Atop a popular Mallorcan training climb, a tribute to a great
Tap. Tap. Tap.
The two walk into the monastery as quiet as they can, but their tap shoe cleats make it impossible to pass through without an announcement.
Team CANYON//SRAM Racing’s Tiffany Cromwell and Alexis Ryan lean their bikes against the alabaster walls and make their way through the entry hall of the Sant Salvador monastery. It’s the off-season but the two cyclists are in good company — old woolen world championship jerseys hang on the wall.
“She hurt me on that one,” Ryan says of Cromwell, who rode the 500-metre climb to the monastery with more intention than most of her teammates, as her Australian race calendar in January called for fitness sooner than later. The road is wide enough for one car at a time through its hairpins. The girls’ carbon wheels had howled in protest of a horseshoe turn near the summit.
The old Sant Salvador hermitage rises above the patchwork countryside of Felanitx, known for its wine and brandy production. A few other homages to God break the horizons in the distance.
On this clear day, southwest Mallorca fans out below, in gradual sepia tones and squares of green. Cyclists and tourists sidle up the mountain in cars or by bike, but pilgrims used to walk each step up the cone of a mountain to see a monastery that dates back to the 1300s.
Families picnic on slivers of terraced dirt hugging the monastery. The pink-brown-orange walls are in a permanent state of fading.
Cromwell fills up a bottle at the old fountain outside the church, while Ryan surveys the valley below. Cyclists are born sightseers and, when given the option, look around as much as tourists.
In the entrance hall of the church, old world champion jerseys belonging to local rider Guillem Timoner hang on the walls. In a 52-year career, Timoner won six gold and two silver medals in the UCI motor-paced world championships. The dark-haired, handsome Timoner earned 29 national titles in myriad disciplines, and even won a masters-level title in 1995 at the age of 69. His jerseys hang here in a humble thanksgiving.
The rest of the CANYON//SRAM riders are long gone, having finished up after one climb, while Ryan and Cromwell stayed behind for one more. They tap through the courtyard and try to peek into the chapel, though its heavy wooden door is bolted shut.
The chapel’s not going anywhere, though. Maybe it’s open another day.
Cromwell and Ryan click-clack in and ride away.