Memo from the Sports Desk – Majorca Bureau

Peep peep peep went the x-ray machine as my backpack passed through it.

Gatwick Security: “Did you pack this bag yourself, sir?”

Me: “Yep.”

GS: “Any sharp objects or tools in there?”

Me: “Nope.”

(rummages)

GS: “What’s that?”

Me (in a quiet voice): “Err…a tool.  Sorry.”

And so my almost new Pedro’s pedal wrench disappeared into the confiscation bin, not the most auspicious of starts to my first Bayeux Cycling Team Majorca training camp.

It could have been worse, I guess.  Snagging the pedal wrench clearly satisfied the security drone, since she neglected to pinch either of the multitools or the set of Allen keys that in my stupidity I’d also put into the carry-on bag.

Having never flown with my bike and equipment before I genuinely wasn’t aware that blunt tools were a hand luggage no-no.  After all, it’s hard to imagine staging a hijack armed only with a pedal wrench.  Maybe I could have stuffed it in a stewardess’s ear and threatened to twist it until she surrendered?  Or maybe not.

The flight was ghastly too…a charter plane fitted out for midgets and packed to the rafters made for an uncomfortable, cramp inducing (see below) two hours, every moment of which was punctuated by the nagging fear that my bike was going to turn up in the Palma Airport reclaim area mangled by blundering baggage handlers and thus in more pieces than would be ideal for a week of hard cycling.

As it turned out, my steed was spared any in-flight damage. In fact the only thing that has so far fallen to bits around me is the wooden frame of our hotel room door, which, in a moment of Fawlty-Towers like brilliance, decided to fall off when I pulled the door shut, almost taking out the eye of my roommate.

Things didn’t get much better during our 30-odd mile arrival day loosener, when I suffered from ‘legroom cramp’ and also – bizarrely – had a stitch, for possibly the first time since school cross-country races.

Need to work on that tan, Sausage Boy!

However, all that silliness has now been quickly forgotten as I bask in the afterglow of our first ‘proper’ ride on the island.  The 84-mile jaunt featured two decent climbs, Bunyola/Orient and Lluc, both around 5-6% average and both topping out at less than 10km distance, making them nice testers rather than handlebar-chewing slogs.

I was on a good day today, comfortable throughout as we rolled serenely around the island, latching on to a few groups for some impromptu bunch riding, admiring the views at almost every turn and laying the foundations for our tan lines.  I’m particularly keen to progress the latter, since my legs have taken on the colour and consistency of uncooked Lincolnshire sausages since I shaved them.

As I sit here showered and changed in my hotel room I totally get the point of Majorca already.  It’s absolutely chock-full of cyclists – it makes us feel like we’re the top dogs for once, and there’s an unspoken sense of camaraderie among the riders, regardless of their nationality or first language.

Tomorrow, of course, I’ll probably end up suffering like a dog, but for now it’s all good nothing bad.  I’m even looking forward to the ‘school dinners’ hotel dinner buffet later, although my stomach probably isn’t…

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