ups and downs today
Bring on the climbing with a side of fear… After getting some much needed rest last night (and sleeping in until 9:24) I found my way down to breakfast where I gobbled down 3 scrambled eggs, some toast, fresh orange juice and a café con leche. My friend Oscar was arriving at 10 to ride so I needed to get ready fast…
Once out the door, it was great to catch up with Oscar (who lives in Puerto Pollensa) as we rode south to Alcudia to meet with another friend of his. Oscar assured me today would be an easy day (he rides everyday which you can in Mallorca) so I felt somewhat at ease. After becoming a threesome we headed over to sa Pobla then continued west through Buger and Moscari toward Selva. Admittedly a little tired today (as I’ve only ridden outdoors 3 times this year) I was curious what these two guys had in store for me.
We continued closer to Selva and in the back of my mind I thought “ok, we’re not going up to Lluc today” just stay calm and enjoy the flats today… Well 2 hours into our ride, I noticed we were making our way closer and closer to the base of the climb which signaled the beginning of the mountains.
Climbing from Selva to Lluc is only about 10km, it’s one of my favourite climbs in Mallorca because you’re surrounded by trees and they provide sort of a canopy so you’re out of the wind and it’s very green. The road up to Lluc consists of fresh pavement (as of this year) and numerous switchbacks that probably see about 5-7% grade. It’s a perfect climb for setting a tempo and sustaining it for the duration of the climb. Today was no exception (for the most part), kept the speed around 23km’h, heart rate pegged at 170bpm and power at 240 watts as I ascended in my 39x21. The climb levels out a bit for about a kilometer or two and then I picked it up and attacked Oscar where I held him off for a few kilometers before he attacked again and got away with about 500m to the top.
I was pleasantly surprised at how today went going up my first real climb since 2007; the body never seems to forget how to fight its way up a mountain. Going down the other side toward Pollensa however, I noticed that my descending is where I’d lost my touch. Its funny age, it does tend to slow you down a bit. We carved down the mountain’s switchbacks and I struggled to keep up with Oscar as we wound our way down to Pollensa at speeds around 60km’h. Once at home going full tilt down a mountain, today I was humbled to learn that I had become cautious and somewhat uncomfortable with the thought of running out of road going down or having my wheels slide out from underneath me as I approached corners at top speed. Fear is a bad thing. Once you have it in your head that something could or might go wrong you lose your edge.
An interesting lesson was learned today; As we approached Selva it was the climb that I “feared” the most because I thought I’d suffer like a stuck pig. Little did I know that it wasn’t the climb yet the descent that would throw me off my game and leave me feeling, well, ‘older’.
Based on today’s events and emotions, my new game plan isn’t just about seeing how fast I can haul myself up the various climbs in Mallorca rather, how fast I can descend them. I have to say, it ‘feels’ strange to have a fear of crashing enter in the equation, especially when it’s something I’ve just taken for granted (sans helmet) for years. I have to wonder if coming to Mallorca in 2010 isn’t just about riding my bike, enjoying the food, the wine, the weather and the people rather about self discovery and on a deeper subconscious level about identifying a fear, facing it(and be humbled by it), and laughing in its face. After all I’m still invincible and infallible like when I was 20 aren’t I?
So perhaps my coming metrics won’t be about maximum power output, maximum distance or maximum heart rate, rather maximum speed at which I can careen into a hairpin and slingshot out while keeping my bike and my psyche intact and a permanent smirk attached to my face. Descending is an art that requires not only balls the size of elephants and a leprechaun in your pocket, it also requires that you pick the right line, apex and have a good idea of how fast you should hit a corner and when you should be breaking so you don’t run out of road (not a good thing if only a railing separates you and a 500m drop off).
Stay tuned for upcoming stories of my dancing down switchbacks at top speed.