Well we have just returned from our latest trip to Majorca which was planned as a cycling and walking holiday to try to delay the onset of the Winter blues for as long as possible.
Unfortunately, right at the start of our holiday, Lorena badly injured her foot and ended up in a below knee backslab which was a huge shame. This development severely restricted what we could do on our holiday but nonetheless we made every effort to make the best of things, fortunately we had a hire car which as least kept us mobile up to a point. The Aparthotel Duva loaned us a wheelchair so this and the crutches from the hospital at least helped us maintain a degree of mobility.
This development obviously restricted the length of time that I could reasonably spend out cycling but at least some cycling was done and I think I’ve made a few early steps along the road to a return to something resembling fitness but I have an awful long way to go.
One of the most important things that we learned on this holiday, assuming that things were reasonably representative, was that October is actually an excellent time to visit Majorca. The weather was lovely and warm, in fact it was too hot on a couple of occasions, and during our stay, which was well over two weeks, it only rained once and that was only for a very short period.
At this time of year there are excellent deals to be found in terms of accommodation and we were amazed how cheaply we managed to hire a car at this time of year, we paid approximately 25% of the usual Summer rate when we booked. I think having a hire car available, ideally sharing the cost between a small group, is a big advantage especially if you are self catering which we were for this trip.
I do have to mention my cycling experience which was once again excellent. The motorists were considerate and patient which I have always found to be the case. Not once during our stay was I subjected to the blast of a horn, a yell of abuse, or any vehicle coming even close to me. Apart from the weather and the countryside it is worth going to Majorca for a cycling holiday just to experience what a pleasure it can be and I thank the Majorcan motorists for their good nature and consideration, maybe many of them are cyclists themselves, or know someone who is.
In contrast with my experiences of cycling in Majorca I come home to read this and this, what a disgrace the UK is in terms of the way it treats vulnerable road users.
I would definitely return to Majorca at this time of year again for a cycling holiday and I would highly recommend it. It is not generally too hot, the roads are generally quieter, all the facilities of the island are still open and there are excellent deals to be had in terms of accommodation and flights. The clips below will give you an idea just how lovely it is out there at this time of year.
Today I had one of the most disappointing experiences as a customer that I have had for many years.
Pro Cycle Hire is a business based in Puerto de Pollensa on the island of Majorca, the shop is close to the Pollensa Park Hotel.
Earlier this year, on the 6th of May, when out cycling on Majorca I visited the shop, I was looking for somewhere that would be willing and able to fit some parts to a bike I have out in Majorca which I was planning to ship out from the UK. I was assured that there would be no problem at all in getting the parts fitted and the agreement was that when the time came to do the work and with the parts available I should revisit the shop and arrange a suitable time, the work would take about half an hour with the appropriate tools.
This all seemed very satisfactory so when back in the UK I duly ordered the parts I required and had them shipped to my accommodation so that they would be readily to hand when the time came. The parts were delivered and held in store for me and as far as I was concerned things were going according to plan and as agreed.
The next stage, when back out in Majorca, was to visit the shop, confirm that I had the parts and arrange a suitable date and time for the job to be done. So far so good, I duly visited the shop and it was agreed that I would take the bike and the parts in today after 16:00 and the work would be done. I have to confess that I was slightly concerned that nothing was written down but it was not for me ask questions about that.
The next and what should have been the final stage was for me to turn up at the appointed hour with the parts in hand which is exactly what I did. My expectation was that the work would be done and that I would either be asked to wait or to pick up my bike the following day, I had scheduled things so that I would not need the bike the following day to account for this.
What I was not expecting was to be told that the job couldn’t be done and that "circumstances had changed", in spite of the fact that it had been agreed, confirmed, and arranged that the work could and would be done.
I was absolutely astounded that a company would let someone down in this way having agreed to do the work not once but twice, agreed a time and a date for the work to be done and for a customer to have gone to the effort and expense of having all the required parts shipped out from the UK. All this suddenly counted for nothing. To finally be asked when I was going back to the UK, presumably in case the job might be fitted in before I went home, was just the icing on the cake.
This was by far the worst customer experience I have experienced for many years, in fact probably ever.
Contrast this with the experience I then had at 2GoCycling, also in Puerto de Pollensa, where the staff could not have been more helpful. Without an appointment the work was completed in approximately half an hour at a most reasonable price and I highly recommend this establishment if you find yourself in need of help or bike hire. The staff here even cleaned up the parts that had been removed from my bike before I took them away, this was really excellent service.
I have been visiting The Aparthotel Duva and Spa in Puerto de Pollensa on the island of Majorca for the last two years. My first visit was with my cycling club, The Tyneside Vagabonds CC and since that visit I have returned several times with the club and also visited several times in a private capacity with my wife Lorena. During one of our stays I made a video recording of the complex which is available here:
The accommodation is made up a series of low apartment blocks and two standards of apartment are offered, standard and premium. I have stayed in both types of apartment and have found them both to be excellent.
The premium apartments are fewer in number and offer more spacious living accommodation, in particular these apartments offer a full oven and four burner hob, a larger fridge freezer and a dishwasher. The standard apartments offer a double burner hob, a smaller fridge freezer and do not have a dishwasher. All apartments have microwave ovens and are equipped with all the usual pans and utensils required to self cater in comfort as well as an electric kettle etc. - all the apartments can very easily become a home from home for the duration of your stay.
The complex is particularly well equipped and sits in it’s own grounds, there are two outdoor swimming pools, both of which have been beautifully clean whenever I have stayed here. The complex includes it’s own health spa which has a fully equipped gymnasium, an indoor pool, jacuzzi, sauna etc. This is an excellent place to stay if your choice is simply to relax but is equally suited for people who wish to have a more active holiday.
Majorca is a paradise for cyclists and Puerto de Pollensa in general and The Aparthotel Duva in particular have taken full advantage of this. The roads in the area are well surfaced and offer a huge variety of cycling routes for all levels of ability from the leisure cyclist who wants to ride along the cycle route following the seafront to Alcudia to the professional teams who visit to train for cycling’s greatest prizes. It is not unusual to see professional teams training in the mountains in preparation for events such as the Tour de France.
As a base for cycling The Aparthotel Duva would be difficult to beat. In purely practical terms there is available a large secure bike storage facility below one of the apartment blocks (shown in the video) which is available to all guests. As part of this facility there is a small shop selling smaller items, this shop is a branch of a larger local cycling shop which can deal with pretty much any eventuality a cyclist might encounter during their stay.
For those who decide to opt to have meals at the hotel the food is excellent. There is a wide range of beautifully prepared and presented food which will cater for all tastes. The dining arrangements are buffet style with a very wide choice of main dishes, starters and deserts and of course fresh fruit etc. are always available. Coffee etc. is dispensed from a number of machines which guests are free to return to as many times as they wish. Friendly and very helpful staff are always on hand to help if assistance is required. A poolside bar is available for those wanting to enjoy a drink after dinner and light entertainment is sometimes available but this is never loud or intrusive to residents.
For residents who choose to self cater there are several supermarkets locally (Eroski, Lidl) where the full range of foodstuffs are available at very reasonable prices. For those “I need it now, I’ve run out!" items there is a small supermarket opposite the complex (5 minutes on foot) where items can be bought but as is always the case the prices are somewhat higher than the larger supermarkets.
It is quite easy to concentrate on the facilities and accommodation on offer but quite often a holiday can be made or ruined by the hotel staff. I have always found the staff at The Aparthotel Duva to be extremely kind, polite, considerate and helpful, nothing ever seems to be too much trouble. Often when things go wrong on a stay such as an accident or illness hotel staff really do not want to know but our experiences at The Aparthotel Duva have been excellent.
During one stay a cycling friend was injured when out riding and the staff did everything they could to help in a very difficult situation. More recently when Lorena injured her foot and ankle badly, again the staff could not have been more helpful, they really did do as much as they could to help.
For guests without their own transport there is a local bus stop adjacent to the complex which makes travel easy and the complex is close enough to the beach to be convenient but far enough away to ensure that the complex is quiet and peaceful. I have no hesitation whatsoever recommending The Aparthotel Duva to anyone who wants either a peaceful or a very active holiday. The location of the complex makes it ideal for either couples or families with children, this is not the place for people looking for wild night-life and we have found it consistently peaceful, clean, friendly and just generally excellent.
I also made a short video of the seafront in Puerto de Pollensa which as you can see is lovely:
Off to an excellent start this morning, all went according to plan, dropped car off with a friend who had very kindly agreed to look after it for us to save us being robbed at the airport and the taxi arrived almost ten minutes early which was great. In the end we arrived to check in just as the desk was opening and we sailed through.
Little bit of a hitch going through security, I usually get stopped and have to empty all my bags because of the cameras etc that I cart about but this time it was different. In spite of being asked whether we were carrying any liquids one member of the party had a can of Coke and a fruit juice which had somehow fallen into the "not liquids" category so they had to go the journey. All in all a really good check-in experience, hoping the journey continues in the same way.
There seems to be an interesting arrangement at the check-in desk now whereby if you have a normal sized or even smaller item of hand luggage it is tagged as being suitable to be shoved under the seat in front of you. For me at least this means that I would have nowhere at all to put my feet which would be a right pain in the backside. It seems to me that this arrangement has been put in place to solve the problem, and to make room for, people who bring "hand luggage" which is clearly oversized. Why can't the existing hand baggage rules simply be enforced rather than making those who follow the rules shove their bags under their seats?
Flight went really well, even arrived early, apart from the usual few early morning drunks that seem to appear on any flight from the UK. The collection of the car was smooth and efficient and we were soon on our way to The Duva. Stopped near Pollenca (Lidl) to pick up some groceries to kick off our self catering experience and were pleasantly surprised at the cost of our shopping, looks like this is going to be a successful choice.
Arrived at The Duva which was lovely and couldn't believe our good luck and the kindness we were shown. Lorena and I could both have keeled over with surprise when we were told that we were being allocated one of the luxury apartments in the other block with the small pool area.
Just amazing, large kithchen with a huge fridge freezer, dishwasher etc. etc. On top of that the living area was huge and there was a lovely large balcony with table, chairs and a comfortable outdoor couch. The balcony is a double aspect affair looking out on the hills on both sides and is just brilliant, it's going to be our al fresco dining area for the duration I'm sure. I'm not sure what we have done to deserve this treatment but whatever it was I'm glad we did it.
Straight onto the balcony :-)
Nice quiet evening, popped back to the shop for a few more bits and bobs and then just got my stuff ready for my first ride tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it, planning to start very easily and just see how things pan out. Bike all seemed fine when I unpacked it from it's storage bag, great arrangement keeping the bike out here, just saves so much hassle.
Come to think of it this is the third time I have used this bike out here so that means that I have now pretty much reached the break even point in terms of the value of the bike (I've had it for years) being offset against the costs I would have incurred had I been hiring a bike. Apart from the convenience, which is the main reason I left a bike out here, from here on the decision to do this has also been a good one financially.
06:54 Up early as we fly home today. Plan is to be down for breakfast at 07:30 when they first start serving taking the Brompton Bicycles down with us and then we will take our cases down with us later. The bus collects us at 09:00 for the transfer to Palma so we are over the first hurdle by actually waking up in time! I discovered a new function on this iPad last night which allows it to be used as an alarm clock, can't believe how I missed it in the past but there you go.
08:27 Breakfast done and off down to get the coach to the airport. Beautiful morning out here but sadly we must leave, we WILL be back!
08:43 All packed up and shifted down to the foyer ready for blast-off in about 15 minutes. Just hoping for a good trip home, be glad when we have cleared the security etc. at the airport and are ready to fly. Sounds as if the weather back in the UK is a real treat at the moment so resuming my walking in Hulne Park is going to be a shed load of fun to be sure.
10:27 Finally through all the checks at Palma Airport, definitely one of the airports that I least enjoy passing through. I find the people on duty almost universally unhelpful and power crazed, simply repeating the same phrase more loudly in Spanish is never going to make it easier for me to understand, no matter how much I turn up the volume on my hearing aid. Speaking of the hearing aid I was amused to find on the coach that it actually works far better when switched on, yet another senior moment, no doubt many more still to come.
Make a mental note to make sure that I pack the "selfie stick" in my main luggage for the next trip as on this passage through the security desk it was that which caused the problem, it's just always something different.
I must be becoming one of those grumpy old men, it annoys me when someone grabs the front seat on the coach and then sleeps all the way to the destination when Lorena and I could have been enjoying the scenery and taking photos, PITA.
Thought for a while that we had got away without paying for the bikes to be transferred to the airport but we were grabbed when we got off the coach and had to fork out the required €20 but at least we were expecting it this time and hopefully that is the last of the fun and games for this journey, certainly hoping so.
Currently enjoying a bottle of Diet Coke in departure are A, should keep me awake for the rest of the journey :-)
16:20 Finally arrived home after a decent flight with no more hassle than is usual with these things. Popped to Sainsbury's for the essentials, my how the grass has grown since we left, if we went for a month we would have to get some sheep in!
Central heating started up OK, it's a lot cooler here than where we have come from, showers on the way back from the airport and about a 25mph wind blowing, no surprises on the weather front then.
Started up the home IT systems and everything so far seems to be working, long may that continue as I am going to need them to start planning the next trip :-)
17:05 Lets hope I have sorted out that little glitch vJournal for Evernote has been playing up in transit.
17:09 Not sure what is going on here, still trying to sort out he vJournal sync as it seems to keep creating a new day entry every time I upload a note, very irritating.
22:07 It's been a good day and it's nice to be home safe and sound though there is much to miss about Majorca. Lorena and I have had a simple meal this evening followed by some fruit and the plan is for our healthy eating regime, as followed before we went on holiday.
So, I will be going out for my walk in the morning in Hulne Park after just my porridge for breakfast rather than the multi-course affairs I have been enjoying. Seeing all the fat wobbly Brits on holiday was frankly pretty damned shocking and I am going to do everything in my power to avoid going down that route, just too ghastly to contemplate.
12:54 Well, I am sorry to say that the last training ride of this holiday is now over. Just come down from my last climb of my friend the Coll de Femenia and today we have to pack ready to travel home tomorrow. I don't mind admitting that I don't want to go home, at least we both know that we could very easily enjoy a month here without getting bored at all, not missed the TV one little bit.
Lorena has just returned and informed me that her walk turned into the "PlumGate" drama of the holiday, I'll not go into any detail but the combination of figs and plums appears to have taken it's toll. Hee hee :-)
17:11 Well, everything is now packed away and most of the packing for travel has been done. Even with a bike here it's quite a performance but I now have a much better list for the Duva storage box done and the bike is well locked up. I must not forget to bring the ABUS bike lock keys with me next time I am here or I will be in a right mess.
It is definitely very sad to be leaving, this is our last evening here for a while, maybe until next year which is not a nice thought at all. I can see that Lorena is very sad about it all so we must make a real effort to get the tandem over here so that these trips are still more enjoyable for her, this is a priority. My current thought is to get the tandem out here in September so that we can have it here for two trips next year as that would make it worthwhile Lorena coming on the TVCC trip in April 2015.
Still, no work to go back to so Lorena and I must maintain our momentum and continue to make the very best of every day we have.
20:35 Sadly our holiday is now all but over. We have enjoyed our last dinner at the Duva for a little while and we both feel the same, we just want our holiday here to continue. We are being collected from the hotel at nine in the morning so the flight will be at about noon, we should be home mid afternoon if all goes well, no doubt to be greeted by grey skies and probably rain to go with them. Walked to have one final look at the pool before we leave, neither of us can really see it being a year before we are back here, let's just hope all goes well with the sale of the cottage, if that come off I can see us being back here for a month in October.
Our flight number is LS532 and I've just checked and we are scheduled to take off at 12:25 so yes, mid afternoon should see us home. When I was out here with the TVCC Austin Willcock referred to my cycling style as "languid" and I have never really known exactly what it meant. Looked it up this evening and in this context it seems to mean "apparently without effort" or something along those lines so I'm going to take that as a compliment, thanks Austin :-)
Damn, forgot to put Assos Cream in the Duva box, that means I'd better update the list to make sure I bring it out with me next time I'm out here.
20:47 I noticed on Strava that once you have uploaded a file to your account you can then also download that ride as a .gpx file. This means, in theory at least, that any ride I have uploaded to Strava I can get a .gpx file for and then convert that to a course to ride on the VELOtron.
Awake at about 08:30 and off down for breakfast, more food! Today is a big day as I plan to ride the Coll de Femenia at a good effort but this time I'm going to have empty water bottles which will give me a three pound advantage, it will be interesting to see if it makes any difference, probably not after last night's dinner :-)
Breakfast done and I've established the opening times of the small branch of ProCycleHire at the hotel. The shop does NO mechanical work but is open for sales on Monday, Wednesday and Friday between the hours of 08:30 and 10:30. Filled bottles with just a small quantity of water and my energy powders, this will be topped up at The Garage :-)
15:10 Have realised that the time stamp that gets put on these diary entries when they appear in Evernote is the time that they are uploaded to Evernote and not the time that the entry is actually written which is a great shame. This means that the time of the entry needs to be physically typed in if you want to record it if the entry is typed offline because if entries are batch uploaded they will all show the upload time rather than the time typed when the entry appears in Evernote.
It has certainly been interesting to see quite a change in the appearance of a lot of cyclists this year compared to previous trips. I don't know whether it is just that there are more triathletes out here at the moment but there are a lot more people on bikes taking great note to improve their aerodynamic situation. Today I even saw people riding with disc wheels! I guess they may as well get more use out of them but there have been a lot of people with clip-on tribars and also many people with the more aerodynamic style of helmet and some full aero helmets being used. All that said it was nice to ride past a young guy with all the aero bling on the old blue Giant bike on the climb today, if looks could kill!
17:45 Spent a relaxing afternoon with Lorena and had some interesting contact with Austin Willcock about the possibilities on the property front out here, it will be interesting to see how that one develops.
17:46 Enjoyed the ice creams we had today, always nice to have a little treat after my exertions!
18:11 Surprised to read in the book "From Lance to Landis" that in Autumn 1995 Lance Armstrong spoke with Eddy Merckx and they agreed that Merckx would speak with Dr Michele Ferrari and set up an introductory meeting between the Italian doctor and Armstrong. I didn't know that Merckx was apparently involved in setting up what was to become one of the most infamous patient-doctor relationships in sport, according to this book at any rate.
20:46 Amusing incident/senior moment earlier on when I went down into the underground bike store at The Duva which was rather dark. Went to switch the lights on but nothing seemed to happen so walked a little further in and tried another switch and again no joy, far gloomier than normal. Looked up at the ceiling and oddly the fluorescent tubes appeared to be working Ok. Finally I sorted out the problem, I was wearing my sunglasses. Bit worrying really if this is the shape of things to come.
21:02 I was amused to read this, also in "From Lance to Landis" about Lance Armstrong's "development" as a rider :-)
His Motorola teammates did not notice any loss of weight in their leader when he showed up for spring training at the beginning of the 1996 season. On the contrary, they saw a bigger and more muscular Armstrong. "God knows what happened during that winter," says Frankie Andreu, "but Lance came back the spring of '96 and he was frickin' huge. He looked like a linebacker. It was Holy shit, man, he is big." Obviously we all noticed it and he knew we did. He said something about Ferrari not realising the effect the weight room was going to have.
Well this is a new development, I have tried to streamline my diary keeping my adding this little application called Journal For Evernote which allows you to keep adding little jottings which it then organises into one note for you each day in a notebook called Journal. It looks as if you can also add photographs and locations so this might be quite a fun little application to use though I don't know whether you need to have an Internet connection all the time because if I do it will be useless! We shall see how it goes, only time will tell.
Interesting, I've just created my first diary entry with this application and it seems to have just gone off into a black hole! I've synchronised by iPad but a notebook called Journal doesn't seem to have been created so maybe that's something that happens at the end of the day? Seems weird if that is the case because it means that I can't see my diary until the end of the day which does seem a little daft. I'll continue with the experiment.
Yes, this is going to be absolutely great! These notes are now appearing nicely formatted in Evernote and this will be a really simple way of making very quick notes as we go along and the rest can happen in the background and tags, scanned documents, photos etc. can all be added later in Evernote if required. Lorena and I have just had a good laugh about how on this holiday we have managed to get diary keeping down to a fine art without actually doing anything, brilliant!
Lovely sunny day with the temperature on the low twenties, perfect. Walked out to Pro Bike Hire to discuss the possibility of having a compact chain set fitted to the Giant along with a general service and cassette and chain replacement and Mark (who I thought was Bruce!) couldn't have been more helpful. Will just have to let them know when I am over in September/October and they will do it for me using my own parts which I will order from Wiggle and have delivered to The Duva before I come out, this looks as if it will work out very nicely. As an update to this I made all my arrangements and duly turned up to be told that things had changed and they couldn’t do the work, I’ll not be going back there again.
Lovely walk along the sea front toward The Pine Walk, took quite a few photos along the way and stopped for the usual ice cream, this really is a very relaxed way to spend time and I keep having to pinch myself that when the holiday is over there is no going back to work, it's just like a dream.
Popped into the Eroski Centre supermarket and stocked up on Diet Coke and 0% alcohol beer for the next few days and then made our way back to the apartment for the usual very relaxing lunch! Lorena is planning to do some sunbathing this afternoon but I'll not be bothering, too warm for that and it will only fade anyway :-)
Walking back through the gardens of the apartment spotted a snake in the water feature pools but was too slow with the camera and it sloped off beneath the surface from the spot it was sunbathing in. No idea what sort of snake it was, nothing to worry about I'm sure.
Well, I thought I might as well try to work things out whilst I'm here and I think I can order all the parts I need for the bike alterations (fitting compact etc.) for delivery to The Duva for about £170 which is considerably less than I thought. That's the 6750 HollowTech II compact crankset, a new chain and a 12-25 cassette which I think will be fine for here. So, if the work/service comes to less than £30 that will be the bike sorted out for a few years, almost as good as new :-) Will keep the standard crankset and the current cassette out here in the box as spares. Great thing is that delivery out here is free with Wiggle!
Rounded off the day by trying San Miguel alcohol free lager for the first time and VERY nice it was too. Smoother taste than the Buckler 0% that we have been having that is sold down at Tolo's and definitely one to keep an eye open for.
Nice bright morning and planned to do my usual ride up the Coll de Femenia which is exactly what I did. The ride went well and I almost (but not quite!) felt on top of the bottom gear I currently have available to me which is a 39/25. In the early part of the climb I felt definitely better than I have been doing and these regular climbing sessions are definitely paying off.
The rest of the ride went off without a hitch. I was amazed when I stopped for a drink and some energy bar to hear the call of a cuckoo! Back to The Duva in good time and then Lorena and I took the Brompton bicycles out for a spin along the sea front and then up to Pollensa where we had a coffee and some cake in the Cafe Espanol on one of the elevated seats we like, took some shots with the “selfie stick" which was good fun, certainly amused some of the observers! 2 coffees and 2 cakes came to €8.50, for the record.
Sat next to a guy who was having a smoke in the cafe and really enjoyed the smell of his cigarette I’d never dream of starting smoking again but somehow it smelled really nice, I’ve always liked the smell of fresh smoke and hated it when it gets stale and impregnates clothes etc.
Must remember that the best way to find the town square where the cafes are in Pollensa is to follow the signs for the Hotel Juma which seem to be on must of the roads on the edge of the town, should make it easier in the future. Excellent piece of chocolate cake in the cafe and the Cafe Con Leche was as always superb.
Over dinner we started to make some initial plans for the next holidays, and a few other things including getting the tandem over here, lots to do and I’m looking forward to it all.
This was us in the square in Pollensa, photo du jour :-)
Random musings of a UK based cycling coach. In July 2010 rode the entire Tour de France route starting and finishing 3 days before the pros came through, particularly interested in power based training. Other interests include technology, video recording and editing, photography, sailing, the outdoor life and pretty much anything else!