Mallorca has become a cycling mecca in recent years and after a first visit, I’m happy to confirm its appeal.
Smooth roads, inspiring scenery, challenging climbs, and beautiful weather, for at least part of my trip, lived up to the billing.
Sun shines on the UK as I write, but Mallorca feels far away, despite a flight of just over 90 minutes from London Gatwick. The island has a beautiful appearance: stark mountains contrast with lush valley floors, and the road back from Calvia to our base in Palma Nova, is arguably the best of any I’ve ridden.
I travelled as a guest of Team IG-Sigma Sport, one of a handful of British teams who will compete this year in the UCI Europe Tour, as well as in the biggest domestic races, and with Human Race, organisers of the Dragon Ride and Etape Cymru, who have formed a partnership to host training camps on the island with Stephen Roche Cycling. An interview with the man himself, and a feature on the trip are coming to this site soon.
Few places on earth can guarantee sunshine and the opening two days of my visit included wind, rain, low temperatures and even the occasional hail storm. But sun is a far greater possibility there than in the UK (an average of 300 days a year), and when it appeared on the second half of my trip it was glorious.
The recommendation of cycling friends who have trained on Mallorca each spring for years was to pack everything in my wardrobe. It turned out to be good advice. If you’re keen to keep luggage to a minimum, I would pack shorts, knee warmers, a merino base layer, and arm warmers and gilet to be paired with a ‘robust’ short sleeved jersey (Castelli’s Gabba proved equal to the task; Exte Ondo’s Reflex jersey, however, was a little light for February, even on Mallorca). Overshoes are unlikely to prove necessary, and if you’re not susceptible to cold, you’re likely to find mitts sufficient, rather than full gloves.
Cyclists are everywhere on Mallorca, whether it be amateurs training for sportives, or pros taking part in the four-day Iberostar Challenge Mallorca, takes place on the island’s roads. Mallorcan motorists, perhaps through a combination of familiarity and temperament, are considerate hosts, offering space and time to their two-wheeled guests, especially at roundabouts
Beyond cycling, sports tourism is a growing part of the Mallorca’s offering. Magaluf is not a destination synonymous with purity, but a five-minute walk from the seafront bars lies a wonderful athletics stadium, built only four years ago at a cost of 10 million Euros, and offering a ‘tartan’ running track among the most sophisticated in the world, as well as superb gym facilites. The cost to the user? Five Euros a day.
My mission to persuade RCUK’s publishers to open a Mallorcan office has gained new impetus. I can think of few places I’d rather be in February.