It seems that pretty much every keen cyclist has visited Mallorca at some point in their life, and if they haven’t, it’s probably on their list of places to visit. The little island south of Spain is criss-crossed with silky smooth roads that bask in warm weather for long periods of the year. The mountains stretch across the north of the island from east to west. Head south towards the interior of the island and you get to the TT riders dream.
Mallorca is one of the places that cyclists use to go on their early season ‘training camps’. I don’t race but there is no harm in going somewhere with better weather to get fitter for a summer of riding. If I get fitter whilst getting a tan then it’s a win-win. Luckily for me, my friend Alan had a spare space on his early-season camp and invited me along to join a group of TT focussed riders for a week of solid riding. We headed out for seven days of riding, based in the Pollença region. Getting across the island seems like a breeze with loads of bike transfers available from the airport in the south.
Alan knows the island well and planned a combination of short and long rides across the week so that there was a variety of rides for the different people on camp. I was personally quite keen just to stay on the mountains but not everyone seemed as keen. The term ‘mountains’ is possibly a little mis-leading if you’ve been to the Alps, but a good number of the climbs are 30 minutes or longer and at least 5% gradient.
A few of the cooler things from the week were...
Alan’s cooking. The Michelin starred chef turned performance food specialist agreed to cook our meals for the week. We did offer him a copy of his own book but he was confident he could remember all the recipes. The man loves good Bircher and provided a solid fuelling strategy for the week.
Sa Colabra vs Valledemosa
Everyone goes out to Mallorca with one eye on the famous ‘Sa Colabra’ climb that snakes from side to side across the valley up from the small sea port before performing a 360 degree turn near the top. It’s absolutely a cool climb but in my opinion, not quite as cool as Valledemosa further south on the Island.
Following the coastal road south o Deia you arrive at a junction that takes you down to a dead end port called a Valledemosa. The climb and descent is unlike anything else on the island; the switchbacks come everyone 150m on a road only one lane wide with deep drops off the cliff edge if you make a mistake. You had to drop down to the port in order to climb back out; at the top it makes no sense how you could possibly drop so much vertical height so soon but then all becomes clear. The tight and twisty climb is must if you visit Mallorca and looks like it’s often missed.
Puig a.ka. ‘The Piggy’
The biggest climb that the island has to offer, climbing 2,700ft in 9miles. It’s not a particularly tough climb, averaging 6%, but if you pick the wrong time of day to make your attempt you’ll definitely end up a sweaty mess. It would be rude not to tackle this climb at some point during your stay and in reality, it’s pretty hard to miss without a massive detour. I only wish I was more of a piggy for the descent down the other side so I could keep up with everyone; gravity sucks sometimes.
Everyone that’s been to Mallorca has done this ride. The lighthouse is situated on the real north-east tip of the island and offers some stunning views of the coastline and crashing waves. It’s a busy bit of road with tourists but well worth the visit. We picked a pretty unlucky day to tap up to the top and got caught in some rare rain but it was worth the visit. The cafe owner must be one of the richest people on the island though; they’ve got you right where they want you at that point so don’t run out of energy or could be costly.
Mallorca seems like a great little place to ride and I see why so many people choose to visit. It was a little quieter than usual apparently, but maybe that’s because it’s trendy to go to Girona at the moment. The roads a smooth and everyone seems cycling friendly. It’s never far to the climbs or the flat so variety isn’t an issue so it works for almost anyone. I’m going to stick with not being trendy for the time being and pay another visit in October.