5:00 AM is a great time. Quiet. Birdsong coming in through the window. Cool morning breeze. Hum of the fridge. Smell of the coffee. No shattering glass or howls of Norwegian mirth.
And no one on the wi-fi.
Yesterday Leiv cooked another amazing dinner, halibut in curry sauce with fresh spinach. Not second class fresh, either.
And Steve closed out the day with a massive kitchen sink omelette that would be ready for the entire crew in the morning, at least those who were alive. It only takes a day to realize that a villa full of men only needs an endless supply of booze to be happy.
And morning coffee.
Everything else is surplusage.
Our first day was sold to us by DS Tore as a leg-loosener but I wasn’t fooled. We would me miserable and broken when we returned, which we were seven hours later. Mallorca’s legendary sunny skies delivered, as did Tore’s uncanny ability to put us on gravel, chughole filled roads.
We were joined along the way by Trond, who, when moving downhill collects significant momentum not unlike a falling building along with said building’s handling characteristics. Trond clipped Russell at about 30 but felt nothing, which is more than Russell could say as he pingponged through the group like a cue ball shot from a cannon.
We made it to the first climb, a 6-km ascent to a monastery. Russell’s heart palpitations set in early, but Jimmy, Leiv, and Doug raced to the top. The gravitationally challenged brought up the rear with oaths. As a leg loosener it worked but it loosened a lot of other things, too. Kidneys, Islets of Langerhans, etc.
On the flats we enjoyed a howling tailwind and the illusion of fitness, never really thinking about the other half of every tailwind equation. Hector and Tore took turns smashing on the front while the rest of us plotted lunch.
In the town of Petra we had sanwuches, beer, spaghetti, beer, coffee, beer, almond cake, and beer. This is the hometown of St. Junipero Serra, the founder of missions San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Los Angeles, San Diego, and the 405.
After lunch Nikolai flatted again and Bruce booted the massive slash that we all accused Nikolai of self-inflicting so that he could Uber back to the villa. It seemed a shame to be on gorgeous roads with no traffic in extraordinary weather yet to only be aware of the ass in front of you, groveling in the gutter, but that’s exactly what we did.
Before getting home we made a detour up one more leg-opener in case our legs were still closed, another switchback-riddled climb to Jesus that resulted in much prayer along the way. Doug had been dieting since ’09 in preparation for the trip and he lit it up. By the fifth or eleventh switchback though he had burned all of his matches, or rather match, including the box and that striky strip thingy on the side, so Jimmy slowly pushed the 12-inch knife through his eyes and pedaled away.
We got back to the villa, legs very loose, and had cans of recovery sugar-coated peanuts, recovery chips, recovery ham, and of course I watched in astonishment as even more recovery beer was swilled.
*Pro travel tip: Don’t get into a beer recovery contest with anyone named Oystein, Trond, Tore, etc. You will not raise your hands in victory at the end unless it is to drape them around the edge of the toilet bowl.
As we discussed the next day’s ride it seemed clear that the group’s general lack of fitness and proclivity to drink mandated a rest day, but DS Tore decided instead to punish the drunks with a combination of big miles (120), and the island’s hardest climbs: Sa Colabra, Coller, Puig Major, and the climb to Bunyola.
Either he had forgotten that he was one of the drunks who would be awaking with a brass band beating cymbals between his temples, or it was his attempt at atonement. As I sneaked off to bed at 10:00 PM, Leiv buttonholed me and insisted I ride civilly and refrain from repeated attacks, which is how he characterized the meek, 159-watt “accelerations” I had displayed earlier in the day.
“Of course,” I said. “Now that our legs are loose.”