© Anita Gait
© Anita Gait
© Anita Gait
© Miquel Salas
© Anita Gait
© Urban Pollensa
Urban Pollenca Downhill Mountain Bike Competition
Mallorca has long been a big draw for cyclists from all over the world, colourful teams of road bikers are a common sight all over the island but this weekend bikers of a different breed took over Old Town Pollenca in North Mallorca. No cycle shorts in sight here as lightweight bikes were switched for downhill rigs and Lycra was replaced with full body armour; the downhill mountain bikers were in town!
The 2nd annual Urban Pollenca downhill mountain bike competition kicked off on Saturday 19th September and was an adrenaline pumping, punk rock theme-tuned, Red Bull fuelled festival of a day. The death-defying course ran from the very top of town at the Calvari Church and wound its way down through narrow cobbled streets, across church courtyards and down flights of stone stairs to the finish line in Placa Major in the town centre. In addition to the difficulties of the urban terrain the course also featured man made jumps, drops, ramps and wall rides, all combining to create a fast, technical, awesome and mildly terrifying course to test the riders skills and limits.
Despite a last minute land ownership issue which left organisers having to change a section of the route at the last minute, all was ready on time and come 9am on race day, the course was set up, roped off and open for riders to get some practice runs in before the afternoons competition began at 4pm.
58 riders in all signed up and competed across 8 categories broken down by age and ability. One participant unfortunately sustained a rib injury during practice and was unable to compete but the rest of the riders each completed two timed runs of the course and the best time of the two recorded.
Due to the nature of the sport and the course it was impossible to watch the entire run from one location but spectators could pick a spot anywhere along the course to watch riders fly by. Most people chose their favourite obstacle and camped out by it to watch each rider’s style. The large drop in front of the Monti-Sion church was a popular spot as was the stone stairway and the wall rides on the final corners.
The finish line in Placa Major also made for a great spectacle as finished riders accumulated there and cheered on the others. Speakers pumped out a kick ass playlist and attracted more and more spectators as the event progressed. Standing in the square or chilling at one of the many pavement cafes, spectators could watch as riders emerged from a narrow alleyway, tackled the final ramp and jump and threw their all against the peddles to cross the finish line.
The MCs kept up a running commentary as the riders made their way to the finish and were unrelenting in their energy and enthusiasm for each rider as they urged them on faster and faster to the end. Rider’s times were swiftly noted and posted to a large screen allowing spectators to keep track of the rankings.
Ultimately first place over all and of the Sub23 class went to Jose Caldentey who shaved off 4 seconds between his first and second run to finish in a time of 1:05.673, beating out 2 time Spanish Downhill Champion Toni Ferreiro who finished second over all but took first of the Elite Class with his time of 1:06.10. 3rd place over all went to Guillem Auli at 1:06.413.
Jose Caldentey celebrated in style by spraying his fellow riders with Red Bull in lieu of champagne and spectators from all along the course made their way down to the square to watch and cheer as the riders took to the podiums to receive their awards, which in true Pollenca style were trophies in the shape of their mascot the cockerel.
Urban Pollenca was a wicked event to watch and must have been even more fun to be a part of, youth riders and masters alike looked to be having a great time, injuries and accidents were minimal and the organisers were efficient and enthusiastic. Hopefully the success and notoriety of this event will grow and it’ll continue to be an annual event drawing in riders from further afield and hopefully a few more female riders since there was only one this year!
Check out the Facebook page for more pictures, videos and the full final rankings. If you’re planning on entering next year you’ll find all the information you need on there...but be warned Urban Pollenca is definitely not for the faint-hearted.