Between November 5 and November 19 Jerry and Odette biked on Mallorca and visited museums in Madrid
At the end of our summer trip to Alsace and Berlin I thought we had agreed to take a non-bike trip somewhere warm, instead of our usual ski trip. I put in a plug for Mallorca because I’d long wanted to see what drew all of the Brits and Germans. I didn’t have any illusions about Odette suddenly becoming a climber, but our experience with the tandem on German trains made me think we ought to explore the options to hauling our bike around.
Several months later we had a come-to-Jesus talk about when exactly were we going to book that trip. It turned out that Odette was worrying about money and thought that maybe if she postponed it I’d forget about it. When I pointed out that she already had a credit with Air France so that we weren’t talking that much expense she relented. Then we had another conversation about waiting until April because November was the rainiest month in Palma.
Eventually, about two weeks before we flew out, we committed to a tour. Once again, I rode my usual 40-50 miles a day while Odette concentrated on Duolingo. When we got the information package I realized that our routes would be in RideWith GPS format. This struck me as a much better set-up that the proprietary stuff we’d encountered on our last trip and it inspired me to pay for an upgrade to my account so that I could have voice output on the turn-by-turn. I also ordered a couple of phone holders for the handlebars. Odette bought the roller bag she had been coveting.
Early in the pandemic I replaced my Dromarti bike shoes. It seemed like a waste to throw out the old ones since the uppers were still in pretty good shape. I emailed the manufacturer and asked if they sold a kit to convert to flat soles and was told that while no kit was available any competent cobbler would be able to build them up. A year passed and I prevailed on Odette to take them in the the curmudgeon in Ballard we used for shoe repair. He said that they weren’t reparable and that I should be glad I’d gotten my money’s worth out of them. Another year went by and I saw an ad talking about their new classic shoe – with a flat sole. I took my distressed uppers to Swanson’s in Wallingford which told me they’d be pretty stiff for walking but that putting a flat sole on them would not be a problem, although with their backlog it would be the first week in November before they were done. I agreed and then we booked the trip with a flight out the day after I was to pick up my shoes.
We got an early-morning Lyft to the airport and realized on the way out that we’d forgotten the euros we’d brought back from our last trip. We flew Delta to New York (no meal!) where we waited something like four hours for a flight to Madrid. Odette was scared about the time required for customs and bussing to another terminal so she scheduled a flight that gave us something like an eight hour layover in Madrid but which departed from the terminal where we arrived. In short we spent most of a day sitting in airports – but after applying the Air France credit the airlines only charged us a couple hundred dollars! The flights were uneventful, the waits even more so.
We got to Palma and it was warm and sunny, The drive into town was notable for the Cathedral and an angular building that was evidently a STEM facility. Odette looked out toward the water and bike path. We checked in to a very nice hotel in the old part of town and then walked a bit of the main road into downtown. (One remarkable thing was the upside down church near the museum of contemporary art.) We had a fantastic dinner in the hotel restaurant and admired the view from the top floor. In the morning we walked out and back on the beach and took a short exploration in the old neighborhood by the Cathedral. We stopped at a pastry shop and then connected with a taxi for the ride to Alcudia. (More like a step van, actually. The driver pissed off the police by parking in traffic to pick us up and then got pulled over for going wrong way on a one-way street….)
The hotel in Alcudia had six rooms in a remarkable old building. We got checked in and then walked around the church and followed the wall all the way around the old town. Late in the afternoon we walked out to a bike shop (not having left enough time for the walk) and picked up rental bikes that we rode back to the hotel. We had dinner at a pizza place that was surprisingly good and which had a menu that went well beyond pizza.
The next morning we took off on a ride to Cap de Formentor – a 35 mile ride (with 3,500 ft. of elevation) described as the best ride on Mallorca. We got to the first switchback and Odette pooped out. We headed back to Alcudia taking a route through Pollensa and I had a flat tire about five miles from the hotel. Obviously that wouldn’t have been much more than an annoyance except that the bike (a heavy alloy hybrid with 2-inch tires and 7-speed gearing) had a generator hub on the front wheel which was secured with cap-type nuts instead of a quick release. We called the bike shop in Alcudia and they said they’d bring a wrench out to us if we could tell them where we were. That was actually easier said then done – the roads didn’t have names either on google maps or IRL. We finally emailed GPS coordinates that were only slightly off and they sent a van which found us and delivered a replacement bike. We had dinner back at the same pizza place.
The following day we rode from Alcudia to Caimari – 25 miles with another flat on Odette’s bike and with a short loop at the end that Odette vigorously advocated shortcutting. We stayed in a very nice small hotel with a full set of tools in the bike storage room and with a dedicated bike washing area. I capitalized on the opportunity to use an allen wrench to adjust my saddle height. I didn’t avail myself of the bike washer. We ate at a traditional Mallorcan place that featured an outdoor grill. The grilled meat was excellent and the staff was entertaining. The next day it rained and there was no way Odette was going to get on a bike. We walked around the village ( I wanted to buy a patch kit since we were down to one good inner tube) but the one bike shop wasn’t open. We had lunch at a cerveceria and went back to the place with the outdoor grill for dinner.
From Caimari we rode 17 miles to Sineu and checked into an old hotel that must have once been a nice place. Then we rode 20 miles out-and-back to a winery. The reds were quite nice and we had two 6-bottle boxes shipped to Berlin for Will. Odette had another flat on the way back but we still rode that segment in good time. When we got back to the hotel she called the bike shop in Alcudia and they sent somebody out with a four-pack of new tubes. We ate at a restaurant on the main square with a really impressive basement room and a good menu. The next day we rode a 24 mile loop covering vineyards and archeological sites. We tried to eat at the same restaurant by the church but were told it was fully reserved. We settled for a pizza place with an inferior basement and noticed that there was still nobody seated in the preferred place when we finished up and headed back to the hotel.
The next day Odette was uncomfortable and wanted to see a doctor. We spent the morning exploring options and walking the old part of town to find the public clinic. Odette took exception to the way they managed her complaint, but didn’t want to ride her bike to Inca (the closest hospital) so she settled for an antacid and the discomfort vanished almost instantly. We went back to the pizza place for dinner and asked Cycle Fiesta if they could have our pick-up happen earlier.
The next morning we packed and organized the bike stuff and then settled into the cab for a short ride back to Palma and the same hotel we’d stayed at when we arrived. We spent an afternoon walking the old town and visiting the Cathedral and the museum of sacred art. We had dinner at the hotel restaurant again – we were indoors this time so the view wasn’t as spectacular but the food was still very good. The next morning we had time for some more walking in the old town and then a cab took us to the airport and a flight to Madrid.
Madrid was colder than Palma and it was threatening rain. Our hotel was right across from the Prado, positioned for the tourist trade. It was a big boxy five-story thing that took up a whole block and was still pretty much invisible because all of the space at street level had been rented out to souvenir shops and tabacs with a profusion of neon storefronts. Our room had twin beds. For breakfast they served instant coffee.
We spent four days in Madrid. We ate at different restaurants every meal – some fabulous and some pretty regular. We visited the Prado, the Thyssen-Bornemisza, and the Reina Sophia. The last one was the most interesting because of the posters and publications from the 1930s. We also walked through the botanical gardens which must be really nice when it’s not winter.
We had an early morning flight out of Madrid and got to the airport far enough ahead of time that nothing was open. The flight to JFK was uneventful but customs in New York were slow (albeit pretty organized) and security was even slower and far less organized. Our boarding section had already been called when we got to the gate but we slipped on and even found room in the overhead for our stuff. The flight to Seattle was remarkable only for the woman with sneezing fits across the aisle from us. They don’t serve a meal that direction either.
It was cold and rainy in Seattle when we got back. We took a Lyft home and congratulated ourselves on a successful trip to a warm spot. Two days later Odette tested positive for Covid.
Here’s the itinerary:
Here are the rides:
11/7 – Mallorca 1: Alcudia. map. 3 miles
11/8 – Mallorca 2: Pollansa. map 1. map 2. 25 miles
11/9 – Mallorca 3: Caimari. map. 25 miles
11/11 – Mallorca 4: Sineu. map. 17 miles
11/11 – Mallorca 5: Binnissalem. map. 20 miles
11/12 – Mallorca 6: Costix. map. map. 25 miles
- The shoes held up just fine and were comfortable for walking
- Odette psychs herself out on bike rides and on physical symptoms
- You don’t get to know a city by holing up in famous museums
- The more challenging rides on Mallorca would likely be doable tandem and a trip in the spring would be a lot of fun
- The most random encounter on the trip was in the Prado when a stranger came up to me to demonstrate that he had the same hand tremor that I have
- rental bikes are not a plan
- Things would have been easier with an iPad – maybe I’ll load RWGPS on the old MacBook air and see if that helps
- the RWGPS routes worked well and with our bluetooth helmet navigation was pretty good (but we didn’t try any urban centers or any complicated route adjustments)