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5 Random Things I Did This Weekend in Mallorca

From Wednesday of last week until last night, I was down in Mallorca, which is a small Spanish island located in the Mediterranean.  It’s a super-quick journey from Paris, yet has mostly warm and sunny weather, even this time of year.  It’s super-popular in the cycling world, especially for training camps. This time of year though, it’s very quiet from a tourist standpoint.  Thus everything is super-cheap.  My hotel was $160 total for 3 nights (on the water, including breakfast), and airfare is typically about $120-$140 round trip from Paris.  And my food costs per day were about $10-$15 in fresh baguettes, Iberico ham and Manchego cheese.  Not too shabby!

1) I waited for my luggage:

2016-02-10 23.19.49 I spent my first full day on the island waiting for my luggage to arrive.  For reasons that are unclear to me, the airline decided my bag was better placed in Valencia than it was in Palma Mallorca.  So, off my bag went to Valencia.  Then, it decided that despite 18 million flight options per day between those two city (direct and via super-close by Barcelona), that they’d spend an extra 24 hours getting it back to me. Sigh. While I had the bike, much of the gear I needed was checked in the suitcase.  No doubt having a carry-on would have solved that, there’s a point of ‘too many things to carry on’.  I try and take high-value/fragile items with me on the plane.  So stuff like my DSLR camera, drones, etc… But eventually you have to draw the line on what to take onboard.  Especially since European airlines often like to weigh your carry-on luggage. And while you might be tempted to pack a lot in your bike case, there’s two downsides to that.  First is that’s more things to damage your bike.  And given it wasn’t my $5,000+ bike (actually, probably close to $10,000 with all the components on it), I’m hesitant to put it at more risk.  And second, with a bike bag I can usually avoid the bike fee if it’s light enough.  Since that $10,000 bike (and my travel bag) was lighter than my backpack, it easily passed through without a bike fee.  The more you put in there, the more likely they are to hit you up on fees. So I waited.  And, I scoped out the routes I would use over the remaining days – so at least that was helpful.

2) Testing out SRAM RED eTAP

Last week the SRAM folks dropped off a fully equipped Specialized Tarmac bike with SRAM RED eTAP.  So down in Mallorca would be my first rides with the bike (aside from tiny loops around the streets near the DCR Cave to ensure it worked).  For those not familiar, SRAM RED eTAP is wireless shifting.  No wires/cables between the derailleurs and shifters. IMG_6055 So far, so good.  The shifting is responsive and it hasn’t ‘missed’ a shift yet, meaning that every time I told it to shift, it did so.  The battery system is definitely more convenient than the Di2 I installed on my bike two summers ago, in terms of size and portability.  Each eTAP Battery is about the weight of a gel pack and gets ~60 hours of riding before recharging: IMG_6069 You can switch them up if need be, as they are interchangeable from front and back derailleur.  The shifters have simple coin cell batteries in them. IMG_6075 I’ll be working on a full in-depth review for March, including a tear-down of the system so you can see how it gets installed (it’s pretty easy/simple). In related news – the riding there was awesome.  I was staying on the eastern edge, in the town of Port de Pollenca.  From there most of my riding was around the cape, which is an out/back mountain road to the point/lighthouse. DCIM\108_VIRB The appeal of this is that there’s almost no reason for any normal traffic on the road.  It’s just tourists and cyclists.  And there are very few tourists this time of year.  For example, when I arrived on Saturday the above spot was empty. DCIM\108_VIRB DCIM\108_VIRB The out and back road was the kind of road I could ride every day.  Lots of climbing and descending, but still a nice patch in the middle on the flats that you could push on a bit if you wanted.  Just watch out for the goats! DCIM\108_VIRB They be everywhere!  Seriously, you really do need to watch out for the goats.

3) More Airdog action shots:

vlcsnap-2016-02-14-23h18m55s251 One of the reasons I selected Mallorca (in February) was because it would be rather quiet and away from the crowds.  As such, I’m able to get in some good footage with the Airdog action cam drone for my review.  For me, whenever I’m flying drones I like to be away from people or other things that I have to worry about.  Generally, I’d like the middle of a desert of possible.  This time of year, that’s basically Mallorca. For example on my ride on Saturday morning – only a single car passed me on the outbound leg (and the same car again coming back).  Similarly, I left early enough that there were perhaps 3-4 cyclists that I saw for the first 90 minutes. In any case, I collected tons of footage that I’ll put together in a video when I have more spare time (I’m super slow at video edits).  So, here’s a few pretty pics: QuickEditForExport-1 QuickEditForExport-3 QuickEditForExport-7 Cool stuff, and the unit performed well in the notoriously high-winds.  Obviously, you get a bit more chop in some video segments, but for winds that were in the 30-40MPH range in some places, not to shabby.

Update: Here’s a video I shot on how to use the Airdog while cycling, plus a little teaser video at the end!

4) Put together a video on PowerPod:

IMG_6086 As I start wrapping up my PowerPod in-depth review for publication in the next 5-10 days, I put together a short video showing how it works during one of the rides.  Well, actually, before, during, and after the ride. I talk through the main aspects of the system, then show how it responds out on the bike.  Then afterwards I walk through my analysis suite to talk about how well the power compares.  Here’s that little snippet of cinematic awesomeness: Within my full in-depth review I’ll cover many more rides.  I’ve actually been moving the unit around between bikes a bit, as that’s one of the areas I think is most interesting about it in terms of how it reacts to such changes.

5) Getting back home:

2016-02-13 13.21.29 After getting in a few rides (less than I wanted due to lack of luggage), it was time to head back to Paris on Saturday night.  Unfortunately, yet more flight delays meant I spent extra time in London’s Heathrow airport.  Apparently flights weren’t really going my way. On the bright side, I did make it home in time to watch the last 30-40 minutes of the US Olympic Marathon trials.  Woot! 2016-02-13 21.45.39 With that – thanks for reading, and hope everyone had a great weekend!

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53 Comments

  1. Bruce Burkhalter

    Mallorca looks awesome. Was thinking of doing a trip there but will probably do Dolomites first.

    “Each Di2 Battery is about the weight of a gel pack and gets ~60 hours of riding before recharging:”

    Do you mean eTap instead of Di2?

    Bruce

  2. Bastien

    Hello
    what is your software for the l analysis of curves of the powerpod thanks

  3. John

    Can you talk about real-world eTap shifting performance changing the chainring while adjusting the cog in back, since it doesn’t seem to be possible to change both at once with the new shifting paradigm?

  4. Robert Black

    Mallorca’s a great holiday destination, never a need to layer up and an abundance of healthy food. From my perspective I’ve never found better within the limitations of a two hour flight from the UK

    • Costa del Sol is just as good, but you have to choose wisely

    • Vic

      Eduardo, Can you expand, so we know how to choose widely? Thx!

    • Robert

      Gran alacant is a nice area, mainly Spanish bars and eateries and some nice running to be had towards el etat iirc and Alicante. If a bar says sky sports here I know its English owned and avoid it. If I wanted that I could stay at home

    • Ok, here we go…

      Assuming that, besides traveling to know a different place, culture, relax and what not; you are heavily sports oriented and into running and/or triathlon…

      First of all I would avoid touristy places like Fuengirola, Benalmádena and Torremolinos. Not only for hotel, but for everything else. There is nothing really interesting there.

      As for sports-minded travel, I will clearly choose Benahavis and a rental car. There is a nice hotel as well as plenty of great options from Airbnb. From there you have many really nice trails for running, the road is really nice for cycling (although a little bit short, but you can then go to many different places from there) and a small river-canyon that can be walked/swimmed.

      From there you can run many different tracks, both trail as road running. And very close (30min drive) you have many great hiking trails in Istan, or the climb to La Concha (1.221m), or many different routes around the same place.

      Also for biking you can go to Istan in less than two hours, which makes for a nice and quick bike workout (less than a couple hours). Or make it larger going to Coin, Monda, Yunquera… everything around a Natural Reserve.

      Or another bike route going through Grazalema, another near Natural Reserve with great roads for biking.

      And if you don’t want to bring your own bike I can get you in touch with a friend that rents both road as mountain bikes

      The weather is always good. Although I feel freezing right now, but that’s just because I’m now use to nice weather and 14ºC feels like crappy weather (I know it’s unreal to be like that. I lived in WA a long time ago and they wish they had this weather), but for outsiders coming from cold places this is just paradise.

      Swimming is not as nice as Mallorca or any other place from the Mediterranean sea. Although technically this is also the Mediterranean, it’s almost the Atlantic Ocean and the beaches are not as nice and the water can be cold some days. But in the end, water is water and good enough for swimming.

      If you need any more info feel free to ask. But if you plan a “sports vacation”, you can find everything here. And you can even play golf, if that fits you ;-)

    • Vic

      Thanks Eduardo, much appreciated!

    • Eduardo!
      Thanks for the explanation, you have me convinced to research and pursue this idea further! You can take the credit for it if you see in the near future a 5 Random Things post from Ray going here… be sure he won’t leave me at home this time either :)
      Thanks for the info!

    • Make sure he won’t leave you at home! Just shoot me an e-mail whenever you feel like spending some days here and I will detail the nicest things you shouldn’t miss (not only places, but also the best places for typical food, “pescaito”). If you don’t you can miss all the goodness.

      For example, I think that Ray missed the opportunity to try some good “sobrasada” and “ensaimada” when he was in the island.

      And congrats on your pregnancy! ;-)

  5. DC good to see you managed a few miles in sunshine. Here is cold in the UK and warm skies have an appeal. Sorry to hear about the delays that is one reason I think it is easier to hire a bike than take your own. Some of the airlines have put up their prices too high to take bikes in the hold. The drone shots look really good, a new perspective on camera angles.

  6. Hei Ray,

    you might be the best sports-tech-blogger in the world, no offense, but you need to read this one:

    link to eurocyclist.wordpress.com

    With best regards
    Style Police

    • I don’t want to start a war here, but I think this list of rules is far superior (and as such, are generally being referred to as THE RULES) ;) link to velominati.com

    • Style Police

      And we totally agree, no need for a war ;)

    • Scott E

      Ray does okay sporting the American kit clash of Aussie outback and Italian bibs. Never one to sort out by color, he has the dark streak of independence that projects the man about town more interested in the geekdom of a 6-DOF CNC machine, or the latest RF Smith chart. Yes, we can all take homage that there is no yielding to the style police. Keep rock’n it’s Ray!

    • Paul

      There are only two rules for cycling that matter

      1. Have fun
      2. see rule 1

  7. Specialist

    Please say you did Sa Colobra as well?

  8. Gabe

    i was out in Downtown LA saturday watching the olympic trials – very very warm weather for the runners – sorry they had to run so late (10am start) !

    Fortunately for us we ran the marathon yesterday with great weather.

    Ray are marathons behind you?

    • I’ll get back to marathons at some point. Right now I enjoy doing the shorter races more to be honest – half-marathon and under, or the Olympic sprints. I could be talked into the right 70.3 as well.

  9. Love Mallorca!
    When cycling Cap Formentor It seems you have passed after the first climb to ride a little bit higher up to the old tower on top the hill. Up there you have THE spectacular view arround the noth cap!
    If you have 7 minutes left have a look on my footage ;)
    link to youtube.com
    Regards
    henry

  10. Jose del Cueto

    Iberia is fantastic, come on, is the first time ever I hear they lost a bag or send it to another place: Never ever, I promise.

    And yes, Mallorca is beautiful, although roads are a little risky, too narrow and without shoulders. During summer can be crowded. Mallorca is also well know for its nightlife and “ensaimadas y leche merengada” sweet pastry with kind of milk frappe with cinnamon.

    • I know I wasn’t alone. Two others on that same flight had their bags go elsewhere. We were standing in line together at the baggage office. :(

    • What I find awkward is that they did not deliver the bag straight to you, that’s what they’ve done with me in the past.

      One time, coming back from Las Vegas with a very short layover in Chicago (so short the other plane was waiting for me), obviously the bags did not make it in time. But they just brought them to my door the next day (also traveling with Iberia). I don’t know why they made you go back to the airport.

    • They would have, but then it wasn’t going to be until yet another day. The bag arrived at the airport at 6PM on Thursday. And they said they could deliver it by noon on Friday, or, I could just drive to the airport and pick it up. If I waited till noon (or later), then I’d lost yet another day.

  11. Gerhard Olsson

    So SRAM goes wireless, seven years after the following excellent review – from 1st of April 2009

    In Swedish, very well written, as it was written by Ray.
    link to happyride.se

  12. stevie

    Whilst I doubt it would make little difference to your time in Mallorca – Back here in (not so sunny) Scotland I am a little concerned regarding the powerpod and rain – I can find no up to date info on this on the ibike or power pod website – you don’t by any chance know what its waterproof capabilities are or if this is covered in the upcoming review?

    Thanks

  13. Just ordered a Powerpod for My Izalco Max Disc. For the price it is, its hard to pass up. Looking forward to installing it.

  14. John O'Loughlin

    I’ll be interested in the powerpod review when it comes, however I’m a bit concerned that you took it to Mallorca to test (some of it anyway) given that a lot of the problems with its Newton cousins seem to arise in heavy rain, strong side winds and rough road surfaces, you could have come here to Ireland and got all three in one go :-)

    • I’ve been using it here in Paris for three months. Plenty of rain here too.

      As for the winds – the heavy winds in Mallorca certainly were more than I’d get here.

  15. Richard Chazal

    Ray – Do you have a review or any thoughts on Di2 or just electric shifting in general? I’ve been searching your site and can’t find anything. I think there are a lot of people trying to decide if its worth the upgrade, especially on a tri bike. Also for those of us considering the upgrade, is it better to upgrade components or swap the whole bike for one designed for electric shifting.

    • Gabe

      try the slowtwitch forums.

      My take – if you can afford di2 get it. it’s awesome when climbing as i have my di2 switches on my aero bars and brake levers; none of that awkward extend the arm out to change gears thing..

      you can find used di2 gear on ebay if you want to save $.

  16. Just waiting for you eTap review! I’d love that concept.

  17. Jan

    I am really interested to know how exactly you succeed in avoiding the airline bike fee with a “lightweight” bike bag. Do you just use a normal soft bike bag and try to convince staff at check-in that it is standard luggage? Does that really work, given that these bike bags are obviously much larger than typical luggage and AFAIK airlines have both weight and size limits on “normal luggage”?

    I can easily get my bike bag under 20kg, but I never tried to check it in as normal luggage.. I always book the bike bag fee (“sports equipment”) in advance, which can be an issue in itself due to limited slots available.

  18. Peter Nichols

    I got my PowerPod back in November and have been playing with it quite a bit. I’ll be very interested to hear your thoughts on the unit when you publish your full review.

    In the video you show a lag in the data form the PowerPod. This is probably coming from a metric that Velocomp call (DPS) Dynamic Power Smoothing and is also available on the Newton. DPS is sort of a hybrid average power reading which should in theory respond quicker to jumps in power and drops in power output. By default the DPS is turned on when the PowerPod ships however you can turn this off via Issac by setting DPS value to zero).

    This is the metric that the PowerPod transmits via ANT+ so therefore if you you are using smoothing on your head unit you are adding a further delay. Velocomp recommend setting your head unit to zero power smoothing.

    If you cover this in the full review apologies.

  19. Steve

    In all my stops while in the Navy Mallorca was by far my favorite, you make me want to travel back there, I hope I can someday!

  20. Hannah_Marie

    Question….

    Why is your life so freaking awesome? Full of envy right now.

  21. Kate

    Dear Ray:

    Please don’t put your bike down like that. You’ll get that beautiful work of art all dinged up. Just go over to the curb, back the curbside pedal around until it touches the curb, and back the bike up a tiny bit to firm it up. Lo and behold, vertical bike, no muss, no fuss.

    Your fan,

    Kate

    • With the 20-30MPH winds, using the pedal method it’d fall over mid-way through the conversation, this resulting in lots of dings. I know this since I had that way and it blew over twice due to wind gusts while I was waiting – having me barely catch it both times.

      Also of note is that only three points touched the ground: Two wheels, and my bar tape on the curb. :)

  22. Mike Sharpe

    Regards from Canada!
    Looks like we passed you on your way back to Pollenca.
    Love your site, especially the product reviews and tips.