The boys returned from a successful trip to Majorca to ride the iconic 312 Gran Fondo, known to be one of, if not the, hardest Gran Fondo (sportive) in the world.
A superbly organised event with three routes, the longest being 312 kms (195 miles) of closed roads and over 8000 cyclists taking part. A crack(ed) squad from the North Wirral Velo had spent a day or two acclimatising on the island before the big event. Would the months (or in OB’s case weeks) of hard training pay off for the intrepid seven that had entered?
After a 5am start the lads rode the 6 miles to the start line from Puerto Pollenca to line up with the 8000 others. It was a cool morning but things soon hotted up when the flag dropped and 15 minutes later the boys got to cross the start and ride off in the largest peleton they had experienced.
Extra layers were soon discarded as the heat of the day rose and they settled into the first climb (of 19). It was a 6 miles jaunt up the Coll de Femenia. The pace on this climb was largely dictated by the huge peleton and so a very steady speed was set. Once the first p*ss stop of the day (first of 27 for Pete) was out of the way the ride resumed without much flat in the first 100 miles.
The food stops were like bun fights (but with sandwiches in paper bags and energy gels) and it was a battle to get bottles filled. However, the boys were all glad for the longer stop each time. As the day progressed, the lads got split up with hardcore 4 of Mike H, Chris R, Ian L and OB all moving away from the other 3 of Pete C, Col P and Shaun M.
After 3 more stops and 140 miles OB got into a fast moving group and left the rest of the club behind. After another 35 miles, OB had slipped into a Zwift-esque racing trance and tanked along unable to communicate verbally. He briefly came round at Arta, the last stop, 20 miles from the finish, where free beer was on offer. An offer that was rinsed by Mike, Chris and Ian some 20 minutes later.
Meanwhile Shaun had been passed by the pace markers and was forced down the 225km route due to missing the cut off time. He was disappointed but now has a goal for the next year! Meanwhile Pete and Col also went down the 225km route.
At the finish, OB was just outside the 12 hours mark with the other 3 just inside the 12hrs 30 min mark. After another 6 mile ride back to Puerto Pollenca, food and beer were very much in demand all round.
All in all a fantastic achievement and a tremendous experience for all. On to the next challenge…?