Mallorca is like a theme park for cyclists. This small island is covered with cycling hotels, bike hire shops and cycle cafes. In spring and Autumn, the roads are filled with seemingly endless pelotons of Brit, Dutch, German, Belgium and increasingly American cyclists. It is variously described as a ‘haven’, a ‘hot-bed’ and a ‘mecca’ for professional and amateur cyclists from all around the world. This was the first ever training camp destination back in the 1980’s, and it shows no signs of diminishing in popularity.
Cyclists now come here because other cyclists come here. Being part of the scene is as important as the riding; you are just as likely to bump into people you know from the cycling club down the road as a SKY professional.
Mallorca is popular for a reason, though a relatively small island it is covered by myriad minor roads and it offers flat sea level riding, rolling undulations and minor mountains. The sheer number of cycling facilities, from the track at Palma to the bike hire shops, guided rides and hotels complete with bike storage make it an easy destination to come to.
How to get there
Flights to Palma are easy, frequent and generally fairly cheap, though its popularity with cyclists has meant that there are less out-of-season deals in late winter, early spring than there used to be.
There are so many cyclists travelling in and out of Palma with bikes that there is even a separate check-in area for you at the busiest periods. However, there have been incidents where flights have been overbooked with bike boxes, creating havoc for those arriving without their beloved steed. But not us, we will be strolling care-free straight through customs with just our hand-luggage without the bun fight at baggage reclaim.
There are numerous cycle hire agents in Mallorca but we have had good experiences with Bruce and Lisa at Pro Cycle Hire, they offer beautiful Colnago bikes, a workshop and café. They have also sponsored a UK amateur race team for the Masters Tour of Mallorca. There are regular shop rides that you can join during your visit and bike hire is available all year round. Whilst they don’t do transfers or bike drop offs they have a transfer partner that can arrange your visit to the shop, direct from the airport, to collect your bike.
Pollenca and Port de Pollenca are the most popular destinations for cyclists in the north-eastern corner of the island, it’s the opposite coast to Palma and a 50-minute drive from the airport. From here you have good access to flat coastal rides, the mountains and the beautiful ride to the lighthouse on Formentor. Slightly nearer the airport, but right in the mix for riding from the door, is Bunyola.
Mallorca has hundreds of cycling hotels; the whole island is geared up for bike riders. Many hotels offer guided rides, workshop facilities and massage. A great site to search is Mallorca Cycling Hotels
Where to ride
It slightly depends on where you base yourself which routes you tackle but Mallorca has some classic climbs that nearly everyone will do whilst cycling on the island.
A great introduction and a must-do if you are staying in the Pollenca area is the road to the lighthouse at Formentor. It has a challenging start to the first viewpoint with a series of long hairpin bends, but once over this, you are riding on undulating roads, through pine forests and sandy coloured rocks, with increasingly dramatic cliff top views as you near the lighthouse. It is an out and back route, with a coffee stop at the end of the peninsula, and takes around two hours.
Sa Calobra is quite possibly one of the most photographed roads in cycling, another out and back, it plunges down to a small cove on a twisting Scalextric style road that wraps itself over and under with a series of small bridges between the rock cliffs. It is a fabulous descent and a testing climb. There is a small café shack near the top where cyclists gather, before or after their timed attempt.
A classic loop ride from Pollenca is to take the Ma10 to Lluc - a long gradual climb through pine forests, descend to Selva and return via Sa Pobla with a final dash along the coast road.
If climbing isn’t your bag there is an area of flatter riding in the interior part of the island, where you can visit the small and picturesque villages of Campanet and Moscari.
Cycling Planet in Alaro is a curious café; the walls, bar, tables and benches are made with recycled boards from the 2007 World Championship track in Palma, complete with painted lines. As well as a café, it also has mechanics, a shop and bike hire centre. It is popular with teams and pro-riders past and present.
It might not sound inspiring but the café where you will spot the most cyclists is situated next door to a petrol station. It is not its beauty, nor its food that attracts riders from all around the world to Restaurant Coll de Sa Bataia but its position at the top of a climb and at the intersection of many of the islands most popular routes. If you have tackled the hair-pin climb up from Selva on a hot day, then a can of Coke at the top here tastes like nectar.
For a more cultural and relaxing break, the square in Petra has many cafes and is a great place for cyclist watching.
Post-Ride hang out
Loved and shunned in seemingly equal measure Tolos Restaurant in Puerto Pollensa has long been a hang-out for Brit riders; the pros, wannabe pros and the celebrity spotters. Whether it is pre-ride coffee, post-ride lunch or one of the legendary goldfish bowl-sized G&T’s in the evening there is always a loyal cycling crew to be found. It’s where cyclists go to look at other cyclists. It has its own ‘Hall of Fame’ with jerseys, trophies and even bikes on loan from some of its famous clientele. Think Hard Rock Café - but for cyclists.
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