I've been going to Mallorca to ride in the spring time since 2009. It’s something I really look forward to after a winter of battering myself in the garage on the turbo or rollers and riding in the generally nasty conditions a British winter benevolently bestows upon us Brits.
It tends to be leisurely, sunny miles to familiar and beautiful places with a good thrash up a mountain for good measure so it feels like training rather than a complete jolly. Which of course, it isn’t, right?
This time I hooked up with Mallorca Cycling Shuttles and my cycling buddy and GBTx team mate, Ottilie Quince who has based her sports therapy business out there, to take on a ride with a different start from the normal leisurely 10 o’clock(ish) roll out from Puerto Pollensa. This time we loaded our bikes in a trailer and loaded ourselves on to a coach for a journey to Andratx, some 115ks away on the other side of the island and, more relevantly, at the other end of the Tramuntana (still tarantula to me…) mountain range. Shockingly, we did this at 8 o’clock in the morning!
An hour or so later we were dropped off in a sunny but cool Andratx to start the ride home to Puerto Pollensa via some of the most glorious mountain roads you could ever hope to set a wheel on. You can take a number of routes back (check out the funky maps on the Mallorca Cycle Shuttle Facebook page or website) but we chose to follow the ‘vanilla’ direct mountain route. When I say vanilla, the Tramantana mountain range is a World Heritage site and rightly so: it’s a stunning place to ride a bike. What I really mean is we passed on the option of dipping down to the various pretty ports from the MA10 mountain road. Should 115ks not be enough, you can extend this to 162ks by riding down to Port des Canonge, Port Valldemossa and the famous Sa Calobra before getting back to Puerto Pollensa - a serious challenge.
Unless you decide to come back ‘flat’, all routes go over Puig Major, the biggest mountain in Mallorca at 1445m although the highest you can climb on a road bike is about 850m (it’s enough, trust me). You go through the top of the mountain via a tunnel before you descend – not a bad idea to take a red flashing rear light with you if you have one to hand – the tunnel is quite long. Also, the descent of ‘The Pig’ can get cold at certain times so taking a jacket or a gillet is a good idea.
We opted to stop at Fornalutx a few hundred metres up Puig Major. It’s a beautiful tiny village based on an old Roman forge settlement and you can see the colour of the iron ore in the brown and orange escarpments around you while you have a coffee and a cake. Or two. Stop there if you want, but don’t tell anybody else, it’s a hidden secret…
The ride is tough one, even for those familiar with the route, but the guys at Mallorca Cycle Shuttle have removed the need to cover over 200k in the day and ride flat via Bunyola for 3 plus hours to get to the start of the mountain range. For most of us mortals 5-6 hours on the bike is manageable whereas 9 hours plus becomes a chore. A great idea, well executed. At €24.50 the trip represents good value in my view and you can watch your bike being safely packed in an enclosed trailer towed behind the bus so you never lose sight of your valuable transport home.
Maximum kudos to the guy in trainers, board shorts and a T shirt who completed the ride. He claimed the rhythmic squeaking of his hire bike reminded him of his girlfriend and he was only going to worry about it if it stopped.
Mainly, this is just a bloody good day out on the bike, a real achievement to complete with spectacular roads and views. However, if there is a coaching analogy, tenuous though it might be, cutting out the ‘junk’ to get to the good stuff is it. I’d sooner ride hard over the mountains than try to conserve energy spinning out on the flat for hours early in the morning, but that’s just me.
If you're lucky enough to be over in Mallorca, check out the Mallorca Cycle Shuttle website or Facebook page and treat yourself to a different day out on the bike.