Nigel was on his third attempt and the understated pride he took in wearing the jersey from his previous attempts should have been warning enough for us lesser mortals to beware. In spite of this, a band of fools gathered. The 312 dominated the winters rides with regular 100 mile + rides scheduled, inevitably this involved no stops, brief stops & Nigel killing us.
Nigel and his partner Lucy organised a Villa for us all on the outskirts of Playa d’Muro. The band of fools collected there with the full complement achieved on the Thursday before the event. The Friday involved putting bikes together and riding enough to wake the legs up with minimal intensity. Early to bed, although little sleep. Waking between 4am – 5am, breakfast and the few miles ride in the freezing dark to the start. The masses of riders were stretched out down the road and we managed to squeeze into a spot and shivered with the masses. The time dragged up until the point that Nigel realised he had left his helmet in the villa. Just as the huge wave of riders Lucy appeared in the nick of time and Nigel suitably attired we set off.
The rest of the tale is a number of individual journeys & I can only truly account my own. I must admit that prior to the 10 days before the event I was stoical and not at all anxious, however the onset of a sore throat changed that and I then pursued any witchcraft to ward off the inevitable debilitating cold, to the point of being just ok enough on the day of the event. I set off with Patrick and Duncan, a sensible start trying to get any drafting advantage from the large groups. Duncan needed the first of many pees (it’s his age you know), this was mid climb so Patrick and I agreed he would catch us up. Patrick sped on and then it was every man for himself. The climbs through the Tramuntana mountains I felt good and was enjoying riding at my own pace. Gentleman James & his butler George passed and bid me good morning and floated up the 15% climb effortlessly, all I can do was an incoherent ‘I am knackered you Lordship’. Later I bumped into a rider we had ridden with the previous year in Italy and we rode together happily regaling tales of Duncan snoring. There were various feed stops and we pulled over just past 100 km to chaos and mothers pride and Nutella sandwiches and tins of coke and unlabelled drink stuff. I obviously did not tale enough fluids on and after about 120 km started to cramp which continued for the rest of the ride. My Italian friend was doing the 225km route and was like a little devil in my ear, tempting me to finish. Just before the junction where the routes divided I let out a cry ‘get behind me Satan’ and sprinted beyond the fork in the road. There I looked behind at the group of riders that I was with to see them all turning off leaving me on my own. I plodded on trying to manage the cramps being passed by everybody and his mate when I stopped at a feedstop, just about to depart I saw the smiley face of Duncan who then stayed with me for the remainder to the ride his own time to keep my spirits up – what a guy.
We pressed on and the last feed stop was in the town of Arta where a big-time carnival was in place. Duncan & I pulled in and had to dismount to get through the checkpoint where we were met by free beer. We later learned that Sue pulled in here thinking that she had finished. So after a couple of pints she started to question when she would get her medal, only to be told by the locals ‘when you have finished the event love’. She apparently bullied some other riders who had given up and wanted to be left there to die to carry on. She eventually caught the green spotted jerseyed ringwraiths up and politely asked if she could overtake them before her triumphant return to Playa d’Muro.
All retuned and to a man a woman vowing never again. Although as the say in Mallorca ‘Nunca digas nunca’.
Special thanks from all of us go to Lucy who organised Nigel and us with calm, kindness and bemusement. Final results below plus here is a link to a podcast from Miles Davidson of BigfootCC
Miles Davidson's Podcast Write Up