Updated: May 19, 2019
Mid-April in 2019 saw the return of the Warwick Lanterne Rouge Cycling Club to the sunny island of Mallorca. There was some stormy weather before the main party arrived but the timing was perfect. Nothing but the sun and blue sky for the next 4 days.
For those not familiar with Mallorca, it is somewhat of a cycling mecca. It offers quality road surface and mountainous terrain that is long but forgiving in gradient. A popular base to ride out-and-back routes is the seaside town of Port de Pollença. There are plenty of cycle hiring options, restaurants and hotels with decent sports facilities. This is where 44 lucky club riders descended to test their early spring legs.
Day 1 - Cap De Formentor
The first ride is quite the introduction to cycling in Mallorca, particularly after arriving straight in from a 7 AM flight! From Port de Pollença heading to the north-easterly tip of the Island, you are greeted with a category 3 climb to start things off. Sensibly, each group rode in the opposite direction for a bit, before looping back past the town to get the legs warmed up first.
At less than 50km, it's not a long ride but there is plenty of elevation to test the legs. The reward is spectacular twisting roads, views and a lighthouse with coffee and cake at the end. On the return to base, you are treated to views of Port de Pollença from high above.
Day 2 - Andratx to Pollenca
This one was a tough day for many, as this was another early start. Effectively cycling across the north side of the island from west to east, and with a 14km climb towards the end - the Puig Major. This climb was more commonly known amongst the club as "The Pig" (and for good reason). In the group I was in, it took nearly 90 minutes to ascend and at least one person complained of a sore backside afterwards ;)
This was a long day in the saddle, and for many a big challenge to overcome. There is no route like this back in Warwick, not even the Cotswolds can compare. Kudos to everyone who made it out!
Day 3 - Sa Batalla & Sa Calobra
This was the ride many of us had been waiting for! A chance to climb one of Europe's iconic climbs - Sa Calobra. A near 10km ascent averaging 7%, it features a 270-degree hairpin bend near the top, it is the result of amazing road architecture. It can be tricky both descending and ascending due to the volume of hire cars and coaches visiting the port at the bottom, but the main test is on your legs. Pacing is key, the gradient kicks up a bit towards the end.
The route also featured Sa Batalla, a more gentle climb, but still long and the photograph above was taken at the summit next to a petrol station that doesn't have any petrol (but coffee and cake!)
Day 4 - Sineu
The last day was a change of scenery from the mountains and was more gentle on the rather tired legs everyone was no doubt pedalling with now. Anyone with anything left in the tank could unleash their inner Chris Hoy or Laura Trott looping around the Sineu velodrome, which was free to enter. Then it was into the town centre for food and observing Palm Sunday, Spanish style (there were donkeys and olive branches involved!)
A brisk return back to base for an upmarket meal and drinks to toast a successful tour, giving gratitude to Rich Poynter and the committee for organising it all.
I think it is safe to say a lot of people left with more confidence in their cycling and perhaps discovered something about their riding that they didn't know they had before. The ride leaders did exceptionally well to manage the groups and keep morale high, as well as plan the vital fuel stops.
Personally, this was a huge confidence booster ahead of my next challenge - the Dolomites in Italy this August (stay tuned for that). Thanks to everyone who I rode with for the company and chat, it added at least 5-10 watts ;)
I'll leave you with some video highlights in case you're not quite convinced this is worth doing! https://youtu.be/l5nBgD8Go7E