Before sharing my experience riding the very first edition of the Jeroboam Mallorca 300km, I need to take you back to 2021.
After successfully finishing four 150km Jeroboam Gravel Challenges (Asiago, Dolomiti, Franciacorta and Austria), I felt the need to step it up a notch and get ready for my first “real” Jeroboam distance (300km) in 2022. However, just as I was about to hit my yearly 12000km goal in December 2021, I had an unfortunate collision with a small deer, which sent me into the hospital with a broken shoulder blade that postponed my plans (I don’t have further information about the above mentioned deer, but he/she did manage to escape the crime scene, possibly helped by friends and/or family).
Fast forward to 2022, I slowly recovered from surgery and started riding again from April onwards, to reach a yearly total of about 6000km and another Jeroboam 150km in Franciacorta. With that hurdle jumped, I got back to planning my first 300km Jeroboam for 2023 and decided to use the first edition of the Jeroboam Mallorca as my testing grounds for my physical and mental capabilities.
How does one prepare for a 300km bike ride? Good question, and one that is impossible to answer before asking another question first; “how do you want to cover that long distance, as fast as possible or as enjoyable as possible?”. If you want to ride it as fast as possible, hire a coach, build up serious training plan, spend a truckload of money on getting your bike as light as possible, shave your legs and go for it. I chose the other option as I lacked any ambitions of finishing before anyone else and trained by just riding my 3T Ultra when and where I felt like it, mainly in the mountainous area close to the 3T headquarters in Bergamo. To strengthen my shoulders and upper body I added some swimming, which I advise to all cyclists to complement the leg-focussed training of riding your bike. I must admit that even that second, non-competitive option usually involves spending too much money on bike parts, bags, clothing etc, but I’m working on that with my therapist. So, my training consisted mainly of gradually increasing weekend rides up to 150km, and daily commutes of 15km each way to keep my legs spinning on regular base.
Back to March 2023, and after a long drive to Barcelona, followed by a ferry crossing to Palma de Mallorca, we reached the lovely little town of Artá, the start and end point of the Jeroboam and home of our 3T Experience Centre La Bicicletta. The owners, Emiliano from Italy, and Gustavo from Spain received us with open arms and three great routes. Not a single Jeroboam event would be possible without the local knowledge and support of our partners who are very eager to share their best routes with fellow cyclists from around the world. Friday evening, they organised a barbecue for all the riders which was a great opportunity to get to know some of the 80 people who, planned to discover part of this beautiful island by bike.
We got more than enough proof of that beauty on Saturday morning, when the ride started with a ride through the Peninsula de Llevant Natural Park. To avoid disturbing the wild animals too much, those first 30km were accompanied by local bikers and not timed, which gave everyone the possibility to look at the wonderful Mediterranean landscapes and alluring white sand beaches. My legs were feeling good, the weather was slightly clouded but perfect for riding, and I was loving the scenery even when we got to the steepest uphill sections. Once I left the nature reserve, I rode by myself for a while through a variety of landscapes and on different surfaces from gravel through to sand, chatting with the people I met along the way and most importantly pacing myself, as I knew I had a long way to go. For me that’s the most important lesson for riding long distances, always keep it nice and steady and avoid pushing yourself too much, because you will very likely regret it later. As the saying goes in Italian: “chi va piano va lontano” (those who go slow go far). And while going slowly far, I ended up sharing the final 200km with two new friends, Jason from the UK and Dovak from Slovenia, their company helped me a lot to get through the harder times on the ride that you will inevitably go through sooner or later.
After 183km we reached the checkpoint where we resupplied with food and drinks and rested our tired legs and buttocks, before heading back out into the darkness. As I counted down the kilometres, we pushed on staring in the hypnotising beams of our headlights, only stopping for pee breaks and some Haribo candy that kept us fuelled better than many sports specific gels and bars. It was funny for me to notice how the variation in road surface, always had us welcoming the changes from road to gravel, gravel back to road, uphill to downhill and even downhill to uphill, mainly because this last change gave us the opportunity to stand up on our pedals and relieve the saddle pressure for a few minutes.
The three of us finally crossed the finish line in Artá together on Sunday morning at 3.30, after about 15,5 hours of riding and 20 hours of elapsed time since the start, and I was very happy to see Emiliano and my colleague Gianluca, who had been waiting for all riders to arrive all throughout the night, after concluding my first 300km Jeroboam successfully.
In the picture: Emiliano and Gianluca
Doing a 300km Jeroboam is definitively a different beast from 150km, and I have no intention of doing this sort of distances every weekend. But that’s ok, just as doing a Jeroboam 75km or even 37,5km is ok, if that’s better in line with your ambitions, fitness level or even motivation. It takes the liberating feeling you get from riding a bike to the next level, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, even if some of it was type II fun. Perhaps taking sleeping gear with me and splitting up the distance over two days, but those are worries for later.
For now, I’m looking forward to the Veneto Gravel in April and the Tuscany Trail in June, and certainly some Jeroboams in the middle, and I hope to see many of you there!