The third 6Points Mallorca Zwift training ride

A surprisingly good ride today; having not ridden Richmond for quite a while, I was a little nervous beforehand that I might have forgotten the landmarks; but all was well!

I was also concerned that we had moved the start time back to its proper time of 11.40am UTC after the first two events; and also that Richmond is not liked by some Zwifters for some reason, and that this might have affected rider numbers. Again I need not have worried!

Zwift Companion end-of-Ride listing, 153 entrants

Actually, Richmond’s full UCI circuit suits the sprint and minirace structure we use – 2 marked sprints per lap (we only used one of them, twice, but could have used both) and then the closing minirace over the three hills that Zwift’s criterium racers like as a finish.

The group was good – particularly just before the minirace, they all withdrew from the fence so that I could bring it in to 2 seconds, to give a tight, fair start. No one was within 3 seconds of the fence at that point, great!! That means the finishing order is a true reflection of riders’ performance in the minirace. I did lose 9 riders to the fence in the first half of the event, but they had ignored repeated toggling of the fence off and on three times, to give them three times as much time to get back behind the fence, but they didn’t seem to want to play the team ball!

Fence at 2 secs, just before the start of the minirace, a fair start for 128 riders

All ride data at https://zwiftpower.com/events.php?zid=246258 for those registered with ZP. Zwift Companion shows that we had 153 booked to ride, 128 starters and 79 finishers, great numbers for only our third 6Points Mallorca event. I averaged 2.5w/kg, 190w, right on the money. And there I was, mid-pack!

Many nationalities, and some regulars – David Smith, Gerry Venditti…

And Zwift Companion shows the results for all 79 finishers…

The Points of 6Points Challenges – or – why I love 6Points cycling

Introduction

I was attracted to the 6Points back in 2018, when I was already committed to some mass participation events which, while challenging and demanding, are a completely different experience from 6Points.

I set aside 2019 for my first 6points entries, both for the Mallorca event in May, and also for the Ibiza and Formentera event in October, both of which had been held in 2018, with Mallorca the inaugural 6Points event in 2017.

I have organised my thoughts into 6 points(!) which highlight the essential elements of 6Points for me, and why I intend to participate in 6Points twice a year from now on. But first, get a flavour of the Mallorca 6Points from the official video:

Official 6Points Mallorca video, 2019

1) Charitable purposes

I have ridden a few, not many, Sportive events, and they had all been in the UK previously. I’ve done them mostly because friends have recommended them; some of them have elements of my “6 Points” of attraction here, but none of them cover them all.

It’s always good to know that an event has a specific charitable purpose, as the 6Points has, as have some other events. I have raised significant funds for Marie Curie myself doing the Prudential RideLondon 100 twice, and, for its size, 6Points parallels that charitable focus.

Prudential RideLondon 100, 2019 (top of Box Hill)

But I doubt whether many others events are as proportionately successful as 6Points in fundraising for their chosen charities, especially events at the same kind of scale. I was frankly amazed (not in a good way!) to see the Mallorca 312 organisation broadcasting their €10,000 charitable donation this year, which even though the 312 is a commercial event, and not primarily a fundraiser, is really disappointing given that 8,000 people were riding. See more about the 312 and how busy it is (at least early on, until we decided to focus on the 225kms version) in my video collage from the 2018 event with my neighbour and cycling buddy, Leslie:

Mallorca 312 in 2018, with Leslie

By contrast, 6Points have managed, both from entrant fundraising and from their very active sponsors, to raise over €65,000 for their chosen charities (of which Asdica* is a primary one) in just three years of activity.

From a financial standpoint, the 6Points purpose is PRIMARILY charitable, and very successful, and that is good to see.

2) Location

I have to own up and say that I have virtually given up road riding back in the UK where I spend most of my time.

On the other hand, I LOVE riding in Mallorca (and now Ibiza and Formentera too, thanks to 6Points) and have been coming to Mallorca for 40 years and more.

Most of my riding is on Zwift nowadays, but 6Points (around which I now plan my Balearic cycling) gives me the opportunity to ride in much more relative safety (from a traffic perspective (or lack of it!)), in far more reliable weather, over many more days per year, and in great company.

Mallorca and the other Balearic islands are well provisioned with beautiful countryside, great views, and a suitable café around every corner, it seems, very often near the top of the wonderful climbs that abound on the islands.

I do have some of these possibilities where I live in Scotland; good company with my club, Glasgow Green Cycle Club (GGCC); and the topography and views – the Trossachs are on my doorstep; but road quality, weather and traffic are far less bike friendly than Mallorca.

Two road falls in Scotland (2015 and 2016), both owing to road conditions (and my own lack of foresight(?)) have persuaded me that the high mileage I like to do is safer indoors for the pain and base miles, and with 6Points Mallorca for the pleasure!

I know that many others, who have been even less fortunate than me regarding traffic, pothole and weather related incidents, are ready to change (and some HAVE changed) their cycling regime regarding training, racing and pleasure cycling: turbo for training; road (and track) for racing only; and somewhere sunny like Mallorca for pleasure!

3) Company & camaraderie

Most serious bike riders join a Cycling Club, as I did, and when I started riding (in the early 1960s) I almost immediately joined Bruce Castle Cycling Club. It’s the shared ethos of cycling for fun, the mutual support in case of adverse events (mechanicals, biologicals, psychologicals etc!) and all sorts of collateral social interactions that help the enjoyment of cycling.

6Points is just like a Club in those respects, only more so. As with GGCC, with 6Points we ride in small groups of 10 or a dozen or so. The groups pretty much self-select in terms of pace, covering all abilities and preferences, from the usual “steady” at 14-16mph, through several levels to a faster pace at 20mph+. There is freedom to swap between groups (we don’t always feel the same every day!), and at the cafés and over dinner, plans can be made to make sure you are in the right group for the day, or part of a day.

Each riding group is supported by its own vehicle (see below).

Above all, and we are lucky as cyclists with this, 6Points succeeds in attracting people who share that mutual ethos and shared supportive outlook which makes sure that everyone has every chance to get the best possible experience out of their days with 6Points. Many riders are back for their second or third visit, so that any rider can rely on having great company and experienced support: emotionally, practically and socially.  

4) The 6Points Challenge

On the 6Points Mallorca, we ride between 100kms and 100 miles each day. I have done quite a few 100 mile rides (when I was younger, back in the 1960s, it didn’t seem such a big thing – or I was so ignorant I didn’t know enough to worry!) Here is my “rider view” video photo collage of the 2019 6Points Mallorca event, where you see its Clubrun nature

6Points Mallorca, May 2019

I have done a few Imperial Centuries in recent years with my Club GGCC, but I admit that before the first 6Points, I wondered how I would cope with the Mallorca format of 160kms, 115kms and 160 kms on three CONSECUTIVE days. But it’s a challenge, right?!

Well, it turns out that even at 72 then (73 now) I need not have been concerned as a regular rider (albeit mostly on Zwift at 60kms a day, 5 days a week (that’s my regime)).

I know Mallorca quite well from many previous holidays and cycling trips (we are lucky enough to have an apartment there) so much of the route wasn’t going to be a surprise.

The first day is what I call “the Little Daddy” after the Mallorca Cycle Shuttle term “Big Daddy” for the ride from Andratx to Port Pollensa along the Ma10 road (very smooth and safe!) taking in the climbs to/from Port Valdemossa and Sa Calobra.

The “Little Daddy” version, in my terminology, misses out the descents to Port Valdemossa and Sa Calobra (and therefore the climbs out!) but we DO ride west first from Santa Ponsa to Sant Elm (the West “Point” of the 6Points) before heading east via Andratx and the Ma10 to Port Pollensa via the big climb at Puig Major (the high “point” of the 6Points) and quite a few other hills on the Ma10 (such as Coll de Femenia), to the very welcome dinner at Tolo’s (a sponsor) and an overnight hotel stay, after the odd 160kms.

I’ve done that ride before a few times (from Andratx, anyway) and so forewarned was forearmed, and also I KNEW it was going to be enjoyable. I have to say that in 2019 the weather was unusually – erm – windy and a little damp, but hey, it’s the exception that proves the rule!

But the good thing about the 6Points Mallorca format is that the hardest climbing day is that first day, for which you have time to prepare; the second day (Tolo’s up to Cap Formentor, the North “point”) and back to Tolo’s for breakfast, and then down to Cala Millor for our overnight stop via the East “point” at Cala Radjada, is just 115kms and fairly flat by comparison – an “active recovery day” I would say!

Finally, the third day is the same distance as Day 1, but also relatively more flat, from Cala Millor, via Cap Ses Salines (the South “point”) back to Santa Ponsa via the north side of Palma and Calvia, finishing where we started, on the beach at Caló d’en Pellicer (the lowest altitude “point” of our 6Points ride).

This is definitely a challenge, but from personal experience I can attest that doing the 440kms circuit of Mallorca in 3 days with 6Points is FAR preferable to trying to do the 312 kms of Mallorca in one daylight day. I want time to smell the flowers (and the coffee), not just my handlebars and stem!

In those respects, the 6Points IS a Challenge, but also a delight – not just afterwards, as an achievement to look back on, but also, crucially, DURING the event!

5) Organisation & support

One element that sets the 6Points experience apart from a Club ride is the high level of backup, with a vehicle available to support each group with equipment, water, food and any kind of moral support required. See the support in action during our October 2019 6Points in Ibiza:

6Points Ibiza October 2019

Although the events are described as “unsupported”, and riders are encouraged to plan JUST as they would for ANY long ride each day, and to carry the usual items on their bikes for small emergencies, there IS that backup if bike or body should fail in any way.

I have been getting a flavour, having got to know the event better, of the huge amount of work undertaken by the Visser family, and friends and sponsors (such as Ticket, for example) prior to the event: route planning; hotels researched and booked; any travel required (for the Ibiza and Formentera event especially); support vehicles and volunteer drivers; baggage and equipment transport; sponsor identification and confirmation; other funding; entry and rider communications; and much more.

I can see that the reason the event has the “family and friends” touch and feel mentioned below is because that is exactly how it is organised; with close attention to detail from a small, consistent group of dedicated people, determined to make sure the event is fault-free for those they regard as their friends and family!

6) Touch and feel

I first heard of 6Points in early 2018 when I had already entered the Mallorca 312 that year. along with the Prudential RideLondon 100, which I have also ridden a couple of times. These are mass participation events, with 8,000 and 32,000 riders respectively.

As I said, the 6Points has very much the feel of a family and friends event, at a scale which is much more akin to a Cycling Club event, albeit over a few days.

Depending a little on which group you choose to ride with, frequent/sufficient café stops are part of the planning, and overnight, between good days of riding between 100kms and 100 miles, there are hotels and evening meal locations chosen to suit the needs of cyclists riding those kinds of distances.

Social interaction and discussion is highly encouraged, and lively!

The prime intention for the riders is that they should ENJOY the event. Some Sportives (as I know very well) turn into races for a proportion of the participants, which for mass events can create issues for fun riders.

At 6Points, with the Clubrun feel it has for each small riding group, each rider knows that those around her/him have the same, FUN objective. No-one is under pressure to keep up a pace – the groups, and especially the “steady” group are no-drop, and there is, as mentioned, great backup to keep everyone going.

Summary

I am a convert! I plan to do the 6Points events into the foreseeable future, both Spring and Autumn, with Mallorca the Spring focus, and, in 2020, with Menorca on the autumn calendar for the first time. Here is the Formentera 6Points from October 2019:

6Points Formentera October 2019

I have an extensive network of Zwift and “in-real-life (irl)” riders and friends, both locally and internationally, and I recommend wholeheartedly the 6Points experience to them all – and to you!

*Asdica – a Mallorcan charity benefiting disabled children. See lots more on the 6Points website at https://6pointschallenges.com/