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

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - by Matt Stet­son

An is­land play­ground for cy­clists

Ihad 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 i nfras­truc­ture 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

“For my fi­nal day, I traded in my span­dex for some bag­gies and hit the trails.”

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 back­coun­try­type 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.

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