Saturday 12th March and we are off to Stansted (unfortunately Southend flights don't start until April) for a flight to Palma de Mallorca and a week of cycling courtesy of Mallorca Cycling Tours (other tour operators are available). Many Wheelers have been to Mallorca, some many times, and after a taster last year hiring a bike for a day, it is time to experience what the island has to offer. Mallorca Cycling Tours is run by Tony Cork, Tony founded St Ives Cycling Club, is based in Puerto de Pollenca and limits each camp to 30 riders. Usually each day's ride is split into three groups, each with a couple of guides in radio contact with Tony in the van. It is great meeting up with the van from time to time to replenish food and drink supplies and add or remove layers depending on what the weather is up to. Talking of the weather, it was generally fine (apart from one almighty downpour about 10 miles from home) though thin arm and knee/leg warmers were called for most days, especially up in the mountains. I didn't take any photos but have included some links to Mallorca Cycling Tours facebook page

Day 1 - Puig de Bonany and Puig de Santa Magdelena

I was in Group 2 for the week and Jane was in Group 3. Each day all 3 groups did similar routes with Groups 1 and 2 doing extra loops or climbs for slightly higher mileage. Good route planning allowed all 3 groups to have occasional rendezvous with the support van and sometimes meet up for coffee. Group 2 was slightly slower than a usual Southend Wheelers 9am ride, but did cover longer distances on consecutive days and feature bigger climbs. It was ideal for me so faster club members (you know who you are!) would have been better suited for Group 1.
Day 1 was getting to know the guides and the group but was still an 80 mile round trip. We started on the coast road via Alcudia and Can Picafort before heading inland up the endless steps to Petra for the climb up to Bonany at 317m. I am pleased to say that I was the first up the climb. An early lunch was taken at Petra (along with Groups 1 and 3) before heading west past Sineu to Santa Magdelena. This was a 7% climb to 300m and again I was first up. The ride home was via some lovely quiet roads.
Photos - Mallorca Cycling Tours Facebook
Photos - Mallorca Cycling Tours Facebook

Day 2 - Coll d'Honor (Orient) and Col de Sa Batalla (Lluc)

Another 80 mile day, again rolling through the flat lands of central Mallorca before climbing up to Bunyola and the 550m high Col d'Honor. This was a harder climb, at an average of almost 6%. I had a tussle with a lady named Leslie on the climb but after sitting on my wheel most of the way she let me have the honour of being first over the Honor - I would not have had anything left for a sprint. After a late lunch in Lloseta, we then climbed up to 570m at the Col de Sa Batalla, otherwise known as the Petrol Station climb, just short of the monastery at Lluc. This was a great climb, at a steady 5%. I had a bit of a head start on Leslie as she was at the back of the bunch at the start of the climb but she soon caught me up but the effort took its toll and I managed to get free for a solo victory. We then had the rolling ride past Lluc and the 515m Col de Feminia before a fast descent back home via Pollenca
Photos - Mallorca Cycling Tours Facebook

Day 3 - Puig de Randa (Santuari de Cuna)

Yet another 80 mile day again starting rolling across the plain by way of Alcudia, the marshes and Petra before a late coffee stop at Algaida in the southern half of the island. We met up with Group 1 for the climb up the 555m Puig de Randa. Unfortunately over a dinner-time beer last night I let it slip that I was counting all the climbs and was currently leading the King of the Mountains competition - not my fault that the other members of the group were unaware there was a competition going on. Most, if not all, of the Group 1 riders overtook me on the climb which was OK but David from my group also went past and I had no chance of catching him. I kept ahead of Leslie for second place. After dropping back down the climb, we rode home via Montuiri, Sineu and sa Pobla.
Photos - Mallorca Cycling Tours Facebook

Day 5 - Col de Feminia, Puig Major (Monaber Tunnel) and Col de Soller

Day 4 was a rest day before the biggest day of the week - an 87 mile round trip over the highest road on Mallorca. Group 1 also did the Sa Calobra / Col de Cal Reis climb as well. The climb from Pollenca to the Col de Feminia is a steady one with a peak gradient of about 6% but despite the climbing, the chill in the mountains meant that this was a day for leg-warmers. David again took the honours on this climb and as the Group 1 riders started to catch us up on the ridge we had a fast ride along to Lluc and the Col de Sa Batalla for a coffee at the Petrol Station cafe. Here the groups split with Group 1 dropping down to Sa Calobra and Groups 2 and 3 riding on to the Monaber Tunnel. At 848m this is the highest road on the island (except the restricted road up to Puig Major at 1415m). Apart from one steep stretch that split the group up, the climb to the tunnel is steady and I managed to catch and pass Leslie but David was way ahead of me - I should have kept it a secret that there was a mountains competition! After re-grouping at the top we had a glorious descent down to Soller before the final climb of the day, the 499m Col de Soller. I tried to follow David and our guide 'Pistol' Pete but soon had to let them go and settle into my own rhythm for another second place at the top. The main road from Palma to Soller goes through a tunnel so the col is quiet, indeed cycles are not allowed through the road tunnel. The tunnel is not that old (opened 1997) - it is hard to imagine all the traffic going over the Col as it so peaceful now. We had a lunch stop in Bunyola before a fast ride home via Santa Maria, Sa Pobla, the marshes and Alcudia.
Photos - Mallorca Cycling Tours Facebook

Day 6 - Borges Valley

And then all of a sudden it was the last day. A slightly shorter day today, only about 73 miles, and only one small climb. We started the day on the coast road, going most of the way to Arta before turning inland towards Manacor (Rafa Nadal's hometown) but turning into the glorious Borges Valley. The exit from the valley up to the 'endless steps' road was very steep in places but I managed to restore some pride by being first up and out, but I think David was chatting to fellow riders rather than concentrating on climbing out. Can I claim this as my fifth mountain victory of the week - probably not. Given that David was fastest over all 3 climbs yesterday I think he was the Group 2 climber of the week.
We had a coffee stop in Petra and a late lunch in Sa Pobla before a slightly early return home - plenty of time to dismantle bikes before a celebratory beer (or two) at the end of a good week.
Photos - Mallorca Cycling Tours Facebook

Overall it was a great week with a good mix of riders, male and female, young and not-so-young with some well planned routes and excellent guides. It was very handy having Tony not too far away in support in the van. We are already thinking of coming back next year - I still have the climbs of Sa Colabra and the Cap de Formentor to complete.


Jane's view
Perhaps I had my arm slightly twisted to go on this 'holiday', so was a little dubious about riding with other people.  Whilst I am used to riding on the continent, riding longish distances on consecutive days did seem a bit daunting.  My group 3 consisted of 9 of us from 34 years old to 75 years old.  All the group had been the previous year and whilst they had not all seen each other all year, all knew how the others rode, but I did not need to worry our guides Gilly and Richard were there to put us (me) at ease and help us all along.  The group 3 rides were generally a bit shorter than the 1 and 2 rides and without some of the bigger climbs but still doing 65 - 70 miles each day.  I did not do the big climb day on day 5.  Generally that route is not done by group 3, however as the others had not done it in the previous years they were keen to give it a go.  For me it would have been too much, so I spent a very interesting day as group Domestique, handing out drinks from the van and watching some great riding.  I learned a lot from the week and felt I became a lot more confident by the end of the week.  Now I know what it is all about, think I might give it a go again!


Martin & Jane Harris.
March 2016


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