Sunday, May 29, 2011

Cycling Paradise !

If you ever get a chance to go to the island of Mallorca Spain for road cycling don’t pass it up. This is a cycling paradise with great roads, challenging mountains and spectacular vistas !
Friends were registered for an inaugural Half-Ironman in Mallorca so a few others took the opportunity to tag along for the ride…literally. While the beach was mostly obstructed with fat pasty Brits and Germans, the road held boundless possibilities.

While others were getting prepped I rode most of the 90 k racecourse which included a steady climb on so-so (by Spanish standards) pavement but followed by a spectacularly paved and stunningly scenic series of switchbacks back down through a valley and the plains back toward the ocean. After the race a couple of us rode to the farthest northeast point of the island – cap Formentor, more fantastic riding. The following day was a similar, shorter but steeper coastal “recovery ride”….not what I would call recovery for my previously abused racer friends !
The weather was pleasant sunny and warm but not hot for 9 days straight with only one day of a few spits of rain. The house rental was inexpensive and backed onto the beach.

Ensuing days took us to a flatter beautiful rural section followed by the racecourse backwards. Then a 150 km epic ride with three killer climbs including the col de soller which was preceded by a massive 15 k or so furious downhill on pristine road after passing through a chilly mountain tunnel, then the more rugged climb to the Orient – a beautiful medieval tiny mountaintop town surrounded by majestic peaks and valleys. Then there was a trip to the northwest side of the island where the perfect road led from one quaint village to another – all with spectacular views of the ocean. This day was shortened significantly by a 2 hr full European banquet lunch….very hard to climb the two big hills back to our start point with belly stuffed to 2x capacity !

The slightly cooler subsequent day provided the full group the opportunity to ride to the Formentor…needless to say the unprotected drop-offs and winding roads left some with their Ottawa Valley hearts in their throats. The last day before flying home held a lovely flat rural spin of 65 k to get the legs ready for the impending travel flight carnage. But not before completing the 125 km route to the infamous Sa Callobra switchbacks the day prior. The pictures will never do this road justice. Once at the top of the col, a view essentially straight down of myriad never-ending switchbacks presents itself….one after another all the way down to the ocean tourist village. SPECTACULAR is all I can say – one of the best rides I could ever imagine ! After lunch we held a bit of a hill climb competition for the 10 km climb of 9-16% grades….daunting but oh so satisfying after the sub 41 minute escapade. From there a mostly downhill and sunny ride back through mountain passes and vistas to the valley and seashore for one last time.

To conclude – a visit to Mallorca is a must for any cyclist who appreciates the pure pleasure of the road, and the zen of being lost in a magical mountain paradise. All while shared with European drivers who respect riders, great food, favorable weather and Mediterranean charms.

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