Where in Europe would you go cycling? If you are into climbing then there are a few classics, the French Alps, the Dolomites, the Pyrenees and perhaps strangely, a mountainous island in the middle of the Mediterranean, Mallorca. Having put on trips to all these, bar Mallorca, we thought it about time to check it out.
The boys from Ripcor were super keen along with Andrew, Olly, Matt and Joe. We had a solid team of 13. It maybe unlucky for some, but the moment that I arrived with the van a week before, I knew that Mallorca would be a great venue for a cycling weekend.
What is obvious about Mallorca is that if you are there to climb, then it is certainly quality rather than quantity. This makes route planning particularly easy. The southern part of the Island is rather flat with a few Puigs sticking up here and there, it is capped with a mountainous ridge that runs across the northern part, East to West.
In terms of location, there are plenty of small towns and villages with cosy bars and hotels across the mountains but it certainly seems a shame to come to the Mediterranean and not be in a town near the sea. We went for Port de Pollensa and the DUVA hotel, which is set up for cyclists; something to mention, is that cyclists are like a plague in Mallorca. They cover the roads, leading to a daily Sportive atmosphere- it is quite something.
The first day was a warm up, out to Cap de Formentor. Franco, the Ripcor / Traverse liaison officer for this trip, was worried that it was short but with two long days ahead, this punchy ride out to the most Eastern tip was a perfect way to get the mountain legs back. We had coffee and cake at the lighthouse and then back to Port de Pollensa. Most of Team Ripcor then spent they time rehydrating by the sea. Rosé is stacked with electrolytes apparently!
With a good warm up but bad preparation, it was time to hit the first mountain loop. Neil Ralphson was first at the meeting point but I think it was more in body than in mind. Out through Campanet to Caimari, where we stopped at the nicest cyclists’ café that I have been to , Sa Ruta Verda. The Norweigan owner who ran it until 31st October, before decamping each winter to the Alps to ski all day long, was super excited to have us there. There were some great t-shirts which meant that a return was in order, to grab some. Peace and Love.
Everyone was up for the climb up to Lluc; it was a steady gradient. At the top, a text from Swabes which simply said “Puncture” had me wondering whether he wanted me to help or that he was slightly delayed. Being a bike mechanic, I thought that he would have the skills to fix it, I turned around and drove down to find out that it was actually Beautiful Steve who had the problem and he was there pumping away with Paul nattering in his ear. I gave him my big one so that he could finish off and then they made their way back up.
We were heading for the Tunel de Monnaber, under the Puig Major, Mallorca’s highest peak. Unfortunately, Matt’s health was deteriorating and he was feeling rather ill, Joe held back to keep him company but he was really struggling and decided to get in the van for the descent. He was most grateful of Joe’s company and I think that Joe has won a new friend there!
Half way back down, we stopped for lunch by the reservoir. It was quite hard to believe that it was Mid October as we picnicked in our shorts and t-shirts, it was becoming quite obvious that Mallorca is the go to destination for Spring and Autumn training camps. A drone made an appearance from the van and we are all looking forward to seeing the edited footage of our picturesque spot.
Day 3 was the one people came for, another loop out into the Tramuntana mountain range and a descent down to Sa Calobra, a picturesque harbour, nestled in the cliffs in the north of the island. There is only one road down to it, so you need to descend what you are about to climb. This means that the climb is less of a surprise but still, nonetheless, beautiful for it. Sa Calobra is to Majorca what Alpe d’Huez is to France and the Stelvio is to Italy, it’s iconic. It is shorter than its mainland cousins but packed full of views, switch backs and ramps. It is a perfect shorter climb that everyone can enjoy. Andy W shot up and left everyone wondering whether he really has had a hip replacement or if it is all a charade.
To avoid the hassle of coaches, I had left the car at the top and cycled down too (an excuse to do the climb really). I had decided to try and go quickly but set off too fast and was suffering on the last 3 km. This is when Andrew Barber’s white helmet appeared behind me and all the bends meant that I had a perfect view of him catching me- quite frustrating.
It must be said, that I cannot quite believe how quickly Speed Steve has become. However, any advantage that he has gained from his ascending skills is quickly lost as he descends terribly! The two little Neils were on form and the big guns, Franco, Gordon, Alastair, and Steve were being chased by some scandi roller skaters getting ready for the Cross Country Ski season. They were making plans to do their own trip out south to a velodrome on Day 4, a chance to get their rouleur legs going. Alastair could not hide his excitement; he certainly is the General of the peloton and he and Olly paced the group back home- not before stopping out our favourite café for a coffee and a t-shirt buying extravaganza. Our mate will be able to buy a few more Vin Chauds in the mountains after our visit!
Two groups went out on Day 4. The Ripcor lot went down to Sineu to a velodrome whereas the rest of us, joined by Marjolein, went up to Santa Magdalena, which is a lovely loop with a short 2.5km switch back climb, to a convent, with a café and views across the Pollensa bay. Unfortunately, the café was closed so we ended up in the main square of Sa Pobla to get our caffeine kick.
We regrouped with Ripcor at the hotel in time to get the rental bikes back to the various shops, the quality of every bike was impressive and a great option compared to the hassle of bringing your own. Off everyone went on their return flights, refreshed from some cycling and sun. I on the other hand was staying out for another week, I felt very lucky to be exploring this island a little bit more. We will definitely be coming back next October!
Video by Paul Swabey - thanks!