Mallorca Cycling an Overview
The Balearic island of Mallorca lies 320 kms east from the Spanish city of Valencia in the Mediterranean Sea. It is famed for its historical sites dating back to Roman and Moorish periods of history, for possessing a fabulous climate, golden beaches, and the Tramuntana Mountain Range. Thanks to its excellent smooth road network, it has been adopted as a spiritual home for cyclists, and Pro peloton teams such as Team SKY use Mallorca to train their riders.
Mallorca Cycling’s Paradise Reputation
As the cycling popularity has grown worldwide Mallorca’s cycling paradise reputation has grown with it. Arguably, this came to a head when it transpired that British 2012 Tour de France and Olympic Champion Bradly Wiggins, trained himself riding Sa Calobra. This is a famous Mallorca cycling climb that features 26 tightly packed hairpin bends. Wiggins would go on to describe Mallorca as a “Scalextric set for cyclists.”
Every year thousands of cyclists come from all over the world to ride in Mallorca. This has led to many cycling based businesses establishing a presence on the island. Cycling training camp providers, cycle tour operators, bike hire shops, cycle repair centres, and cafes all rely on the revenue generated by cyclists that visit every year to ride their bikes.
Many cafes display cycling memorabilia including signed merchandise from cycling heroes both current and retired.
Cycling in Mallorca
Most cyclists that ride in Mallorca fit broadly into three categories. They are:
These cyclists are either new to the sport or are coming back to cycling after a long break. Thanks to the accessibility of cycling many see this as a good way of keeping fit and staying healthy even if they have not pursued a sport for a long time. As such, beginner cyclists come to Mallorca wanting to improve their skills and get better at road cycling.
Mallorca cyclists wanting to improve their skills
Thanks to the rise of Mallorca cycling camps many cyclists who have been riding for a while come to Mallorca to learn and improve their cycling game. Once a cyclist reaches a certain level they need pro coaching advice to advance their skills and be a more competitive rider. To do this they sign up to a Mallorca cycling training camp. No matter how old most riders deep down want to be the next Sean Kelly, Laura Kenny, or Peter Sagan.
Typically, training camps concentrate on the following to improve cycling technique:
- Pacing – Pacing and good use of nutrition is vital to all cyclists. Get it wrong and it is all too easy to run out of energy or feel sluggish when too many carbs are taken during a ride. Pacing and by extension, fitness, underpins cycling and all endurance based sports.
- Climbing – Hill climbing is an important cycling skill and every cyclist wants to be a good climber. It can be argued that being considered a good climber is a badge of honour.
- Cornering – Cornering correctly saves energy and as such is a vital skill for any cyclist to perfect. It also helps with general bike handling which is important to riding successfully in tight situations such as a peloton.
- Gear use – Gear use is vital to maximising energy and riding the bike efficiently. A good use of gears is the difference between getting to the top of Puig Major with energy to spare or struggling not long after the ascent has begun.
- Braking – Being able to brake effectively is another important skill for any cyclist to learn. Like gear use and cornering, good, appropriate braking will maximise energy levels and avoids slowing the bike down more than is needed.
- Peloton riding – Demanding focus and attention, peloton riding is another essential skill a cyclist should learn. Clever use of a peloton can see a cyclist conserve considerable energy. Focus is needed to avoid accidents should sudden unexpected movement within the peloton occur.
- Descending – Like climbing, descending on a bike is a unique skill. The better descenders use the road more to their advantage, they conserve more energy, and they descend more safely.
When on a training ride every rider is expected to do his or her turn at the front of the peloton.
Leisure cycling in Mallorca
Mallorca Cycling is not just limited to improving skills and getting better times on Strava. There are plenty of good leisure cycling routes and places to see. Mallorca has an interesting history dating back before the rise of the Roman Empire. As such like many places in the Mediterranean, it has a fusion of cultures and this is evident in the architecture and the feel of the island.
Leisure cycling routes take riders to historic and picturesque parts of Mallorca. Beaches, villages, towns, the countryside are all within easy reach. You do not need to have a fitness level comparable to a cyclist who can happily ride across the Tramuntana Mountain Range to enjoy the delights of the island.
As well as a perfect coastal view, the countryside which is often covered in orange and olive trees is the perfect place to get a selfie. Many Mallorca leisure cycling holiday riders appreciate the island’s beauty and are happy to ride from place to place to see it.
The Mallorca 312 Sportive, or M312
The Mallorca 312 Sportive, or M312 as it is otherwise known, is simply a fantastic event. It is the longest European amateur sportive. Around 8000 cyclists take part each year testing their cycling skills and resolve to complete the M312.
There are three cycling routes for the M312 each with their own distance. They are:
- M312 - 312 kms
- M225 - 225 kms
- M167 – 167 kms
The sportive provides riders with the big event feel. There is always something special when you’re on the start line waiting for the sportive to begin; anticipation, a little bit of fear, but most of all excitement.
All three routes take riders across the Tramuntana Mountain Range and the event offers brilliant cycling challenges such as climbing, peloton riding, descending, pacing, and concentration. This combination of challenges is hard for many cyclists to resist.
The Mallorca 312 is held on closed roads and cyclists can switch distances mid-ride. So a cyclist who feels tired can select a shorter distance, while a cyclist who is having a good day can opt to go for a longer distance after the event has started. Many cyclists start with the M167 and increase the distance each year.
M312 tour operators tend to ensure that the cyclists are supported as best they can given the closed road situation. As a minimum, they ensure that the cyclist has a breakfast focused on carbs to give the rider the energy they need at the start of the event. The better operators used prearranged meeting points to offer support as well as taking care of all logistics, and provide strategic advice to complete the sportive.
Classic Mallorca Cycling Routes
Arguably nearly all Mallorca cycling routes can be labelled a ‘classic’. Most routes feature spectacular views out to sea, across rolling countryside, into beautiful valleys from the top of mountains, and picturesque towns and villages embedded throughout Mallorca. There are some routes that are most requested by cyclists who have fallen in love with Mallorca cycling. They are:
Cap Formentor Lighthouse resides at the most northern point of Mallorca. Locals describe this part of the island as the meeting point of the winds. The route takes you out across some breathtaking roads that give you panoramic sea views. This is an iconic ride among the Mallorca cycling community.
Sa Calobra is a mountain climb that features 26 tightly packed hairpin bends. It has become legendary since it transpired Bradley Wiggins used the route to train for his 2012 successes. Now, nearly every cyclist wants to make the climb at least once in their cycling career.
Puig Major is the highest reachable point on the island and it is part of the Tramuntana Mountain Range. Like Sa Calobra and Cap Formentor, Puig Major with its amazing views and challenge is a must for all cyclists that want to improve and test their cycling techniques.
Mallorca’s Smooth Roads
Mallorca’s smooth roads are arguably perfect for cyclists of all levels. Some routes require riding Mallorca’s busiest roads but it is easy to plan a cycling route on quiet roads which is perfect to practice a new technique.
Thanks to the Tramuntana Mountain Range the island offers plenty of opportunities to practice climbing and descending skills. This appeals both to the professional cycling outfit as well as enthusiastic amateurs.
Mallorcan roads offer cyclists coastal routes, mountain climbs, and rides through country lanes. They are not just a challenge for cyclists but fun.