It's been a week since we got back from the Majorcan supersun to a world bathed in the anaemic glow of the good old British 40-watt lightbulb. And oh how it feels like longer than seven measly days already.
The best I can hope to do here is explain a little bit about what we did, and perhaps for those who came along it will trigger a few precious memories, while for those who didn't, it will inspire feverish bouts of jealousy. We did a lot of stuff, alright? It's taken me 13 minutes to write this paragraph so far because I had to keep checking when we actually came back. Give me a break. I don't get paid for this, you know.
Day 0 – 5pm
As 15 Big Boys mustered in a non-descript Wetherspoon's at London Gatwick (possibly called 'The Red Lion' but aren't they all called that?), it was with only a small amount of disappointment we learned that our flight out was an hour delayed. This, for us of course, meant another hour in the relatively stimulating confines of one of the UK's largest airports. While nobody would choose to spend extra time at Gatwick, it's certainly a damn sight better than spending that extra hour alone in Palma airport, where the notion of 24-hour opening really hasn't yet caught on. This was the fate that met Big Boy number 16, Ryman, who took an earlier flight from some provincial landing strip called 'Stan's Ted'. Lesson number one of the weekend; what happens when you don't follow the herd.
Nevertheless, when we did arrive in Palma, Mr Ryman was happy to see us. Nearly as happy as we all were to discover Charlie had booked us a 60-seater coach for our 16-man transfer to the hotel.
Arriving at the Duvabitat Aparthotel complex with a small degree of trepidation – specifically to do with whether or not Owen had managed to book 16 adult-sized beds, the party was generally pleasantly surprised at the quality and condition of the accommodations. After a resounding failure to find somewhere to eat dinner (which entailed walking to the end of the drive and back) we repaired to bed (or 'sofa in the kitchen' as some of the sleeping surfaces might be better described).
Day 1 – 7am.
BAM! SLEEP TIME IS OVER BITCHES. YOU WILL NOW FEEL TIRED FOR THE NEXT 72 HOURS. REMEMBER THAT FEELING OF BEING WELL-RESTED? IT'S GONE. YOU WILL NEVER FEEL LIKE THAT AGAIN.
The Duvabitat Aparthotel, among many fine amenities, offers occupants the opportunity to purchase an all you can eat breakfast for €11. All good cyclists know that an all you can eat buffet is both a challenge, and a responsibility.
After a hearty breakfast of chips, beans and sausages – no, really – it was time for the majority of the group to go and collect their bikes. There was much assessing of one another's rides, and even more forgetting what bike each person had ordered, or even what sort of pedals they were supposed to have. Woodall really, really enjoyed that part. For those wise enough to have brought their own bikes, it was time to play a round of 'bike box jenga'. Everybody won. Except Dan, who had his bike rendered 'unrideable' by the Easyjet baggage handlers. Although that didn't seem to stop him riding it blisteringly quickly up Sa Calobra.
AND THEN IT WAS TIME TO RIDE THE BICYCLES
Splitting into two groups; one for those who enjoy fun, and the other for those who hate fun but like hurting each other; we cracked on with riding a monstrous 140km and 3000m of vertical elevation.
If I had to describe what I think fun group was like, I would say this picture sums it up. Maybe without Sturgeon doing that weird face. I don't know, I wasn't in fun group so maybe he did make that face all day.
While un-fun group was a little bit more of this...
And then, mercifully, it was over. At least for 12 hours. We swam, we ate a lot of pizza, we went to an Irish pub and put on some stupid hats. Some of the megaladz drank a lot of beer. Said megaladz stayed out all the way to 11:30pm carousing and carrying on, while the moderate-to-medium-ladz were tucked up on their sofas in the kitchen easily by 10pm.
Day 2 – 8am
More sausages! More beans!
"Actually, my stomach's feeling a bit weird today, maybe I'll have some yoghurt with pumpkin seeds? Just kidding. YOGHURT WITH BEANS!"
And then we did it all again. Well, un-fun group did it literally all again. Same route, but this time, backwards. It was, if anything, more un-fun.
Fun group – considerably larger than it had been the day before – decided, cravenly, to do nice things that didn't hurt. I heard a scurrilous rumour there may have been a game of tennis.
Day 2 – night time
Never ones to be accused of having an imagination, on night 2 we returned to the exact same pizza restaurant and ate the exact same food. This time, for some reason presumably based on our conduct the night before, the restaurant staff made us sit in the garden. I say garden. They put us out the back where I'm pretty sure they keep the wheelie bins. It was dead good though. I had the Diavolo. It was spicy, but not too spicy.
Day 3 – 8am
"Honestly, I ate a lot of rubbish yesterday and I really do think my body would appreciate some fresh fruit and maybe some granola."
"SHUT UP. EAT YOUR BEANS."
Day 3 – 9am
The greatest photo in the history of BBBC is taken.
Day 3 – 9.01am
And then we rode the bicycles, some of us for the final time. With everybody in full new stash, it was a prime opportunity to take many photographs and shoot many videos. All the good ones are on the Instagram.
We went slowly together to the top of Sa Calobra, and then we went very quickly indeed down Sa Calobra (except Strang). And then we stood around at the bottom posing for quite some time. And then we went pretty damn fast up again, although admittedly not nearly as fast as we had come down. Nathan came down so fast that he smashed a couple of wing mirrors off on his way through a gap between two moving cars. Quite how he isn't dead I have yet to find out – everyone just acted real cool about it at the time, like 'yeah, did you hear, Ben crashed into a moving car, lol!' and I was too sheepish to ask how he wasn't dead. But he should be dead, right? Having hit two cars, while riding a bike, at 60kp/h? Right.. guys?
Once all of us, including zombie Ben Nathan, were over the Sa Calobra and under the spell of the stunningly beautiful photographer on the top hairpin, we gathered in a cafe under some trees. Lamb and Ellison discovered a mode of cycling that would allow them to finally enjoy rides together.
And then the descent to Puerto Pollença. A daily ritual, an effortlessly flowing, sewing-together of turns into a glorious tapestry of fluidity and motion. It's fair to say, we spanked that motherfudger.
Some people went to a lighthouse. I think there was a goat. I slept in and I don't know the details, sozza. What I do know is I beat Ryman at table tennis and then as we were leaving we had a funny mix-up with the room keys – oh how we laughed. I'll let McGregor tell you all about it next time he comes on a BBBC ride. Which will be the 2017 Pyrenees trip in September.