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Mallorca, an island playground for cyclists

Find out why so many pro and recreational riders flock to this Mediterranean destination

I had heard about how good the riding on Mallorca is during group rides around Peterborough, Ont. The local shop, Wild Rock Outfitters, organizes spring training camps on the Balearic Island, roughly 300 km off the coast of mainland Spain in the Mediterranean Sea. Mallorca sounded like playground for road cyclists, its infrastructure heavily supported by tourism, which is mainly cyclists in the early months of the year. As a result, almost everywhere on the island caters to people rolling around on two wheels. When I got the chance to sign up for one of Wild Rock’s weeklong trips, I didn’t hesitate. I was stoked.

My group stayed at Viva Blue Hotel. It has a bike-storage area that includes bike-wash stations, tools and pumps, as well as complimentary water and ride snacks available all day. These features are pretty standard for the many sport-focused hotels on the island. Wild Rock also hooked me up with a bike for the week, so I didn’t have to worry about lugging a bike box around airports.

Our hotel was in the Port d’Alcúdia/ Platja de Muro area at the north end of Mallorca, not far from the mountains that run along the northwest of the island. As we pedalled out of town, we passed, and were passed, by several groups in the first 20 minutes of our ride. The drivers of motor vehicles seem very conscientious with regard to all the two-wheeled traffic. Not once was I worried about cars. Also, many of the main roads have large shoulders.

On our first day, we rode along the coastline and through a few small towns in the countryside. The island is scattered with small communities that have an assortment of shops and restaurants, all great for breaks or lunch. No matter which direction you travel, you are not far from food or water. After two hours of riding through some lush forest and rolling hills, we pulled into the beautiful town of Pollença. It has all the appeal of an old European city with tight streets and cobbled roads. It made for a picturesque setting for a coffee stop. Once we were fully caffeinated, it was time to roll through the narrow streets, back into the countryside.

Most of the road surfaces are quite smooth. Even in more remote areas of the island, you don’t need to worry about running high-volume tires to stay comfortable all day. After riding through the rolling hills and soaking in the beautiful scenery, we stopped for lunch in Campanet. Fuelled and watered, we began heading back toward our hotel passing some very impressive estate homes and architecture integrated into cool rock formations. After covering roughly 80 km, we pulled up to our hotel. As I was locking up my bike, I couldn’t help but smile, looking forward to the rest of the week.

We spent the next few days exploring different parts of the island. Although our hotel was a great starting location, Wild Rock did shuttle us to a few different areas farther away, including Bunyola, about 50 km to the southwest. The town’s narrow winding pavé took us to forested, switchback climbs and fun technical descents. For a small island, Mallorca has plenty of elevation. Many professional teams use the Serra de Tramuntana for training in the off-season. It’s easy to see why. During my weeklong stay, we climbed up a different set of sweeping and scenic switchbacks each day. Normally, the thought of super steep and extended climbs puts fear in my legs. But, as I was dripping with sweat pedalling in my easiest gear toward possibly the most picturesque lunch stop ever, I couldn’t help but enjoy ticking off each hairpin corner and soaking in the expansive views. At the top of almost every climb, there was respite waiting for us in the form of a store or restaurant. You’ll feel completely comfortable in convenience stores as you clomp along in your spandex. Thanks to the abundance of cyclists on the island, that’s a pretty normal occurrence, compared with here in Canada where cyclists can be met with skeptical looks from cashiers as they watch athletic, tightly clothed people purchase junk food.

My trip didn’t include a rest day, but I almost wish it had. Mallorca has many beaches, bars, restaurants and beautiful architecture. If, or more likely when, I return, I’d like to rent a scooter and explore more of the island’s urban areas, as well as visit a few of the old monasteries.

As I ticked off each day and climb, my week in cycling paradise neared its end. Before I left, there was one box I couldn’t leave unchecked. For my final day on Mallorca, I traded in my spandex for some baggies and hit the trails. Chainguide Mallorca severed as our guide for the day, and also hooked us up with squishy bikes to tackle the rocky terrain. After a short shuttle ride out of town, we were pedalling uphill and trying to avoid running over all of the roosters in the area. We climbed for a while through the forest occasionally popping out of the woods to take in beautiful views of the rolling hills. After close to two hours of climbing, some of it quite technical, we reached yet another scenic monastery, Santuari de Lluc, located at the top of a mountain. After a quick lunch, we were rewarded for our previous climbing efforts with a super long descent. Most of the trails are converted hiking paths. Crazy broken-up stone staircases and giant boulder fields made for a very cool backcountry type riding experience.

Bags packed and rental bike returned, I sat waiting for my shuttle to the airport, already creating a new savings account on my bank app. I must have climbed 100 switchbacks, but the island still has 100 waiting for me. I couldn’t think of a better place to gain some early-season fitness and take a load off at the same time.


How to get there

To get to Palma, Mallorca’s capital, you’ll have to fly to a major European hub, such as Frankfurt or Zurich, and then head to the Spanish island. From Palma, you can reach almost anywhere on the island via car within a maximum of two hours. Shuttles large enough to accommodate bikes and large luggage are readily available at the Palma Airport.

When to go

With temperatures in the 15–20 C range in April, the island makes for a great place to put in some early-season miles. During the spring, most of Mallorca’s visitors are cyclists, compared with the summer months when the island sees an influx of Europeans enjoying the beaches and hot summer weather.

Where to stay

Accommodation options on the island are extensive. The bike-friendly Viva Blue Hotel is an excellent option.

Where to eat

Mallorca has a ton of food options that range from local flavours, to fine Italian cuisine to Texas-style steak houses. Wherever you end up eating, I recommend taking a trip to Palma’s Old City and strolling the picturesque streets, sampling all the area has to offer.

How to find your way

If you don’t have Wild Rock Travel guides as I did, you can find hundreds of .gpx files for rides of various distances and elevation online. There are also cycling maps available at most of the island’s bike shops, as well as online. Check out shops Nano Bicycles and Speed Bike Mallorca for tips on where to ride.