This load of old tosh was written for the southport CC website
The South Saxons who occupied Sussex a Millennium ago were always up for a fight. One such warrior, Ramon Verde, flew to the island of Mallorca to challenge the Ginty tribe on the time-honored battlefield of the Serra de Tramuntana. As a lone raider he lacked allies but by adopting the Saxon policy of constant attack Ramon finally subdued the Northern heathens.
The first skirmish was held on the twin peaks of San Salvador and Randa. Both roads climb to Santuari at an altitude of 500 metres and on the first climb only a grossly overgeared Dave Cockram was behind Ramon. On the second climb Allan reinforced his reputing as a “One hill wonder” by suffering a major Moment de defaillance to finish second last just in front of a struggling Cockram.
A late lunch was enjoyed in the Socialist cafe at Algaida where much sport was had trying to read the slogan on the T shirt of the delightful server. There followed an extremely rapid wind-assisted return to Can Picafort. It must be said that throughout the stage Stevie had been subdued claiming to be suffering from sun stroke! Ray took advantage of Stevie’s indisposition and launched a massive attack but Dave Cockram managed to catch him and both “oldies” worked together. Surprisingly Stevie caught the escapees and in the final sprint Cockram beat Ray without breaking sweat with Stevie a distant third.
Dave Cockram used a day cut short by heavy rain to purchase a 27 tooth sprocket to replace the 23 he had optimistically fitted. The next day was washed out and it was agreed that Thursday would be the major showdown. Five riders left the C’an Picafort at 9am heading for Pollensa but after just three km. Ramon was blocked on a roundabout and he was not to see the group again for fifty km’s. It was clear that Ginty had ripped up the rules of engagement and this was to be a titanic struggle for supremacy. Fortunately our hero was able to form an alliance with a fast-moving group of fellow Saxons from Northern Germany and by the Blue Gorge he had re-joined the Ginty Group. Ramon and Stevie shared the honours at the summit of Puig Mayor where they waited for the rest to catch up. The descent was spoiled by a convoy of coaches blocking the road but the group reached Soller safely. The traditional route then climbs the Col de Soller but at Ginty’s insistence we went instead via Deia to Valledemossa. This is a seriously tough road and Dave was immediately in difficulties. Shortly after Deia Lindsey went out the back door to be followed on the last slope by Ray. Culture vultures will know that Valledemossa is famous for the connection with some piano player but the group only had time for a coffee before pressing on to Santa Maria for a very late lunch after 72 miles. As they enjoyed their well-earned rations the “B” group arrived after a pleasant bumble through the lanes. They were careful to ensure that Stevie’s Wonders were on their way before setting off thereby avoiding a very painful 25 mile bash.
Amazingly it was Allan who headed the group at a fast pace. However after five miles Ginty hit the front and Allan reverted to his habitual role as rear gunner. On an earlier stage Dave Cockram had indicated to Ray that they should share with Ginty the burden of leading on some spurious moral ground relating to “fair-play”!!. Needless to say he rejected absolutely this phoney philosophy citing as his reason, although none was needed, the fifteen years that he was giving to Super Steve. However both Ramon and Dave did an occasional pull on the front when able but it was clear that Ginty was the locomotive of this express. When the normally cautious leader flashed through an un-sited junction on the outskirts of Llubi at thirty mph it was clear that he was a man on a mission. He tore through Muro but then on a short climb he faltered. Allan, who was at this stage of no consequence, could be heard at the rear complaining of gear trouble. Only the fast-finishing Cockram seemed to pose a threat to Saxon supremacy. Ramon decided that with seven km’s. into a stiff headwind to the finish an audacious attack was called for and he leapt away quickly taking a healthy lead. Victory seemed assured but to his horror he saw that Stevie had recovered and was leading the chase. Suddenly glorious failure seemed the likely outcome but somehow he held on to a fifty metre lead at the line. One hundred miles had been covered in saddle time of six hours twenty minutes. Not even sixteen mph but we are talking about some seriously tough terrain here. At the post mortem in Scandals bar Lindsey complained that we had missed out the Coll de Soller and it was agreed that was to be the next day’s challenge.
At breakfast Ramon and Dave agreed that a recovery ride was called for and elected to join the “B” group on a trip to San Salvador. Among those present were the Kens Perkins and Beck, Broo and Dr. John Keenan. Morning coffee was taken at the petrol station in Manacor. Dr John promised to take us via the scenic route but we finished up on the only strip of concrete on the island busier than the runway at Palma airport. Dave Cockram slipped away in the traffic and swung through the San Salvador gates 500m ahead of Ken Perkins and Ramon. Ken sooned hauled in Dave but when he managed to hang on Ramon’s morale (and legs) collapsed and he turned round in the road and free-wheeled into Llucmajor where he found Ken Beck and Dr John at the pizza joint. Meanwhile back on the unforgiving slopes of San Salvador Ken Perkins soon dropped Dave Cockram to take a well-earned victory. Dave just managed to hang on to second spot in front of the valiant Broo who took the final podium place. Dave went missing on the descent and Ken P. and Broo arrived at the Pizza place just as the slackers were sloping off. As if to attempt to make up for his abject failure at San Salvador Ramon drove along at the front until they reached the square at Petra. Is there a more pleasant place for cyclists on God’s earth?. Don’t you just love to suck on those oranges before savouring that steaming glass of cafe con leche? Maybe the cafe on the seafront at Durban runs it close if only because those blond South African cutie’s all seem to wear a skinsuit a size, or so, too small and when they perspire in that tropical humidity nothing, but nothing, is left to the imagination. Wish you were there boys?
This year there was a number of small groups coming and going at different times. A social group of Dave Livy, Alan Clarke, Joan Bradley and Dianne Moyes pottered about the island for ten days. Little is known of their activities other than they often arrived at Scandals Bar red faced and looking very flustered! The same could be said of Tam Barton and Ken Leather although Ken was not just red faced but red all over. If only he had borrowed Dr John’s factor 30 sunscreen.
The least said about the Yorkies and the Proud Prestonians the better. However mention must be made, on health and safety grounds, of Bernard’s 80th Birthday celebrations with Tam and Ken. Bernard who got completely legless crashed to the floor cracking his head on the marble. Fortunately for a reason still to be explained he was wearing his crash hat which fell into pieces on impact and Bernard is convinced saved his life. I think there is a lesson there for all of us…… wear your crash hat when binge drinking, you know it makes sense.
After the departure of the A team Paul Mayor, who was anxious to put his new found fitness to good effect, arranged a trip to the mountains. I should mention that Paul had been perky since the first day when he made Ramon suffer on the ever rising road to Petra. Indeed Ramon was amazed to see that after 45 years cycling Paul has shed the boyish puppy from his legs and now has a modicum of definition.
Paul and Ken Perkins climbed from Inca to the petrol station then over Puig Mayor to Soller and via the Coll de Soller to Bunyola. At this point Ken made a decision almost as bad as his 1960 clanger. On that occasion on a frosty February day he got dropped on the climb of the Herders and having failed to catch the Bradley group on the descent he decided that, lost and alone, the solution was to climb right back over the Herders again! This time Ken decided that three major climbs in one day just didn’t float his boat and he would go over the Orient as well. Paul said thanks but no thanks and returned to Can Picafort via Santa Maria and the Cami de Muro (pipe road).
I think it is safe to say that by the time Ken got to Inca he would have been pretty weary. In any event on a slow corner he fell from his machine and knocked his leg on his stem making cycling difficult and painful and walking impossible. He bravely struggled on to Scandals bar where Tam and Ken Leather took care of him. Ken was scarcely any better by the time came to leave the island and had to use the wheelchair service to board the plane. It is, of course, at such times that it becomes painfully apparent that we are a bunch of old codgers who in seeking to re-live our youth are risking our health and possibly our sanity! Next year I’m staying close to the Dave Livy group where the most strenuous exercise of the day is to pull the cork from a wine bottle.
And finally….be careful out there.
That nonsense is taken from the cover of the May issue of Cycle Sport recently donated by a friend. Surely The Daftest Headline Ever? Now I am a big fan of Tommeke and he is, without doubt, an all-time great over the cobbled roads of Flanders and Le Nord and that is, in my view, the best of bike racing but it is only a small part.
greenjersey photo (taken on the Thursday prior to Paris-Roubaix when Quick Step were training on the course).
Boonen’s supremacy is such a ludicrous idea that I am unwilling to put much effort into disproving the fallacy by turning up the records so I will just mention a few names starting with, unsurprisingly, Eddy Merck. By my reckoning Boonen has won seven classics (all monuments) which just happens to be the number of times Eddy won Milan-San Remo!
Then we have Rik Van Looy who won every Classic, most more than once plus two World pro road titles unlike Tom who is stuck on one.
Then we have Roger De Vlaeminck with eleven classic wins. Who can doubt that The Gypsy was a better man for the Classics than Tom? Roger may be the typical Flandrian but that didn’t stop him winning at San Remo, Liege and Lombardy.
Some may include Kelly in this list of Boonen beaters but not me. I have a simple rule for Classics men, No Tour of Flanders, No good!
So there we are, five minutes thought and Boonen isn’t even on the podium in Belgium!