It’s that time of year when the dark nights and chilling weather get us all thinking about sunnier climes and the idea of a spring cycling holiday. One of the most popular European destinations is Mallorca. With over three hundred days of sun a year and a tempting mixture of mountains and flat roads, it has become the number one choice for British and German riders alike. In this article, we explore some tips that will let you get the most out of your next cycling holiday on the sunny isle.
Time of Year – people cycle in Mallorca all year round, but at certain times of year they tend to only be locals or pros. Winter offers some of the best weather in Europe, but it can be unpredictable at times – one day’s sunny and the next there’ll be a storm. The height of summer can be unbearably hot and hire cars take over every road on the island. For us, April – June and September – October are the best months. There’s little in the way of traffic and the weather’s generally perfect. Remember that the Easter holidays are a peak time for cyclists, so don’t expect to have the roads to yourself!
Where to go – the island provides masses of accommodation in every town, village, and resort. As a cyclist, you do need to think about access to the best riding areas – the west of the island is mountainous, and the east is mostly flat. During the key cycling seasons, Port de Pollenca and Alcudia are the most popular destinations; although, Soller attracts quite a few riders, but be warned all routes out of the town involve tackling big climbs. An often-overlooked area is the centre of the island alongside the mountains. The towns and villages of Santa Maria, Alaro, and Bunyola make fantastic bases because you can cover a wide variety of rides in all directions. Finally, in the depths of winter, the Palma area is a popular choice because its weather is milder and drier than elsewhere on the island, but most routes involve negotiating city traffic – not for the faint-hearted.
Bikes – you can always take your own bike, and most accommodation (including hotels) offer secure bike storage. That said, the rising cost of budget airlines sport’s equipment charges, the potential for transit damage, and the hassle of carting a bike around with you, mean that most people choose to hire. There are countless bike hire facilities on the island – the majority are located in Palma and the Northern resorts of Port de Pollenca and Alcudia. One of the great things about hire is that you can spend a week riding the bike of your dreams because most hire places focus on top-end bikes. It’s important to note that if you are planning on a trip during any of the busy cycling times, you must pre-book a bike in advance; in fact, for the Easter period you may need to book months in advance!
Shops – there are plenty of bike shops all of which sell the staples of food, inner-tubes, and water bottles. You will find that most shops have a distinct focus on hiring bikes rather than providing a wide-range of bikes and accessories to browse, but there are exceptions. Although most shops have workshop facilities, don’t be surprised if they don’t have capacity to look at your bike if you do have a problem. If you are taking your own bike, play it safe and make sure that it is serviced and in good condition before you leave.
Iconic Climbs – if you want to be able to say that you’ve done Mallorca, you need to have ridden at least some of the iconic routes and climbs, such as:
Sa Calobra – a fantastic descent and 10-km of Cat 1 torture for your return.
Cap de Formentor – the Port de Pollenca warm-up with stunning scenery.
Coll de Soller – a dream climb that leads to the famous Soller orange ice-creams.
Puig Major – the biggest Cat 1 climb on the island; it’s kind of Alpine feeling.
Coll de sa Batalla – a super climb that leads to a great cycling hangout (the petrol station café).
[Ed: make sure that you check out out lighthearted guide to surviving Mallorca’s roads]
Coffee Stops – there’s no shortage of places to stop for coffee and that normally means having cake too – we love the local almond cake. Away from the resorts and larger towns some places only accept cash, so make sure you’ve always got coffee and cake money. Some of our favourite stops include:
Cycling Planet – in the traditional village of Alaro this bike shop come coffee shop is made up of Palma’s old velodrome and a frequent hangout of many pro’s including plenty of Irish riders – look out for the pro signatures.
Sa Ruta Verda – at the bottom of the Coll de sa Batalla this relaxed coffee stop has great cakes (some are vegan btw) and you always get a friendly welcome.
Restaurant Coll de Sa Bataia – the petrol station café at the top of the col is the place where everyone meets.
We hope that this post has whet your appetite for a Mallorcan cycling adventure. It’s a place close to our hearts, so we’ll be posting more articles on the delights of this cycling paradise. If you’ve got any comments, suggestions, or questions about cycling in Mallorca, let us know in the comments section.