Cycling in Mallorca
While we're in the depths of winter bib tights territory, there's nothing better than doing some 2015 sunshine planning. Having done a week of glorious cycling on the beautiful island of Mallorca in October, Beth Hodge is itching to get back out to the island in the Spring.
Mallorca is a mecca for cyclists, summed up by Bradley Wiggins as a "Scalextric set" due to its beautiful smooth, serpentine roads which provide hours of fun on two wheels. Here Beth explains exactly why Mallorca should be your number one choice for a spot of warm weather training.
A Great Place to Learn
The first thing that struck me about the cycling was how dynamic it was, offering something for all levels. Having learnt the hard way to climb on the longer and sometimes steeper Alpine climbs, Mallorca certainly presents a more relaxed and achievable learning environment for the nouveau grimpeur.
Gradients in Mallorca tend to be consistent, and the environment provides for less changeable weather conditions meaning that you often won't need to carry warm gear for the descents- the Galibier roll down demanded a down jacket and ski mitts this summer!
Mallorca not only caters for the road cyclist, there are stacks of MTB tracks just waiting to be ridden, cutting lines across the hillsides between beautiful Mallorcan villages.
When to go?
Pro teams start arriving on the island around mid-Feb. According to those in the know, it can still be a little chilly at this time, so unless you fancy celeb spotting Froomy and the gang, March onwards provides super conditions.
According to one bike guide, the blossom from the almond trees is absolutely stunning at this time of year. The Summer months get too hot to cycle and the roads are far too busy with tourist buses (June- Mid September), so spring and autumn are your best bets. I visited in Mid- October where the days were still reaching 29 degrees but the roads were super quiet.
Where to Ride?
The Island is split into a few distinctive areas. The most favoured part for cyclists is Western Mallorca, which encompasses the spectacular Serra de Tramuntana mountain range with its razorback limestone cliffs which plunge down into the turquoise sea. Some of the most beautiful towns and villages are dotted around this area, and there are some lovely gelaterias to boot, which is always well deserved after a few hard hours on the bike in the sun.
Mallorcca Cycling is a good port of call for route planning.
Gradients in this part of the island on average tend to be around 6%, sometimes topping out around 11%, but never for very long, unless of course you tackle the twisty road up from Sa Colabra, which offers an exceptional- yet beautiful- challenge.
Should slogging it up a col not be your sort of thing, there are hundreds of kilometres worth of wide open rolling countryside roads to explore, known as 'The Interior', which boasts the islands vineyards and rural hamlets. Brings a whole new meaning to the coffee stop.
The go-to guide for finding your way around the many kilometres of routes on Mallorca is the Bike Mallorca Bicycle Map (I bought mine from Amazon). It shows gradients and class of road, whilst providing some suggested routes with profile and distances to boot. It also sets out the MTB tracks.
Own Bike or Bike Hire?
There are pros and cons to each option. Quality bike hire is easy and in abundance, but book early should you wish to secure the bike of your choice.
Hire tends to work out at around €25 per day compared with flying the bike at around £60-£80 extra (airline dependant). Most bike shops/clubs will loan bike boxes for around £50 per week, if buying a bag/box is out of the question. I found Tramuntana Tours in Soller to be particularly helpful, with a stable full of Trek carbon bikes available to hire.
Can't bear to be without your beloved steed? I know the feeling- but be aware that not every airline guarantees your bike to fly on the same flight as you. EasyJet seem to be the most consistent, but don't be at all surprised if it doesn't turn up with you when you arrive at Palma. Bikes usually appear within 24 hours but this may mean a return trip to Palma to collect. Another consideration to flying your own bike is the slight hassle of breaking down and rebuilding your bike, twice!
Transport and Accommodation
I stayed at a farm cottage found on Home Away in Soller, which suited my love of climbing, as the only way out of the town is via one of three climbs. This also meant that I could always finish the day's riding with a beer or a coffee by the harbour, while catching the spectacular sunsets.
Port de Pollensa and Palma itself are also popular places to stay with several dedicated bike hotels, and the locations offer more options for flat or hilly cycling.
I flew EasyJet from Bristol to Palma. Accommodation came in at €670 for 7 nights self catered and flights at £160 pp including the bike.
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