So now I'm back in London on a typically grey damp bank holiday weekend - not the best weather to come home to, but it's always nice to get back to your trusty old home comforts and sleep in a familiar bed.
My journey to France and Italy ended well. I even had a tentative foray into off-road riding in Liguria with our friends at Riviera Bike, Jo and Ady. We returned to London nicely refreshed and I felt good about our long weekend away.
Sadly, our second spring-time trip, to Mallorca, was a non-event by comparison. Usually I really enjoy going there and there's some great cycling to be had. But I think a combination of being greeted with unseasonably cold wet weather, and my luggage not arriving at the same time as me (which thus prevented me from riding my bike), plus a couple of other hitches put a dampener on things - literally.
Also as a general rule, I like to take in the culture of the place I'm in when I travel. Somehow, being in Mallorca where you get lots of Brits who aren't interested in the culture or the language doesn't really give much scope for that. Travelling there with Spanish people might have made it feel less like a Costa del London experience!
On the plus side, I did get to ride a nice carbon fibre Orbea, care of the good people at the Mallorca Mar i Terra bike shop in Santa Ponsa - a very comfortable ride.
We didn't get round to riding the classic Sa Calobra climb, but we experienced a few other interesting roads that I hadn't ridden before -
For example, the coll de Sa Creu, a back road that climbs only for 5km but has numerous switchbacks and is quite steep in places. It's a very scenic way of getting from Palma to Calvia.
Of course, I couldn't go to Mallorca without taking in the breathtaking coast road from Andratx through Estellencs, Banyalbufar to Valledemossa.
Once our rides were done for each day we relished our post race refreshments of wine and savouries while admiring the view from the balcony of our lovely hilltop apartment. So it wasn't too bad.
I think the next time I go, I will probably combine it with a trip to the Spanish mainland - maybe ride around the Catalunya or Valencia regions first, and then get a ferry across to Palma. That would definitely spice up the trip and give things a more Spanish feel.
pics by Fred