Cycle Mallorca Blog

The nicest 6km of road in Mallorca?

Yesterday Nicki and I did a little exploring—heading out of San Llorenc, we took the Cami des Pou and the headed north on the Cami son Drago, it’s one of the loveliest 6km of road we’ve ridden, through farmland, meadows and pine, olive and carrob groves. The little lane comes out on the Ma-15 San Llorenc to Arta road, so you can either turn left back into San Llorenc, or use the road as part of a route to Arta (perhaps coming back on the ‘Greenway’ cycle path, having ridden the wonderful road up to the Betlem monastery). The Greenway is a 2-year old ex-railway path, surfaced with a compacted clay/gravel top. We rode only three days after heavy rain, and it was firm and dry—an easy ride even on 700c x 23mm... read more

Mallorca 70.3 Ironman Triathlon today

It’s been a busy cycling week on the island, with the Mallorca 312 sportive / gran fondo last Saturday, and the half-ironman triathlon today. The triathletes today are competing in a steady rain, but the sportive riders a week ago had beautiful weather. The winning time for the 312km was 8 hours, 52 mins, 38 secs; while the slowest on the results sheet was 13hours 53 mins dead. If you fancy the challenge next year, drop us a line and we can build a holiday around the big day. The roads of Mallorca have never seemed so full of cyclists to me; on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday I rode the climb of the Col de Sa Batala up to the petrol station and back down each morning. Perhaps because the descent is on the triathlon route course, the usual throng of cyclists going up or down was boosted by many triathletes, distinctive on their aero bikes (they were all out on their race set-up, best wheels on), and with their triathlete-dress (I have seen many sleeveless jerseys and compression socks, and best of all: sleeveless jersey with compression arm-warmers, leaving a white gap of skin on the shoulder in between). I feel a bit sorry for them; riding all week in the beautiful weather we’ve had—22-24 degrees and blue sky—only to get 19 degrees and steady rain today. Our clients here on holiday this week saw the wet day coming on the forecast and planned a rest day for today, but the racers have no such recourse. I fear there might be some riders sliding out on that Sa... read more

Strada Bianche today, gravel grinders!

The Strada Bianche race is today, over the gravel roads south of Siena. It’s the most beautiful race of the year, perhaps, and surely the most beautiful race of the spring. I’ve compared the finishing climb into Siena with the climb out of Bunyola to begin the Col D’Honor before—a short steep climb between the houses. But this year, as excitement builds for the race I realise that the gravel roads aspect of the race is Mallorca-like too. Once, of course, all the roads in Mallorca were gravel, but steadily they’ve been surfaced, partly for the cyclists who come. But there’s still miles of gravel roads around. A recent issue of Cyclist magazine asked how many bikes you need (the answer was lots), and a gravel bike was one of the essentials they listed. Perhaps we could run gravel bike tours of Mallorca! It would take some scouting (normally I’m checking lanes to make sure they are good pavement!). Get in touch if you’re interested! These pictures are taken from PezCycling News’ excellent preview of the new sector of the course,... read more

World Track Championships Results Live

The track world championships start today. If you’re in a country where the UCI hasn’t sold the broadcasting rights, then you can watch their livestream of the event here. In the UK, the BBC is showing loads online here and on TV. But the broadcast schedule won’t catch all action as it happens, so if you want to know whether the world record falls for the team pursuit this afternoon (as Wiggins says it will), without having to wait for the highlights program tonight, then the results will be going up live on the Tissot Timing... read more

Track World championships open tomorrow

Which picture do you prefer? The track world championships start tomorrow, Wednesday. The top picture is the 2014 Madison winners: Muntaner and Torres. David Muntaner is a Mallorca-boy, of course; he runs the Cycling Planet store in Alaro, so if you want to buy a new tube or gel from a world champ, stop in. This year Torres is listed on the Spanish team, but it seems Muntaner isn’t in the team. But of course we’ve plenty of reason to watch on Sunday afternoon as Wiggins and Cavendish ride the madison for GB. They were the world champions in 2008 (don’t they look... read more

Fabian Cancellara wins the Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana

The third stage of the the Challenge Mallorca pro race was the most mountainous. You can see a 25 minute highlights video here. It’s long enough ago now that I am not going to try to keep the winner a surprise: as the title of this post reveals, Cancellara won (the video kind of misses how he did it; you see him in the big breakaway group a few times, like at 14.00 minutes-in; then you see him attack just after summitting the highest point of the day, 24.10 mins-in; but you never see him overtaking the little break of three that was ahead of him—oh well). The route shows many of the best mountain roads on the island: roads which you’ll ride if you take a holiday with us. The race started in Port de Soller, and climbed south over the Coll de Soller (the climb starts 5.33 mins-in; they summit at 6.25 mins-in; and descend until 7.15; the pic is a screen-shot of the helicopter view of the descent, at 6.38 mins-in). The Coll de Soller is a must-ride route (since the cars go through the tunnel, it’s a traffic-free mountain pass), but the two most common places people stay in Mallorca for cycling holidays put it out of reach: from Port de Pollensa/Alcudia area it’s over 60km to the base of the climb; from Palma Nova in the west it’s about 50km. That highlights the benefits of not using a company that puts you in an out-of-season seaside hotel: stay with us and you’ll be near the best routes. From our hotel or villa in Alaro,... read more

A long day on old roads: Alaro to Andratx via Soller

This is a pretty long day in the saddle at 146km, but the hardest climb—the Soller pass—comes at the start when you’re fresh enough to really enjoy the hairpins. The pass is lost in a time-warp (as this old postcard image suggests), as since 1997 all the traffic to Soller goes through the tunnel, leaving the old 57-hairpin road to the cyclists (and the Brit who runs the cafe at the top). You can load the gpx file via the link at the bottom of the page. © OpenStreetMap contributors... read more

Trofeo Mallorca, stage 2 Pollensa-Andratx wrap

The second stage of the Trofeo Mallorca (aka the Challenge Mallorca) ran from Pollensa to Andratx: that’s the width of the whole island East to West. The peloton started at the base of the famous 365 steps in Old Town Pollensa (just 200m from our villa). I won’t give away the result of the race, as you can see the highlights video here. From the start the race headed south and east to Alcudia before looping back on itself and climbing up to Lluc monastery by the north-east ascent (you can see them whizzing past the monastery turn at 11 mins in). Then it’s down the wonderful Lluc to Caimari descent (the cameras didn’t catch this, sadly as it’s a road very well known and well loved by all our clients; but you can see them zoom through Selva itself at 11.54 mins in). Instead of going through Inca, the route turned through the not-very-picturesque village of Lloseta before passing through the much more picturesque Binissalem (where they had their feed zone—as do many of our clients: Restaurant Robines and Can P’dal are our favourite bars). Through Santa Maria to Esporles, the peloton moved from roads very familiar to Cycle Mallorca clients to more westerly roads, less familiar. Apart from one intrepid adventurer who road solo to Andratx and back from Campanet, it’s really only clients from our Alaro villa who have ventured this far west (here is a route that takes in all of the best roads in the northwest corner of the island, but it’s still a 146km route). They report that it’s great riding here: the... read more

Trofeo Challenge Mallorca race wrap – stage 1

The Challenge Mallorca race took place last week in Mallorca. This year the race has been moved earlier in the calendar, I guess to make room for the Dubai Tour, which started today. There’s a video of highlights of the stage here, so I won’t give away the winner. This first stage covered the south of the island—areas that most Cycle Mallorca visitors don’t get to see as we focus on the north where the mountains are more. But there’s some beautiful riding here as you can see from the video, roads that we’re now incorporating into the first day of our Tour of the Island. This tour starts in the little seaside resort of Sant Jordi, down the west coast from the Bay of Palma, and heads east to the second night’s stop in PortoCristo. Watch the video and get a taste of the atmosphere of those... read more

Happy 3rd of Feb!

Today is a special day for Cycle Mallorca as it’s my father-in-law’s birthday. Whether or not I’m in Mallorca on the day, I always think of what’s going on there on this day of the year. A birthday tradition for him is to go up and see the almond blossom. This pic is taken on the road between Campanet and Selva (towns where two of our villas are located); it’s about 200m above see level and is an almond-growing area. the blossom is good today—sometimes the 3rd of Feb is a little too early for the best of the blossom, but this year, with the mild winter in Mallorca just as in the UK, it’s out in abundance today. The blossom will be out for a while if you fancy hopping over to get that spring feeling; even a trip in mid-March shouldn’t be too late. Unlike California where the almond trees are mostly clones of one parent plant, in Mallorca they grow the old varieties and so the blossom varies in timing and in colour: some pure white, some very... read more

Challenge Mallorca race today

The Challenge Mallorca race started today on the island; many teams like Team Sky have a training camp that runs before the race, so it’s been a good week for spotting pros. The race is a tad earlier this year—it’s usually the first week of Feb or so, but it’s shifted a little earlier I guess to make room for the middle east races. The list of riders is here; it looks like there’ll be video highlights each day... read more

The Tramuntana Challenge

This is perhaps the hardest route you can do in Mallorca. It goes right the way along the spine of the Tramuntana mountains, from Andratx in the west to Pollensa in the east, then you loop gently back to Campanet to bring the distance up to 152km. MapMyRide has it as 4713m of ascending—that includes all the little ups and downs; add up the totals of the 10 classified climbs on this route and the total is 2800m. So it’s hard! A ride this hard is tricky to include in a holiday of a week’s length—when would you do it? Do it at the start and you’d be too wiped out to ride for a couple of days afterwards; do it later in the trip and you won’t be fresh enough to rise to the challenge. To solve this problem, we’re offering the chance to ride the Tramuntana Challenge as part of a three-night stay. day 1: arrive and short tune-up ride day 2: easy day, say 80km over the Orient loop day 3: the Tramuntana Challenge, 150km from Andratx to Pollensa day 4: fly home On the Tramuntana Challenge day, we drop you and your bike in Andratx, and you are supported by a follow-car on... read more

Picture of the day—dawn from the Campanet villa

The season’s been busy, and it’s been a few weeks since our last picture of the day. After a week of cooler, wetter weather, it feels like the best of an English summer here now. There’s evening that special morning light you get in the English summer—early in the morning when it’s still cool, but when you know it’s going to be a scorcher. Here’s the view from the veranda before breakfast this morning (just taken with an iphone): With the days being so evocative of July days in England, and because this is our penultimate week of the season, our thoughts are beginning to turn to our return to the UK. Of course, one has to remind oneself that the English weather isn’t beautiful like this yet, so we’re not missing much at the moment. Like our clients all do towards the end of their week, we’re starting to savour every moment here. In fact, despite the promise of the dawn, the days aren’t scorchers here right now: it’s 18-19 degrees today—perfect for riding. Because it’s clear blue sky and windless, our clients are doing Sa Calobra today; I’m sure many other riders on the island are making the same choice! Now the clocks have changed here to summer time, it’ll be light enough to ride until 8pm this evening on a clear day like today.... read more

Picture of the day – the road to Pollensa

Everyone had their own plans today after we rode as a group to Sa Calobra yesterday, but everyone’s plans were for a flat ride. Some of us popped out first with a camera to the back of the villa, where the Pollensa road comes in, to model our Cycle Mallorca jerseys and demonstrate the climbing styles used yesterday. Everyone had a good day but a hard day yesterday—when the weather turned a bit threatening after lunch, I was expecting everyone to take the quick route home, but in fact adding the road to Pollensa to make this nice loop turned out to be the popular option. Today though, the quiet roads around Llubi, Petra and Muro welcomed us in ones and twos, while I had a crack at the Buger sprint Strava... read more

David Millar in Mallorca

David Miller’s book ‘Racing Through the Dark’ is in our cyclist’s library; and right from the dedication page (he dedicates the book to the peloton, in a beautiful eulogistic tone) it’s a good read. Since reading it I feel I know Millar a little, so it was nice to spot him warming up in Muro yesterday. He was out and about while the rest of the bigger name riders were still in the bus, riding his bike up and down and checking it over. Millar doesn’t seem unusually fastidious about his machines from the book, so perhaps there was something in particular that wasn’t quite right with his bike yesterday. As this photo shows, there was no shortage of team staff to... read more

Trofeo Muro-Alcudia

The weather today was as good as it’s been since Thursday, and we took a gentle ride over to Muro to watch the pro riders mill around for a bit before we headed west on our ride. “Mill around” is the right phrase, the atmosphere was really relaxed—no more ‘first-race of the season’ frisson that was detectable on Sunday, but just minor-race mellowness. The riders were checking their bikes and preparing to start their day’s race from Muro to Alcudia — the distance between these two is only about 8km, but they did a huge circle over past Puig Major and then the Soller pass before racing east on the flat to the finish by the sea at Alcudia. Edvald Boasson Hagen (here on the left) was looking relaxed and happy, and smiled at our ‘good luck!’ messages. As soon as Bradley Wiggins (below) emerged from the bus, some fans seemed to appear from nowhere (until then, we seemed to be the only people who weren’t soigneurs kicking around in the square). As well as the sky people, we spotted Tyler Farrar and Rigoberto Uran heading up to the... read more

First day ride

Many of our clients want a good not-to-hard but challenging first day’s ride. This one is 50 miles (80km), with one major climb (and two small ones). It heads west along the Cami del Muro to Santa Maria (a good coffee stop), then heads north-west to Bunyola (the half-way mark, and another great coffee stop) before heading up the climb to Orient. You climb to the high point in one go, then descend in two steps—first tight and twisty down to the spot where this picture was taken, then across an alpine valley and up a little to Orient village, then fast sweeping smooth roads to Alaro. The road home then hugs the hillside through little villages: Lloseta, Biniamar, Macor de la Vall and Caimairi and then home to Campanet. I’ve talked about this lovely traversing road before—I like sending clients on this route first-day, so that they discover this gorgeous road in the west-east direction first (the more visually beautiful, I think). Click ‘download’ at the bottom for the gpx file. © OpenStreetMap contributors... read more

Trofeo Tramuntana finish

The third stage of the Mallorca Challenge 4-day race goes over the mountains today, and finishes near to our base in Campanet. It’s not a summit finish quite, they go over the top and then have a few km downhill; but it’s an uphill ride for our clients to see the finish, as the race ends in Lluc. 40 mins ride gets them onto the course at the top of the Col de Sa Batala, then there’s a choice of stay there and watch them wizz by round the corner; or turn right and ride down the course 4 km to the finish line; or turn left and go uphill for 8 km to see the riders going over the top before plunging to the finish. Here’s the map for the finish, taken from the Mallorca Challenge... read more

Descending with Team Sky in Mallorca

Sometimes its the things that we cannot arrange for a client that just happen to make their cycling holiday in Mallorca unforgettable. Today I was guiding a client—Steve; we had had to turn home early—before we’d completed the descent to Sa Calobra, and so without getting to do the whole climb back out. Though the decision had been his (and I thought it was the right one—his deep-section Lighweight rims weren’t right for the gusty conditions on the Sa Calobra side of the mountains), I could sense Steve was frustrated as we set off and he straight away pushed it really hard towards home. He drove it up the last bit of the climb back along the ridge, and then continued full on the power even as the road sloped down towards the pass and the turn (left down to the Lluc monastery and Pollensa, or right down to Selva and Inca). Digging deep to keep up with him, I just got close enough to see that he hadn’t gone the wrong way. I also saw that he wasn’t stopping at the petrol-station lay-by to put on his jacket for the descent. I let him go, and stopped to put on my gillet. As I pulled out, the Team Sky car went by—I wondered whether their riders were behind or ahead of the car (the latter’s the more common), and off I went without thinking more about it. At the bottom, on the long beautiful straight road to Selva, I saw Steve waiting—all the frustration had gone, to be replaced by exhilaration. He’d done the whole descent tacked onto... read more

Picture of the day: late-afternoon almond blossom

Each year on 3rd of Feb, my parents-in-law drive out on my father-in-law’s birthday to see the almond blossom. Traditionally they go to Lloseta, but yesterday we took them to lunch at Monaber Nou—an ecological hotel just outside Campanet. The blossom here was every bit as good as at Lloseta. This picture was taken late in the afternoon, just as the sun was about to disappear behind Selva church. We haven’t adjusted the colour or brightness at... read more

picture of the day: spring lambs in Mallorca

I had to pop back to the UK for a few days last week, and upon returning to Mallorca, I was of course very aware of the fact that it wasn’t pouring with rain and/or freezing cold here, but I was also rather overwhelmed by the feeling that I was moving from one season to another— from winter into spring. The spring lambs in Mallorca are being born right now, and are enjoying the flush of grass that has followed the Christmas rain we had. The carob trees in this picture have a freshness to their green. The milkyness to the light in the distance is the air over the sea of the bay of Alcudia, filtering the view across to the Arta mountains. This light gives the feeling of very early morning on an English summer’s day that will become a scorcher (though this was in fact lunchtime). The almond blossom is early this year (the winter has been mild here, as it has across western Europe), and is almost fully out before the start of Feb. I’ll try to get some good blossom shots as our picture of the day over the next few days. The yellow spring flowers in the shot below are oxalis.... read more

Picture of the day – Puig Tomir through the Cypress treas

This was taken just a few minutes walk from the Campanet Villa; there’s a loop that takes about 40 minutes to walk, down a track to this avenue of Cypress trees, then along the avenue a little before back up another track home; with the mountains ever present. The mountain on the left is Puig Tomir (1103m); it looks very gentle from this side but is sheer cliffs on its north-west face. The peak to the right of the saddle is more dramatic, and has been intriguing and tempting us for months (we are yet to climb it). We like the glimpse of it and of Puig Tomir through the Cypress... read more

Sky and Lotto Belisol in Mallorca

Pro teams on training camp seem to be like buses: you wait ages for a pro team to go by, and then two come along at once. Today we were out scouting a walking route, and we were driving to Pollensa and then up to Lluc. We passed Team Sky just before Pollensa Old Town. We didn’t see who was there—or even exactly how many riders there were, such were the number of hangers-on who enjoyed mixing it in the Sky group and chatting to their heroes. My guess is that there were 15-18 Sky riders, with 8-12 fans mixed in. Just around the corner we caught up with the Lotto Belisol training camp; we overtook them and I got these photos with my phone as they came by us. Just as they approached us, one rider punctured, and we watched the group carry on without him, and then the team car pace him back. He caught back no problem, then the climb started and the group started to split up. We caught them and trailed them up the climb for a while, before pulling in to park. They climbed at 14km/h—brisk but not race pace for a 5-7% climb. We were still milling around the car when they all came down a few minutes later—this must have been a warm-up for... read more

Bagpipes in Mallorca

If time is tight, the climb up the Col de sa Batalla is a perfect morning workout from Campanet. For me it’s a good ride to squeeze in before getting down to the day’s work, for some clients it’s a way to get in a hard workout before going out again with one’s holiday companions for  a (gentler) main day’s ride. It’s 15 mins warm-up to the base of the climb in Caimari, 30 mins or so up the climb (though the Strava record is 17 minutes!), then 30 mins to come down and home. This morning was the second of two cloudy and misty mornings, and so setting out at 8, it was knee-warmers, short-sleeve shirt plus gillet and long-fingered gloves. But the morning was warmer than it looked, and the gloves and gillet were off and stuffed into a back pocket—pretty remarkable for 10th of Jan! By 1/3 of the way up the climb, though, I was starting to ascend into the cloud, and back on went the gloves—this operation could be done riding no hands, so the Strava time wouldn’t be compromised. I continued up at a nice steady pace, locked in the private world of the rhythm of my own breathing and the movement of the pavement under my front wheel. Occasionally the clouds would part and a glimpse of the mountains above me, or (at the next hairpin) the plain below would open out, but stopping for a photo was out of the question—my rhythm had a pleasant necessity that couldn’t be broken. Then, into the private world of concentration, breathing and effort came... read more

January weather in Mallorca

The locals say January can be a beautiful month here (better than feb, I fairly regularly hear), and yesterday was a good advert for January weather in Mallorca. It was beautiful here yesterday: 16 degrees even at 200m altitude in Campanet and not a breath of wind. the still air was especially welcome, as Mallorca has been catching the tail end of each of the Atlantic storms that have been smashing the UK and northern France (what for them is a gale is for us a rather blustery day about 24-48 hours later). We sat outside for lunch yesterday, in just t-shirt and short. The south-west facing side of the vill is a sun-trap after about 11 in the morning, and I was too hot! This picture was taken the day before yesterday (which was a little hazier sun)—just pointing my phone through the window from my desk. Today is misty in the mountains, we can see the green mountains in the distance, but not the rocky ones beyond. But down the hill in Inca, and all across centre of the island was sunny—so our cyclists today chose to ride there and leave the mountains (which are just emerging from the cloud now at 5pm) for another day. That’s a good response to January weather in Mallorca—be a little flexible about when to do a mountain day and you get a beautiful... read more

Bedrooms in the Campanet villa

Sleep is important after a day of cycling, and the bedrooms in Campanet are designed and appointed to be comfortable and relaxing places to recover from the day’s adventure and recharge for the pleasures ahead.               Bedroom 1 faces the mountains to the north, and has amazing views from its windows and from its large balcony.                 This view is enjoyed either from out on the balcony, or from the comfort of inside and in the bath!                       The ensuite bathroom for bedroom 1 has both this raised bath (for the views) and a shower cubicle. There’s a pair of sinks.               Bedroom 2 is the sunniest room in the villa, with windows to the south and west. It has an antique double bed (and is big enough to take a single as well); the balcony is small but floods the room with light.             Bedroom 2 is the second room in the villa to have an ensuite bathroom—with a pair of sinks, loo and shower cubicle. Its windows face to the south and... read more

Inside the Campanet villa

  The villa at Campanet combines the stylish and authentic feel of a traditional Mallorcan villa with a modern standard of finish. Being built in 2009 means that it is insulated, plumbed and heated like a modern building, but the antique wooden window fittings, exposed timbers and antique furniture provide that stylish and authentic feel. Although there’s a welcoming entrance-hall, most cyclists will enter not through the hefty front doors but up the stairs from the basement.   Running under the entire house, the basement gives you a secure place to store your bike, and an indoor well-light space to set it up and adjust it when you arrive.               The main living room has a log-burning stove, thick rugs and space to stretch out. If you don;t want to talk into the evening, there’s a TV (with most of the UK’s freeview-type channels) and there’s wifi throughout the villa.         Of course much of the conversation happens around the table over the 3-course dinner that’s prepared for you in the villa each evening and served with local wine (Mallorca’s wine was once revered s the best in the world).                                     For a little more privacy you might want to head upstairs, where there’s another seating area and a selection of books including our cyclist’s library—a set of books by or about cyclists and... read more

Ses Fonts Ufanes

Along the valley that connects Campanet with Pollensa lies a little nature reserve where (at this time of year especially) a spectacle awaits you. Emerging from the rocks inside a wood of Holm Oak, Olive and Carob trees gushes an underground mountain spring that started on the peaks of Miner Gran and Puig Tomir just to the north. On Christmas day Mallorca caught the tail end of the storm that hit England and France on Christmas eve; it rained for several hours (and hard for an hour late on Chrstmas day night). That meant the odd puddle for cyclists heading out on (a windy) boxing day and also a good display at the springs. The springs are called “ses Font Ufanes” (the nature reserve is called  is “Monument Natural de ses Fonts Ufanes”). The spring was rushing like a Scottish river, and as you walk up it, it’s quite shocking to see it just vanish—one moment a river, the next, just wooded hillside. There’s no real hole where the water emerges: it just appears from amongst the rocks. From our Campanet villa the springs are just a 20min stroll down the lane. We walked down there on boxing day when with the sun out (despite the fact that the wind had not yet dropped from the storms), and we were able to say “bon dia” to many local families out for a holiday trip to the... read more

Rapha Festive 500

Rapha and Strava are running their Festive 500 challenge: ride 500km between 24th and 31st December this month, record it on your phone or gps, submit it to Strava and you win Rapha’s Festive 500 Roundel cloth badge. We thought we’d help those who want to use this as a chance to do 500km somewhere special: come to Mallorca on boxing day, ride your 500km with us in four 125km days: from 27th to 30th and return on the 31st. Watch this space for the routes! Click here to go to Rapha’s Festive 500 page or here for Strava’s... read more

Eat, Rest, Massage

Coming on a cycling holiday for a week is an unusual experience. It’s not your normal holiday (how many other holidays do you have to train for?); it’s not your normal week of cycling (you don’t normally ride 100km every day for a week).  Because your body is being asked to go beyond its comfort zone of familiarity, it’s worth thinking about how to help yourself through this week of unusual demands on yourself. The first thing to do is eat well; our cyclist’s breakfast and evening meals help here: giving you plenty of well-cooked food to replace your energy while not over-taxing your stomach. One thing we know is that people’s stomachs differ—especially people differ in what they can stomach when riding. So we make sure that choice is abundant in our breakfast, so that you’re sure to see what you’re used to eating and what you want to eat among the choice in front of you. A second thing to do is sleep well; staying in a villa that’s just for cyclists means you’re not disturbed by hotel-noises in the night: our villas are in quiet locations, with comfy beds and rooms to give you a sound night’s sleep. The last thing to do is look after your legs. Being slightly obsessed by the look and feel of your legs is a natural part of being a cyclist (that’s surely a big part of the reason we shave our legs). All our villas have unheated pools: they might be chilly for doing lengths in winter, but they’re perfect for post-ride recovery dips—go straight from the bike into... read more

The Cyclist’s Library review: Domestique

The Cyclist’s Library is a collection of books housed in our Campanet Villa, which you can read while on holiday with us. From time to time I post a review of some of the books in the library; this one is of Charly Wegelius’ autobiography: Domestique. Charly Wegelius’ book Domestique is perhaps unique among cycling autobiographies I’ve read. For starters it isn’t an autobiography, as I discovered about ¾ of the way through. It’s a biography of Charly Wegelius, written by the cyclist Tom Southam (a rider who features in one of the key events of the tale). Perhaps there’s not a sharp line between biography and autobiography (many autobiographies of cyclists are ghost-written) and this book is in that penumbral zone. One thing is for sure though, Tom Southam has outdone all the ghostwriters I’ve read: this book doesn’t feel ghost-written. It feels like an autobiography where the writer really has got himself down on the page in full. Not really being an autobiography isn’t what makes this autobiography unique, though. I sometimes feel that cyclists could all happily start their autobiographies the way the philosopher Rousseau’s starts his (The Confessions): “I have begun a work which is without precedent, whose accomplishment will have no imitator. I propose to set before my fellow mortals a man in all the truth of nature; and this man shall be myself. I have studied mankind and I know my own heart; I am not made like any one I have been acquainted with, perhaps like no one on existence; if not better, I at least claim originality, and whether nature acted... read more

The cyclist’s breakfast

Like Roger de Vlaeminck, when he sits down with his Brooklyn team before facing Eddy Merckx in Paris-Roubaix in the film A Sunday in Hell, you need a good breakfast. As we watch them tuck in, the narrator says: “The competitors consume a solid breakfast. Brooklyn is a good team… A rare steak is a good breakfast for what lies ahead”. Rather than tax your digestion with a rare steak, we give you a breakfast you’ll remember for the right reasons! We understand that getting a good cyclist’s breakfast is a crucial part of your holiday. During your week, you are asking your body to do something out of the ordinary—ride six or seven big rides back to back. With your legs having to perform beyond their comfort zone, the last thing you want to do is ask your stomach to cope with something it’s not used to as well. We make sure that you find the food you want to eat (and you’re used to eating) on the table each morning for breakfast. Our breakfasts are designed with quality, quantity and variety all in mind—our cyclist’s breakfast should be a highlight of your day, we think. It should also be plentiful for you to fuel up for the ride. When you come down to breakfast in any of our villas, you’ll find the table piled with breads, pastries, cold meats, tomatoes and cheeses; there’ll be a huge selection of fresh fruit; there’ll be cereals, muesli, yoghurt; there’ll be fine coffee, juices and mineral water; and there’ll be eggs cooked for you just how you want them: boiled, poached,... read more

Three routes to Sa Calobra

The title of this post is a little disingenuous: there aren’t three routes to Sa Calobra: there’s only one route—down to the sea and then up the way you came! That’s one of the reasons it’s so hard, I maintain, and so one of the reasons you should do the ride at least once in your life! The cycle ride to Sa Calobra is the highlight of most cyclists’ visit to the island—those who come wanting challenge at least! It’s most likely that this will be the hardest day’s riding of your holiday with us, as there are three factors that combine to make sure that whatever route you pick, the route to Sa Calobra is no easy day, but the views as you descend, the smoothness of the tarmac and the sweep of the hairpins make this descent worth the effort of climbing back out, and worth the big day in the saddle. The first fact that makes this day hard is that you descend all the way to the sea, so unlike other climbs (such as the Col d’Honor at Orient, where you start climbing at 200m altitude), when you climb back out of Sa Calobra you climb from sea level to 700m in one go. The second fact that makes it so hard is the fact that there’s only one way to Sa Calobra! From where you turn off the main road it’s an out and back of 26km, so that’s 26km you have to add to whatever route you are doing from your base. The third fact that adds to the difficulty of any day... read more

Sometimes it’s worth waiting, if the result is perfection

Yesterday I set out with the intention of doing this 95km route. We had meetings booked later in the morning, so I set out with lights before dawn, thinking that by averaging 25km/h with no café-stops I could be back by 10.30 or so. Pushing hard through the dark into a headwind created the illusion of going faster than I really was. I rolled through Bunyola in rather grey daylight, resisted the cafes, and headed up the narrow climb from the square towards the Col d’Honor and Orient. The storm that had hit Britain on Saturday night then blew more gently over Mallorca during Monday night, and as I climbed I could tell I was the first vehicle up the pass that day, from the unbroken twigs that littered the road from the night’s winds. The climb up to the pass is steady: almost 6km at rarely more than 5%, but near the top it was noticeably cooler, and a fine drizzle was falling. By the time I’d crossed the hanging valley and past a sleepy-looking Orient village, it was raining properly, and I descended in what I call ‘welsh rain’—not mere drizzle, not a downpour, but properly wet. By the bottom at Alaro my shoes were soaked, and though I continued to Llosetta, I was ready to cut home early from there. Quite often in Mallorca, it might rain in the mountains but not on the flatland that makes up the bulk of the island. As I crossed from Binissalem to Sencelles, all was dry (except me) and had I planned things better, I could have had a... read more

Mallorca quiet-roads cycling route

The rides one takes on ones own are always different from any ride in a group. This is true not only in the atmosphere on the ride and the thoughts the riding inspires, but also in terms of the kind of route one picks for riding alone. I choose smaller roads for solo rides: such roads with their twists, turns and perhaps a poorer surface might be more trouble than they’re worth for a group ride, but on my own these are small inconveniences, and the joy of the more interesting sights, sounds and smells make it well worth the extra attention I have to give the road. Here is typical Mallorca quiet-roads cycling route—over roads that I would recommend to riders going out in ones or twos, but not to groups bigger than four: it uses the small, quiet lanes that criss-cross Mallorca. Leaving Cas Canar (a hamlet south of Sencelles), I headed south this morning after coffee but before breakfast at 7.30; the sun had risen but not yet appeared over the little ridge to my east that would be my return route. Randa ahead of me dominated the horizon beyond the morning-misty plain. Crossing over the main road to Sineu, I headed through the Hamlet of Ruberts on towards Lloret (or to give it its full name: Lloret de Vista Alegre); before the village the road cuts through the Lloret woods, and it’s unique herby smell greeted me as I entered (together with warmer air—off came the gilet and arm-warmers though it was only 7.45). Thanks to their cow-bells I only heard (or is it herd?)... read more

The Cyclist’s Library

Our clients staying in our flagship villa in Campanet can enjoy browsing the Cyclist’s Library in the evenings. We have a collection of cycling books on cycling or cyclists that you can borrow and read on your holiday with us. They include some excellent books (for example Jean Bobet’s Tomorrow We Ride—an autobiography and biography of his brother Louison Bobet wrapped into one), through the usual (ghost-written autobiographies of riders) and the unusual (Alan Fournal’s Need for the Bike—by a good margin the ugliest book in the Cyclist’s Library, judging by the cover, but inside a series of beautifully written one-page meditations on various aspects of being a cyclist), to the comical (Bernard Hinault’s book of training and tactics, his advice on the latter being ‘if you’re feeling good, attack; if you’re feeling bad, attack’!). Here is the Cyclist’s Library as it stands; suggestions for new additions always welcome: Daniel Lee: The Belgian Hammer (about young US pros-to-be like Taylor Phinney thrown into the Belgian Kermesse scene) Richard Moore: Sky’s the Limit (compare to the above book, and you see how well cared-for young UK talent is compared to US) Robbie McEwen: One Way Road (his autobiography) Tom Simpson: Cycling is My Life (his autobiography) Nicholas Roche: Inside the Peloton (not about the inside of the peloton, but his autobiography) Charlie Wegelius: Domestique (much more about the inside of the peloton, giving a flavour of the day to day reality of being a pro, in a similar way to the sadly Kindle-only Marco Pinotti book) Graeme Fife: Tour de France (quite good for settling ‘what year did that happen?’-type... read more

Light

This post is the first of four I’ll be putting up themed around the four elements: Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and how they impact on us as cyclists. “Fire” is being interpreted loosely, as light. The clocks went back last week in the UK (and also in Mallorca); cycle-commuters across the country swapped riding in the morning dark for riding in the evening dark. The autumn clock-change always feels like the moment when the darkness comes (it prompted a couple of emails advertising bike-lights arriving in our inbox), but of course, changing the clock doesn’t make it darker, it merely changes when it’s dark. It might have some objective effect on cyclists’ ability to see, though: I feel that it’s harder to see the road when cycling in the evening twighlight than the morning twighlight (though why this might be so I don’t know). We are a month past the autumn equinox now—when the day and night were of equal length, and also when the UK day-length equaled the Mallorca daylength. Today the south of the UK has 9hrs 50mins of daylight; but in Mallorca there’s 10hrs 35mins. As we get closer to the winter solstice, the difference in daylight between Mallorca and the UK will become more pronounced: there’s no point in the winter when you’ll need lights to do a full day’s riding in Mallorca. Coming to Mallorca means swapping riding in the dark, to riding in the daylight every day. Of course the biggest reason for this is not the greater day-length in Mallorca, but the fact that in Mallorca you’re on holiday: you can use the... read more

Five reasons why Mallorca is a cyclist’s paradise

the spectacular scenery the 300 days of sun the varied quiet roads if it’s good enough for the pros… it’s the only place you can stay with Cycle Mallorca! 1 The scenery For a small island, Mallorca is really diverse in the countryside it has to offer: there are rolling low hills, a pan-flat plain, and a mountain range of perfect proportions (high enough to excite the adventurous, not so high as to be closed to snow). These elements are mixed beautifully in one island: there’s enough of each so that you can have a day on the plain, or a day purely in the mountains, and so on; but they are also arranged close together so that you can mix all three in one day’s riding everyday. Because Mallorca is a tourist island, all the busiest built-up areas are on the coast. The whole of the central (non-coastal) part of the island is rural unspoilt Mallorca—a network of country roads joining old villages and towns (and a city or two) that escaped war-time destruction and so keep the feel they have had for centuries—each centered on a church and a square blessed with cafes (perfect for coffer-stops or lunch stops for a menu del dia). 2 The weather The weather is for many the main reason why Mallorca is such a great place to cycle: it has 300 days of sunshine a year! This table is from the Spanish equivalent of the UK’s Met Office; notice how January’s average daily high and daily low are 15.2°C and 8.3°C respectively (2nd and 3rd columns); for the UK the Jan... read more

A week’s riding from Campanet

Here’s a sample week’s holiday from our base in Campanet; click on the routes to see detailed descriptions, maps and profiles (and get the gpx file for the route). Day 1: You’ve arrived, you get your bike unpacked (or your hire-bike tuned) and you’ve time for a 17km ride to Selva before the evening draws in. Day 2: You’re first full day in Mallorca: 105km medium-difficulty route over the Orient loop. Day 3: You have warmed up now, and want to ride the famous Soller pass; you also take in the highest pass on the island to the the Puig Major tunnel on this 105km hard day. Day 4: After yesterday’s riding, today some of you want to stay a little closer to home and do a medium 52km loop from Selva up to the Lluc monastery then down to Pollenca; those who want a few more miles and hills add the Sa Calobra descent and climb to the day to make a 107km hard day. Day 5: You explore the island, ride the Soller pass from the other side and push further west to reach Deia for lunch in a 108km medium-hard day. Day 6: You don’t want any hills today, but enjoy this easy 80km loop in the rolling countryside south of Inca. Day 7: You’re last day so you don’t want to waste it, so you ride the Tramuntana range all the way from Soller to Pollenca in this 130km hard... read more

the five best locations to stay for cycling in Mallorca

A cycling holiday to Mallorca typically lasts a week, with perhaps six rides; choose the right location as your base, and those six rides can be all amazing and all different—variety and quality of routes are paramount. If one stays on the coast, variety is compromised—draw a circle around your location on the coast, and half of it will be the sea! Three of our five best locations maximise variety by being in the middle of the island (though, as we’ll see, where exactly in the middle matters too); the other two compromise a little on variety to achieve other values that might on balance be more important to you. Mallorca offers a wonderful variety of terrain for cycling. Running along the north are the Tramuntana mountains, that run the length of the island and drop into the sea on their north side; they offer alpine-style climbing (though since the highest pass is only 930m, they are not closed to snow in the winter). Below the mountains is a plain that we call the Sencelles levels (Sencelles is a village in the centre of the island that rises above the dead-flat levels rather like Glastonbury Tor above the Somerset levels; it is home-from-home for Nicki, Cycle Mallorca founder and CEO, as her parents have lived there for 25 years). Below the Sencelles levels the countryside is more rolling and varied, with gentle hills and many quiet lanes. To find the best cycling locations, let’s start with the most famous climb on the island: the Soller pass is the best climb for cycling, as there’s a tunnel that means that... read more

No Race of the Falling Leaves for Mallorca

Last weekend saw the the Giro di Lombardia. The Giro di Lombardia is also known as “the race of the falling leaves”, and all around the UK at this time of year are rides calling themselves “ride of the falling leaves”. We’re back in the UK ourselves right now (working on logistics and marketing for the upcoming Mallorcan season), and on Friday I went for a ride, on the first morning after the wind had blown hard and pulled the leaves from the trees. On those sections where I was on a cycle path (and so there hadn’t been any cars to grind away the leaf-fall), I was accompanied by a “tssch, tssch, tssch” as I rolled along over dry oak, ash and horse-chesnut leaves. I realised that this is something one doesn’t really get in Mallorca, as there are fewer and smaller deciduous trees that drop their leaves each autumn. So Mallorca couldn’t host the race of the falling leaves, or even a ride of the falling leaves for that matter! Mallorca does have a native oak, the holm oak (Quercus ilex–literally “the holly-oak”, an appropriate name since the leaves are a bit spiky, waxy, and deep green like a holly); but the holm oak is an evergreen, as are most native trees that one sees all over the island. Mallorca has two species of pine: the stone pine (Pinus pinea) and the Aleppo Pine (Pinus halepensis); both of these have culinary uses: the former is the source of pine nuts, the latter’s resin gives the distinctive taste and aroma to retsina wine. The other common trees that... read more

Coffee and cycling

The latest episode of The Bike Lane has a feature on caffeine and its effects on performance (The Bike Lane is surely the best cycling program on the web, and features the cool-at-40 Scott McGrory, whom I saw winning the Gent six-day race in 2001). That episode got me thinking about cyclists’ love of coffee (the Mentalist drinks tea, but the cyclist drinks coffee!). The cycling coffee stop is called just that—”the coffee stop”, not “the tea stop”; and the reason why is obvious when one thinks about the contrast with cricket (where you stop mid-afternoon for tea, not coffee): cricket is English; cycling is Euro. We style ourselves on the French, the Belgians, the Italians and the Spanish—all coffee drinkers. Becoming Europhile is part of becoming a cyclist: for every rider there comes a time (perhaps around when you start shaving your legs, but perhaps before), when you stop knowing your weight in stones and switch to kilos, and when you calibrate your cycle-computer in km not miles—that’s when you know for sure you drink coffee not tea mid-ride. The cafe lifestyle is part of the Mallorcean lifestyle: just as there’s bound to be a church in the town or village square, so there’s bound to be cafes with tables outside and cyclists soaking in the winter or spring sun. Recently the coffee-cycling link has given birth to the bike-shop-cum-cafe, surely the ideal coffee-stop; two we like are Veloton (in Tetbury, UK) where this year’s Tour route is under the glass counter where you drink; and Cycling Planet (in Alaro, Mallorca) where you sit with your cafe con... read more

Menu del Dia

Like France (where it’s called the plat du jour), Spain has a tradition of restaurants serving a daily meal for ordinary spaniards to lunch on—the menu del dia. Like in that other country with a siesta-culture, Italy, many workers go home for lunch, but those who don’t often pop around the corner to the village square and sit down for three courses and a glass of vino tinto (be careful: red wine is tinto, ‘rosado’ means pink/rose). Good for workers means great for cyclists: you don’t need to worry about lunch on your ride, because whenever you’re getting a hungry, just head for the church in the nearest village: where there’s the church there’s a square, and where there’s a square there’s cafes that serve a menu del dia. You can sit inside (or outside in the square and guard your bikes), and have quite a feast for 8-12 euro (that’s in the villages, it’ll be more in... read more

The Cami del Muro

The Cami del Muro is a 30km stretch of small lane, almost dead straight from Santa Maria to just short of Sa Pobla. “Cami” doesn’t seem to be a Spanish word, but is used all over Mallorca to mean road; “muro” means wall in Spanish. With the name “the road of the wall”, it sounds like it should be a steep climb; after all, remember the the tradition (made famous to cyclists by the Tour of Flanders race) of calling steep climbs “walls” in Belgium, such as the Muur van Geraardsbergen (Mur de Grammont in French). However the Cami del Muro is flat, wonderfully flat (it’s called “del Muro”, just because it heads to the little town of Muro, south of Campanet). It deserves a mention on this site, and deserves to be known by every cyclist visiting Mallorca because it is so useful as a way of connecting routes and completing the circle on many a cycle route in Mallorca It runs from Southwest to Northeast, following the south side of the mountains, but unlike roads like the Alaro to Lloseta road (which traverses the rolling southern slopes and so winds around, and climbs and falls), the Cami del Muro is on the plain, and is dead straight and dead flat. Cyclists who don’t know about the Cami del Muro ride along the main road from Santa Maria to Inca on the Ma-13a, but those who know take the Cami del Muro. The Cami del Muro is a great way to complete any loop that has its upper part over the passes of the mountains: such a loop... read more

The Orient Loop

This has to be the nicest little cycle route in Mallorca. Whichever way round you do it, the climb through Orient involves one major climb, but two passes. From Alaro (at 200m) you climb up between the dramatic sheer cliffs of the “top hats” (as we call them—the twin peaks of the Puig d’Alaro and the Puig de s’Alcadena), to the first pass—the Col D’Orient (500m)—before descending to Orient itself (450m), which sits in a beautiful hanging valley. A mere hamlet, Orient has two cafes; we prefer the first, on the left as you enter from Alaro-they have a big patio outside and do great cake. From Orient, heading out west towards Bunyola, you cross the hanging valley and climb the hairpins to second pass—the Col D’Honor at 550m, before descending into Bunyola (320m). Either side of the Col d’Honor is steepish (8%), narrow, hair-pinned, and quite rough (the tarmac’s old and the tree-roots are cracking the surface), so take care going down to Bunyola; you arrive right in the middle of the town square—perfect for coffee (or fresh fruit if it’s market day). The Orient loop is really worth doing from both directions: the feel is quite different each way. If you’re only doing the route one way, do it from Bunyola up to Orient and down to Alaro: that way you do the climb to the highest point in one go (for maximum effect), and you are going up the long rough road of the Col d’Honor, and down only a short rough descent from the Col d’Honor into Orient; but then you get to enjoy the... read more