• Event organisation/everything but the ride itself
    Jersey, number and musette pickup were available on the two days before the event from 09:00 to 21:00. Way better to pick up on the first day if you can as the queue seemed mega in the afternoon on the second. There was an expo area with a bunch of sponsor tents selling things ranging from trips to Taiwan for the KOM Challenge to chamois Vaseline (worked well on the ride, fair play ‘Base25’).

    I paid 98 euros all in for the event, which would include a jersey from a brand called Gobik which had a good fit and breathability for how cheaply they must have got them in for, a nice looking musette, medal with engraving, and two drinks and a good old plate of pasta after finishing. All in all, I definitely felt I got my money's worth as the planning around the event was pretty slick. Even got plenty of texts before the event reminding folks not to litter in the mountains and alerts about weather conditions.

    The event
    There’s no doubt it's become a bit of a mega event with 8,000 participants this year. I genuinely think steel/aluminium/titanium bikes constituted only around 5% of the bikes taking part and there was some seriously bling things out there.

    Arrival at 6:30 in Platja del Muro for a 7:00 start. Obvious starting structure with lanes on either side of the road to funnel the starters and we were on the go in the initial flat coastal neutralised 26km (I think that number's right) by around 7:15. From that point it runs as follows:

    • The end of the neutralised zone pretty much marks the start of the ascent of Femenia. This is all adrenalin and it's simply a case of not overdoing it too early on. Probably my favourite part of the whole ride as you just rocket up there with the excitement of the start still lingering. This is followed up by another riser up the Ma-10 toward the tunnel into the spectacular Gorg Blau section to Puig Major. If you're feeling strong at this point then you've already bagged about 1,100m of elevation and it doesn't really get any tougher in terms of climb profiles from that point.
    • Gorg Blau marked the first feed station. Isotonic juice, water, and pissers and poopers. Super busy. Enjoy this bit after the stop as it really is stunning http://www.cyclinglocations.com/puig-maj­or-from-panta-de-gorg-blau-climb-mallorc­a/. If you have filtered through well you’re in for some amazing descending. Can smell the carbon brake pads on this bit.
    • If I recall, the next feed stop was before Coll des Pi and it’s where you should get all your remaining proper solid foods in. They provided chocolate spread sandwiches, more juice and water, bananas and orange segments, salted peanuts and lots of these ‘Nutrixxion’ gels and energy and protein bars. The gel I had tasted terribly of liquorice and was too thick; the protein bar was appreciated. Get a quick stretch in too.
    • From here it’s basically rolling. For every bit of respite during descending, there’s always an immediate turn and kick into another climb. This is where it can take its toll mentally a little as the sea wind does kick in, and you’ll find yourself staring at the bike computer a bit more. If you just focus on how gentle the road sweeps up and enjoy the scenery and descending it’s really not all that bad. There are still plenty of folks around for a morale boost and just always look at the road immediately ahead and see how it’s really just a gentle rise to the next turn.
    • Then the halfway turn at Andratx and onto es Grau. This little brute was just the perfect combination of sharp, plentiful spikey hairpins and length to really test most people. I’d say use this as the marker in the back of your mind for saving that last bit of energy for, otherwise you’ll be hanging on a bit. A gel halfway up and some work out of the saddle should be enough to avoid bum and leg cramp and set you up for the drag back into the coast.
    • From this point it’s a case of grabbing a wheel, hanging in and getting some more food as it’s largely flat home (312-ers will have a few more climbs after but the worst is over). I hated this bit: got blown in crosswinds, and as a lighter guy it was a bit of a task to grind over the flat sections. Also, the roads are much worse on the way in so don’t spend too much time staring at your front wheel hub and hanging on as you may be over the handlebars or lose a bottle.
    • The last twisty section is a nice rhythm changer – slightly dusty and bumpy (think last sectors of Roubaix sans cobbles) - and then it’s just 10km to the finish.
    • Free massages at the end, smashed the free pasta and a Warsteiner in, and then there was a party atmosphere for the rest of the evening. Went over to get my medal engraved and had a chuckle at a bloke with a shiny F10 who was insistent that he didn’t want his time engraved on his medal.

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