Trek Travel: Mallorca
May 04, 2019
Last week I went on another week-long cycling excursion, this time with Trek Travel at their Mallorca Ride Camp. For this trip we stayed in a single hotel, Monnabar Nou, for the whole week, and our group was guided around the roads of Mallorca by the Trek guides. The riding was fantastic, as Mallorca is known as the top cycling destination in the world. It did not dissapoint, and the highlight is the vast amount of cyclists you'll see on the roads each day. It's hard to describe just how popular it is, I've never seen anything like it. There are hundreds of different groups of cyclists going on rides every day. Bikes far outnumber cars on the roads. The island is covered with great climbs, amazing views, wonderful small towns, and beautiful farmland. Just the best!
- Trek provides a very nice bike, so I only had to bring my cycling clothes, shoes, and saddle (don't want to sit on any other seat for a whole week!).
- The hotel was remote, a weeek-long rental car was cheaper than the two-way taxi fare, and required to do anything outside of the hotel after the riding is done. I had a tiny Fiat 500.
- Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday the guides took us on wonderful, very hilly rides around the mountains. The route is pre-loaded on your Garmin (Bike GPS) so you can go at your own pace. They've got a van full of water, snacks, and lunch to meet up with at the rest stops.
- Sunday and Wednesday are self-guided days, I recommend the "flat" rides (the island isn't truly flat anywhere). These can also be done at a slower pace to enjoy local scenery and cafes.
Tour du Rouge Day 6: Gonzales to New Orleans
May 11, 2018
The last day! An "easy" 80+ mile cruise into New Orleans. There were headwinds today, so every group was going a little slower. I took it easy, hanging back most of the ride, until we got to the last rest stop. With 20 miles to go to lunch, there was a looming 3:00 deadline. This last 20 miles was on a nice bike path on the Mississippi River levee, with a medium headwind. In other words, exactly the conditions I train/commute in every day. I was ready for this, and booked it alone at 20mph to get to Audubon Park with enough time to enjoy lunch. The 3:00 deadline was for our Police escort into town. We cruised in as a group, picking up more riding companions from the New Orleans Arc chapter, and rolled to the finish line. A flurry of celebrating, packing, eating, drinking and more celebrating took us late into the night.
For those who are new, I'll wrap up the trip with more details on this ride. Organized by the Arc of Houston as one of their fundraisers, the Tour du Rouge this year had 50 Riders, raising $2,500 each (totaling over $150,000), and over 20 crew handling all the logistics and support. Every morning we eat breakfast at the hotel buffet, then pack up our bags and drop them off in one of the SAG (Support and Gear) trucks. All 50 riders will roll out of the hotel together, with a Police escort out of town. As we get rolling, the riders will naturally form many groups, where riders going the same pace stick together and draft off each other. The fast group would average over 22mph the whole day, and the slow groups took it easier at 16-17mph. The crew lays out route markings and signs along the way, have given out laminated route cards, and digital maps to download to our devices. The crew has at least 4 rest stops set up with ice water, Gatorade, and all sorts of snacks. One will also have a good lunch. There are several support vehicles driving back and forth while riding to assist with any problems. Two mechanics from the BikeBarn will be there to help change a flat, exhausted riders can jump in a van (though nobody wants to), and there's even a photographer taking pictures. When arriving to the next hotel (I'd get in between 2-3:00), there's a large tent set up in the back of the parking lot, and there are snacks, drinks (beer) and chairs waiting. Bags are delivered directly to the room, with A/C on, ready for a shower, and a massage team ready to rub down tired legs. All hotels had a pool, a popular hang out spot, before dinner is served by a mobile catering crew back in the parking lot tent. It's a well-run machine. Everyone there is really friendly (as you'd expect from bike people wearing spandex most of the day), and everyone has a lot of fun, and a lot of great riding!
Tour du Rouge
Tour du Rouge Day 5: Morgan City to Gonzales
May 10, 2018
Ride map and stats
After a couple days feeling less than 100%, I woke up today raring to go. I hopped in the fast group, trading pulls at 23mph until the first rest stop. From there, I fell back to the second group (I can't quite keep up that full pace all day), following a police escort at 22mph to the second rest stop. I stayed in the second group through the BBQ lunch on a historic plantation along the Mississippi River all the way to the finish to average over 20mph for the almost 90 mile ride, the fastest average speed I've ever done on a bike. Quite incredible!
Stroad. Getting to travel through and stay in these towns, one thing I've seen a lot of is stroads. A portmanteau of street and road, it accomplishes neither objective well. It's where you'll have many business you want to visit - hotels, restaurants, retail, convenience stores, and the only way to get between them is in a car going 40mph, even if they're just a few blocks away. All of our hotels have been on stroads, which makes it very difficult to get around. I've made daily excursions from the hotel - to see a movie, get some cream, find a nice chocolate milkshake - and been faced with obstacles every time - a 4 mile pedestrian detour, no sidewalks, no crosswalks. It's ridiculous there isn't the minimal infrastructure in place to enable better mobility and business growth. We can do a much better job of planning and building cities.
Tour du Rouge Day 4: Lafayette to Morgan City
May 09, 2018
Our highlight for the day was stopping at Avery Island, the home of Tabasco Sauce. I'm not a big fan of the original, but they make many other flavors which are quite good. Even though it's not on the coast, it is somehow surround by water, so if you take a bridge to get there, I guess it's an island. And it's not a hill, but a "salt dome". Either way, it's a beautiful place.
The riding is starting to hurt a bit. Just about everywhere except for my legs. Some bumpy roads and headwind didn't help either. I've found a good group that goes a comfortable speed for me. They call themselves the "Goats", and they all have a toy goat stuck to the top of their helmets.
This year the tour has raised over $150,000 to help the Arc chapters around the Gulf Coast. The Arc provides support to adults with intellectual disabilities, and their families. This mission is especially important since Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, and the Arc has been leading the charge in helping many families rebuild homes and restore their lives, so thank you to all who helped me in supporting their work.
Tour du Rouge Day 3: Sulpher to Lafayette
May 08, 2018
The third day of the TdR is the longest day at just over 100 miles. Another flat and fast day. My stomach wasn't 100% happy with all the beer and Gatorade from yesterday, so I stayed back with what I think was the 3rd group on the road. Still quite a fast day through Louisiana, with lots of rice and crawfish farms (apparently they come from the same place). We came in significantly faster than my previous "centuries", though this route was much flatter, and there were virtually no traffic lights to slow us down. My legs are feeling great, and ready for the next three days, which will all be a little shorter than what we've already done. I am starting to get a bit sore in the saddle area, however.
The roads we ride on here are not ones that I would take on by myself. Traffic is quite fast, and there are no shoulders. To make things safe, we get a police escort out of town in the morning, and even had another one back in today (just walking on the sidewalk is scary on our street here). On the back country roads, we keep in medium sized groups to share the work (it's much easier to be riding/drafting behind somebody else), to make us more visible to cars, and give extra sets of eyes and ears on the lookout. So far there haven't been any problems.
Tour du Rouge Day 2: Beaumont to Sulpher
May 07, 2018
Tour du Rouge Day 1: Houston to Beaumont
May 06, 2018
Bicycle Commuting Update
March 21, 2014