Is Mallorca on your list of places to ride? If not, it really should be!
There is not much that you can want for in Mallorca, the roads are beautiful black serpents that weave through mountains and down to coastal sea fronts. The sun’s smile is warm and encouraging as you spin across and through the islands green terrain.
We stayed in the north of the island, in Port De Alcudia. A small tourist town full of holiday makers and locals looking to cash in on the passing trade. There are plenty of restaurants and bars to keep you well fuelled for the duration of your stay, though we opted for an all-inclusive package so we did not have to drag ourselves too far to find food with our tired legs.
There are a couple of options when it comes to routes for northern Mallorca;
- Flat eastern route
- Cap Formentor
- Sa Calobra
We had planned to take on all options, though things did not quite turn out as planned… but I will get to that.
For our first ride, we decided to ease ourselves in and headed off to Cap Formentor. The road to Pollenca is smooth, flat and straight. Dedicated cycle lanes mean traffic is not a problem and the beautiful ocean is your companion as you travel along the coast to the neighbouring port.
As you approach the road starts the 1000m ascent to the lighthouse and back. As you climb you move into the tree lined roads, with wooded trails and picnic spots. The road gradually twists you through tunnels and viewpoints, climbing all the time. As the lighthouse occasionally starts to drop into view the terrain gets drier, harsher, with the ocean providing a perfect backdrop. Beware of tourists, cars will give you room but you should try to avoid peak times. Busloads of tourists chugging along do tend to hinder the experience. The final approach to the lighthouse can get gridlocked as restricted parking spaces are hard fought over. Once you successfully negotiated the cars, people, buses and occasional goat you are at the top. There is a cafe with seating if you fancy hanging around for a little while before you turn around to head back the way you came.
If you decide to head out to the East, there are beautiful villages and regions that are perfect to break up hard days in the mountains. Try to pick a calm day, the wind can dampen the mood as the roads are open and exposed. Take time to sit for a proper lunch in traditional restaurants, but do check your phrase book first as you may find English is not as widely spoken in the smaller villages.
(Strava Route Map)
You will find yourself house hunting as you pass secluded farms or small country homes that are so sleepy and peaceful. There are not too many routes to take, it just depends on how far you want to go.
Sadly the cycling part of our holiday was cut short by our third ride of the week. We decided to head out to Sa Calobra. In the glorious sunshine as we had looked over the route at breakfast. Climbing up towards Lluc we passed through idyllic forests and into a rain storm. As we reached the top of Sa Calobra we sheltered under a tree near a small road-side cafe. Thunder, lightning and an endless downpour forced us to abandon the idea of heading down the mountain, it would be a hair-raising descent only to climb back up to the location we were currently sat in. Opting to revisit the climb the following day we decided to continue climbing and headed towards Puig Major, the largest climb on the Island. It would mean a decent into Soller, but we hoped the storm would have passed by that point. I threw on my light rain jacket as the temperature had dropped. I am so glad I had that jacket, no matter what the weather when you sent off, take a wind cape, just in case.
It is a lovely road that takes you over the top of the mountains and I highly recommend you check it out if you ever get the chance. the mountain top lake is hidden amongst the rock ripples the most beautiful shade of green.
The rain had eased to a light shower by the time we reached the top of the decent. A 15km descent in the rain, we had to go slow due to the spray and mist. All we could do was follow the lines of the road and monitor the brake lights of cars in front. Smooth roads that would have been a dream in the dry made twitchy tyres struggle for grip. Half way down I could feel the numbness creeping into my fingertips, wiggling toes and shaking out my hands I pressed on after Simon. By the bottom of the decent, I could just about grab the breaks. We just looked at each other relieved we had not come to any harm. After a bit of a debate on how to warm up, we decided to ride on knowing the peddling would warm the blood more than a coffee.
As we passed through Soller, we talked through the 60km back to our hotel. There would be some more climbing but after that, it would be an easy sail home. The rain had stopped as we pressed on. Simon called out to slow as approached some tram tracks. His back wheel caught. As he headed over the handlebars, his bike spun out. Catching my front wheel, I was forced to the right. When you crash in the middle of the road, your instincts are to get out of the road. Whipping up bikes and bottles we gathered on the verge. It was then, the pain set in. Simon grabbing his shoulder, my leg pouring with blood. After processing for a few minutes, we had the grim realisation that we must get back to the hotel. On our bikes. Cut, bleeding and battered. With a deep breath, we climbed back on our bikes and set off down the road. The rain began to fall again and for this I was thankful. I could feel grit and blood in my knee and I hoped the rain would clean the would until I could attend to it at the hotel. Simon’s pace was dramatically slower, he had landed shoulder first and I was concerned about the typical collarbone injury that plagues so many cyclists. My knee was starting to stiffen. We had ridden a miserable kilometre by this point, to the outskirts of the town about to start our penultimate climb. Slowing to turn left, Simon’s bike gave in. The derailleur had gone. No longer able to peddle we pulled up at the side of the road for the second time in 20 minutes. We were both glad. We knew we could not ride on. We resolved that we needed to get a taxi back to our hotel. After my patchy Spanish had explained we needed to put two wet bikes in the back and two bleeding cyclists in the front, our reluctant taxi arrived.
Needless to say, we could not cycle for the last two days of our trip. After flying home, I had my knee glued back together and a month off the bike. Simon had a large amount of road rash though thankfully no brake. He had sliced several fingers that left his hands stiff for about a week. Things could have been much worse. We plan to go back to Mallorca next summer to finally climb Sa Calobra!