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Monday, May 13, 2019

April 11th: Alcudia, Pollenca, Coll de Femenia, and Tunnel Puig Major

The breakfast at Fergus was nothing short of astounding. You  had a choice of Spanish, German, English, and Mallorcan breakfasts, along with an omelette station where you could choose whatever you wanted and ask the staff to make it. I was hungry enough that I showed up 15 minutes before opening time and started eating before the restaurant opened, something I would get away with for the next several days until I was told to stop by staff members for our last 2 days at the hotel.
Rolling out of the hotel, I was so excited to get going that I forgot about the flat approach to Port de Soller that we had used the evening before and just rode up Sa Figuere, which cost us about 20 minutes. Climbing over Port de Soller, I figured that with Garmin Livetrack, Mike wouldn't have any trouble following, so I just rode on to Bunyola and Santa Maria, where I found Karsten waiting for us at the previously designated coffee shop. Soon enough, Linus Gerdemann showed up, looking every bit the ex-Pro he was. He went to fetch his bike, and Mike showed up just as everyone was about ready, having found us despite all the travails of following my track. He ordered a cup of coffee, downed it like an elixir of life, and then we were off!
My memory of rides and roads is usually pretty good, but Linus and Karsten set such a fast pace that much of the time, I couldn't do much except stay in the slipstream of their bikes at what Strava would later tell me were speeds somewhere around 20mph. A couple of times, I would dash off forward to get pictures of them from the front, which was surprisingly hard, but if I hadn't done that, all my photos would have been of their backsides. The flat country roads were fun, with cyclists coming and going in every direction: it felt like a century day, except that during centuries all cyclists would be riding in the same direction whereas this seemed like an incredibly busy day regardless.
Eventually, as we approached the coast Mike started falling off the back whenever we climbed and the pace slackened. Karsten suffered a flat, and borrowed my pump to replace the tube. I looked at it and said, "This looks like an easy patch." "Patch?" Linus asked. I just throw it away. "In that case give it to me and I'll carry it." I said. By the time we got to Pollenca, Mike was looking a bit cooked. There, we stopped at a cafe/bistro/restaurant, and I ordered an ice coffee (which turned out to be ice cream mixed in with coffee) and a sandwich, which was a mistake, since after the sandwich I felt bloated and unable to climb. Both Karsten and Linus were time-limited, so they suggested that rather than try to just do an out-and-back with them, we could just ride over Col de Femina through the tunnels back to Port de Soller. Mike looked like he could do with a shorter ride, and Karsten suggested that he attempt to take the ferry back from the bottom of Sa Calobra. "Not even Brad has done that ferry ride yet!" he declared, which intrigued me. Linus's slow leak had become annoying, and he didn't have an extra inner tube, but fortunately, they were riding with a cycle tourist today: I got out my patch kit and pump, and proceeded to patch the tube that came out of Karsten's rear wheel. "You're supposed to let it cure, but you can just put it inside the tire without inflating it, and then inflate it so the patch is right against the tire to prevent the patch from blowing off." Trading the patched tube for a newly flatted tube, we took one last picture together and parted ways.
We rode north away from Pollenca, and then the road turned west. We were immediately hit by a headwind. Mike must have been exhausted because he couldn't even stay on my wheel despite the road being largely flat. When Nadine overtook me I decided that I'd just save some energy by jumping onto her wheel and riding. Nadine was from Germany, and she'd just recovered after 2 years of occupational and physical therapy after getting hit by a car while walking down the street. "The insurance company for the driver is still paying, as I still cannot work full time," she said.
At Col de Femina, I stopped and waited for Mike. After he showed up, we rode on and discovered that despite the name, after the pass the road continued to climb towards the monastery, only granting us a descent after the intersection with Coll de sa Batalla. "We're not going to make it in time for the ferry," I told Mike. "I'd given up on that about 15 minutes ago," he replied, which meant that we could take our time at the viewpoints and take in the glorious view on a clear day. The protection from the mountains meant that we no longer felt the headwind, which was a relief.
The descent to the Sa Calobra turnoff happened in quick order, and after that it actually wasn't much climbing to the tunnel. Karsten called to check to make sure we were both OK, and while I spoke to him on the phone Mike got his second wind and caught up and passed me to the second tunnel. That was the summit, and after that it was a long descent into Port de Soller, with only a brief stop to get views of Port de Soller from the restaurant and to charge my tail-light, which had exhausted its battery.
Back at Port de Soller, we took showers, did laundry, and ate snacks until it was time for our pre-reserved dinner at the Kingfisher. Despite having reservations, the restaurant was so small that we had to eat outside. Cyclists normally don't mind eating outside, but in Spain, eating outside meant that you got free second-hand-smoke from the other diners, which took away most of the flavorful meal we otherwise might have gotten.

Between the nice sunset and the decent meal (if over-rated), we got quite satisfied. Mike had booked the massage for the next day and wasn't planning to do more than a short ride. Linus taunted me over WhatsApp with a message that said: "I don't see Sa Calobra" on your Strava!" I decided that I'd just ride over the tunnel road again, ride down Sa Calobra, ride it back up, and then make it down again in time to catch the early ferry. I tried to get Mike to consider that: "The ferry leaves at 1:45pm. You'll make it back in time for your 3:00pm massage!" He wasn't convinced, for whatever reason. If this was a point-to-point tour we would have had a problem, but since it was a fixed based tour, it wasn't as though my riding was dependent on him coming along.

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