Pedalling Eric (my roadie) over the Cols of Mallorca has been on my bucket list for a while, so when the baggage handlers on my transits had other ideas, arriving without him was a little strange!
Three riders arrived Palma, Mallorca … and only two bikes!
With faith in the worldwide luggage tracking system, my huge efforts to avoid jet lag and cankles, and rides like the famous switchbacks of Sa Colabra dangling like a carrot in front of our faces, there was no time to waste!
We needed a stunt double!!
Enter a very conveniently located bike hire shop, Pinarello Experience, full of fancy steeds and complete with an easy on the eye local Spanish mechanic, all under our apartment...it was meant to be!
Unbeknownst to me when packing for my trip, wherever you stay in Mallorca you have a plethora of bike hire places to choose from, including helmets and shoes to hire should you forget to pack them. With very high-quality options to choose from, including e-bikes for an extra hand up the Cols, you’ll find it hard to get a bike you don’t like!
So as long as you’re not arriving when their version of ‘Around the Bay in a Day’ is being held, the Mallorca312 at the end of April, or when the rest of the UK is on cycle, IM or triathlon training camps, from October to November or late January through to April, you don’t really need to pre book a bike. Though it would make for a smoother start to the trip for bike fit and pick up if you have time to do it prior.
Note to self: Travel lighter next time i.e. without wheels!
Back on track, with hired and borrowed everything, not letting Eric’s side trip affect my adventure, and with huge thanks to my traveling buddies’ extensive wardrobe of spare bike kits, cycling Mallorca proceeded to exceed any expectations I had.
Apart from the totally stunning scenery and warmth, the roads here are super smooth! I’d say 98% perfect. So even if you don’t cycle, driving a car or scooter on these fabulous twisting turning rollercoasters though rustic mountains, local villages and coast will put a huge smile on your face.
With a car to explore you’ll have access to many local hotels and apartments all around this beautiful island. Palma, with all its Spanish charm, has a great buzz, its own unique Castle and Cathedral, mouth-watering market, nightlife, many shopping and eating opportunities and is closest to the airport. If you’re after something a little special then Deia or Valldemossa are sweet little villages worth considering, possibly rub shoulders with the rich and famous. If someone picked up all the monopoly houses, threw them at the side of a mountain that towers over a rocky aquamarine watered coastline, that is Deia, one of the prettiest villages we visited.
Though if you are here for cycling, an hour drive to the other side of the island, is where you will find Puerto Pollença, the cycling epicentre in the North of Mallorca.
From Puerto Pollenca we wound through the olive tree dotted countryside on the smoothest of roads. Within 20 minutes we were engulfed by rocky mountains, twisting up past pine trees whose smell let you know you were outside and amongst it, well that and the honest gradient of the climb in the heat, plus the odd billy goat meeting you roadside to watch you wizz down the other side. It was incredible to ride through the humble little villages oozing with charm, more stone walls, archways, colourful wooden shutters and more doors than you could poke a stick at. Coll dels Reis, Sa Colobra, Cap de Formentor, Puig Major, Colle de Soller, Port de Valldemossa and the list goes on.
Besides the superb riding you can’t forget about the wonderful Mediterranean Sea. Even though you have seen the sights by bike, scooter or car, seeing it from the sea is also a treat! Discovering many of their secluded coastline coves, spending time swimming in the very salty though crystal clear aqua blue water is amazing. There are plenty of boating options or little local tours to choose from, so just try and pick which day is going to be even more perfect than the other once you are there.
The little fishing village of Puerto Pollenca and its surrounding towns also has the mix of small boutique hotels and apartment style accommodation to choose from. All ranging from a very good standard to basic depending on your needs and budget. Reasonably priced supermarkets are always close by or you will find a SPAR shop every 100mtrs, either will keep you well stocked and never out of breakfast supplies, chips, beer or gin.
There are some fabulous local markets held in these villages, they move around the island on certain days of the week. Be sure to check what days they are on near you and make a visit to at least one.
As you will be on the beach every day, besides swimming and people watching, it is a must to buy the local bat and ball game. It’s like an oversized ping pong set, freestyle with no net or table and rubber ball to whack into the air at each other. HEAPS of fun on the sand and guaranteed laughter till your cheeks hurt.
Our place, SeaTwo Apartment, was a locally owned property a stone’s throw from the beach. Three twin rooms, two bathrooms, full kitchen and laundry. It was super spacious and clean with a balcony area for our daily ride/activity debrief cocktails. Mel was fabulous before and during our stay, an amazing host and generous person! Did I mention it was located on top of a bike shop, complete with very tidy helpful Spanish mechanic?!!
We had a fabulous week riding and eating our way around our little old town. Portifino gave us delicate homemade pasta that more than satisfied our carb needs, Terra del fuego Steakhouse kept our protein levels intact while Zagami filled us until we could not move with the yummiest paella and sangria. Sacrificing my body for science with double ice cream days, in order to test as many gelato flavours as possible, Gellaty Gelato came up with the winning combination of pistachio & ricotta gelato!! Gold medal winner hands down!!
Mallorca cycling may have been ticked off my list, though there is still so much more of the island to explore and enjoy, I have certainly left some stones unturned and will visit again.
Oh … and that worldwide luggage tracking system. They did manage to locate Eric, with the help and tireless efforts of our super host Mel and a wonderful man from AirEuropa, he was back in my clutches ... just in time to depart Mallorca for The French Rhône Alps
So please do have faith in the system, never ever let a little missing luggage spoil any moment of your adventure, or take over any of your precious exploring time, just go with it. It all works out in the end, becomes part of your story, will be talked about for years and will always make you smile.