riding in mallorca ashley oldfield

Riding in Mallorca  

I do a fair amount of overseas travel for work every year, but it’s never the type of travel where I can settle in, take in the sights and get a feel for a new place. It’s high-paced. I’ll fly for anywhere from 8 to 16 hours to get to Europe and then it’s one night in a hotel, a day of driving around the countryside and then back to the airport for the return journey.

I always look forward to overseas trips and despite them being for work, I’ll always pack my helmet, shoes, Garmin and a few bits of kit in with the hope I can sneak a ride or two in. I’ve done this a few times riding in places like Madrid and in the Algarve of Portugal, but my latest sneaky rides occurred on the Island of Mallorca.

With 3 nights on the ground – in 2 different hotels – it was a long trip by my standards. I was there to test drive a BMW i8 Roadster and a new batch of Minis. Not really knowing much about Mallorca, the flight in had me quite excited as the terrain seemed quite mountainous in the Northern area of the Island.

After spending the first day working behind the wheel of a hybrid sportscar I was awed by the number of cyclists on the roads. The place was heaving with them, winding their way up through the hills north of Palma.

The mountains looked enticing, with switchback climbs, tunnels and views over the sea, I had to make a plan and get out there. My hotel was super helpful and called the local bicycle hire shop who were able to deliver me, to my room, a top-notch Specialized Tarmac roadie. I’ll admit, I spend about 90% of my riding time on my Pyga mountain bike but when it comes to these sorts of trips, the ease of the road bike and distance you can cover is alluring, and all at the reasonable price of 50 euros for 2 days, including delivery.

After a quick map inspection and Google quiz, I slapped on the Garmin and aimed for the Col de Soller. My hotel was in the town of Consell, a decent warm-up ride away from the Col. The Switchback climb promises more hairpins than Alp du heuz but with a gradient that’s enjoyable to mere mortals. It was quiet in the evening and I had the road all to myself, swinging my way up in silence with nothing but olive trees and sky for company. The view from the top is a bit blocked by surrounding hills but you can still see right out over the capital and the distant sea.

I didn’t have much time to spend on the top before an evening engagement, so I tested my descending skills, dropping into corners faster than I ever had, enjoying the precise handling and feel from the Specialized. The temperature drops quickly as the sun disappears but I managed to keep the cool chill away with heat from the brakes that flowed over my knees.

The next morning I was out on the bike at sunrise, the weather was turning and there was a 3-hour gap before the wind would become more bothersome than enjoyable. The plan, as it always is coming from blustery Cape Town, is to ride out into the wind and come back with it when the legs are low on fuel.

I wanted to make it to the Gorg Blau dam via the Towns of Inca, Selva, Caimari and Luc (and still get back in time for a late breakfast). The hotel at Consell was the perfect distance from the mountains for a warm up before asking some questions of the legs.

I wish I had been able to start later as I passed some spectacular coffee shops through the first few towns, catering fully to the cycling experience.

The climb up from Caimari is shaded and full of switchbacks, in the early morning, alone it was silent. Only the rubber whirring against the tarmac was audible, it was almost hypnotic listening to it, stitching together corner after corner. I took some photos just to break away from the silence and capture the moments of what is a bucket list section of road.

As soon as you’ve gained a decent amount of altitude the views are incredible, around every corner there’s something different than before. The traffic is also very respectful of cyclists and with the towns so close together, there’s always somewhere nearby to grab supplies, fix a flat or simply take a break.

I could have easily spent a week out in Mallorca getting intimate with its hills, switchbacks and scenery. You can certainly rack up some vert out there too, a quick venture through the rolling hills will easily yield over 1000 metres.

My list of places ridden is slowly increasing by 1 or 2 a year but so far, Mallorca certainly sits at the top as a great place to ride if you like hills and views.

Cheers for now.