April 2: Today we planned an 80 mile ride. Of course it would rain but the weather, though cloudy, would hold until our ascent. One of the really special characteristics of Marrorca is the feeling of endless rolling hills. It really gives one a chance to warm up and enjoy fast pace riding which is a thrill. We finally arrived at the foothills of (need to get the name) and the green sign announced a 4.5 km hill at 6.5% grade. In fact, the island has now marked the beginning of all the challenging hills with the length and average percent grade. As we started to ascend, it started to rain. Of course, I was prepared by have my raincoat in my pocket. I did not want to stop to put it on (and I am still scared to ride my new bike without hands – something I used to do for longer periods of time when I was a child) so as the rain started to pour I could feel the cold shower on my back. I was working so hard I did not feel chilled. My body warmth overpowered the cool rain. The switchbacks this time were in a pine forest. The clouds drifting across the road. The rain increased in intensity along with the change in temperature. Every turn I said to myself “this is the last one”, but it wouldn’t be. It just continued turn after turn. There were spiritual stops along the way made for pilgrams. I just continued on. Then there was a stone prayer chaple. Again, I continued on. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a large stone structure looming in the distance above the trees. That must be the place. It was still a ways to go. Sure enough, I came upon the structure shrouded in mist at the peek of the mountain (really a large hill? Over 500 meters – not sure what that would be called). Dismounted and entering the large hall I had this feeling of accomplishment that comes uniquely from doing something that should be physically impossible. It felt great. Changing into dry clothes we ate in a simple coffee shop and I ordered hot chocolate. I realize that is so much more enjoyable than coffee. What a treat.
The descent was very wet and treacherous. Yes, I rode the brakes a lot. I had not interest in going off the hill and I don’t trust my reflexes yet. Just not there yet. But the clouds cleared and I stopped to take pictures of the vistas and the hilltop. I will share them when I unload the camera.
The ride back had two interesting events. The first was that fact that I took point for the first leg back. Strong wind in our face. I am riding with Richard who is really strong. I feel insecure with the bike. Not used to the wheels in the wind. After about 5 miles (not sure and could have been more), we make a turn and I lose the pack. I am bone tired. I did not realize how much that wind knocked me out. I caught up to Peter who also feel away from the pack and the two of us drafted each other – what I had learned from Fred. It worked and it allowed me to rest before taking point. After that we caught up to the pack and we rode like beasts. It was unbelievable. At least 25 mph and at times maybe more. The feeling of being in the pack and riding in the draft was empowering.
I got back to the room and felt totally exhausted. Stood in the shower and just let the hot water run over me. I then fell asleep and woke up for dinner. Need to go back to sleep. Tomorrow is the BIG day.
This was about 5.5 hours and 80 miles.