With Mallorca being chosen as the 3rd destination for the annual Team Jotun race, I knew this wasn’t going to be an easy picnic ride. Mallorca is considered as one of the toughest and also most beautiful cycling destinations where the pros come to train.
Preparation and creating a training plan was a must without which a tough ride was bound to be really painful.
I immediately setup a plan which involved riding 150km a week building up to nearly 200km a week in the final few weeks before the event. Having a family meant that I didn’t want to spend too much time away from them only doing training. So training sessions had to be done early morning starting at 4:30am and finishing just in time to get ready and go for work. Training early morning also meant riding in the 8 degrees cold & windy weather (Yes, it does get cold in Dubai!). Still these were much better training conditions than our penguin friends in Europe who had to train in ice and snow.
It isn’t easy getting up and even training at such odd hours, there are days you even question why you do this, but with a clear goal in mind the journey becomes easier.
With nearly 2000km of training done in 4 months I was ready mentally even though all this training was done on the flat roads of Dubai. I hoped it would be enough to tackle the tough mountains of Mallorca.
Physically though my back had taken a beating with the intense training sessions and the ache persisted for day’s leading upto the race.
On race day we had one goal, to finish safely and together as a team.
The race kicked off sharp at 7am with over 3000 cyclists starting together. The first 25km went off rather smoothly and took us straight into the mountains for what would be a morning full of mountain climbing for upto 60km. These were the first hills I was ever tackling in over a year. The last time I ever did any climbing was in the last race that took place in Netherlands exactly a year earlier.
Thankfully the hours spent in the saddle these past 4 months had paid off.
I was actually enjoying the climbs and was finding it quiet comfortable taking on the mountains. But the climbing was also adding stress to my back and I was really feeling the discomfort in my back.
With nearly 90km of cycling done we had reached the first food station, where we had a chance to refuel and stock up on energy gels, cakes, bananas and drinks.
The hard work had been done now and things were looking good to complete the remainder of the course when cramps suddenly set in my legs after 100km. With 67km more to go, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I had to stop every few km as the cramps got really painful and I had to wait till my legs felt better to carry on. Quitting wasn’t an option. I took this time to enjoy the scenery and take some photos along the way. Slowly but steadily I reached the final food station where the rest of the group finally caught up with me. Interestingly at this station they also were serving beer. With 40km more to go the Team Jotun group were already in a party mood and we took the opportunity to have a few drinks.
I finally reached the finish line after riding for nearly 8.5 hours, the ride had taken a heavy toll on my back, I could barely stand with the cramps in my legs but I didn’t feel defeated but victorious on completing the challenge, with the other members waiting at the finish line cheering for me.
I feel these challenges are a great opportunity to train and not only become fitter and a better version of yourself, but they also make you dig deep down to find out who you really are and how far you can go to achieve something great that can break you physically and mentally.
The sense of satisfaction that comes from the achievement of such a challenge is something that each member of our Team will forever carry with them knowing that no obstacle is too big to overcome.