Apr 2017 – PITB

Club Training Camp Report – “Pain in The Balearics 2017” by Jamie White.

As always winter seems to drag on for far too long and cycling is usually reserved for the brave and the foolish, so it is with great excitement that twenty five members of Tunbridge Wells Triathlon Club were counting down the days until they could gorge themselves on the pristine roads of Mallorca for their annual spring trip that has become known as “Pain in The Balearics”.

Mallorca has become the place to train for many cyclist including the Sky team and Bradley Wiggins. Mallorca has everything, alpine style hair-pinned mountain roads to the flat plains of the interior where team riding on impeccable smooth roads at a fast pace is very exciting, with very few cars too.

Friday 7th April soon arrived and we all met at the airport for the obligatory ‘full English’ and with much excitement we were off on our five day PiTB17 to Port De Pollensa, Mallorca staying at the 4* hotel Club Pollentia Resort.

Over the four years TWTC has been going to Mallorca the number of people keeps growing. It’s not until after the first day and usually in the bar that evening that someone will confess to doubting their ability, worried that they would be left behind but this is not the case, Tunbridge Wells Triathlon Club prides itself on being inclusive.

We arrived in Mallorca to glorious blue skies and warm weather and boarded the coach to Pollensa for the forty five minute transfer. We were greeted at our hotel with complimentary drinks where we checked into our rooms.

A few of us had decided not to bring our own bikes and instead hired one from the onsite bike hire centre where there is a choice of aluminium or carbon fibre framed bikes. It’s always interesting being measured for a bike at the hire centre as they use an air powered height measurer that you have to straddle and measures your inside leg, in fact Jim Bonner insisted on being measured three times!

With each year and with new people coming on tour the trip has evolved into a Triathlon training week to rival the best in Mallorca. The PiTB committee organise and schedule the routes to allow for all abilities, post the routes on Strava so that they can be downloaded onto the various Garmins and this year we had three and sometimes four different groups all following a similar route at their own pace to get the most out of the trip.

On our first day we headed out for a short ride to make sure the bikes were set up correctly and to get to know the area and each other’s riding style and ended up at the beautiful Pollensa old town for a taste of what the week had in store.

On arriving back at the hotel and whilst having a pre-dinner drink the nervousness had been replaced by smiling faces and a growing confidence that the trip was going to be good…..very good! This year once again we were blessed with blue skies and warm seas.

Everyone took our advice and booked half board at Club Pollentia Resort which has facilities that include indoor and outdoor pools, spa, gym, tennis courts, great food and drink.

Our rides vary in distance and difficulty, everyone is encouraged, helped and supported and no one is left behind. We cycled Mallorca 70.4 Ironman route stopping off at the Repsol garage for homemade cake and coffee as does every cyclist going that way and it’s a hive of activity from all nationalities all excitedly talking and swapping tales of climbs and descents. It’s a testing course for an Ironman and a race that one day I must do!

PiTB17 also included cycling to Cap de Formentor, the roads to Formentor light house are what Mallorca cycling is all about. They include testing hills, fast descents and fabulous scenery with shear drops down to turquoise sea.

The mighty Sa Calobra is a test for any cyclist and it was inspiring to see Team B being led by Carol Tsang and Simon Howden getting stuck in, enjoying it and ultimately conquering any self-doubts that may have previously existed. Sa Calobra is described as 26 hairpin bends of tarmac draped over a mountainside. It’s a category 1 climb, is 10km long and leads down to a beautiful fishing village. The overall days cycling is about 65 miles.

Most towns in Mallorca have excellent sporting facilities called “Poliesportiu Municipal” where you will typically find a swimming pool, tennis courts and football pitches. The historic town of Sineu Poliesport municipal also has a well-kept velodrome and free to use! This year everyone that came on tour cycled the flat, fast roads ‘chain ganging’ all the way! After familiarising ourselves with the unusual technique or riding a banked track we organised ourselves into a pack where everyone joined in and cycled round the circuit together with the last person over the start and finish line is out and this is repeated until the winner is declared. Everyone rode fast and well with no miss-haps to report. I believe this year’s winner was James ‘The Assassin’ Sarre.

PiTB wouldn’t be complete without a sea swim. Jude Hagger and Nick Kinsey organise and put on sea swim training in the Bay of Pollensa, Nick Kinsey is an Ironman and Kona qualifier with lots of experience in racing triathlon and lives partly in Mallorca, he calls himself Mallorcaman.

Nick organises kayaks and has helpers to guide us and marks out a course for the more experienced swimmers and he also coaches less experienced in the shallows focusing on sighting and turning. The water is clean, clear and shallow. This is a nice rest from cycling and has become one of the favourites of the trip especially as Nick takes us out for breakfast to a local café afterwards.

What did I get out of going this year? I escaped the cold English weather, I realised that Mallorca is beautiful in spring, I got a head start on my rivals for when I race and I got fitter, I enjoyed seeing the self-doubters getting stuck in and brim with confidence, I swam in the sea in April, you really can get all your kit in your hand luggage on Easyjet (if you jump on your bag) Jim discovered Hierbas and Ken MacSporran (my room-mate) is right, he doesn’t snore!……………oh, and one last thing, I once again realised never take anyone for granted as given the chance they will amaze you.