The Islander’s regular cycling columnist Dan Marsh is away this month, practising what he preaches by doing something horribly gruelling up the Stelvio Pass on two wheels, so it seems perfect timing to commandeer his page to report on the Six – Points Charity Cycling Challenge ride last month, and to invite you to join us for more of the same next year.
The idea is elegantly simple. A bunch of riders set of for a friendly, mostly non competitive three day jaunt around Mallorca, in the process raising a few quid for a local charity. Specifically the event took in the extreme cardinal points of the island. St Elm in the West, Cap Formentor in the North, the lighthouse at Cala Ratjada in the East and the lighthouse at Ses Salinas in the South. We also took in the highest point, or at least the highest point you can practically cycle to, the tunnel at Puig Major, and the lowest point, the sea obviously, but I don’t need to explain that bit to you nautical types.
The event, the brainchild of Brian Visser is in its second year. With only a handful of riders last year, the roster this year got to 43, with riders from Mallorca, and a number from the UK, who we were very happy to show our island off to. The youngest was just 16, and lightening fast, the oldest was, well, not 16 and not quite so rapid, but nobody gets left behind.
Day one was the big one. An early start in Calvia village was in order, it was going to be a very long day. A ceremonial start hosted by Calvia council, Eva Serra, Deputy Mayor for Sport at the Ajuntament de Calvia and Dolina Reynolds, head of International citizens at Calvia, and members of the ASDICA charity who were the beneficiaries of this year’s ride.
From Calvia, full of pasta from the carbo loading dinner the night before, the peloton in fine fettle set off the the first of the Six Points, at St Elm, before turning round and tackling the not inconsequential obstacle of the Tramuntana mountains in pursuit of a hotel bed, and dinner at the legendary Tolo’s in Puerto Pollenca. There isn’t space to give you a blow-by-blow account of the 9 hours 23 minutes and 19 seconds it took me to cover the 148.46km and 3,571 metres of vertical ascent, suffice to say it was stunning, grueling in equal measure. There were plenty faster than me, semi professional riders who described it as “the toughest ride I have ever done!”… tell me about it. But there was plenty of time for coffee and lunch stops to make new friends united in suffering and enjoy what has to be one of the World’s greatest cycling routes.
Tolo’s restaurant on the beach in Pollenca is the stuff of cycling legend. A keen cyclist himself, Tolo has welcomed the great and the good from the world of cycling over the years, and has collected memorabilia that decorates the walls and hangs from the ceiling. A couple of Bradley Wiggins winning bikes and Tour de France yellow jerseys are a highlight. Brian had managed to invite a couple of cycling heavyweights to join the riders for dinner. Aussies Shane Sutton, one of the brains behind the success of British Cycling’s Olympic achievement and the foundation of Team Sky, and Rochelle Gilmore, former pro rider and founder of the Wiggle team, and revolutionary force in women’s cycling. Calories were duly replaced and drink taken as Shane and Rochelle mixed with the riders. The next morning they donned the lycra and joined the peloton for our trip to the Northernmost tip of Mallorca the stunning ride to the lighthouse at Cap Formentor, a day to remember, and it wasn’t even 11 am yet.
Day two took in the Easterly point at Cala Ratjada before the overnight stop at Cala Millor.
The final day, Sunday was mercifully flat, and another early start was in order taking in the lighthouse at Ses Salinas before turning for home and a mid afternoon finish on the beach at Paguera. The riders were treated to a heroes welcome, with representatives of the Calvia council and members of the ASDICA charity forming a guard of honour mixed with friends and family. Very large beers all round, a quick dip in the nippy Mediterranean waters to soothe tired muscles.
Brian and all the riders are very grateful to the support of Tolo’s, Calvia council and the many sponsors and volunteers who made the event possible With rider’s sponsorship added to the pot it looks like the final total raised will be upwards of €16,000 to this year’s beneficiaries ASDICA, who are a Calvia based charity established for over 20 years dedicated to supporting disabled people and their families. They are a small organisation and the money raised by this years Six Point Challenge will make a huge difference to the work they carry out. Brian is very happy to confirm that they will again be the beneficiaries for the event next year.
So, now you know what it’s all about, we are going to need you, and your money for next year as we look to expand the event. The dates are already in the diary for next year, so get the training in and join us on 17th, 18th and 19th May 2019.