Tour de Mallorca

After last year's successful trip to Mallorca, here we are again with Mallorca Cycling Tours at Port de Pollenca. This year there are only about a dozen on the tour, rather than the full 30,  so we have plenty of guides to do all the work on the front of the group!

Day 1 - Borges Valley and Puig de Santa Magdelena
The weather was fantastic today - 20 temperatures and blue skies, though there was a stiff breeze which alternated between being helpful and downright nasty. Unfortunately Jane was suffering with a bad cold so didn't join us today.
We started with a helpful wind along the coast road, through Alcudia, Platja de Muro and Can Picafort most of the way to Arta before turning South-West on the MA-3300 to Petra. The road otherwise known as The Endless Steppes - continuous steps up to the central plain of Mallorca - took us to Petra before turning SE to Manacor - Rafal Nadal's home town. The wind was not helpful as we took the MA-3321 through the gorgeous Borges Valley. Well gorgeous until the climb out - no mountain points for me this year as I exited the valley in 4th or 5th place. We then dropped back into Petra for a well deserved lunch.

After lunch we headed back home via Sineu, Llubi and the steep climb to the Puig de Santa Magdelena. It was very busy on the Puig with families enjoying barbeques, ice-creams and a few drinks in the afternoon sun. I gave the climb to Santa Magdelena everything I had, with a heart rate above 180 all the way up, good enough for the 3rd place amongst the group, excluding the guides of course.

After the Puig, we returned to base into a headwind, though I sheltered myself in the group. The day was 82 miles at an average of 17 mph. Strangely it seemed easier than a Sunday cub run despite being longer at a similar speed. Some of this was due to the nature of the roads - less traffic and longer distances between junctions allow for a higher average speed - but mainly due to the excellent marshalling of the group by the guides.

Day 2 - Trial by Wind
The initial forecast for today was for rain all day so there was a strong chance that this would be the week's designated rest day but the weather gods were on our side and the rain kept away but there was a very strong wind.

We started with an easy ride - the wind pushing us past Pollenca to sa Pobla. About 3km from Llubi we had a shower but by the time we had finished our coffee and cake in Llubi the sun was out. The wind had blown the rain away but it was going to be a tough ride home. Group 2 took the most direct route back to base whilst Group 1 did a loop around Muro before heading back to Port de Pollenca via 'the reeds'. We met Group 1 for a well deserved lunch at the Pro Cycle Hire Shop Cafe.
A shorter day today - 45 miles at an average of 16.5mph but it was hard work - hats off the guides who did all the work into the wind. I was happily sitting second wheel all the way home.

Day 3 - Sa Calobra (Coll de Ferminia, Coll de sa Batalla & Coll de Cal Reis)
I'm not sure why the most famous climb on Mallorca is named after the port at the bottom (Sa Calobra) rather than the top of the climb (Coll de Cal Reis) - in the Alps you climb the Alpe d'Huez not Bourg d'Oisan. Anyway back to today. The sun was out, though the wind was a little strong. Again the wind was helpful on the outward journey but a but made the return a bit of a struggle.

We started in 3 groups today. I was in Group 2 and we left 20 minutes before the speedier Group 1. The third group took a more rolling route around Campanet and Selva.

The mountain groups started on the flat past Pollenca and then onto the MA-10 - Mallorca's mountain road. It is fairy flat for about 5km before the climb to the Coll de Ferminia at 515m. With the group split, I got the mountains points today! After the coll, the road undulates past Lluc before we stopped for coffee at the Coll de sa Batalla, otherwise known as 'the Petrol Station'. There are plenty of petrol stations on the island, but this is the petrol station. The only one above 500m.

The road then continues to undulate for another 9km until the junction for Sa Calobra is reached. There is then a 2.5km climb at 6% to reach the Coll de Cal Resi at 682m before the 9.5km drop all the way to sea level at the small port of Sa Calobra. The descent is stunning with plenty of hairpin bends, most of which you can see around letting you take the racing line when the road is clear. At this time of year the road is quiet but in tourist season there are plenty of coaches taking tourists down to the port for a boat trip. The coaches have to be down by 1pm as for the next 3 hours the coaches are only allowed up the road.

We had a quick photo stop before starting the climb back - starting at the beach is a little further (2 minutes and 20 seconds to be precise) than the 'official' climb of 9.5km at 7%. The gradient is not constant and you are treated to a 10% and an 11% section - though there is some respite between. It took me 51 minutes to reach the Coll. I think I was the fastest from Group 2 but the Group 1 riders were some 10+ minutes quicker than that. I then had to descend a little way back to the meeting point at the cafe at the famous 270 bend.

We re-grouped and continued back to the petrol station where the groups split again. Most of group 2 had lunch and then came back home via Coll de Ferminia whilst the Group 1 riders down to Caimari for a longer ride home. The ride along the ridge was tough into the wind, the descent as good fun but the ride home along the valley floor was tough. For some reason the group let Mark (the guide) and I do all the work.

Overall it was a 62 miles at an average of just 13mph but there was almost 2,000m of climbing. This was a tough day.

Day 4 - The Rest Day - Cap de Formentor (The Lighthouse)
Today was the rest day so I did a shorter route today to keep my legs active. Leaving at 9am, I had the road to Cap Formentor almost to myself. It was another lovely day, with a slight morning chill but the sun was out and the wind had dropped a little from yesterday.

The route starts with the 6% climb to the Coll de la Crueta, which offers fantastic views of the peninsular, followed by a similar descent to Formentor. The road to the lighthouse at the Cap climbs up through the forest before a steeper section, a short unlit tunnel and some lovely twists and undulations before the reaching the end of the road - the most northerly point on Mallorca. The round trip to and from the hotel was 26 miles, with 1,000m of climbing taking around 2 hours. It is a fantastic ride. Jane had a morning in the hotel gym and we had a relaxing afternoon in Alcudia.

Day 5 - Sineu & Coll de sa Batalla
Another beautiful day with blue skies, a gentle wind and summer-like temperatures. Two groups today meeting at Sineu for coffee. It was a fast ride via Alcudia and 'the reeds' to sa Pobla, Llubi and late elevensies / early lunch at Sineu. Group 2 returned to Porto de Pollenca via the flat route whilst Group 1 rode back via Llubi and Campanet and the famous 'petrol station' climb to Coll de sa Batalla (8km at 5%). I beat 30 minutes for the climb and we had a late lunch at the cafe before a fast ride back to base.

And do I mean fast. We descended the Col de Ferminia at our own pace before regrouping at the bottom. Ben then led the group at 24mph, into the wind, to the Pollenca roundabout. And then he put the hammer down. I was 4th wheel; 3rd wheel got dropped at 26mph. I bridged the gap and held on for a while but when the speed hit 28.5mph I had to bail out. If we had a tail wind I might have have held on until 30mph!
Overall 62 miles at 16mph. In 20+ degree heat.

Day 6 - Son Serra de Marina and Formentor
And already we are at the final day. Another perfect day for riding as we set off ay quite a brisk pace along the coast to Alcudia where the group split. Group 2 stuck to the coast road whilst Group 1 turned inland and took in some quiet and narrow lanes flirting with, but avoiding, the small towns of sa Pobla, Muro and Santa Margilda. A couple of us struggled with the pace when the roads climbed up but we were rewarded with a great descent back to the coast road and our coffee stop at on Serra de Marina, where we met up with Group 1.

We rode back together at a fair pace (and yes I did more than my fair share at the front) along the coast road for lunch at the Pro Cycle Hire cafe. That was the end of the guided rides but Johan and I couldn't resist a little more climbing so we climbed the 6% gradient to Coll de la Crueta and took the unmade road up to the view point. The views of the Cape Formentor and Pollenca Bay were just stunning. We dropped back to the main road and then descended to Formentor Beach. With 2 bikes to pack down I didn't really have time for the ride to the Lighthouse so we climbed back to the Coll and back to Pollenca. A cheeky 500m+ of climbing to finish the week off with.


Overall it was a great week; for 5 days of 6 the weather was great, though the wind a little stronger than I would have liked but the temperature was high enough not to need leg-warmers or arm-warmers (except for the descent into Sa Calobra). Unfortunately Jane's cold meant that she missed 2 days of riding so she didn't get as many miles in as she hoped. Once again the guides (Mark, Ben, Steve, Peter and Zuzana) and support from Tony in the van were brilliant. We had a couple of nights out in the local bars with the guides and that made a welcome change to the hotel bar (we were all drinking isotonic recovery drinks, honest). The rest of the group and the extra local support riders were all very friendly and helpful - we are already planning next year's trip! The only disappointment was that I didn't meet up with 'Pistol' Pete this year, though we did meet up with Bob Barber who was on the island for a short holiday based around the finale of the Six-Day series which was held in Palma on Friday night.



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