Sunday 28 November 2010

Vuelta a Menorca

I had heard of this event when the organiser, Arturo Sintes Lluch told me about it last year at the Quebrantahuesos cyclosportive in Spain.

This year, as they were celebrating 10 years of the running of the event and giving it a bit of fanfare with the presence of Spanish Tour de France winners I decided to go.
With my club mates, Charlotte and Dyanne we made the trip over to Mahon for a weekend of racing around this Balearic island. It was a really fun weekend and we got to meet the guests of honour - Carlos Sastre (2008 Tour de France winner), Pedro Delgado (1998 Tour de France winner) and Jose Luis "Chechu" Rubiera (from Lance Armstrong's Team RadioShack).

We didn't actually do as much hard core racing as I might have anticipated, but in fact the ride was done at a fairly manageable pace that was set by the lead car, and the peloton was kept together. If riders were dropped off the back the car stopped for people to regroup, though that didn't happen much.

Stage 1 was a 113km ride from Mahon to Ciutadella and back, taking in towns of Es Mercadal and Alaior. Stage 2 was shorter, but was the main race where we raced up the highest peak on the Island, Monte Toro. Although it's not that high, 358m the height gain over the 3.5km is pretty significant so there are a number of 16% gradient ramps along the way - pretty tough work!
What really made this weekend for me was the whole social element. People were very friendly, with or without the language barrier. The pros were very amiable and approachable and were willing to chat about their racing days quite readily. I went to a mini Q&A session with all of the riders and they had a few funny stories to tell.
We made a few more friends - notably Gema from Madrid, and Patrick from Cycling Weekly magazine. Also, it was great to be somewhere in late October where the weather was warm and you didn't have to worry about taking your coat!

The final day consisted of a prize giving, where Dyanne, Charlotte and myself were presented with a prize for the "most friendly team"! I'm not sure what made us more friendly than anyone else, but it was very flattering all the same. I definitely recommend this for a pleasant end of season cycling weekend away.

Photos by Elena Gomila Pons

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