Cycling · Mallorca

Mallorca Cycling Holiday: Day 4

I woke up sore, having two long days of riding in my legs. But this was the big day; the toughest of all of the trip, so I had to summon the courage and get out of bed.

My departure from the hotel was delayed by the fact that I had to wait until 9 am for the supermarket to open so that I could get myself some muslei, having run out the previous morning. I dare not risk such a long day of riding on an empty stomach.

I started the day with a now familiar ride around the bay into the centre of Palma. The sun was high, and lots of people were out enjoying their activity along the esplanade. There were a substantial number of roller-bladers, who were not that fun to ride past as they took up a lot of the narrow bike path. Unlike the previous couple of days when I had ridden straight through town into the mountains beyond, this time I rode to the centre of town. I made my way to the Palma central railway station. The place I wanted to visit most on the island was one of the more remote areas, so it is much easier to catch a train part of the way and ride back.

I carried my bike down the escalator into the station and collected myself a ticket. I tried to work out which platform to leave from, but one train left as I was making my way to the platforms. So instead, I had to wait another half an hour for the next train to leave. The train journey was a pleasant race across the Mallorcan countryside for about an hour or so. Eventually, we pulled up at the train station of Inca. I rolled off the train onto the platform and into the town streets. Once I had my bearings, I somewhat successfully navigated the narrow streets of Inca and headed off to the mountains to the north.

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Colle de sa Batalla (Cat 2: 11.3 km @ 4.7%)

The streets in and around Inca were swarming with cyclists, but as I started to climb into the mountains, they started to thin. The first of several climbs was the Colle de sa Batalla. It was a long climb, starting off as a narrow road along the base of the gully, following the river. It got a little harder when it swung around to a few hairpins to climb out of the gully, but it very quickly opened up into fantastic views over the surrounding valleys.

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The climb kept going, however, with some more very tight hairpins. Eventually, I reached a saddle with a café and a sign indicating the top of the climb. However, the climb kept going, although at not quite the same gradient as before. The road hugged tightly to the mountain edge, but the climb ended rather inconspicuously as it turned into a more undulating ride.

Coll des Reis (Cat 3: 2.2 km @ 7.3%)

A bit of undulating later and I reached the turn-off to the highlight of the entire trip: the road to the Port de Sa Calobra. I rode off along the road, and had to start climbing straight away to the Coll des Reis, a short an oft-forgotten climb which was a lead-up to the main show. It was short but steep, and open to the landscape, with fantastic views over the valley. The top was a cutting, but once I was through I began the marvellous descent of the Sa Calobra.

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Sa Calobra (Cat 1: 10 km @ 7.0%)

The start of the descent of the Sa Calobra was the most magical: the first feature of the descent was a spiral bridge where the road looped over itself. Over the next few kilometres, I was treated to fantastic views of the Mediterranean as I descended down the hairpins. The entire descent was immensely beautiful, but soon enough I found myself at the Port de Sa Calobra. I decided it was time for lunch, so I found a café on the edge of the sea. I went inside and asked for what I gathered was some kind of apple cake, but all the proprietor knew to tell me that it was a “local Mallorcan delicacy”. It was nice, and I had some water to prepare me for the climb ahead.

A short break later, I headed off up the long climb. I plodded along, soaking in every moment of the view. The entire climb, I could see the snaking road both above and below me. Each hairpin was a delight, and I forgot about the pain in my legs. After a while, I rounded the spiral bridge and through the cutting at the top to bring a wonderful hour to a close.

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Túnel de Monnàber (Cat 3: 4.7 km @ 5.6%)

From here, my focus was on getting back home. I descended the Coll des Reis, and proceeded up a short bit of a climb to a tunnel through the Puig Major. There was a flat section alongside the Gorg Blau lake. Unfortunately, the road started to head up again. There was a 5 km climb to the next tunnel back through the Puig Major. The road was busier; lots of people were heading out on picnics, and I didn’t really care for it.

I passed through the tunnel at the top and then began the long descent of the Puig Major. The descent was some 14 km long, a wide smooth road with few hairpins, but enough such that one cannot build up too much speed. Instead of cyclists, there were a lot of motorcyclists which were loud and slightly annoying. Near the bottom of the descent, I started to get bored, simply waiting for the descent to end.

Coll de Soller (Cat 2: 9.7 km @ 5.1%)

The final climb of the day approached. I rode through the town of Soller, noting the tiny tramway through the town, and up the busy road that headed back to Palma. The first half of the climb was up a valley. I rode along the wide kerb away from the traffic. The second half turned away from the main road up a road with dozens of hairpins. The main road headed under a tolled tunnel. I consider this climb to be similar to the beep test; I changed directions so often that I felt like I was going back and forth. Also, my GPS thought that, as I went around the hairpins, I was stopping and starting again (instead of mostly retracing my route) and would beep at me.

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I counted down the many hairpins as I climbed through the Mallorcan farming vista. By the time I made it to the top, the sun was already setting, so I quickly raced over and down the many hairpins on the other side. I mounted my lights and rode back along the straight road to Mallorca. By the time I was back in Palma, it was dark. My route was made longer as I made a mis-turn at a roundabout on the outskirts.

Knowing that many of the shops closed early, I was keen to get dinner before I got back to the hotel. As I rode back around the bay, I found a restaurant. I parked my bike, and sat outside, thinking that I was warm. I ordered both a pizza and a pasta, given how hungry I felt. By the time it was served, I was quite cold, but ate through 3/4 of both meals. I got back to the hotel quite late, and showered and went straight to bed.

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