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Mallorca 2023: The Magnificent Seven Ride Again

In April 23, a small group of Velocians headed out to Mallorca to have a bash at the M312. After a few days of dusting the ol’ legs off, the big day arrived. An obscenely early start with the alarm bleeping at 3:30am, this band of warriors and warrioress, pulled on kit, rammed in some carbs, and headed off at 5am to the start in Alcudia.

Rolling through the crowds to try and regroup as a Team, we got separated, but had a plan to regroup after the start. The sight of 8,000 like-minded loonies of all nationalities, all bunched up for the mass start is a breath-taking sight. 6:30am and the count down came, and we were off. A beautiful roll out along the Badia de Pollenca watching the sunrise, before the main business of the day; climbing. Lots and lots of climbing.

First up, the Coll de Femenia. Climbing alongside so many cyclists, with different speeds and abilities is a challenge. We regrouped as a Team; a Magnificent Seven on the hill and settled in. Weather was perfect. Not too hot, and too cold, not too lumpy [no wait, that was the porridge], and no wind. The field started to stretch out a bit before the first water station at the Gorg Blau reservoir. The first hints of chaos to come!

We too started to separate but formed small groups up the last section of the main climb of the day, through the Túnel de Monnáber, and then whoooosh; a 14km descent to Sóller.

A light rain shower didn’t dampen the spirits but made the roads a little greasy. “Don’t touch the White Lines” came the call and we all descended through Deià safely. But then the HEAT came. The sun came out, and the temperature rose, as climb after climb came along the road to Banyalbufar, and the first solid food station. From this point onwards, things got challenging for everyone. Water is supplied from water trucks but the pressure to the taps was sporadic. A 30-minute mass scrum to fill bottles and then grab some inedible food at the hottest part of the day took its toll on me personally, and straight after, I started to get detached.

The coastline to Andratx is one of the highlights of the event, with amazing views along the rugged sea-cliffs and stunning little villages, but the climbs just keep on coming and I finally waved bye-bye to my buddies as they powered away. Realising then that I did not have the form to complete the 312, I quickly decided to knock it back and contend myself with the 225km route.

After Andratx, three more testing climbs come, and the heat really started to kick in. Riders began to drop like flies, some seeking shade, others just grinding it out. Knowing I was at the back of the group, I was surprised to see Steve “resting” at the side of the road, nursing a knee injury after an Off on a previous descent. We were both suffering with cramp badly but joined forces and pushed through the pain barrier. The final climb, Coll es Grau was done-n-dusted and we stopped for supplies in a shop in Esporles, where we were joined by Paul, who I thought was way up the road. Its no surprise the oldest of the Team were wrapped and dispatched by the Youth, and we pushed on knowing the chances of hitting the cut off for the 312 were long gone.

Three Salty Soldiers working together through the flat lanes, we rallied and started to catch and collect small groups until a reasonable peloton had formed behind. Assistance from the hangers on was not forthcoming and we were grateful when we latched on to a very large group moving at a nice social pace, martialled by a local Mallorca Team. A Bimble through the reed beds outside Alcudia and then on to the main strip to the finish. But we came from a different direction to previous years and needed a chaotic U-Turn where a rather irate martial stopped us, as the Elites doing the 312 came into view. A short delay, a tired manoeuvre and in Top Gear stylee, Across the Line. Fist pumps, hugs and muchos relief to have survived, the three Old Crummblies headed back to Port de Pollenca for beer and giggles expecting to see the Young Guns triumphant on completion of the full distance. But sadly, they too missed the cut off time, which was brutally adhered too, despite delays to the start and the chaotic feed stations.

The plan was for one member of the Team to do the 167, one to do the 225, and the rest the full distance. Despite missing the cut, we all did amazingly well, given the conditions on the day, health issues, and general lack of form (that’s me BTW). A fantastic day…but never again! Probably……

Thanks to Gareth for creating this great account of the event.

You can watch some of the event here. Thanks to Phil #slamoncycling for capturing and creating this short movie.

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