Anybody who takes on a massive sporting challenge will empathise with the anxiety you feel the night before in trying to get to sleep with the alarm set at some ridiculous time. For me taking on the Mallorca 312 it was 3:30 am! It was not the best night’s sleep as I remembered dreaming about my bike being stolen at the startline while I was having a wee!
This yearly pilgrimage starts with a short ride from the hotel to queue up at 4:30 with the other 8000 cyclists taking on the challenge just to get into the starting pens to queue again! This bit always reminds me of herding sheep as we enter our pens!
Not having the most robust bladder I always struggle at this point trying to position myself to the edge of the pens. This allows me to nip over the barrier and help water a nearby tree but this year I had a different tactic. I successfully managed to wee into a spare bottle that I had with me without any of the 8000 noticing!
Once the gun goes off it is always a fast and furious start with groups thinking they are riding a short road race rather than 312km. The first climb was nice and steady for me and being slightly heavier than most I always get overtaken but quite a few. This year Shaun Kelly the Irish former professional road bicycle racer came past me but he seemed to have his hand caught up with a motorbike support rider. I’ll let him off!
After feeling good and things going well for the first 160km things started to turn. I could do the “I was on for a sub 11 hour” quote but as I always say you are never on for anything until the finish line! Struggling to eat and drink due to feeling sick was only going to end badly at this point in the race with the temperatures rising! I carried on taking the smallest sips of fluid and biting the heads off the Haribo bears to make them more manageable to eat!
With my energy levels depleted and getting slower I did not think things could get any worse and then got overtaken by a Planet X EC-130 in Illuminous green!
Making it to the 312 cut-off with plenty of time I decided to carry on in the hope things would start to feel better soon. Turning right for an extra 90km when you are only a few kilometres from the finish line is tough enough this year it was even tougher. Hitting the headwind as I turned I knew I was in for a very lonely and tough end to the event.
By this point, I was suffering from cramps due to the lack of fluid and the VMO muscle on my right leg looked like something from the exorcist as it was trying to be released from under my skin!
Arriving at Ariany, the second from the last feed station, I had to just get off and sit for a moment. At this station, they have a number of children running around helping to see if you need anything. A young Spanish/Mexican boy approached me with a small man bag on and bent down. He just unzipped the bag slightly and said sheepishly is there anything you need as he looked at the bag. At this point, I would have taken any illegal substance that would have got me home but as he unzipped it further it just revealed more 226ERs energy gels!
The home straight…
Onto the next and last stop at Arta. This is the party feed station where you can have free beer! Normally I don’t hang about as I would be going for a time but this year I thought I might just stay there. But even the idea of free beer was doing nothing for me! I had a little coke and rolled on to the finish line just relieved to finish!
Not my best effort but you cannot win them all! It is still a great event with amazing support! I will be back!!