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en route
balearis major
 

words by Emil Rosenberg and photography by CK Valhall

This mediterranean island was invaded by romans in 123 BC. Since the conquering, Quintus Caecilius Metellus earned the cognomen Balearicus.

What has historically been a violent place of robbery, invasions and piracy now grant cyclists a haven from large roads, dense traffic and grim weather.

 

Welcome to Majorca, the largest Balearis island.

Different from the canary islands, which is a comparable destination when it comes to cyclo-tourism or training spots, Majorca can offer a lush environment that is spared from the scorch of a sun in zenit.

Fields grow in a spectrum of green nuances and the climbs look tropic. Deep, damp and widespread forests accompany you from vale to peak – wherever you chose to climb. While scorched plains and valleys claim a certain spot in my heart, these flourishing trees are truly beautiful.

Gustaf doing a good job with route guidance

There’s something very unique with riding in environment this beautiful. Especially riding hard. The contrast between a body in suffering and a mind in sanctuary proves to be one of the most powerful combinations of motivations for me. Even though I’ve got a long way to call myself a climber, it’s what inspires me the most.

This time I was enjoying a week of intense training with my new team, Stockholmian CK Valhall. With nine teammates by my side, I knew that the training ought to be good. The big question was however; how ‘good’?

An ambitious training schedule haunted both my head and legs for the last week leading up to our departure from Sweden.

It felt good to be on my bike again. The first days were hard and I transitioned to a permanent state of exhaustion immediately. We’re not professionals, and we’re all doing this ‘for fun’ but to me it’s essential to do things seriously.

I wouldn’t be on this island, with these nine strong friends if I didn’t think it would be hard. The results from good training, perfect efforts and elegant teamwork is very important to me, of course – but the difficulty of training and the achievements that you push yourself to daily is just as important to me.

Different from my usual road mountaineering that I do on my own, or in less experienced company, I had to adapt quickly. Having your strengths in shorter, more explosive efforts means efficient climbers can wear you down quickly.

After analyzing the different characteristics of my team mates I can now say that we have a couple of riders who climb very efficiently. Trying to stick with them in the climbs is treacherous and quickly devour my full stack of energy.

When training in a group that has a diversity from skinny, efficient climbers to powerful rouleurs and sprinters the act of pacing is even more important, or even vital. When doing long, hard days with riders capable of wearing you down in a matter of minutes, pacing equals survivalism.

The typical day
In short, we rode, ate and slept. Riding for an average of 5 hours per day, with intervals and leg-murdering efforts back to back takes its toll on your energy levels. The body feels tired from burning so much energy all the time. This is how our days looked like (with variations of course):

08:00 – 09:00 Breakfast
09:00 – 09:30 Ride preparations
09:30 – 12:00 Warm up, climbs, various intervals
12:00 – 13:00 Lunch
14:00 – 18:00 Team Time Trial efforts, Lead-out trains
18:00 – 19:00 Stetching, showers, dinner preparations
19:00 – 20:00 Dinner
20:00 – 22:00 Team building
23:00 – 24:00 Lights out

The climbs
I’m far from a true climb connoisseur but I’d love to be one day. I think every climb has its own charm. I’m an addict to thin air, ears popping and heavy breathing. I think climbs should be climbed at speed and I love tight hairpins that challenge you to keep your velocity. While lacking in ruthless elevation, Majorca has a variety of climbs with switchbacks seem endless.

Lluc
Smooth tarmac. Winding roads. Perfect gradient. This is one of my favourite climbs on the island. It’s a visually beautiful climb and every turn feels balanced.

During one of our interval days, I completed my strength sets in this climb, going seven minutes with 50 cadence at threshold then shifting into a one-minute sprint to train on lifting the pace with lactate-filled legs. If it weren’t for the views – that last one minute would feel so awfully long.

Sollér-Orient
The climb from Sollér to Orient is what I imagine french climbs to be. Long straights with wide corners that are mindblowingly steep on the inside.

I’ve never ridden France, so I wouldn’t know – but visualize yourself climbing these kinds of roads with a sun setting behind you, your gilet flapping open and the salty residue of dried sweat on your sunburned skin.

If there’s one thing that I can really long to during the cold scandinavian winters, it’s climbs like this. Long climbs that persuade you into suffering in every corner. That stops you from calculating your effort and talks you into going as hard as you possibly can.

Meet Mr. Jens Voight before doing the TT up Sa Calobra!

Coll de Reis
Some of you might not know what peak Coll de Reis is, but it has another name, too. Sa Calobra, one of the queen climbs in Majorca offer 9.4km of steep (7.1% in average, in fact) hairpins.

Unfortunately, Sa Calobra was climbed during a internal time trial race and I was unable to count anything but the seconds until my demise. I did however notice that this was the most magnificent climb I’ve ever done – even compared to climbs like Pico de las Nieves and El Teide.

The rides

Day one – Warm up ride

Day two – Climb intervals, leadout trains

Day three – Strength intervals, 5x8min

Day four – Rainy echelons and TTT efforts

Day five – Sa Calobra TT

Day six – Long ride, last 90min close to threshold

Day seven – Photo ride

worth sharing?

Name: Emil Rosenberg
Age: 23
Lives in: Nacka, Stockholm, Sweden
Bicicles: Specialized S-WORKS Tarmac SL4, Specialized S-WORKS Shiv TT
About Emil: ”My passion for cycling is the challenge that puts your physical and mental capabilities to its absolute edge. I strive to capture the elegance of the hardest sport in the world. I’m fortunate to have a local TT circus nearby with weekly wednesday races and I attend as many as I can.”

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