Every spring Mallorca sees a huge invasion of cyclists from all over the world. What attracts hundreds of thousands of riders to this Mediterranean island. We took one for the team and spent 6 weeks on the island to find out. Here are a few of our favourite things about riding in Mallorca:
1. Variety of Routes
Mallorca is a big island. Driving from corner to corner would take almost 2 hours and there are enough routes to occupy you for weeks. As you fly into the island, you get a great view of what makes it so special. One side of the island is covered by the Serra de Tramuntana, more on those later. Along with mountains, there is also plenty of flat land with routes in quiet groves. You could happily spend a week riding here without seeing a climb. To round things off, there are plenty of rolling sectors and plenty of climbs in other parts of the island. So whatever you want on your ride, its here.
2. The Food
Ranging from high end amazing seafood restaurants on the beach to rustic, traditional places in land. There is a lot of proper country food here - hearty soups, rabbit, snails, tongue and tripe and some great old places to eat and watch the old boys gossip. Most coastal towns have a strip of seafood restaurants on the beach selling paella, sardines and other local specialties. Coffee here is generally good and most cafes are set up for cyclists with some great cakes. The local pastry of choice is Ensaimadas, served with sugar or sometimes stuffed with apricot, caramel or custard.
3. The Quality of the Roads
There are a couple of sectors of tarmac in Mallorca that are the same quality as the UK. This is important as often you lapse into a state where you forget about reality and believe that all roads in the world are as high quality as 99% of the tarmac in Mallorca. The only downside is it gives you no excuse for slow average speeds, apart from the excessive Ensaimada tastings.
4. Mallorca 312
At the end of every April, Mallorca hosts is big cycling event of the year. 6,500 riders hit the roads for the Mallorca 312 - a closed road sportive mostly in the mountains. This event has grown rapidly in popularity over the last few years and is quickly becoming one of the most popular sportives in the world. The route, weather and organisation are all of the top quality and the amount of repeat riders is testament to the brilliance of the event.
5. Seeing the pros in their natural habitat
Seen a few riders wizz by in pro kit? They were probably the same guys you will be watching in the Tour in July. A lot of teams use Mallorca as a base and we all share the same roads so it is very common to see pros out and about. Keeping up is the hard bit.
6. Days off
There is so much to do in Mallorca that taking a day off in the middle of a spring training week is a good idea. If the weather is nice, head to the sandy beaches on the south of the island or go to one of the many great markets. Sineu near the middle of the island has a huge market every Wednesday which is one of the best. Palma is well worth day out and the hiking around Soller is world famous.
7. Getting off the beaten track
Most riders stay in the north around Port de Pollensa & Alcudia. These are great bases close to the mountains but it means the climbs close by are full of riders. Head to the other side of the island and hop between small villages. Add in some climbs like Puig Randa or San Salvador and visit the monasteries at the top with amazing views over the island.
8. The Classic Climbs
The most famous climb in Mallorca is Sa Calobra which is a must during any spring training week. Close by is the highest climb on the island, Puig Major and its the one really long climb (14km from Soller). Within this area are some other great and popular climbs including Coll de Soller with countless tight hairpins, Coll d'Honor and the climbs up to Lluc.
9. The lighthouse route
Very popular with cyclists and also motorists, this is one of the few routes where you will see plenty of cars. The route is a there and back from Port de Pollensa ending at the lighthouse in Cap de Formentor. Though only 20km, there is great variety in terrain and views and is a must on any visit.
We arrived in January and almost every day has been sunny and a nice temperature. We can't promise amazing weather in spring, Mallorca definitely gets all conditions including snow, but you can know when its 15 degrees and sunny and all the locals are in big coats, that warm weather is very much the norm.
The best thing about Mallorca is just how easy it is to ride here. Flights are frequent and low cost. Palma airport to Port de Pollensa is under an hour so you can leave early in the morning and be riding just after lunch. Most people come for a week of spring training to jump start their year and get them ready for the big rides and sportives in the summer but it is also very possible to ride here for a long weekend or even a short weekend. If you are thinking of coming over, get in touch and we can help plan a great itinerary for you.