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The Lure of the Small Chainring
Can it really be an end-of-season wind-down if there wasn’t really a season to speak of? Aside from a couple of cyclosportives during the summer, there was no regular racing. No club meets. No weekly time trials. There hasn’t been for years.
That notwithstanding, I’ve ridden more this year than any other. I haven’t kept an exact log, but it would be somewhere around 10,000km. Maybe more.
So even if there was no racing season per se, my head was telling me it was time to take things slower. And my body was starting to tell me that it no longer wanted to go up those short rises or false flats in the big ring.
Having spent a week in Mallorca in January and two weeks in April, there was only really one destination in mind for me. The weather in October is a very pleasant 20 degrees, the scenery spectacular and, even though I’ve been enjoying riding in near-wintery conditions in Germany during the last few weeks, I was very much looking forward to riding in short sleeve jerseys and shorts for a while.
And so it was that I arranged a week’s break with a friend in Mallorca. As a relative newcomer to cycling, he just wanted to enjoy himself, get used to riding the bike in the mountains and not spend the entire time fighting to stay on wheels. The small ring pact made, off we set on the first ride.
It wasn’t necessarily the best start to the holiday. Less than 10km in, he crashed on the first descent. Minus one tooth, a shattered helmet and a lot of dented pride, we spent the rest of the evening being visited in the hotel by a doctor, then at the hospital. X-rays done, no broken ribs, stitches put in, wounds tended to and a lot of respect and thanks for a very efficient healthcare system.
I gave the Aussie a day’s rest, a lot of well-meant abuse about ‘needing to harden up’ and Day 3 then saw us back on the bikes together, albeit on a flatter route this time.
And the remaining three days riding were an absolute pleasure. We meandered through the lanes, sunned ourselves in rocky coves, talked our way up the climbs and ate and drank our way around the island.
There were no heart-rate monitors to tell us how hard we were working, no computers or watches to gauge our progress. We measured our rides in what sights we’d seen that day, how good the sobrassada had been at lunchtime or how great it felt to dive into the sea upon our return and refresh our weary legs.
So even if it is 4 degrees and raining back home, riding in Mallorca has helped me to make the shift from summer to winter, to enjoy a slightly slower pace of things. And so it will stay, at least until I return to the island next spring to kick-off another ‘season’ of big-ring riding in what has become my home away from home.
- @CanyonUK Everyone loves a hug, thanks.
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