Cycling is big business in Mallorca and is actively encouraged, promoted and supported by the Mallorquins. It’s estimated that more than 35,000 cyclists arrive in Mallorca each year making Mallorca one of the most popular locations for cyclists in the world. There are quite a number of World Tour pro teams and National teams that choose Mallorca as a base for training camps, which speaks to how good the infrastructure and climate are.
Every April the Mallorca 312, a mass cycling event takes place and continues to grow in popularity. The 12th edition just took place on 30th April. 312 kilometres through the most amazing parts of this largest of the Balearic Islands. Fourteen hours to make it. There are two shorter distances for those less ambitious. The fact that the event takes place on closed roads bears testament to the encouragement the Mallorquin’s afford cyclists.
I’ve enjoyed many hours and many kilometres of cycling in Mallorca and I have my favourite routes. I particularly love the climbs. The mountains are my favourite place on the island. At times I seem to have the world to myself. I can count the cars that pass me on one hand at times. In the height of summer the crickets are incredibly loud and it’s an exotic sound to me. When the crickets turn off in the cooler months the birdsong starts up and that is music to my ears. The wind in the pines and the buzz of the insects, the sounds of nature are a wonderful accompaniment to my rides. The road surfaces for the most part are smooth and cycling on them is pure joy. The scenery, once you get out of Palma, is truly amazing and I feel so lucky to be able to ride through it all. The villages in the mountains are picture postcard perfect and the civic pride is obvious. Fornalutx, Orient, Valdemossa, Deia, Soller immediately spring to mind. The mountains are my playground and I feel lifted when I’m there. Here are five of my favourite rides.
An out and back route and quite an epic. Around 110k’s of the best scenery on the island. The first 15k is along the long straight, flat road towards Soller. At the tunnel is where the fun starts and the first climb begins. Not a difficult climb from a gradient point to view but a testing one all the same. At the top, as you look back, you can see Palma and the Med way off in the distance.
A fantastic technical descent rejoins you with the road you left at the tunnel. A high speed descent takes you into Soller for a pit stop, or you can bypass the town if you so wish and continue down to the right hand turn to Fornalutx & Pollenca. The longest climb in Mallorca begins here, 14k of gentle turns through forest and up to the second tunnel. Cyclist are allowed to ride through this time. The descent down to the Sa Calobra turn off begins. You go past Gorge Blau, Mallorca’s main reservoir that supplies Palma and other towns and villages. The tortuous descent down to Sa Calobra is stunning. In one particular spot the road cleaves between two rock faces barely wide enough to drive a coach through. You may began to have regrets on the way down when you consider that you have to ride back up. In reality the climb is not so hard, the last k probably the most testing. Retrace your steps and back to Palma the way you came.
Alcudia-Cap de Formentor
Another out and back route. The ride from Alcudia to Cap Fomentera must be the most beautiful stretch of road I’ve ever ridden. If there’s a route that can top it anywhere in the world I’d like to see it. The spit of land called Cap de Formentor is located in the Pollença municipality on the northernmost tip of the island of Majorca.
You set out along the shore of the Bay Of Alcudia. A flat road that hugs the sea. You can see what’s to come as you go towards Porto de Pollença. But what you can’t see is how incredibly beautiful the stretch of road from there to the Lands End of Mallorca actually is. The first part of the climb is quite barren. Once you’ve crested that obstacle, the road plunges down towards Formentor through the forest. With glimpses on the turquoise waters way down below. Once past Formentor the road points up once again and prepare for breathtaking views all around. The last part is rocky and steep and takes you to the lighthouse and the welcome cafe on the precipitous outcrop. The return journey is such a joy too, the way you came but with a different perspective. Cars are banned on this road from June to September. However you will occasionally encounter the shuttle bus that takes motorists from the car park at Formentor to the lighthouse.
Col de Sa Crue-Palma Nova-Palma
This route is a loop. You ride along the Paseo Maritimo from the Cathedral and do a right at the Hard Rock Cafe. The road tips up from here and takes you up to the military base.
The Col de Sa Crue starts here. The narrow, well surfaced road takes you through the forest. The gradient isn’t too steep but it’s still a fairly hard climb but worth the effort. Hardly any cars will disturb your the tranquility, but you’re sure to see quite a few fellow cyclists. At the top you have a fantastic view towards Calvia. The descent is very technical but the road surface is very good, not too many long straight stretches and a lot of hairpins find you at the bottom. Here you do a left toward Calvia. The next 10k is very fast as it’s all slightly down hill and there always seems to be a tailwind. At Calvia, you do a left and head towards Palma Nova. A high speed descent takes you to the roundabout at Palma Nova and on towards Palma.
Out through Palma’s suburbs towards Establiments and endless sets of traffic lights will soon see you in the countryside. Before Establiments take a left which drops you down to the tree lined road towards Puigpunyent. This is a very pretty road, recently resurfaced. The going is flat and relatively tranquil. After about 10k’s you’ll find yourself at the very pretty village of Puigpunyent.
The climb over to Esporles is a right but to your left is a handy water fountain to top up your bottles. There are a couple a nice cafes here if you feel like a sticky bun and a cuppa. The climb out of Puigpunyent is, yet again, not too steep but testing. The climbs in Mallorca are generally around the 5/6% mark and not too long. If you’ve done a lot of climbing in the Alps, the Mallorcan climbs will seem like molehills. The climb takes you through forest with virtually zero traffic. At the top the beautiful descent takes you into a valley with terrific scenery and on past one of Mallorca’s largest vinyards. A fast descent will find you in Esporles, where a cafe stop wouldn’t go amiss. The return to Palma is fast on well surfaced roads. This route isn’t as spectacular as the Sa Calobra, Formentor routes, but I really love it. Hardly any cars after you’re out of Palma and the peace and tranquility will chill you right out.
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A stunning ride this one, taking in two of Mallorca’s finest mountain villages. The first part is the tedious part, the long, straight, flat busy road out of Palma. Do a left at the roundabout towards Valdemossa and the fun begins. The traffic thins out considerably and you can see the mountains in front of you like a wall.
It’s a beautiful sight as the climb towards Valdemossa starts to tip up, slowly at first then gradually you can feel the pull of gravity. The climb to Valldemossa is so beautiful that you can forget that your legs are screaming. Once in Valdemossa you go on towards Deia. The road to Deia hugs the cliff top and you can see the Med glistening in the sun down below. This is a stunning stretch of road and a very fast descent. You arrive in arguably the most beautiful of all the islands villages. Deia is just so beautiful, a real gem. There are a couple of small shops to top up with water and snacks. The road on from Deia continues to delight the senses and many a time I’ve had to pinch myself that I’m lucky enough to be riding here. The road takes a sharp right and you plunge down into Soller. Sit in the square, have a coffee and regroup for the long climb back up the hill to Palma. The first part of the climb isn’t so tranquil as it’s the main road back to Palma. Once at the tunnel the cars go their own way. No bikes in the tunnel are allowed. Which is fortunate because you have a fabulous climb all to yourself. At the top you can see Palma and the Med in the distance. A technical descent finds you rejoining the traffic that passes through the tunnel. The road back into Palma is fast and slightly downhill. More often than not there’s a tailwind so you’re back in Palma before you know it.
Danny Frith is Director at SkiBoutique. SkiBoutique is a luxury ski chalet agency based in Switzerland.
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