Guest post from Roxy Bike Mallorca:
Evening guys and girls I thought I’d give you a little inspiration for a summer adventure. How about grabbing your mountain bike and heading to Mallorca? Interested? read on….
Mallorca is a beautiful island in the Mediterranean Sea, a 2 hour 10 minute flight from London.
It has stunning beaches, beautiful hinterland charm and amazing hiking and mountain biking trails, with a mild and biking-friendly climate all year round.
Although the entire island is great for mountain biking, you can find the largest variety of rideable terrain is in the Eastern part of Mallorca, which is near Artá, Cala Millor and Son Servera. There are many single tracks, a nature reserve with a great selection of rideable trails and gorgeous coastal tracks in this region.
Mountain Biking in Mallorca is legal, however there are no legally built single tracks with berms or jumps, as 90% of the island is in private hands.
Mallorca’s hidden single tracks are best found by hiring a local guide who can show you the best spots without too much road riding and getting lost.
CaMi-Bike, where you may rent super high-quality bikes and book guided rides in different levels.
The owner is a young lady named Roxy, who has been living in Mallorca for 9 years and has specialised in Mountain Bike Events, private coaching and group skills courses and also offers private guiding for groups. You may contact her via Instagram: Roxybike_mallorca or on Facebook.
Mallorca is a hidden gem for mountain biking with absolutely amazing single tracks, gorgeous views and mostly great weather. If you are looking for the perfect family bike & beach combo holiday destination, Mallorca is a the choice!
In 2016 a couple of friends had completed the first ever Alps Epic, having followed their progress I decided this was the event for me in 2017, so when I noticed the early bird offer of €500 I entered straight away.
The Alps Epic is a pairs event but I hadn’t even thought that far ahead yet and just entered with a plan to sort the partner bit out later.
After posting on Facebook that I had entered I got a message from a friend who I had been riding with a while with a local club and within an hour he had entered as well and that was the partner issue sorted.
The next few months didn’t really go to plan with training and I will be the first to admit that I wasn’t anywhere near as well prepared as I could have been.
Jump forward to June and after a full day at work the car was packed up and off we headed to Dover to get a 10pm ferry to France, I then drove through the night until we reached a town called La Plange which was around a 4-hour drive from the race start, we had 2 nights here before then driving down to the start town of Montgenvre.
One of the first things we noticed was how cold it was at 1800m plus above sea level where we were staying which got me concerned as I didn’t really have any warm clothing with me except a Gillet and a waterproof top, so on route to Montgenvre we stopped off in Val D’isere and I managed to get myself a warm top.
The sights on route driving through the Alps were amazing and the #cantcopythealps is very fitting, for anyone that has never been it should be a must on your list of places to visit.
We arrived in Montgenvre and found our accommodation for the night, this night was €50 for the night and included food as well which was perfect so no hassle as this would be where we would stay for the next 3 nights.
We completed our registration and collected our packs and numbers.
Stage 1 was a short Prologue stage and didn’t start till the afternoon, I found this really tough, a combination of the altitude and heat, yes after all my concern a couple of days earlier of it being cold, it wasn’t it was really warm, mid to high 30’s every day.
After finishing stage one I noticed my chest felt tight, I thought nothing of it as it had happened before and I had been told by the doctor that it was probably just a cramp and nothing to worry about, it settled within mins so I thought nothing of it.
The next day was the first proper stage, loop back to Montgenerve of 61 Km and 2750m of climbing starting with a 7km climb.
All started off well and we got into a good rhythm on the climb until James chain snapped, after quickly fitting a power link we carried on and soon reached the first feed station, we didn’t take much as both still had a fair amount in our camel backs and there was another feed station in 20Km, so off we went onto the next climb before our first taste of the proper descents, tight switch back after tight switch back.
We passed through the time cut off point and started the climb to the next feed station, this is where I really began struggle and noticed I had the route sweeper and medic for company on an Ebike.
I pushed on to the feed station and by the time I made it there I was not in a good way, I sat down in the shade and took on some fluids and food as the medic checked me over before telling me I needed a drip as I was very dehydrated.
They called down to race HQ and another medic arrived and took over, allowing him to carry on following the route, James also carried on and finished the stage.
Meanwhile I had a drip put in at the feed station and was taken back down to the race finish in a 4×4.
At Race HQ I was given a once over by the event doctor and ate his salted crisps before being given the okay to carry on the next day.
The next day the plan was a different one and I took 3 litres of Torq Energy in my camel back and 2 x 750ml of Hypotonic drink in a bottle, by the first feed station a lot of this was gone, we filled everything back up and carried on. Unfortunately, we missed the cut off by a matter of minutes at the next feed station and couldn’t carry on the stage.
Day 4 was a much better day and we started well, apart from forgetting my gloves which led to some sunburn on the backs of my hands. We settled into a long climb at the start and the descents again were incredible and like nothing I have ridden before, this included a full on bucking bronco moment at 30mph that I somehow managed to keep hold of. The 29er carbon Hardtail was defiantly not the bike of choice for this event. We completed stage 4 in 7 hours 40 minutes.
Unfortunately, I was still struggling with getting my breath and even walking upstairs or a slight slope was hard work let alone riding a bike for 7-8 hours, I was also bringing up all kinds of funky stuff when I coughed! So, after a chat with James and the event doctor I decided to miss stage 5 and see how I felt after that.
So, I spent day 5 helping the organisers with laundry and whatever else I could do to help, unfortunately I was still not feeling any better for stage 6 so I sat it out and let James ride with a couple of guys from Oxfordshire with a team name of the Gnarly Nutters.
I was gutted to have missed the finish of the event but sometimes you just know something isn’t right.
The after party was great with lots of free beer and a huge BBQ. The food and hospitality throughout the event was incredible and everything was taken care of from your laundry to your bike.
At the end of every stage you racked your bike, it was then taken and washed before getting a once over from the team of mechanics before being taken to the over night secure storage area, all you had to do was check your tyre pressures and lube the chain and away you go again.
There was also massages at the end of the stage all included in the price and a huge buffet of food to refuel you along with an evening meal and huge and varied breakfast every day.
Everything was thought of and done for you, all you had to do was ride your bike, eat, sleep and repeat.
On returning from the event I visited my GP and was given an Inhaler and have since been diagnosed with exercise induced Asthma.
This is defiantly an event that I will be coming back to again maybe as a mixed pair with an eye on a podium.
I have learnt so much from this event and hopefully it will all help me in my next challenge.
Next year I am taking on the Transpyr solo, but I’m not making the same mistakes again. I was nowhere near well enough prepared physically and the work on that has already started with the help of my new coach and Mountain Bike Stage Race and Marathon Racing legend, Sally Bigham, who is really starting to put me through my paces and will have me in the best shape I can be in come June 2018.
I have also changed bikes and I’m now on a Santa Cruz Tallboy 2 full Suss with dropperpost as opposed to a Cube carbon hardtail 29er.
Camping and Mountaineering
Winter riding doesn’t have to be a frosty affair it can be good fun and very beautiful especially if you are prepared.
“If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail”
My advice would be look at what rides / training you want / need to do then head to trusty (or not so) BBC weather forecast and look at the week ahead this will help you plan longer rides on days when the weather is better and shorter sessions in the rain.
One thing to mention on this is that if you’re doing sprints, wet / icy weather and slippery roads are not a good combo so be ready to change your session accordingly if you can be flexible in your training around the weather and expect that, it will rain, you will get wet and it may be cold for the first 5 minutes until you warm up then riding will be enjoyable.
It is true what they say there is never the wrong weather just the wrong gear.
My top kit list would be:
- Grip Grab overshoes – warm and dry feet make riding in wet and cold weather so much more comfortable. Make sure you buy a size that hugs your shoes I recommend The Hammerhead, it is a warm and waterproof coated neoprene winter shoe cover. Designed and tested to keep your feet warm and dry in wet and cold weather conditions.
- Altura Night Vision Evo jacket this versatile jacket is labelled for ‘commuting’ however I love mine for every occasion it’s great for training the big vents on the sides give adequate breathability whilst knowing I have the waterproof and high visibility factors Altura say: The Night Vision Evo features lightweight, waterproof, windproof and breathable fabrics in a soft touch 2 Layer Altura Shield™ EVO fabric, which help to keep you both dry and warm on your rides. You then have the benefit of critically positioned reflective details and an ingenious integrated i-Lume™ rear flashing light to ensure you are easily seen. With the addition of NV360° performance you have 360 degrees of reflectivity for maximum after dark visibility from all angles.
- The cloudburst glove from Grip Grab is waterproof and windproof glove, like slipping your hands into hot water bottle covers whilst you ride with a soft fleece lining. The OutDry® Waterproof and Breathable membrane makes the Cloudburst gloves that will serve you well as an all-round high-end glove.
Riding through winter tips:
- Early mornings are stunning wake up and get out before the sun rises and watch it come up also a bonus around Christmas is seeing everyone’s Christmas lights!
- Put a little warm water in your bottles if riding in freezing conditions to stop it freezing.
- Get your kit on the radiator ready to go!
- Check your tyre pressure riding in a lot of mud – decrease the air in your tyres to help with grip
- Get a good pair of lights, ideally helmet and handle bar Exposure lights are fantastic but pricey for a cheaper option search amazing from 1000 lumen lights
- Invest in thermal underwear and a good rain / windproof
- Let people know where you’re going and how long you will be out
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Our first ever Glamping adventure!
This one was no exception, on Friday night Lauren, Stu, Martyn, myself and the dogs drove to Wales for a spot of Glamping.
Glamping is a form of ‘glamorous camping’ which combines the luxury of a warm cosy night’s sleep in a real bed (usually) with the element of adventure in the outdoors.
We stayed at Bryn Betws Lodge in Afan Forest Park in ‘glamping’ pods which were little wooden huts with blow up beds, lighting, electric and that was about it! I have never been ‘glamping’ before and it was nice to arrive in the dark and not have to worry about fiddling with tent poles by torch light.
The pods were very basic and camping equipment like stove, plates/bowls, sleeping bags and pillows were needed. It was nice to have lights and electric two things I have learnt to deal without camping.
Glamping in Wales
The pods had benches and chairs where we ate breakfast and admired the views.
Saturday morning was drizzly but this didn’t detract from the beauty of the Welsh valley, a medley of green and grey rolling hills. After a somewhat leisurely start to the day we headed up the forest tracks with the dogs in search of a good pub. Now the keen eyed of you probably noticed I said ‘up’ and yes I thought I had seen a sign for a village going up the side of this hill, after a while it became apparent I was wrong.
Retracing our steps the rain cleared slowly as we walked down into the village below.
Since having a dog Martyn and I have tried to take Luna (the dog) to as many places as possible, finding dog friendly pubs in Wales proved to be a challenge over the course of the weekend, one that I am sure other dog owners can appreciate. (If you know of any good dog friendly pubs in Wales please comment below and I will add links to these for others!)
Arriving back at our pods, the hot and now damp weather had whipped the midges into a frenzy so we re-treated inside to play Linkee (a camping essential). I was just about to ‘win’ a letter K when there was a knock at the pod door. A smart gentleman stood with a bottle of prosecco in his hands and we were invited to a wedding! It turned out an episode of Don’t Tell the Bride had been filmed and the groom (prosecco in hand) said we were welcome to join the party.
Fast forward a few hours and we were the only four people on the dance floor. Sunday morning brought some sore heads and mountain biking was put on hold until the afternoon.
We spent most of Sunday exploring the beaches around the Gower Peninsula (Swansea end) I have never been to this part of Wales and the rocky cliffs stretched up for miles towards the peninsular from Swansea bay.
The dogs loved the beach and we had soon lost or broken several tennis balls in their enthusiasm to run and chase them down.
By the time we got back to the pods the beach air and walking had created 4 tired humans and two tired puppies!
Monday was our last day in Wales and it came with another slightly random surprise as we opened the pod doors three donkeys were chilling out in our camp area. The donkeys were keen to get to know the dogs, it’s safe to say this was not a mutual friendship!
Packing the cars we headed to Afan Trail Centre where Martyn and Stu hired bikes. This was Stu’s second time on a mountain bike and the plan was a ‘gentle’ loop of Y Wal. Y Wal is a swooping 24km mainly singletrack loop where the descents and the views are both breath-taking. It is a red graded trail which, according to the guide book, boasts some of the best singletrack in the UK and I must say after riding it I agree. We climbed fire road and more technical singletrack climbs, rode along exposed ridge lines and weaved our way through the forest. It was exhilarating.