Bespoke Travel: Mallorca

"This is why we ride our bikes"

Last week we hosted our very first Bespoke Travel trip and we had a blast. Mallorca is a very special place indeed.

The hotel Esplendido lived up to its name; the view from my room is one that will stay with me a long time. Sending updates to wives back home was quite difficult, we had to constantly downplay how nice it all was!

I went out for two days beforehand to work with Dan Marsh who was to be our man on the ground. Dan runs and has lived in Mallorca for 8 years. He runs a simply fantastic operation. Our lead guide was Joan Horrach who was a Pro for 15 yrs (latterly with Katusha). He is a ridiculously good rider (you have to be to win a stage at the Giro) but an even funnier person. Needless to say, he has swearing in English down to an art form….

Juan snapping the elastic

I was quite worried about this trip - I kept checking the weather forecasts in the lead up to it, and was also concerned the dynamic of the group would not be right and people (for some reason) would not get on. Nothing could have been further from the truth, and everyone had a blast. I think that's the beauty of Bespoke being as focused as it is - our clientele are a fairly specific cohort, and you will meet like minded souls. Ride hard, don't take yourself too seriously, enjoy good food, like your wine, sleep and repeat !

I need to dramatically improve my sock game...

Parlee Z Zero, ENVE tubs... bliss!

Wednesday was a shake-down ride where we made sure bikes were all in order and had a little 30 mile spin. As we unpacked the bikes you could see Juan the mechanics eyes widen - there was some serious bling on display ! We almost had a disaster before the start when one of the guests had not packed his eTap battery. Luckily Juan knew a man who knew a man and he went off to get a battery somewhere on the island. By the time we had had lunch the problem was resolved and a crisis had been calmly diverted. Juan also drove the team van for a week which was a fantastic luxury - having an ice cold Coke waiting for you at the top of a climb is something I could get used to! It also meant that we could put any warm clothes in the van, so kept our pockets nice and clear.

Thursday was the first proper day's riding, covering 70 miles and 6000ft of elevation. The weather was also unseasonably hot - around 28 degrees which was fantastic at the time, but I now have a terrible case of panda eyes (when sunglasses protect your eyes but the rest of your face gets tanned).

"One of the best days I have ever had on a bike"

Friday was titled the 'Queen Stage' and we did Puig Major and Sa Calobra. Sa Calobra is the most amazing climb I have ever done, the road snakes down to the sea in the most amazing of ways….

I had done this climb on my own on Tuesday but on Friday I got to do it being paced up by Joan. That will be a total highlight of the trip for me, a Grand Tour stage winner acting as a Domestique for a knacker like me is an experience one very rarely will get in life. Only downsides to riding with a Pro is when he would say on the less steep section "it's flat here, now we gain time" and click down two gears and expect you to keep up. Unfortunately one of our riders suffered a bad crash on the descent to Sa Calobra. Fortunately with the van supporting us, he was in it and off for a trip to hospital immediately with a suspected broken collarbone. Had we been riding unsupported, getting him medical treatment would have taken hours longer. Whilst his cycling trip was over, to his enormous credit he remained the life and soul at dinner every night. He has already said he will come back with us next year as he is 'unfinished business' on the island...

At the top of Col du Soller. I am knackered and have my top undone - for Juan this was a base ride and he is still in arm-warmers !!

Saturday was the last proper day's riding and by now people were feeling it in the legs. We did my favourite climb the Col du Soller from both sides and then also Randa which is a monastery in the middle of Mallorca which has 360 degree views of the whole island. It was also nice to get some flat sections after all that climbing.....

Sunday was our last day and a 40 mile ride up along the coast and then back up Soller. Even though everyone's legs were sore it was amazing to see the improvement in people's riding from Wednesday. Even in 5 days the jump was remarkable. You really do 'find your legs'….

The food on the trip was amazing - from the breakfast buffet to the sandwich stops in the sun, to cake stops and then dinner out by the marina.

On Sunday we had a celebratory paella looking at the sea and all made plans to do this same trip next year! Thanks to Dan, Juan, Juan, Dave, Bertie, Steffen, Paul, Dave, Allan and James who all helped make this trip so special.

Selflessly product testing some (amazing) Q36.5 clothing in the Spanish sunshine. Amazing how punchy colours work better in the sun! The great thing about this trip was I could (semi) justify this as a week of product testing. So it was not a holiday - I was working, honest.

Breakfast of champions

If our upcoming Cote d'Azure trip is anywhere near as good as this one we will be very lucky indeed !