Post Mallorca 312 through May into June, the cycling friendly island is still alive with colourful pelotons of all shapes and sizes. Spring into early summer is a great time for cycling in Mallorca. The longer days and increasing heat make it possible to enjoy extended rides and explore further. You can certainly ramp up the kilometres and make the Strava account look impressive at this time of the year.
The peak cycling season eventually gives way to the main holiday period, when Mallorca becomes an attractive destination for a different crowd. Summer is best enjoyed near or on the coast, in the sea or pool. The beautiful beaches are covered with bronzed scantily clad bodies and a few bright pink sorry mistakes. Water resistant factor 30 minimum is a must, you’ll still get a tan but avoid the dangers of overexposure.
As hot as it is at this time of year, it’s still possible to enjoy cycling and there are still a few cyclists around. Early morning starts are a must. Aim to be on the saddle by 7am and you can enjoy a 4 hour cruise before breakfast, on relatively quiet roads along your favourite routes or up into the Tramuntana for the fresh, air as the morning sun casts long shadows through the mountain peaks. By lunchtime it’s beginning to get too hot, so a cool down in the Mediterranean and a visit to the bar for a well earned beer are in order – it’s advised to repeat this process on several occasions throughout the afternoon.
The Patrona festival in Pollença, north-east of the island, is a wonderful week long celebration of Mallorcan culture and community spirit at its best. The week’s activities include entertainment for all the ages: traditional dance, a swing night, the big white party, when the main square is turned into the best disco you’ve never seen, headline bands that play through the night (Mallorcans like to party late), enough fireworks and bangers to make this a very loud spectacle indeed, culminating in the re-enactment of the Moros y Cristianos battle, when the colourful Moors were marched out of town by the white robed Christians. It has to be seen to be appreciated fully – brilliant entertainment.
Throughout July and August this year, the local ajuntament (town council) stopped traffic from driving out to the Cap de Formentor for this two month trial period. The reasoning behind this was to prevent the access road towards the end of the Ma – 2210 and lighthouse from becoming a traffic jam. This was successful, but only created a new traffic jam at the Formentor beach car park, where a replacement bus service was provided for those wishing to go out to the lighthouse, which is a popular picturesque location. So I would say this new system was only partially successful. Ultimately, I think some form of quota system of access onto the Formentor peninsular will need to be put in place. Its single road, with various viewing points along the way, and of course the Formentor beach, hotel and restaurants, can only take a certain amount of traffic. Once all the parking spaces are taken, in the various locations, right out to the Cap, it’s simply counter productive to allow any more access. It gets too busy and no one benefits from the overcrowding. Not a simple problem to solve but at least a start has been made this year to address it.
If you are riding out to the Cap de Formentor throughout the trial period (it’s unsure if this will be the case next year), aim to be setting off after 10 am, as traffic was banned beyond the Formentor car park after this time, thus preventing the jam at the lighthouse. Better still, do the entire ride early morning, when most sightseers won’t be attempting it. One word of caution about the ride: it’s surprising how many cyclists forget to take off their sunglasses when entering the relatively short tunnel en route. I think the fact that it is straight and you can see light at the end of the tunnel, lulls cyclists into a false sense of security. They get away with it on the way out as you are traveling uphill and so your eyes have more time to adjust to the darkness in the middle of the tunnel. On the way back however, traveling at a higher speed, your eyes don’t have time to adjust and it gets very dark and disorienting, even though you can see the end. So, cut your speed and remember to take off your sunglasses – many don’t and there are accidents. I helped one guy out of the tunnel on foot, whilst my mate gathered his belongings and broken bike. He had a major spill as we were following him and having sat him on the steps to recover his composure at the bottom end of the tunnel, the one thing that sticks in my mind, other than the major head wound he had, was the fact that his sunglasses frame was welded to his forehead, minus the lenses, which were gone!
REMEMBER TO TAKE OFF YOUR SUNGLASSES!!
He was ok, I think, never lost consciousness, but had the worst wound on his forehead I’ve ever seen . He wanted to carry on – “rule 5” and all that – but we insisted on flagging him a lift and managed to get a minibus of shocked tourists to stop and take him to Pollença.
Sa Calobra, one of the major attractions in Mallorca, can also still be enjoyed by cyclists through the summer months, but you must go early or in the evening.
Descending the Spectacular Col de Reis almost traffic free, for an early coffee and back up before the tourist coaches arrive, should be on every cyclists list of things to do. How coaches can even negotiate such a mountainous sinuous route is amazing, but by mid morning there is a steady stream of them descending with a peloton of cars following – best to be avoided!
My favourite route out to Sa Calobra from Pollença is to take the back road to Campanet off the Ma – 2200. From there you head for Selva and hang a right up to Caimari. Coffee in Sa Ruta Verda, which is on the right as you ride through Caimari, is highly recommended. A friendly welcome, great bagels and cakes and also some cycling clothing/accessories if you’ve forgotten anything. The Ma – 2130 rises steadily out of Caimari to the Coll de sa Bataia and is a beautiful climb. A steady gradient, plenty of shade from the woodland, lots of switchbacks and spectacular views – it’s my favourite way to get up into the Tramuntana.
At the petrol station and restaurant at the top (a cycling hub, which is overrun with cyclists in the spring) you continue straight on to Sa Calobra or Soller. Coming back, you turn left just before the petrol station in the direction of Lluc monastery (worth a visit) and on towards Pollença via Coll de Femenia, which is a fast, exciting descent on a smooth perfect road surface and encourages you to go fast, so be careful, you can’t win anything on the downhill and you have to stay in it to win it. Of course most of us aren’t racers, but it’s good to have the thrill of the downhill and speed. Another word of caution: there are lots of goats in the mountains! Accidents do happen involving them and you should be mindful of that.
Take care out there and have fun in this fabulous cycling environment.