Report Courtesy of our Peripatetic Veterinarian Mr Huge Suffering.
Another year, another tour. After 12 months in the making,we set off once again for the Tramuntana Mountains in the north of Majorca. This is a beautiful area with lots of options for long days in the mountains. The physical and mental demands endured by the participating athletes in preparation for such a trip can take a heavy toll. Indeed, not all can take the pressure,and we should start by remembering absent friends who simply dropped away, citing ‘family reasons’ as their ageing bodies fell apart.
Luckily, just like the Ulster Rugby squad we have strength in depth, and 1st reserve Michael Morrow stepped up to join the team. However the probationer nearly overstepped the mark by the second day. He had manoeuvred his way up from assistant treasurer to treasurer and then on to challenge for chairman. This may have been of concern to Eddie, but looked like a result to the rest of us as he could’nt count anyway . Eddie had his own battles to fight as he locked horns with Diarmuid for KOM . The two turbo diesel units had a quiet first day in the mountains.
By day two, both men had warmed up and were pumping out the watts in rare form. However the undisputed king of the mountains by road, trail or rock face was Leslie ( i really can’t think of any other reason to wear that pink top, unless it was a bet ) Starting from our base in Puerta Soller, we departed from previous custom and had two great days on the road bikes,This was a bit of a novelty, there may be the odd road bike in the back of some garages but nobody admitted to actually riding one. The hire bikes were good quality Treks with some of us lucky enough to have carbon framed loveliness.We were well led by the man with the map (Dermy) on Thursday. It was a slow start with punctures, coffee stops and orange juice, but a big day out in the mountains ( 100 kms ), finishing with a 15 km descent off the top of Puig Major down endless switchbacks and long straights at 50 to 60 kph. It truly was a deadly buzz ! On the second day a climb over Col de Soller started things off, then on to Valldemosa and down the VERY steep switchbacks to the beach at Cala Deia. At least two of the tourists skidded out of control to the wrong side of oncoming cars ! The thought of the climb back from the seaside nearly ( but not quite! ) put some off their lunch and some missed out on the swim, such was their trepidation over the torturous climb ahead.
Day three and back on familiar ground, Seamus led us for a day on the mountain bikes -up goat tracks and down the endless steps and terracing that make up the hillsides around Fornalutx. We were supplied with a mixture of 26 and 29 inch bikes which was interesting, my first time on a 29er and i quite liked it !
Strangely a certain apprehension befell the tourists on Saturday evening. Big D wanted to hire a bike for Sunday, Paul wanted to go for a walk, Eddie suggested the Torrent de Pareis again, indeed anything other than rockclimbing. The mood deepened at the foot of the cliff on Sunday morning. there was a lot of concentration to get knots right and check belay bits and bobs. Justin the Guide laid the initial words of advice, and then as we progressed to the more difficult lines, Eddie took control and was quick to proffer advice especially to those stuck on the sticky bits.It turned out to be a right good days’ crack and an unexpectedly deadly buzz.Everybody achieved their climbs but as the rest of us clung on for dear life, only Gene had the panache to turn and wave to the crowd. Paul Stewart missed last year’s tour and duly lost the ‘King of Cool’ title to the debonair Macauley who assumes this role with an easy swagger. However, from the outset we sensed an uneasy air as the two great silverbacks squared up. ‘Hey Stringfellow, where’s your ponytail?’ quipped Stewart. ‘Go dye your eyebrows to match your solar paneled topee’ retorted Clooney’s cousin. Which one has the x factor? Which one is the housewife’s choice ? After four days of intense rivalry these questions will have to remain unanswered for another year.
From your correspondent in Puerta Soller, that just about wraps it up for another year. Don’t forget, training for next year’s tour starts now !