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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

April 13th: Coastal Loop

Having been rested by doing only half a day of riding the day before, I was now ready to tackle the coastal loop, with a projected 80 miles and 8000' of climbing, it would promised to be challenging but had a reputation for being very pretty.

Mike's massage had made him a new man, but he wasn't ready to tackle as long a ride, so he decided he would come along until Coll d'en Claret, after which he would continue on to return via Bunyola and Col de Soller via a shorter loop through Esporles. At the Valdemossa intersection, a woman cyclist came along, and I would leap frog with her for the rest of the day, but she stopped and happily took a picture for the two of us.
The ride was beyond pretty, passing through gorgeous Spanish hill towns, teasing me continously with views of the Mediterranean through the trees, and even at one point, a coffee shop, where Kate (a school teacher from England on her spring break) and I traded photos for each other. On days with this much sun, I'd be worried about getting hot if I dallied this long, stopping here, taking a photo there, but the last 2 days taught me that it didn't matter --- even at 2:00pm Mallorca never really got too hot.

Hordes of cyclists were coming by the other way as the day progressed. Many of them had taken the Bike Shuttle from Pollenca to Andratx, and were riding back the other way (the round trip would otherwise be a double century!), and once again the road took on the festivities of a century ride. There was surprisingly little car traffic, though Karsten had said to me the night before that on Sundays the very same roads would turn into an exhibition of motorcycles.

Past the hill town of Estellences, which was as pretty as any place you could imagine, the road turned south and started up a climb. There were many minor passes that were clearly marked along the road before, but  I didn't even bother to stop for those. This climb wasn't substantial either, but it marked a high point of the ride, and the descent into Andratx after that was short. At the first roundabout I asked some other cyclists which way pointed in the direction I was heading, and they told me I needed to take the very first exit. "You're going back to Port de Soller the long way!" Well, I had all day and there's no point getting back too early anyway.

The little road leading to esCapdella was nice, and at the intersection that was signed for Galilea there was a grocery store. I walked in, bought a banana, a bottle of water, and a cake, scarfed everything down, refilled my bottles, and looked up just in time to see Kate show up. I gave her the rest of my water and we rode separately after that, since her car was parked near Esporles and I had a long way to go.
The ride into Esporles went through Puigpunyent, and once again I was enveloped in full cycling culture/century atmosphere. Cyclists were everywhere, and in one case, they even rode 4 abreast on a narrow road, posing a threat to other cyclists more than the cars were, which were few and infrequent. This was especially the case when I was climbing and the cyclists going the other way had just crested the hill and were racing down at speed.
I got to Esporles later in the day and by the time I got to the intersection with Port de Soller I was flagging. "Hey there!" said a familiar voice. It was Linus, who'd come by on his own ride. In my current state, I couldn't even consider keeping up with him, but he got a nice picture of me.

The climb over Col de Soller and ride back to the hotel was done in a state of fugue, and I don't even remember what I had for dinner that evening. I was still enthusiastic enough about riding, however, that I remembered that Linus told me that the steepest grade on the island was the Sobremunt climb.. I wanted to do it with fresh legs, so walked over to the car rental company at the end of town and reserved a car for the next morning.

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