Saturday, 14 March 2009


Port de Pollenca harbour
This time last week I was sitting in the sunshine next to the harbour in Port de Pollenca with a cold beer in my hand. I'd just finished the final ride on my 5 day cycling holiday/training camp to Majorca - a 25mile out and back from the hotel to the lighthouse on the north eastern tip of the island. It turned out to be one of the toughest rides of the week; an undulating coastal road on a rough surface complete with a pitch black tunnel carved out of the rock that sent your eyes funny and has made more than one person lose their balance!
Mmm, coastal road riding

Rewind back to arrival day on Tuesday and I'd picked up my hire bike from one of the many bike shops that have sprung up over the island in the last decade. I'd gone for one of the T-Mobile Giant aluminium road bikes. The rest of the day was spent drinking in the hotel bar.

Wednesday was a wet start - not entirely what I was expecting. I'd been promised warm sunshine and perfect riding conditions, leaving the bitterly cold British winter behind to get some decent mileage in. We'd been told by the bike shop guys that usually the weather was better inland so we should take that option if the weather was bad. Half an hour later it had stopped raining but was still chilly and didn't brighten up all day.

Paul is familiar with the island so was playing guide to our merry band of 7 - Ickle Paul, Big Dave, Big Kev, Ickle Kev, Gaynor, Sally and me. My job for the week was just to hang onto the back of everyone else for as long as possible - I had mixed results but was pleased overall with my performance considering the distinct lack of bike riding I've done this year. I even managed some bursts of speed on the hills (I never knew Majorca was quite so hilly!) and a wee bit of time-trialling shenanigans.

So, four good days of riding and actually feeling like I've done beneficial riding. Evenings were spent stuffing our faces at the hotel buffet trying desperately to replenish some of the thousands of extra calories I was burning every day by riding at ridiculous speeds into headwinds with people far fitter than I. All in all a most enjoyable holiday and a superb way to get fit.
Hairpins behind the Cap de Formentor

Day 1: 6 hours, 90 miles, 5000kcal
Day 2: 3h11m, 43 miles, 2400kcal, max hr 180bpm.
Day 3: 4h45m, 80 miles, 4000kcal, max hr 180bpm.
Day 4: 2 hours, 25 miles, 1400kcal.

Total for the week: 16 hours, 240 miles. (And my friends say my idea of a holiday is different to theirs - can't possibly imagine how...) More photos available on my flickr gallery as per usual.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Happy (Belated) St David's Day!

Okay, so I'm a week late, but due to my cultural ignorance (and the fact there aren't hundreds of Welsh people pub crawling around London on their national day unlike SOME nationalities, thank god) I wouldn't have realised if it hadn't been for a jovial young walker shouting it to me across a windy hillside last weekend.

Crickhowell town from the Beacons Way I'd decided to pop down to the Crickhowell Walking Festival to drop off some leaflets for the Slick 'n Knobbly Cycling Festival. A three hour drive on a Sunday morning after a night shift is never a brilliant idea but I arrived in the morning sunshine feeling rather spritely. My target for the day was Pen Cerrig-calch at a mere 701m, dropping down back to Crickhowell via Table Mountain. Every time I've been to Glanusk Estate I've seen the Darren Crag looming high on the hillside and I couldn't resist it any longer - I was there, it was there. Why not?

Wild ponies on Pen Cerrig-calch I decided on the indirect route starting at the Information Centre heading out west on the Beacons Way, then going off track turning straight up the hill to the west of the rocky out crop and skirting round to the saddle to join up with the path again. The ponies on the ridge were a nice surprise. The wind wasn't, nor was the exposure. Even though the sun was shining and the sky was blue, snow still lay in hollows on the northern slopes and the biting wind reminded me it was still only March.

North east from the trig point Finally I reached the trig point and time for a quick self-timed snap. Then a sharp exit south east to get out of the wind, heading straight for Table Mountain with Sugar Loaf as the oh so familiar landmark in the distance (that one's for another day). Three hours and 8 miles or so later I was back in town, content with my first solo jaunt into the hills in many years. I need to do some more of that. Excellent training for my Summer epic on Offa's Dyke with Tony though - can't wait!

Grwyne Fawr dam Monday was similar with a gentle 4 mile wander on one of the Festival's organised walks around Grwyne Fawr reservoir with another 20 or so walkers. For £4 we had a guided walk up along one of the old railway lines to the dam and back down the other side, with a brief history lesson at the start about the navvys who lived in the temporary village, the railway lines and the building of the dam. All making for a rather pleasant Monday.

More photos available on my flickr page.