Only 40 kilometers to the end of the 232KM, the second option for those who did not want to run all the 312Km. I stick to a train of 4 Spanish guys riding at a perfect 35 Kph. With this “train” we overtake a few riders along the country road with the stone walls on the sides.
I find myself just behind the head of the train, in front of the me the guy I now consider he who saved my Mallorca 312. Now and then another rider takes over but they cannot keep his rhythm, so they give up and they get back in line shaking their heads, as if admitting unwillingly that he is the best to lead the train. I turn my head, wondering how long the train has become, and to my amazement I realize the most of the riders we passed by have then joined us and we are up to 50 people all in a tight group now.
At some point I manage to get closer to the lead guy and thank him. We are now reaching Playa de Muro, the arrival of the 232 race, the second option we have to close the race. But I have no doubt, I can face another 80 Km, is it just like one of my Sunday tours, Como to Menaggio and back. I am getting to the end of the 312.
I pass the arrival line (it is the same for all three distances). In the middle of it there is a guy that signals the two options: end the race at 232 Km or keep going for the 312 Km. I aim for the 312 but the guy in front of me suddenly crosses my path and I find myself into the wrong gate “NOOOOOO” I scream and the guy says “Que pasa?” I think fast, I need to fix this. I stop, pas under the gates and get back on track.
I am now 200mt behind my train. I keep getting faster and the distance gets less and less. I reach the English guy that shared part of the race with me “Good job!” he says and I feel good to go. My effort has been a bit too much, and after 30 Km I loose it a bit and find myself solo again after going up and down through narrow roads with stone walls and sheep throwing perplexes glances at us.
I am 50 meters behind the train, and despite my efforts I cannot reach them again. I try to by cutting a bend that costs me the shout of a Policeman. I am 10 meters to the train, but I must slow down to keep my energies.
I see some signs saying “Artà” and I guess I am near the famous party atmosphere we heard about. After the last ascent with a 5km/h wind against me I get to a stretch of road where there are young people and a music band. I feel good humored and I keep going. I reach Artà, the heart of the party! Music, people, beer and relaxed riders “am I the only dead tired one?”. At the edge of the party people, I see some riders sitting and drinking Coke instead of beer, and eating bananas and oranges. I sit and get one of the staff members to wash my hands, these guys are so nice and helpful! I can feel it, I am gonna make it. I am so sure that I call home and scream my joy into the phone!
I get on the saddle again, I find it harder than usual to get my pedals in position. I see someone I seem to recognize: it is “Rapha Man!” He tells me that this time the Mallorca 312 is harder than other times for him. His name is Jean-Luc, like the Star Trek captain, and he does look like Picard a tad, he is from London and he will reach the arrival line a few minutes ahead of me.
We ride together for 15 Km, until he takes off on the highway that ends the loop from Artà. 10 Km to go! I overtake a rider who then sticks to me and I drag him for 5 Km. We both scream at the woman in the car that seems to be getting into our roundabout, she freezes and we keep going.
We reach the end together and we shake hands, he is thankful that I helped him in this last stretch. I raise my hands to the sky (risking to fall right on the finishing line!). I did it! In 13h06’59” I finished my Mallorca312!