Looking for Winter Training?
Look no further than Majorca's Cycling Winter Wonderland
My first major ride on the island took me from my base in Santa Ponsa, in the south west, to the pretty towns of Calvia and es Capdella to the north and up the switchbacks to the Galilea lookout and down into the Puigpunyent valley before a second climb to Esporles. By this time, I was submerged in cloud, mist and rain and the descent was chilly but it wasn’t long before another climb warmed the bones and I was quickly reaching for the zip of the spray jacket. The northern coast came into view and, despite the low cloud, the views were priceless. I turned south west towards the town of Banyalbufar and followed a wide road that hugged the coastline and seemed to offer significantly more downhill than ascending. I glided round the sweeping corners and, as I progressed, the cliffs encroached on the road and, just as it seemed as if this towering rock would swallow the road ahead, I disappeared into several tunnels, emerging the other side unscathed. The landscape had changed and was now far more rough and rugged. A couple of switchbacks later and I was again descending at break-neck speed along slightly narrower, but incredibly exhilarating tarmac. Before long, I was sailing through Andratx and the subsequent port before making my way back to Santa Ponsa.
I took the coastal road from Santa Ponsa, past the party town (or winter ghost town) of Magalluf to Genova on the outskirts of Palma. I find it amazing that I can be on the fringes of a major city and feel like I’m still in the countryside. Here in Genova, I met my Airbnb host Peter. A mad Celtic fan (aren’t they all?), an ex golf pro, golf coach and the organiser of the Glasgow to Lisbon Charity bike ride in May 2017 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Celtic's European Cup success in 1967. Peter guided me across the motorway and towards the road to Soller and the mountains that make Majorca the cycling paradise that draws in pro riders and teams from all over the world for their winter mountain training camps. I took the climb up Mt Soller, now a quiet road with motorised traffic travelling through the tunnel below. Like the majority of climbs on the island, Mt Soller offers a comfortable 6% average gradient for 7.3 km and 417 metres and is a pleasure to ride - the reward is an exciting descent down the other side to the old town of Soller and its adjacent port below.
This day was the first of three rides I would do with other riders and turned out to be a sensational day of riding. I rode through the lower mountains to Puigpunyment to meet Heather and Andy, members from my workplace at Cadence Performance Cycling in Crystal Palace. The early morning chill was already abating with temperatures rising to around 17 degrees, as was to be the case every day. We quickly set off for the climb out of the town, the Coll des Grau (3 km, 214 m, 6%), turning right through the beautiful town of Esporles and then on to the climb to the scenic town of Valldemossa. We all decided it would carry on along the coast to Deia, again being rewarded with splendid views over the north coast of the island. A few quick selfies and we backtracked up the climb and were soon descending again to the port of Valldemossa. After coffee and cakes, we returned up this most stunning road, passing sports climbers belaying in the sun-baked road - maybe next time I will climb here, another of my outdoor passions. I left Heather and Andy so I could return home along the coast road I had ridden on Day 1. In the sunshine, it was even more stunning. At Andratx, I turned back inland, climbed back to es Capdella and down to Calvia and Santa Ponsa. The best day so far!