Ready, Freddie?

May 16, 2016 § 14 Comments

Here are some travel tips when you take your bike trip to Mallorca. Not if.

  1. Don’t stay in the hostel bunk beds your last night. You are adaptable but not enough to bed down with 15 strangers, ten of whom are thieves and five of whom had beans for dinner.
  2. Rent your bike. There are Canyon, Pinarello, and Specialized shops. It won’t be as good as your bike at home but after the first ten minutes you won’t care. And you won’t be taking any of Fabian’s KOM’s regardless.
  3. Rent your bike at least six months in advance. The high end bikes are all rented up for April and May; as soon as a rental is returned it’s on the road the next day. Don’t dally, and tell the shop you want new tires and a new chain and a clean bike.
  4. Pack light, then cut your luggage in half. You’re now ready to begin packing. One medium-sized backpack and nothing more. Spain has these incredible machines that wash and dry dirty clothes, and huge markets (indoors!) that sell clothing, food, bicycles, and such.
  5. Okay, you’ve ignored #2 because, wanker. Make sure you have two (two) hours between connections or your bicycle may not make the transfer even if you do. You are going to feel stupid being on a bike vacation sans bike with nothing to wear but bibs.
  6. Travel with people you adore because by the end you will only tolerate them, especially if they blog about how they dropped you. Daily. If you travel with people you tolerate at best, by trip’s end there will be a warrant out for your arrest or theirs.
  7. Study Spanish for at least six months before you go. This will guarantee that everyone speaks to you in perfect English.
  8. Learn basic greetings in Norswanish because Norwegians, Swedes, and Danes are everywhere and it’s important to tell people how much they suck in their own language as you drop them like a boulder in a roadrunner cartoon.
  9. If you have special dietary needs you will be designated as a “pain in the ass,” or PITA. Learn how to say “gluten free,” “nothing with a face,” “I drink my own urine,” etc. in Spanish so your waiter can understand what it is he’s going to ignore.
  10. Bring a rain jacket. Bring a long-sleeve jersey. Bring two (two) undershirts, two (two) kits, two (two) pairs of socks, and one (one) pair of armwarmers. The weather varies from cool to perfect in May; think SoCal with showers. Hoodie, sweater, and cap required for apres-flail.
  11. Do not plan to sharpen your descending skills in Mallorca; plan to fully use those you have. Cars, bikes, hairpins, and sometimes wet hairpins require caution. You’ll improve simply by riding safely. The temptation to charge the descents will get you hurt or killed which is okay but none of your pals wants a body bag as their checked luggage. “Anything to declare?” “Just this corpse,” is a bad ending to any holiday.
  12. Make Day 1 a short, easy day. We did 30 miles and it was perfect.
  13. Front load your hardest couple of days. It’s easy to bite off more than you can chew so don’t do more than three hard days without a rest day. You want to finish the trip feeling great and hungry for more, not worn out like an old shoe.
  14. Eat a big breakfast every day. Twice. Eat a big lunch. Eat a big dinner. This isn’t a fat farm and if you don’t stay fueled you will collapse by trip’s end. Weight gain on the trip is much better than weight loss; the time to slim down is before the trip, not during. Plus, you will be a total buzzkill if you’re gnawing an oat after a 100-mile beatdown while everyone else is having whipped cream on their fatty pork strips.
  15. Decide what kind of trip you want. A hammerfest is very different from combining leisure with cycling. If photos and plenty of stops along the way are important to you, don’t travel with a bunch of cannibals who ate granny for dinner. This means you, Tony.
  16. Bring a GoPro if you want to document the ride and spend months editing and cataloguing a week’s worth of cycling. Even if you hate Strava, it’s worth recording these rides. #248 out of 13,000 isn’t bad!
  17. Get a big data plan. If you use AT&T, whose international plans suck, buy a phone and a data plan in Mallorca. It’s cheap and worth it, especially if you’re not going to have access to dependable Wi-Fi.
  18. Make sure you have access to dependable Wi-Fi.
  19. Check your passport. It must be valid for 90 days beyond your departure date, Jonathan.
  20. Schedule an extra day at the end for sightseeing and, if you must to say you did, bunking with thieves and serial farters. You miss a lot only cycling (but infinitely more only caging).
  21. You’ll get exponentially more out of Mallorca if you’re fit. Your training should include lots of climbing and a month out you should put in five consecutive 5-6 hour days and not feel destroyed. This is an amazing enough experience to train for a year in advance. You don’t have to, but why not? We had one member who simply couldn’t do the climbs and it was sad because he really missed out and he knew it.
  22. Along with the Spanish you won’t use, study the geography and scout all the famous routes on Strava. Twenty hours of map study isn’t too much. You’ll enjoy it exponentially more understanding where you are rather than blindly following. The island is so small you can master it quickly, yet it’s fantastically easy to get lost because no roads are straight, yet it’s impossible to stay lost because, tiny island. Also, knowledge is 9/10 of climbing because if you don’t know what’s ahead you won’t know how to meter your efforts.
  23. My preference is to ride early. If you prefer late starts or more loosey-goosey launch times like Joe Yule, make sure your group does, too. Nothing ruins a ride like Mr. Punctuality among relaxed cyclists, or a Johnny Come Late among pointy-sharpers.
  24. Life in general, and Mallorca in particular, is a terrible place to be a critic. The weather, being weather, is unpredictable. This is why you brought a rain jacket and purchased an all-weather smile at Wal-Mart. Food is really only perfect when you are humble, so since that ain’t happening because YOU ARE ROADIE, HEAR ME ROAR, just eat what you’re served, move on, and remember that this is an epic bike trip requiring food, not an epicurean trip requiring a bike.
  25. Coffee is everywhere, better than anything served in the U.S., and no one cares if you sit at a table for two hours taking micro-hits from an espresso cup, so for dog’s sake, do it.
  26. Don’t mix and match. I took binoculars and a field guide hoping to sneak in some birdwatching, but guess what? When you get your legs torn off the only bird you want to see is a chicken, and he’d better be cooked. Mallorca is so good and the cycling so challenging that you’ll have your hands full with ride, eat, sleep, repeat.
  27. Take this trip. You are old and tomorrow you might be dead. A German guy I met named Elmer was in Mallorca doing his seventh Ironman; this was his third after a heart transplant, which makes him the only person on earth whose body has done seven Ironmans but whose heart has only done three. Elmer’s 44 years old and not waiting for “later.” Neither should you.

END

All you need is love

May 14, 2016 § 19 Comments

Giant German guy with intricate tattoos on his gymbuilt arms, big swollen things that are too bound to hold a guitar or play a piano or maybe even tie his shoes, face masked with fierce terminator wraparounds and a gorgeous young mom at his elbow, the beer starting to kick in and the toddler on his left starts to cry.

He turns that assassin’s face and uncorks hands massive shovels and scoops up the infant who’s dared to spoil his sunshine and Mediterranean view of the billionaires’ boats and the child falls silent knowing even at this age what’s coming and the big man coos and pets and dandles and pulls out the tiny stuffed zebra which is already superfluous, a cherry on top of his father’s towering sundae of love.

Love isn’t where you find it, it’s where you were lucky enough to have it freely given.

Over on the small plaza in front of the church a lady kicks a soccer ball to her son. He rushes and mis-kicks with four-year-old full commitment, each boot total and punctuated with commentary, his own. When his mom misses he shouts and jumps in glee the glee that engulfs small people as it dawns on them that adults aren’t always better it’s called confidence.

A stray ball shoots over to my bench I kick and another stray wilds to another bench anchored by a huge lady but she’s on the team too and whacks it back into play until a big arcing kick sends it down the steps up against the feet of an elderly four-top basking at the cafe soaking up wine and the afternoon. An old craggy grandfather lifts the ball and hands it over gently as naturally as if a bright orange and black spinning ball belonged in a cafe where else?

Community ball where everyone pitches in a little that’s cycling too, our funky mix of Norwegians and Americans larger and smaller and faster and slower garrulous or quiet sharp-tongued or gentle on the road the flats got changed and no one got left behind and back at the ranch, you know, Leiv and Steve cooked from scratch all the dishes got washed and you can call it whatever you want but me I call it, too, love freely given.


END

Staff of life

May 14, 2016 § 31 Comments

Wound up with an extra day, somehow. Norwegians left, then the Americans. Bummed a ride to the airport. Had a cup of good coffee. Awake now. Lonely and a little sad. People going somewhere, not me. Familiar sterility of an airport. Same sneakers and backpacks and worried faces. Packed too much spent too much ate too much drank too much, that was a vacation?

Hurry home and throw your face back into the meatgrinder.

Took a taxi downtown. Kind old man, broken teeth, how do you like Mallorca? Not bad for paradise.

Central bus stop at 6:30, everything’s asleep even the stones. Ponder the bus routes and look for my hostel, twenty euros for a bunk and breakfast and wi-fi, here’s your souvenir from Spain honey I brought you some bedbugs. This one is named Jim.

Train station stairs the L351 bus leaves for Alcudia at 8:00 that might be a story or at least motion which is the same thing. Pretty girl hawking pastries and coffee why not? Bought smile better than none at all.

Kids unload streaming by. Joy and raw and pensive stuffed into skinny jeans you gotta fit in even when nothing fits. You’ll grow out of the jeans but not the mind you’re crammed into.

The pastry spills warm chocolate down my tongue and throat. Old bum sits next to me, my older version, eyes peering out into the blurring dimming world all he sees is what he smells, coffee and chocolate so we share. Thank you with the Spanish lisp, gentle and kind even when tumbling out of that broken mouth.
Muslim lady sits with a head scarf and iPhone the Stone Age and the New Age can coexist just let’s agree not to talk religion or politics or what matters.

Who sleeps in hard plastic chairs underground, tired and poor people it’s not so bad death is worse. Let me drift off a moment maybe the bum and Muslim woman aren’t thieves no bedbugs on the plastic chair anyway I’m certain I hope.

My nemesis is following me called rental bike, no escape from them, worse than liquor. Six euro bargain, all day strapped to a bright red 40-pound clunker with basket and rack. Beats walking beats carrying here’s your lock sir return by seven please as advertised in Trip Advisor. Walk on walk on.

Awake with a stiff neck, thanks plastic chair back torture rack, the pastry long incinerated in the engine and now nothing but my good friend ravenous, compelling me to stand go forth hunt gather anything but please fill the maw. Red rental bike sings sweet siren song but one light bag across my back and a duffel, mosey on before the jaws of the trap snap shut.

Up into the 9:00 light and moving aimlessly and lost with a purpose go west old man in slow shallow steps that feel the soft stone edges worn smooth by a thousand years. Narrow one-man streets, burro paths paved for people on either side walls so straight and close they might asphyxiate you except for the green shutters and planters gushing the colored fruit of water and sun.

Big rock temples to dog and his saints, slavedrivers mercenaries moneyhoarders pederasts clad in black selling salvation to the humble the simple the poor the pure. Slow old man steps cease and the bag switches palms, old shoulders old hands old eyes straining for a glimpse of what I should have paused to gaze at forty years ago but it’s all gone now even the shadows.

On a main drag lined with stalls the sweets don’t tempt me, instead a giant loaf of the blackest bread slit in half spilling out its raisin nut guts give me that and she does, half this loaf is better than all and one stall down a cup of Mallorcan oranges pulped and wrung dry then what else?

Sunshine and a bench.

The dense hard bread tears at my teeth each bite a battle so my gums turn raw from the ripping. It is all you need for a day’s life, a pound of flour and nuts and water and yeast and dried fruit washed with fresh oranges the vigor this time wells forth from your very gut. Passersby in German French Queenglish and other odd tongues wonder at the strange simplicity of black bread and a couple of weatherbeaten bags on a bench, and so do I.


END

It’s a wrap!

May 13, 2016 § 19 Comments

Final Standings 2016 Tour de Leaky Prostates

  1. Russell dB a/k/a Ol’ Grizzles: At 63 years old, Russell completed every ride, won multiple climbs, gave everyone incessant shit, and made us all hope we’ll be half as good when we’re his age. Russell was the glue that brought us all together and the glue that did its level best to gum up the works. Filled with excuses and starting each day with a shopping list of ailments and complaints, he was hands-down the champion of this year’s tour.
  2. Tore M-E a/k/a Munch: Tore organized, planned, and carefully built consensus for each ride so that he could jettison the plans at Mile One and turn even (especially) recovery rides into 8-hour death marches. Strong on the flats, strong on the climbs, and strong at the dinner table, Tore’s riding and travel planning were matched only by his kindness and good cheer.
  3. Leiv M. a/k/a Chef Leiv: There is the power of the purse and then there is the power of the pot. Leiv kept us rolling in great food, gladly shopped for the entire crew, helped the rookies cook the Rookie Dinner, and showed himself a tenacious climber and champion descender. He was the only Norwegian who showed any interest in the finer points of kit coordination.
  4. Hector G. a/k/a SITL: Up at 4:00 AM, Hector made sure the coffee pot was always full and the kitchen spotless. Friendly and funny he tore our legs off on every flat, and never complained (okay, he complained a little) when the endless climbing began. Always ready with an encouraging word and of course coffee. Did I mention coffee?
  5. Brian S.: The strongest rider on the flats, Brian tied us daily to the whipping post and got in his lashes and we returned the favor on every climb. Always ready to lend a hand, he ate almost as much oatmeal as Stig.
  6. Bruce M.: Winner of the Almost Killed in a Head-on Collision jersey, Bruce acquitted himself with valor and distinction whether uphill, downhill, or no hill. Easily the coolest and most easygoing rider in the Tour, he never skipped a pull in the paceline, laundry, or kitchen detail.
  7. Sverre H.: Thoughtful, considerate, and winner of the Best Rider with the Least Training jersey, Sverre also did a great job of helping me get lost one night when we’d been sent out to buy wine. On his rest day he did a 6-hour hike over 20km of rugged mountains, nothing at all for a Viking.
  8. Dan P.: The only recovering triathlete in the bunch, Dan was game for every torture session planned by Tore but always smart enough to cut things short when it meant surviving to fight another day. Dan won the Most Chainring Marks on His Leg jersey despite strong competition from Mega-Tron.
  9. Steve B.: Every group has one guy who gives 1,000 more than he gets, and Steve was that guy. Cooking, cleaning, shopping, running errands, and riding super tough every single day made him our most valued national asset.
  10. Jonathan L. a/k/a J-Lo: Jonathan would have placed much higher had he not missed the first three stages due to an expired passport that he didn’t check until the night before. No one helped more, cleaned more, or was more cheerfully part of the peloton than Jonathan, and he was the only American to complete the full hard day of Sa Colabra.
  11. Trond O. a/k/a Mega-Tron: Smartest guy in the room and the most allergic to lending a hand with anything except when it came to helping us dispose of food and drink. Funny, energetic, and game for all short, flat rides that started later than noon, there was no political discussion he wouldn’t start. Most laughs per minute, hands down.
  12. Stig a/k/a Stigosaurus: Huge disappointment. Quitter. Never lifted a finger but always ate his fill.
  13. Trond ? a/k/a Posi-Tron: Nicest guy and a super climber, but fell to the bottom of the leaderboard by making himself Stig’s disciple.
  14. Oystein H.: No-show for the worst reason possible, work.
  15. Seth D. a/k/a Wanky: Someone’s gotta be last.


END

Once is not enough

May 12, 2016 § 15 Comments

Ol’ Grizzles had a serious problem with his bike beginning yesterday morning. While we were oiling our inner tubes and adjusting our junk prior to the crack-of-noon rollout, Shit in the Lane looked over at O.G.’s rear wheel.

“Dude, your rear wheel looks like it has a little hop in it.”

O.G. gave the wheel a spin. “No, it doesn’t. It’s fine.”

“I noticed it yesterday after you took that funky line going through that little switchback.”

O.G. spun the wheel again. “You’re nuts. The wheel is fine.” But now O.G. was concerned because he is an equipment fanatic.

“It’s probably nothing. Those little micro-hops don’t mean anything. You can true it up in a heartbeat anyway.”

Another spin. “There’s nothing wrong with this wheel,” insisted O.G.

Dan, who was in on it and pretending not to pay attention, said, “Hey, Russ. Did you know your rear wheel has a little hop in it?”

“Fuck you.”

“Since we’re going flat no biggie. But keep an eye on it.”

“You guys are all idiots. The wheel is fine.”

All day people would drop behind him for a few minutes. “Your wheel definitely has a hop in it,” was the universal consensus regarding the perfectly true wheel.

The next morning O.G. was up early fretting about the non-hop. “I think I better take it to the shop.”

We all agreed since Thursday was a mountainous day. “You don’t want that wheel falling apart on one of these crazy descents,” we said.

O.G. went down to the shop. “I think there’s a hop in this wheel,” he said.

The mechanic threw it on the truing stand. “No. It is perfectly true.”

“You need to check the tension. Everyone says it has a hop in it.”

The wrench checked the spokes. “There is less tension on the drive side, for sure.”

“I knew it!” said O.G. “Get that fixed, will ya?”

“No. I cannot.”

“What do you mean? You’re a mechanic, arencha?”

“I can’t fix it because it’s not broken. The drive side always has less tension. That’s how one builds a bicycle wheel. That will be nine euros, please.”

O.G. came back to the villa. “Get your wheel all trued up?” SITL said with a straight face while everyone made that constipated look from holding in a side-splitting laugh.

“Fuck all of y’all.”

Thursday’s menu offered a 10km climb out of Selva then a 10km descent to the bottom of Sa Colabra, one of the most incredible climbs in Disneycycleland. The group set the absolute launch time for 10:0 AM, which on Oslo time means perhaps 10:30, perhaps 11:00, but in no event later than the time that they eventually leave.

10:00 AM pointy-sharp, however, was my launch time, in the finest of South Bay coffee cruise traditions. Naturally, I left alone, although the spirit of Major Bob was with me. Out of Selva I was immediately caught by a Dutch guy in his 20’s riding “tempo,” which is a word cyclists use when they are trying to kick the shit out of someone without grimacing. I hung on for a few km in misery until I realized that something really bad had happened; two riders had bridged up to us.

When you are on the rivet sitting on a wheel early in a long climb and someone chases you down like a crippled rat you know that a bad situation is about to get worse, which it did. The two riders, who were wearing Mexican jerseys, chatted.
“Are you warmed up?”

“Yes.”

“We should stretch our legs then.”

“Yes, this fellow is too slow.”

“Okay, then. What about the abuelo?”

“He seems ready for the medics. His breathing is very deep and distressed.”

“Indeed. Vamonos.”

So he vamonosed and the Dutch stud, as seen through the rearview mirror, was not closer than he appeared, but rather vanishingly small, and then simply vanished.

The leg stretching commenced and each rider took turns stretching until by my estimation their legs should have been twenty yards long with my neck getting stretched in the process until the second Mexican over-stretched and stretched himself out the back door. The remaining Mexican, displeased at losing his friend and mightily displeased at being stuck with the abuelo, started stretching in earnest.

The switchbacks in Mallorca create a very different climbing scenario from the long climbs in the Santa Monicas. The switchbacks come every hundred yards or so to keep the grade from getting too steep, so instead of wearing out your opponent on a long grade you punch it through and past the turn, preferably taking the steepest line through the turn, which forces the following rider to also punch until it becomes a contest of who can take the most blows to the face. In this case I got one too many smash in the teeth about 500 yards from the pass, shattering next to a walking bridge filled with high school hikers who, seeing the snot and drool and hearing the death rattle began cheering and screaming “Allez! Allez! Allez!” which totally made it worth the three years that were deducted from my lifespan as a result of the effort.

From there it was a stupendous downhill to the foot of Sa Colabra, where you do a short 3km climb then descend for seven miles to the sea. Then at the bottom if you have any sense you grab a cup of coffee and contemplate the profound blue of the Mediterranean while going out of your way not to contemplate the return route, which is One Way Up.

For the first time in Mallorca I took the lead on a climb and two young DINSFD’s (indeterminate Danish-Icelandic-Norwegian-Swedish-Finnish-Dutch person) went with me. They must have been deep in the hurt locker because they were chatting, talking, laughing, and discussing various current events. Soon the little DINSFD’s were really suffering because their laughter was slightly less, maybe. I hammered the shit out of them the rest of the climb until they were yelling in fear until I realized they were screaming because while we were going up SITL was bombing down and seeing me he swerved into our lane as if he were going to hit us head-on and the DINSFD’s crapped their pants before he swerved away at the last minute.

The remaining climbs included the long haul up to the tunnel that takes you down to Soller, but a few words about that descent: It is 20km of immaculate tarmac with only a handful of hairpins on a wide road with zero traffic overlooking valleys and mountain peaks as amazing as anything on earth. The bike freefalls for so long so fast that you get mentally numb to the sensation of screaming downhill.

From the town at the bottom you take the massive 16km Soller climb, which is rife with mule trolling opportunities. I snagged a young DINSFD who fell for the old heavy breathing trick but then I roped an old British fucker who was trolling for people like me, and it was a shitty feeling when I realized he’d roped me at my own game and he kicked my butt all the way to the top, occasionally looking back to grin.

The downhill into Bunyola is long and twisty and technical, highlighting another marvelous feature of Mallorca; its amazing diversity of descents. Whether you are a terrible downhiller like me or a master of the universe like Gussy, there’s something here to enjoy and use to improve. From Bunyola there is one more major climb followed by a short ascent followed by sweet deserted mountain and country roads all the way home.

Back at the ranch we sat around and lied about our exploits while marveling at Bruce’s GoPro footage of avoiding a head-on collision in full flight down the Sa Colabra. Dinner was served and breakfast inhaled and we faced the grim realization that with only one day left we still hadn’t ridden enough … and as long you’re in Mallorca you probably never will.

END

Monks and goats

May 11, 2016 § 5 Comments

The other night we had paella with prawns. It sure was good. Then a couple of days went by and we realized that something was rotten in the state of Denmark because we had dumped the prawn heads in the trash and left them to mature with the other garbage in a 7-foot mountain piled up against the kitchen wall.

If you have ever wondered how much trash people generate I can assure you that it is an inconceivable amount. In six days we were awash in everything except feminine hygiene products and since it was all in the kitchen the stench got us to thinking it might be a good idea to throw it away.

Unlike America, where you dig a giant hole next to some poor people and bury all your trash, in Spain the garbage is separated and collected in a complex ritual that none of us cared to learn.

“Dude,” said Shit in the Lane, “this is the nastiest smell ever. It’s those fucking prawn heads.”

“Let’s go put all this shit in the dumpster,” said Brian.

“Be sure all that rotten prawn head juice leaks into our OK Rental,” said Ol’ Grizzles, who was still pissed about the $30 “handling fee” for gasoline.
We loaded up the cargo area but the stench was so bad we had to leave the hatch open with all the windows down and it was still so terrible we all got nosebleeds. The rotten prawn head juice overpowered all else.

“At least we don’t have to touch it,” said SITL.

“Hurry up and get to the dumpster,” said Brian, who was in the back seat. “I’m about to pass out.”

Shit in the Lane promptly got lost and since we had the hatch open everyone was honking and pointing and yelling, “Your hatch is open!” Then they would get a whiff of the trailing fumes and quit shouting, kind of like if you were driving a door-to-door shit sandwich truck. By this time the bag with the rotten heads had split and on the downhills it created a rivulet of rotted prawn that drained into the driver’s floorboard.

“What the fuck is that?” SITL said as the heel of his sock soaked up a few tablespoons of disgusting juice.

We kept not finding the dumpsters until, what was worse, we did and learned that all the garbage had to be separated. “Separated?” Said SITL. “I’m not opening up that shit.”

“Have to,” I said. “The prawn heads are mixed up with all the bottles and plastic. Says right there you have to separate it all out.”

“Fuck that. I ain’t touching that shit.”
Brian and I got out the bags and started pulling out the bottles which were dripping and stinking and it drizzled all over our hands and down our elbows until we actually smelled worse than the stuff we were throwing away.

SITL was adamant. “Don’t touch me!”
Of course that was exactly the wrong thing to say so we put our arms around him and tousled his hair. Back at the villa we bathed in turpentine and got ready to do the Monastery Ride. This was an easy short recovery ride designed by Munch, whose easy short recovery rides were not noticeably different from his hard long competitive rides.

The ride went up to a 16th Century monastery called Santuari de Cura which was pretty and all that but after we lunched on rabbit and got back on our bikes the road descended into a gently curving downhill tailwind slalom course on wheels that kicked our speed up to 42 where it stayed for five solid miles, the most amazing, whipping, brakeless free fall on a bike I’ve ever even imagined possible.

This ride was also different because the day before Team Norway had stolen a march on Team America, with Chef Leiv winning the lighthouse climb to Cap Tormentor, and Munch throttling everyone on the way back. These two powerful performances were enough to get Team Losingourpensionsnothankstoimmigrants out of negative digits and back to 0, meaning that with a bit of luck they might get to within a few thousand points by century’s end.

Consequently the ride was declared an official rest day of 95 miles and only 8,000 feet of climbing. Although we hadn’t been rained on once, this was the first truly spectacularly sunny day, Mallorca in her most fetching colors. The combination of cobalt sky, green mountains, luscious olive groves, and bleating goats humping in every field was unforgettable, and made us all think lovingly and longingly of our waiting wives back home.

END

The rain in Spain falls mainly on the vacation

May 7, 2016 § 6 Comments

Our first full day in the Disneycycleland of Mallorca was magical. The cold drizzle of the day before had given way to a pounding, freezing deluge. Wracked by a headache, jet lag, and the nausea resulting from going to bed the night before with a stomach filled with sperm (whale), I staggered from the love cabana through the mud and driving rain at 4:00 AM to get a cup of coffee and escape from Ol’ Grizzles’s snore-farts.

The giant oaken door was bolted but after a bit of pounding, crying, and begging, Brian came down to let me in. I was soaked to the skin but relentless in my pursuit of coffee. Rafael had given me detailed instructions regarding parking, garbage recycling, trash collection days, proper use of the breakers, and an explicit prohibition on tampons in the toilet (advice intended for Ol’ Grizzles) but the only thing I had paid attention to were the three industrial coffee machines in the kitchen.

None of them worked.

One by one the hungover riders awoke ¬†coffee, and the look of desperation on their faces when I announced “No coffee, fuckers!” was so awesome that I resolved to make that the standard morning greeting.

As the day wore on and the rain intensified, people became increasingly depressed at the thought that we would be cooped up in a historic villa with a world-class chef, delicious provisions, hard liquor and farts. Rafael had stocked the fridge with a four-foot long pastry filled with custard, whipped cream, honey, berries, and chocolate topping. Worst of all, the kitchen knives were too dull to slit our wrists after being overcome with guilt at the 5,000-calorie breakfast, so instead we glumly watched while Steve and Leiv began preparing a slow-cook tomato sauce for tomorrow’s dinner.

By 4:30 the split-pea soup and fresh salmon sashimi were ready, so we ate some more until Shit in the Lane threw down his fourth helping of whipped cream log and said, “Fuck it, I’m riding.”
We all made fun of him because even though the rain had lessened it was overcast and cold. “You will get soaked and frozen to shit.”

“I didn’t come to Mallorca to sit on the couch with you idiots,” he said.

He kind of had a point so Bruce, Munch, Brian, Ol’ Grizzles and I kitted up and rolled out. It was still spitting rain and none of us had rain jackets and O.G. was complaining about his rental bike like a teenage girl trying on jeans. “This stem is too short and the top tube is too short which is preventing my thighs from engaging properly and the bars are 38’s which are constricting my lungs and the gear ratios are all wrong plus my cranks are 165mm on the left side and 175mm on the right and the saddle is putting too much pressure on my … ”

“Shut the fuck up, we’re not even out of the driveway,” we said and the ride began.

We immediately hit a small climb and Shit in the Lane got dropped and then Bruce’s lungs fell off and Brian realized he needed his 3-foot torque wrench and O.G. gave up and Munch went backwards and we rode some more and the rain stopped and the sun came out and we were whipping down the lanes next to ancient stone walls as birds flitted overhead and Mallorca lifted her skirt a few inches and really began showing her charms.

After a couple of hours we got back, hungry and psyched and happy to deride our so-called friends who had opted to stay at the villa and plow a few more feet through the whipped cream log. Since we only had two cars we decided to ride en masse into the town of Lloseta for dinner.

“There is a very nice restaurant there listed in the Guide Michelin,” our chef, Spermy Leiv advised.

“Fuck that,” said Shit in the Lane. “I don’t want to eat at no place recommended by a tire catalog.” We tried to explain that it wasn’t a tire catalog but rather a restaurant guide but he thought it was a trick so we gave up, like when you try to convince a 3-year-old to eat beets.

We got there and requested a table for eleven and they laughed. “Our next vacancy is in October.”

Now it was late and we were really hungry so we went to a restaurant that had a big sign saying “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone,” and they took one look at us and immediately exercised the right. So then we went to a pizza place and Shit in the Lane drank another gallon of vodka and we all had performance ice cream and brownies except for Stigosaurus who swung by after finishing his 300km ride.

“You want dinner?” we asked him.

Stig’s craggy face, expressive as a gorilla’s butt, shook his head. “I eated da dinner already.”

“What did you eat? You been riding all day in the fucking rain,” said Ol’ Grizzles.

“I had da cup uff oatmeal and salt,” he said. “Stig have full stomach. Stig have balls of iron.”

We all agreed and left Munch with the bill. Now it was pitch black and we pedaled through the dark streets almost crashing each other out until we got back home. The sky had cleared and the stars were brilliant. Tomorrow was going to be an epic day.

END

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