It’s that time of year when lots of us make our annual pilgrimage to Mallorca. Sometimes, especially during Easter, everywhere seems so busy with every climb seeming like a sportive. Maybe you’re looking for something a little different, maybe something off the beaten track. This week I’d like to share four of my favourite climbs that are far from the madding crowds and are fantastic climbs in their own right.
Ermita de la Victoria
Stats: Cat 4 - 2.1-km - 5.5%
If you stay in Port de Pollenca, this climb is in plain sight, but so many people don’t know it even exists. Head out to Alcudia - I know, not the most promising of starts - and take the turn signposted Es Mal Pas and La Victoria. As you roll along this road, you leave the busyness of Alcudia behind, and you soon drop down into Mal Pas, a sleepy backwater with its marina and luxury villas.
As you pass the marina and a little, rocky beach you attack a short, steep climb – this one can hurt. You swiftly leave the housing behind and take a short descent to begin traversing the coastline of the Alcudia peninsula. To your left, you can look across the water to a distant Port de Pollenca and to your right a tumble of rocks and trees form a beautiful landscape.
A kilometre further on and there’s a wooden shack, a restaurant (S’illiot Strand) that serves a tempting array of seafood, and then the road starts to ramp upward. I once made the mistake of guiding the GOG Triathlon club along here for a recovery day – needless to say, the climb is steep and not the best suited to recovery! Anyway, I digress, follow sharp turns and keep right when you reach a junction (left takes you to a military zone) and after a kilometre slog, you arrive at the La Victoria where you’ll be treated to fantastic views.
Also, at the top, there’s a café, a church for those seeking a little culture or divine assistance, and if you skirt around the back of the church, there’s the Restaurante Mirador de la Victoria.
Overall, this climb makes a great mini excursion, an additional climb if you want to pad out the Cap de Formentor, or a superb alternative destination for those heading north from other parts of the island.
Coll d’en Claret
Stats: Cat 3 - 3.7-km - 5%
The Coll d’en Claret, which was resurfaced two years ago, is a climb that envelopes you in the tranquillity of inland Mallorca. If you’re staying in the north, you’re looking at a big day in the saddle, but why not?
Head for the village of Esporles either by following the flats via Cami de Muro and Santa Maria, or take on a hilly route, such as Campanet – Coll de Tofla – Coll d’Orient. The approach to the village consists of six kilometres of false flat that’s not too taxing on the legs. As you enter the village, you know that you’re far from the craziness of the coast. This is a place where locals potter over cortados, or a little glass of something stronger, and discuss days gone by.
Before you know it, you’re heading out of the village and starting to climb along the Ma-1100. Don’t overcook it at this point, you haven’t reached the actual climb yet. After three kilometres, the road steepens and you’re almost at the point where you turn right onto the Ma-10 and the Coll d’en Claret. What follows is 3.7 kilometres of perfect tarmac that throws you around bend after bend, each offering a distant view over the world below.
As you reach the unassuming summit, you’ll appreciate that the climb gave elements of respite without ever becoming so steep as to test you. There’s no café. This is not a time to stop, rest, and refuel. Instead, throw yourself into the flowing descent that awaits. No hire cars. No coaches. Just a sweeping descent that demands very little use of the brakes.
As the road straightens, you rapidly approach the tourist Mecca of Valldemossa. If you fancy a cut-price café stop, turn left just before town and there’s a petrol station on the right that boasts a café. This is a great place to watch local life go by where dogs slalom around the legs of wiry locals who smoke little cigars as they fill their battered vehicles with fuel.
Puig de Santa Magdalena
Stats: Cat 3 – 2.83-km – 6.1%
Thousands of us take to the lanes and make an outing to Campanet, where we’ll either backtrack or make a loop out of the Coll de sa Batalla. A great alternative or extension is to take in the climb to Magdalena where you can enjoy 360-degree views of the island.
You can approach this climb either from Campanet by taking the lanes and crossing over the autopista, or from the outskirts of Inca where you take an underpass to access the climb. I’d recommend either having a GPS or the excellent Bike Mallorca map because the start of the climb can be hard to locate.
Whichever route you take, you’ll climb at a steady pace until you pass the junction of the lane from the north and the lane from Inca. At this point, the road increases in gradient until you quickly reach the steepest section of the climb – it will test tired legs.
Once you pass the steep section, the straight ramp gives way to a pleasant series of hairpin bends that pass through shaded countryside. Enjoy these and you’ll soon reach a flatter section where locals congregate for weekend barbeques and to enjoy time with their families and friends. A set of steps face you but don’t worry, you don’t need to shoulder your bike; the road skirts off to the right and winds its way around the hillside eventually finishing at the Ermita de Santa Magdalena.
The summit, naturally, sports a chapel. But it also provides fantastic views over the island, allowing you to take in the entire Serra de Tramuntana. Conveniently, there’s a restaurant that’s more than happy to serve cyclists with coffee. Once recovered, enjoy the technical descent and head back to base or explore the Cami de Muro that’ll take you right into the centre of the island and the market town of Santa Maria.
Puig de Randa
Stats: Cat 3 – 4.7-km – 5.3%
Puig de Randa can be viewed from most points on the island, it’s located on that distant, solitary hill. There are multiple ways to take the lanes and slightly larger roads to reach this climb; in most cases, you’ll be aiming for the village of Ronda. Whichever route you take, it’s going to be a long ride, but at least it’s mostly flat.
As you enter the village of Ronda, there’s a four-way junction. Take the second right (signposted Cura) and you’re at the start of the climb. The climb starts with some steep sections, but at least it’s on nice new tarmac that offers a lovely climbing surface. After 1.5 kilometres there are two sharp hairpins and then the climb opens out into a series of bends with an occasional hairpin thrown in for good measure and it soon relents to a more manageable gradient. To your right fantastic views over the island open out.
This mid-section of the climb has an isolated feel, yet it is reminiscent of the Coll de sa Batalla in its gradient and bends. At around four kilometres a white, bulbous radar comes into immediate view and after a couple of slightly steeper (thankfully short) pulls you crest a summit. This is not the top, but it offers a respite with a flat section, which after another sharp pull offers a short descent of maybe 200 metres. Once the road starts to climb again, you can push hard because you’re very close to the top. Push hard and within a few hundred meters you enter a car park and the end of the climb.
From the carpark there are some great views of the island but don’t linger; instead, go through the large arch directly facing you. You pass through a courtyard and then another arch. Here are more views and to your right a coffee stop. This place is both a café and a restaurant, which offers good meals. The coffee and cake are not the cheapest on the island, but the setting is worth the slightly higher price. Also, the coffee’s not bad.
Apart from the views, quietness and impressive buildings of the Santuari de Cura, this climb offers a fantastic descent on perfect tarmac. If you really want to enjoy a really long descent, turn right when you reach the village. The descent continues, with the occasional undulation, all the way to Montuiri.
Making the Most of Your Riding
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Photo Credit: @asty121 captures the author on La Victoria, Mallorca
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