryons as best as we  could, since the next morning would be a 6:00am pickup. I took one last night shot of Port de Soller from our balcony.
I reflected on how prescient Brad was: 6 days was just enough, and not too much. Cap de Formentor would have been nice (and perhaps we should have done that on our car rental day instead of Sobremont). Mike was pretty sure his wife would ask him to take her back, and I was looking forward to switching locations.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

April 14th: Es Verger/Sobremunt

I was now getting up hungry every day, but today, the hotel told me to stay out of the dining area until 7:30. Fortunately, today was going to start by renting a car and driving, so we could take our time and eat. OK, I didn't mean that. We scarf'd down our food the minute the dining area opened, got our bikes out, and arrived at the rental car station at 8:00 right when they opened.
It had been a couple of years since I drove stick shift, but it was longer than that for Mike, so I was elected to drive. We drove out of Port de Soller, through the car only tunnel, and over to Esporles, something that didn't take more than 20 minutes. From there, Mike would finish the second half of the coastal loop which he didn't do the day before, while I'd try to find Es Verger. I was concerned that the entrance of the road from the south side would be tough to find, so I decided I'd do it from Esporles, descend the south side, and climb it back up again.

It took a lot of thrashing about, riding on dirt roads and so forth, before I realized that any signpost that said "Cami" is to be ignored. It was basically pointing at a private residence. This insight eventually got me to the top, whereupon any signposts disappeared. I repeatedly brought out my phone to examine Google maps, and eventually decided that the gate I was in front of must be the right one. The dirt road looked kind of rideable though it soon degenerated into rocks, but the views opened up and I had a nice view from my height. When the dirt road ended, there was a locked fence, which I proceeded to then lift my bike over, and then stepped over.
At this point, I was probably trespassing but no one was about, and I soon found pavement and descended it, observing occasional cyclists that looked like this was the steepest hill they'd ever ridden up.
At the bottom, I found the tiny sign that indicated the road, and turned around and climbed it. While it's comparable to Bohlman-On Orbit-Bohlman in Saratoga, in practice it doesn't go up as high, and so wasn't as much of a gut buster. But now that I'd found the pavement it was a simple matter to discover the summit, where I found that the signs were oriented in such a way that I couldn't see them from Esporles. It looked like one of the signs had fallen off indeed.
I rode back down and completed to loop back to Esporles, where I managed to have a bowl of Spaghetti and cake before Mike showed up. We drove back to Port de Soller, but discovered that the parking lot where the we were supposed to leave the car was full and the person who was running the rental shop had gone, leaving a sign saying he'd be back at 6:00pm. We circled around and I finally squeezed the car into a tiny spot, and then we left the keys at the dropbox and rode back to the hotel, observing that the town was now completely swamped with tourists.

While removing the bike from the car, I discovered that I'd broken a water bottle cage. It had been on one bike or another since at least 2005, so it had served a long life, but I was still a bit discouraged at having to pay the European price of 15 Euros for something you could get from Amazon for $5. Nevertheless, the bike shop in Port de Soller was easily the hardest working bike shop I'd ever seen in Europe --- opened whenever we rode out at 8:00am, and still open even at 6:00pm on a Sunday. They definitely earned their money, and replaced the bolts as well as the cage for the price.

We were both too hungry to wait for a late dinner, so found a tapas place open called El Sabor. The food was excellent, and so good that we'd return the next night.
It finally dawned on me that the next day was our last day of riding. I had several passes I wanted to check off my list: Col d' Honor, Col de sa Batalla. I decided tomorrow would be a good day to tackle them all and still have time to pack my bike. Linus tried to convince us to do Cap de Formentor, and if we'd known about it earlier that day we might have gone and done it, but as it was I didn't want to do another day of driving if I could help it!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

April 13th: Coastal Loop

Having been rested by doing only half a day of riding the day before, I was now ready to tackle the coastal loop, with a projected 80 miles and 8000' of climbing, it would promised to be challenging but had a reputation for being very pretty.

Mike's massage had made him a new man, but he wasn't ready to tackle as long a ride, so he decided he would come along until Coll d'en Claret, after which he would continue on to return via Bunyola and Col de Soller via a shorter loop through Esporles. At the Valdemossa intersection, a woman cyclist came along, and I would leap frog with her for the rest of the day, but she stopped and happily took a picture for the two of us.
The ride was beyond pretty, passing through gorgeous Spanish hill towns, teasing me continously with views of the Mediterranean through the trees, and even at one point, a coffee shop, where Kate (a school teacher from England on her spring break) and I traded photos for each other. On days with this much sun, I'd be worried about getting hot if I dallied this long, stopping here, taking a photo there, but the last 2 days taught me that it didn't matter --- even at 2:00pm Mallorca never really got too hot.

Hordes of cyclists were coming by the other way as the day progressed. Many of them had taken the Bike Shuttle from Pollenca to Andratx, and were riding back the other way (the round trip would otherwise be a double century!), and once again the road took on the festivities of a century ride. There was surprisingly little car traffic, though Karsten had said to me the night before that on Sundays the very same roads would turn into an exhibition of motorcycles.

Past the hill town of Estellences, which was as pretty as any place you could imagine, the road turned south and started up a climb. There were many minor passes that were clearly marked along the road before, but  I didn't even bother to stop for those. This climb wasn't substantial either, but it marked a high point of the ride, and the descent into Andratx after that was short. At the first roundabout I asked some other cyclists which way pointed in the direction I was heading, and they told me I needed to take the very first exit. "You're going back to Port de Soller the long way!" Well, I had all day and there's no point getting back too early anyway.

The little road leading to esCapdella was nice, and at the intersection that was signed for Galilea there was a grocery store. I walked in, bought a banana, a bottle of water, and a cake, scarfed everything down, refilled my bottles, and looked up just in time to see Kate show up. I gave her the rest of my water and we rode separately after that, since her car was parked near Esporles and I had a long way to go.
The ride into Esporles went through Puigpunyent, and once again I was enveloped in full cycling culture/century atmosphere. Cyclists were everywhere, and in one case, they even rode 4 abreast on a narrow road, posing a threat to other cyclists more than the cars were, which were few and infrequent. This was especially the case when I was climbing and the cyclists going the other way had just crested the hill and were racing down at speed.
I got to Esporles later in the day and by the time I got to the intersection with Port de Soller I was flagging. "Hey there!" said a familiar voice. It was Linus, who'd come by on his own ride. In my current state, I couldn't even consider keeping up with him, but he got a nice picture of me.

The climb over Col de Soller and ride back to the hotel was done in a state of fugue, and I don't even remember what I had for dinner that evening. I was still enthusiastic enough about riding, however, that I remembered that Linus told me that the steepest grade on the island was the Sobremunt climb.. I wanted to do it with fresh legs, so walked over to the car rental company at the end of town and reserved a car for the next morning.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

April 12th: Sa Calobra

 I woke up in the middle of the night again and had a tough time going back to sleep, something I attributed to alcohol. I'd avoid alcohol for the rest of my stay in Mallorca for this reason.

All the forecasts for rain had proven wrong so far, so I ignored the clouds and rode out of Port de Soller the easy way for a change so that I would know how to do it. The climb up to Puig Major was a steady 6% grade, and easy to do in the middle chainring. I reflected on how much easier it was to ride an unloaded bike on tour.
Down below, there was some smoke, reflecting that on an island the easiest way to get rid of garbage was to burn it, but unfortunately that also came with some smell, something we would repeatedly have to breathe every time we rode out of Soller.
At the Sa Calobra intersection, I headed up to Coll dels Reis faced with the clouds which weren't apparent when I left this morning. The descent alternated between sun and clouds until I got near the bottom when it became sunny.
The road was dramatic and beautiful, providing swooping S-curves all along its 5.86 mile length. I stopped a few times to take pictures on the descent before realizing that I was going to climb it, and climbing is a much better time to take pictures than descents, because staring at the scenery while descending was likely to cause me to crash.
Nevertheless, on the narrow canyon-like section I couldn't resist shooting a selfie --- it looked so cool! And at the bottom at the official start, I turned around and climbed back up. The climb was fun, though nothing exceeded 10%, and this time I had time to take better pictures.
The day was starting to become busy, and I saw a car drive through the narrow section at speed, narrowly missing a cyclist coming the other way on the one-lane canyon. Most drivers on Mallorca were polite, but there's always some tourist who rents a fancy car and then has to push it, not mindful of everyone else who's sharing the road.
The second time around, I rode all the way to the bottom (and later turned around and climbed up again so that I could say I'd done everything), and confirmed with the information office that there would be a ferry at 1:45pm. I still had time, so I could lock my bike and walk through to the beach via the tunnel. The Mediterranean looked an un-earthly shade of blue, and I enjoyed the views very much. The water was still cold, however, and no one bothered to even try to swim while I was there.

I decided against getting any snacks, figuring that I'd be able to get something once I was back in Port de Soller. This turned out to be a good thing, since when the ferry showed up, it did something insane that I'd never seen before. Rather than dock abeam to the ferry terminal, it docked bow first, deployed a gang plank, and then, with a crew member stabilizing the dock end of the gang plank, had the passengers disembark or embark on the gang plank! The video doesn't give you a sense of how jerky the gang plank could be, especially if you were wearing cycling shoes. I had SPDs and made it a cross while lifting my bike high up in the air, but the folks who were wearing road-style cleats had to take off their shoes first, or had the crew members deal with their bike.
The way back was a bit of a rough ride as well, but I got to see the coastline of the island where no roads went, which made for good viewing. It was spectacular how rugged the island was, and we had a good time. When I got back to the hotel, Mike was getting his massage. I got some snack, got showered and laundry, and then asked Mike if he wanted to go to Linus' restaurant in Deia for food. He was amenable to that idea, so I asked Linus for a reservation.
Linus had mentioned that his chef was from Singapore, and sure enough, when she showed up, I asked her if that last item on the menu was "Mee Pok" and she confirmed it! Of course I had to have it, not having had decent Mee Pok for at least 10 years! Karsten showed up with both his young boys, who demonstrated how much better behaved German kids can be than American kids, and Linus as well.
We tried and failed to pay for dinner, and I was once again humbled by how gracious Linus and Karsten were as hosts to strangers they'd only met just a couple of days ago. We would tried to make plans to ride again together but circumstances intervened and we were never able to do so before we had to leave Mallorca.

Monday, May 13, 2019

April 11th: Alcudia, Pollenca, Coll de Femenia, and Tunnel Puig Major

The breakfast at Fergus was nothing short of astounding. You  had a choice of Spanish, German, English, and Mallorcan breakfasts, along with an omelette station where you could choose whatever you wanted and ask the staff to make it. I was hungry enough that I showed up 15 minutes before opening time and started eating before the restaurant opened, something I would get away with for the next several days until I was told to stop by staff members for our last 2 days at the hotel.
Rolling out of the hotel, I was so excited to get going that I forgot about the flat approach to Port de Soller that we had used the evening before and just rode up Sa Figuere, which cost us about 20 minutes. Climbing over Port de Soller, I figured that with Garmin Livetrack, Mike wouldn't have any trouble following, so I just rode on to Bunyola and Santa Maria, where I found Karsten waiting for us at the previously designated coffee shop. Soon enough, Linus Gerdemann showed up, looking every bit the ex-Pro he was. He went to fetch his bike, and Mike showed up just as everyone was about ready, having found us despite all the travails of following my track. He ordered a cup of coffee, downed it like an elixir of life, and then we were off!
My memory of rides and roads is usually pretty good, but Linus and Karsten set such a fast pace that much of the time, I couldn't do much except stay in the slipstream of their bikes at what Strava would later tell me were speeds somewhere around 20mph. A couple of times, I would dash off forward to get pictures of them from the front, which was surprisingly hard, but if I hadn't done that, all my photos would have been of their backsides. The flat country roads were fun, with cyclists coming and going in every direction: it felt like a century day, except that during centuries all cyclists would be riding in the same direction whereas this seemed like an incredibly busy day regardless.
Eventually, as we approached the coast Mike started falling off the back whenever we climbed and the pace slackened. Karsten suffered a flat, and borrowed my pump to replace the tube. I looked at it and said, "This looks like an easy patch." "Patch?" Linus asked. I just throw it away. "In that case give it to me and I'll carry it." I said. By the time we got to Pollenca, Mike was looking a bit cooked. There, we stopped at a cafe/bistro/restaurant, and I ordered an ice coffee (which turned out to be ice cream mixed in with coffee) and a sandwich, which was a mistake, since after the sandwich I felt bloated and unable to climb. Both Karsten and Linus were time-limited, so they suggested that rather than try to just do an out-and-back with them, we could just ride over Col de Femina through the tunnels back to Port de Soller. Mike looked like he could do with a shorter ride, and Karsten suggested that he attempt to take the ferry back from the bottom of Sa Calobra. "Not even Brad has done that ferry ride yet!" he declared, which intrigued me. Linus's slow leak had become annoying, and he didn't have an extra inner tube, but fortunately, they were riding with a cycle tourist today: I got out my patch kit and pump, and proceeded to patch the tube that came out of Karsten's rear wheel. "You're supposed to let it cure, but you can just put it inside the tire without inflating it, and then inflate it so the patch is right against the tire to prevent the patch from blowing off." Trading the patched tube for a newly flatted tube, we took one last picture together and parted ways.
We rode north away from Pollenca, and then the road turned west. We were immediately hit by a headwind. Mike must have been exhausted because he couldn't even stay on my wheel despite the road being largely flat. When Nadine overtook me I decided that I'd just save some energy by jumping onto her wheel and riding. Nadine was from Germany, and she'd just recovered after 2 years of occupational and physical therapy after getting hit by a car while walking down the street. "The insurance company for the driver is still paying, as I still cannot work full time," she said.
At Col de Femina, I stopped and waited for Mike. After he showed up, we rode on and discovered that despite the name, after the pass the road continued to climb towards the monastery, only granting us a descent after the intersection with Coll de sa Batalla. "We're not going to make it in time for the ferry," I told Mike. "I'd given up on that about 15 minutes ago," he replied, which meant that we could take our time at the viewpoints and take in the glorious view on a clear day. The protection from the mountains meant that we no longer felt the headwind, which was a relief.
The descent to the Sa Calobra turnoff happened in quick order, and after that it actually wasn't much climbing to the tunnel. Karsten called to check to make sure we were both OK, and while I spoke to him on the phone Mike got his second wind and caught up and passed me to the second tunnel. That was the summit, and after that it was a long descent into Port de Soller, with only a brief stop to get views of Port de Soller from the restaurant and to charge my tail-light, which had exhausted its battery.
Back at Port de Soller, we took showers, did laundry, and ate snacks until it was time for our pre-reserved dinner at the Kingfisher. Despite having reservations, the restaurant was so small that we had to eat outside. Cyclists normally don't mind eating outside, but in Spain, eating outside meant that you got free second-hand-smoke from the other diners, which took away most of the flavorful meal we otherwise might have gotten.

Between the nice sunset and the decent meal (if over-rated), we got quite satisfied. Mike had booked the massage for the next day and wasn't planning to do more than a short ride. Linus taunted me over WhatsApp with a message that said: "I don't see Sa Calobra" on your Strava!" I decided that I'd just ride over the tunnel road again, ride down Sa Calobra, ride it back up, and then make it down again in time to catch the early ferry. I tried to get Mike to consider that: "The ferry leaves at 1:45pm. You'll make it back in time for your 3:00pm massage!" He wasn't convinced, for whatever reason. If this was a point-to-point tour we would have had a problem, but since it was a fixed based tour, it wasn't as though my riding was dependent on him coming along.

Friday, May 10, 2019

April 10th: The Easy Deia Loop

Prior to the trip, one of Brad’s friends, Karsten, in an act of unselfish generosity had said that he would pick us up at the airport. We were touched and brought him some chocolate from home hoping that it would serve as a gesture of thanks for his hospitality.

After the prior night’s rain, we looked at the forecast for Mallorca and saw that rain was in the offing.  From the airplane, the weather looked quite forbidding! Indeed, when we picked up the bike boxes at the Mallorca airport, we noted that they were wet. Karsten texted us where to meet him, and by the time we got out of the airport it was cool but no longer rainy. Karsten met us nearly instantly, finding us, since we looked rather lost. We somehow managed to get all the bike boxes and our carry-on into his car, whereupon he immediately texted Linus to say that his car wasn’t needed as well.

Along the way to Soller, he told us about the various roads as well as the rights of cyclists on the road: “You have all the rights of a car, including riding side by side on the road. Some of the tourists will freak out but most of the locals understand this.” My jaw dropped upon hearing this,  but indeed, over the next few days we’d see cyclists riding 2-up, 3-up, or even 4-up, in some cases posing more danger to cyclists going the other way than car drivers were!

Karsten and Linus were offering to ride with us, and of course we accepted, knowing that the good roads in the area could only be known  by the locals. He showed us the various meeting spots that we might end up using, and then pulled into Port de Soller. “We  have to park here, since to go further only taxis are allowed!” He led us down the block to the hotel, whose entrance was cleverly concealed behind the façade of a restaurant. There he bade us farewell and said that he’d be in touch via WhatsApp about riding together!

The Fergus Style Soller Beach was right on the beach, and when we talked to the reception they said our room wasn’t going to be ready until 3pm. “No problem,” we said, “We’ll put together our bikes and go for a ride until then!” The staff then led us to the room  used for organizing laundry and sheets, whereupon we took apart our bike boxes and assembled the bike, taking extra time as we were still jet-lagged but excited about riding in Mallorca.

But first we had to satisfy our hungry stomachs. Down the street from where Karsten had dropped us off was a restaurant, where we ordered a few tapas, which took some time to serve. We would find out later, that most Spanish restaurants don’t actually fire up the kitchen until later in the afternoon.

I’d laid out an easy first day’s route, riding up to Deia, and then curling back around to climb Col de Soller. I figured out that the way out was the way Karsten drove us in, but of course, I’d forgotten that Karsten used the car-only tunnel! But right next to the exit to the tunnel which said “No bikes”, was a road marked “Sa Figuera”. It looked nice and small, and it was marked on my Fenix 5X, so I opted to ride it. One problem with the Garmin GPS’s is that their marked routes when you choose to follow a pre-laid course had no direction markers, so you never know whether  you’re riding in the direction you’d planned. I also discovered to my dismay that while I thought I’d loaded all of Spain onto my Fenix 5X, the maps were invalid, and my screen was blank except for the GPS track on it. But hey, one of the reasons to pick Soller were that there was only a few roads out, so off we went.

Sa Figuera turned out to be a beautiful single lane road that led out to the highway that would lead to Pollenca, and at the top, Mike’s GPS, which had all the maps correctly loaded told me to turn right, and we did, whereupon my GPS picked out the route to Deia, and we started climbing with grand views of Soller gradually developing until we turned the corner and saw the Mediterranean in all its glory, with the sun out and storm clouds no longer with us! “This might be the most beautiful ride I’ve ever been on!” declared Mike.  We rolled along the hills and went down to the descend to Valledemossa, whereupon I felt a tugging to turn right and do an 80 mile day right then, but it was already mid-afternoon and I knew we did not have time.

So we headed towards Bunyola following signs for Santa Maria, and stopped at the coffee shop that Karsten had pointed out to us. You might think you have coffee shop gatherings for cyclists where you live, but there are so many cyclists on Mallorca, that the coffee shops are forced to implement bike parking on a century-ride scale. Nearly every restaurant or coffee shop that serves cyclists (or is in a cycling area) will have one or more bike parking stands similar to what you'd see on a century ride.

Suitably refreshed, we started up Col de Soller a 1600 climb at a steady 5% grade. Once there, it was a straight and easy descent to Port de Soller, where we discovered that the official bikeable road was signed and led us down along the beach street, which was now filled with tourists. The cleverly hotel façade once again fooled us into riding past the hotel, but we found it, retrieved the bike garage keys, parked the bikes, and then had our room keys and luggage ready.

One of the things I discovered that was unusual about Spain was that frequently, hotels would give you a better deal than if you went directly to their web-site. Usually tries to enforce “lowest pricing” but Spanish hotels regularly violate this rule, giving you discounts, or a longer free cancellation window. In our case, booking directly with the Fergus hotel got us free breakfast for the same price, and we were treated to a room upgrade to a room with a hot tub and balcony. We only used the hot tub a few times, but the balcony had a clothes line rack, and lots of convenient places to hang clothes hangers to dry our laundry!

Another perk the Fergus had was a swimming pool, and I was told that it was closed at 6:00pm, so I hurriedly got changed, put down a towel deposit, went to the swimming pool and jumped in only to discover to my dismay that the swimming pool wasn’t heated! 10 minutes of swimming was enough for me to discover that my teeth chattering was giving me more exercise than the swimming so I hurriedly went back up and got into the hot shower.

Karsten recommend Es Passeig for dinner, and the place Mike wanted to go to was fully booked that night, while Es Passeig was willing to serve us, so off we went. Dinner was excellent, and we had great food. Karsten said the he and Linus would meet us in Santa Maria at 11:00 but I suggested 10:30 since we were jet-lagged and would get up early anyway!

Mike and I couldn’t believe our luck. Not only had we picked a hotel with glorious views in a near idyllic setting, but Brad had set us up with friends who’d show us the local roads! And if the food was anything to go by, we were going to have an awesome time. We took our melatonin pills hoping that we could stay asleep till dawn this time.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

April 8-9: Prologue

Due to a confluence of health, work, and other personal events, I was suddenly able to take a trip in April or May. Both months are too early for a tour of the Alps, where the passes would still be under snow, but I remembered that Brad Silverberg had posted a year ago about his repeated trips to Mallorca and how it was a mecca for cycling in April. I’d been to Spain before on my tour across France, where our frequent crossings in the Pyrenees had led me to believe that Spain would be a terrible place to cycle tour, as hotels and restaurants kept particularly cycling unfriendly hours.

Brad assured me that this would not be so in Mallorca, and that a week would be sufficient time for me to do the kind of riding I enjoyed on the island. A one week trip is too little time once you take into account jet-lag, but a little bit of research indicated that Girona was also a good destination for cycling, and easily accessible by train from Barcelona. Even better, Norweigian was offering $390 flights to Barcelona from Oakland on those particular dates (depart April 8th, return April 25th), which even with the hefty bike fee of $80 each way, still came out to a reasonable price for a direct flight.

Negotiations with my usual touring companions came up short, as everyone had plans of one kind or another, or misgivings about their physical condition after a horribly rainy winter in California. Mike Sojka, however, who had done a qualifying pigeon point trip way back before Bowen was born, decided to come along. Once plane tickets were made, I made a flurry of reservations, for flights to and from Mallorca (the ferry was theoretically an attractive proposition but would take 9 hours in transit!), and hotels in Girona, Barcelona, and Port de Soller on Mallorca.

Despite my preference for point-to-point tours, Mallorca as an island was small enough that there was no point in carrying luggage on the bike. Girona looked like it had enough riding that I didn’t have to carry luggage there either, and remember my previous bad experiences trying to get lodging without reservations in Spain, I decided that it was more prudent to do a fixed base tour. Mike said that the fact that it was a fixed-based tour made it easier for him to decide to come: it meant that on days when I wanted to do a more aggressive ride or harder ride he could simply opt out and do his own thing.

Thus it was that on April 8th, Mike showed up at my house with his car carrying his bike, and packed up the bike. Our super shuttle to the airport showed up uncharacteristically late, and I would regret not asking for a much earlier pick up time. The super shuttle scheduling recommendation was set up to work for San Francisco but would prove to be too optimistic for Oakland. Nevertheless, we arrived 2 hours ahead of departure and still had time to buy food for the flight. Norweigian, being a cut rate airline, didn’t provide much in the way of amenities, food, or even water, but did provide “Bohemian Rhapsody” as a movie to watch, so I watched it and enjoyed it as entertainment. (As documented elsewhere, the movie has lots of factual inaccuracies that mean that you can’t take it seriously as a biopic)

Upon arrival in Barcelona on the 9th, we were pleasantly surprised to find our bike boxes waiting for us right after we cleared passport control. We found the hotel shuttle pickup for the Best Western Barcelona Airport, and promptly checked in and asked for the earliest shuttle the next morning, knowing that jet-lag would get  us up early enough to catch the 8:00am RyanAir flight.

That night, walking out to get food, we got rained on as a thunderstorm hit town. We discussed getting a taxi or taking a bus, but my the time the taxi app had installed on my phone, the rain had died down a bit and we opted to just walk back in the rain.

We tried as hard as we could to sleep, but I nevertheless still woke up at 3:30am unable to sleep again. We ate the breakfast we’d bought the night before, packed everything up, and headed for the airport.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Index: 2019 Mallorca and Girona fixed based tour

From April 9th to April 25th, Mike Sojka and I conducted two fixed based tours, each 6 days long in Mallorca and Girona, separated by a 2 night rest period to explore Barcelona. It being a fixed based tour, we didn't do all the rides together. Excluding the e-bike tour of Barcelona which was of no metabolic significance, I totaled 659 miles of cycling with 56,431 feet of elevation gained. While I suffered no mechanicals, Mike had one flat tire during the trip. This is the index page day by day trip report (for the cycling days) as well as links to the photos and various equipment reviews.

Trip Photos
With Linus Gerdemann and Karsten Boehrs
Day by Day Report

Equipment Reviews