Mallorca - The Routes
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The Routes

Route 1

Port de Pollenca – Alcudia – Can Picafort – Santa Margalida – Llubi – Muro – Sa Pobla – Alcudia – Port de Pollenca

Leave Port de Pollenca along the sea from towards Alcudia. There is a cycle path all of the way alongside the road. A gentle rise takes you to the old town of Alcudia – worth a visit to the old streets and fort. As you pass the old gate, take the right turn at the traffic lights and follow the hill down to a series of roundabouts. Keep following signs for Can Picafort on cycle friendly shoulders, all the way through the growing resort of Port d’Alcudia.

Past the resort, the road is straight and flat, through pinewoods. Before Can Picafort, turn right and left at 2 roundabouts, signed for Santa Margalida. The road climbs and falls for 5 miles to the hilltop town. Leave the sightseeing for another day, and instead go straight on at the roundabout to Llubi.

A smaller road, and the real interior of Mallorca opens up before you. Ride through fields of hay bales, poppies and olive trees and descend on a twisting fast road to the small village of Llubi. This is a good place to join the locals sitting in the pavement cafes around the square, and take a rest stop.

The bay of Port de Pollenca

Retrace your steps some 100 yards and take the left turn to Muro/Sa Pobla. A lovely descent follows a quiet road, and then wind left and right through the village of Muro, following signs for Sa Pobla. A little climb out of the village brings fabulous views across the plain to the range of the Tramontana mountains beyond.

At Sa Pobla, you can visit the town, or make a right turn to follow the road back to the coast at Alcudia. It is not difficult to retrace your step through Alcudia to the seafront cycle path back to Port de Pollenca.

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Route 2

Port de Pollenca – Campanet – Binibona – Col de Batalla – Lluc – Pollenca - San Vicenc - Port de Pollenca

This is a great ride if you have that extra bit of fitness or experience, and you want to test that granny gear in some mountains. These are the Tramontana Mountains, rising across the northern end of the island to a height of around 700 meters.

Take the main road out of Port de Pollenca to the old town of Pollenca, some 4 miles away. Before the town, turn left at the roundabout and follow a fast road towards Palma. Be careful on this road, as there are no cycling shoulders, and the traffic can be heavy (by Mallorcan standards), heading for the motorway to the capital. After 4 miles, watch for the right turn onto a way-marked cycle route to Campanet.

This is a great network of cycle routes, on extremely scenic roads, which are well marked with hand crafted wooden posts.

 

Care has been taken to signpost the cycle routes

Pass through Campanet, and the tiny hamlet of Binibona and emerge at the junction with the MA-2130 road in a town called Cairmari, which has several options to sit at pavement cafes, and while the morning away with a coffee. This is certainly what most of the weathered locals seem to do, but you have a mountain to climb, so don’t leave it too late or the sun will be unforgiving.

Turn right on the main road and head upwards towards Lluc and the Col de Sa Batalla. The 8 mile climb twists and turns up several hairpins, before levelling out for a mile of flat road with the most amazing views right down the valley to the sea. Then a last series of hairpins to the junction of the road to Lluc one way, and Soller the other.

There is a welcome cafe/garage at this junction.

Take a right turn, and descend and climb alternately for 5 miles. Then enjoy the stunning descent to Pollenca. Add a short detour to Cala San Vincenc, before returning to Port de Pollenca.

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Route 3

Port de Pollenca – Campanet – Binibona – Mancor de la Vall – Inca – Llubi – Santa Margalida – Can Picafort – Alcudia – Port de Pollenca

Follow the directions for Route 2, until the coffee stop at Cairmari. This time, take a left on the main road MA-2130, and first right back onto the cycle route to Mancor de la Vall. In the village, take a right and left, following the road down to Inca, one of the main towns on the island. Follow signs to the centre for plenty of shops and cafes.

Leave Inca, following signs to Palma. At the main road MA-13A, turn left, and follow the service road until you reach a roundabout, with a right turn signed for Llubi. It is the MA-3440 – and a gentle descent across the plain to the town.

Then it is a case of reversing the directions from Route 1, following Santa Margalida and Can Picafort, back to the cycle way into Alcudia and on to Port de Pollenca.

 

The pretty hamlet of Binibona

One of the great things about cycling inland Mallorca, is that the network of roads is so extensive, that no little town or village is more than about 5 miles from the next one, and it is easy to adapt a ride as you go along – lengthening or shortening it as you wish, depending on how you feel.

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Route 4

S’Esgleieta – Valldemossa – Deia – Soller – Col de Soller – Palma – s’Esgleieta

This is the only ride that doesn’t start in Pollenca. I had to hire a car to get across the island to the area around the capital city of Palma. It is worth doing this as you get a chance to visit the capital and see the hill towns of Valldemossa and Deia, as well as climb the Col de Soller.

It would be easy enough to catch a bus to Palma, and begin the ride from there. It is a loop, so can be started and finished anywhere.

 

The cathedral in Palma

I chose a tiny village on the main road from Palma to Valldemossa, the Ma1110, for no other reason that it had a sheltered churchyard car park.

The first of the day’s climbs begins at once on the MA-1110 to Valldemossa. This is a surprising climb – it had me reaching for my lower gears fairly quickly. It is deceptively steep. After 5 miles, wind around the top of the town, along a tree-lined boulevard, and take the right turn down to the coast. The road to Deia is one of the prettiest I have ridden. Glimpse the misty Mediterranean on one side of the cliffs and marvel at the peaks of the Tramontana range on the other.

Deia itself is picturesque and old world, topped by its ancient church, sitting on its hill and extending to the valley below with its system of open irrigation channels that date back to Moorish times. Deià has been a haven for artists, musicians and writers since the early 20th century, many of them making their permanent homes in and around the Village, including the famous home of the poet Robert Graves, which it is possible to visit.

A further 5 miles of rising and falling road brings you to the town of Soller, and the foot of the famous Col of the same name. The town seems to be completely surrounding by high jagged peaks and bulky mountains, and at first there appears to be no way out. But once the road leaves the town, the opening to the Col appears, and 8 miles of tortuous hairpin climbing lie ahead.

Take the main road, MA-11 for a mile out of Soller to the mouth of the new road tunnel, built through the mountain. Ignore this road, which thankfully carries 99% of the motor traffic, and swing right, selecting a low gear, to begin the hairpins.

Scale the top (there are no refreshments here), and admire the views all the way down to the plain and the capital city. Begin the descent of the famous side of the Col de Soller. It may not be Alpe d’Huez, but it does boast more hairpins (24 in all). It is a comfortable descent, and not too steep, which gives you time to enjoy the views.

 

In the Placa Mayor, Palma

Take a fast road all the way to Palma, either the MA-11, or the MA-2031 through Bunyola, and head for the central Rambla shopping area. The Castle and cathedral on the waterfront are a must to visit. They are the classic views of the city. Lunch in one of the many bars in the Placa Mayor, before heading back up the MA-1110 to S’Esgleieta.

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Route 5

Port de Pollenca – Cap de Formentor – Port de Pollenca

It’s only a short day’s ride, but the views along the Cap make it a "must-do". The ride takes you to the northern most point of the island. There is only the one road out of the Port in this direction. It is well-signposted from all parts of the town to Formentor.

Climb for 4 miles in a low gear, until you reach the car park, and a chance for a breather. There is a tempting track on your right, leading steeply up to the high point of the Cap, marked by an old tower. Take a deep breath and go for it. The steep climb will bring you out in a sweat, but the views from the top are enough reward. Down in the bay, the exclusive Formentor Hotel, with its own private beach, can be seen in the forest.

Freewheel back to the car park, and turn right to continue to the Cap. The road is not in the best condition, and this is a real tourist hot spot, so the traffic can be heavy. I bounced along the rutted surface with my racing tyres. Something a bit wider and more robust would be better suited.

 

The Cap de Formentor – there is a road down there somewhere..

At the bottom of the first long descent (enjoy it, but remember you have to come back this way!) take a left turn, and follow the wooded road, climbing steadily through parkland. The road rises and falls, and twists and turns for 8 miles to the lighthouse and café that mark the end of the headland. The prevailing wind is against you so the ride seems to be harder than it is.

Take real care near to the café. There are tame "wild" goats that think nothing of wandering out into the traffic, and could make a mess of your spokes. At the café, enjoy a drink and the views, before retracing your steps back to Port de Pollenca.

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Route 6

Port de Pollenca – Col de Sa Batalla – Selva – Inca – Sencelles – Sineu – Santa Margalida – Alcudia – Port de Pollenca

I came across this route in a Cycling Weekly magazine article, ridden as a training ride by the ex-professional rider, Sean Kelly. I guess Mr Kelly zipped round the course in double quick time, but for a keen amateur, it makes a good day’s riding. There are plenty of flatter parts, but the key to the ride is the climb of the Col de Sa Batalla.

Although the route could be done either way round, on a hot day, it is worth doing the climb first, rather than towards the end of the ride, so take the road to the old town of Pollenca, and at the roundabout before the town, carry straight on, past the town and up towards the mountains. Remember that great descent from Lluc, on Route 2? Well, you are about to climb back up it!

This is a lovely climb, which begins in earnest about 4 miles out of Pollenca. It then rises with some force for 8 miles, opening up into real mountain terrain. The traffic is invariably very light. So if you have a triple chainset, now is the time to slot it into the little ring and sit back and enjoy the scenery.

 

The beautiful Tramontana Mountains

The road emerges at the junction with the MA-10 to Soller. Take a left turn and descend through Caimari and Selva to Inca. Take care on this descent! It can get very busy with coaches bringing tourists up to the nearby monastery at Lluc, and the narrow hairpins mean that those coaches are often on the wrong side of the road. Be ready on your brake levers.

At Inca, follow signs for Sencelles, across the motorway and on to the straight and deserted roads of the plains. A mile after Sencelles, join the main road to Sineu. In a headwind (I had one), this long straight road is hard work. There is no shelter, as you toil up the slight incline. The reward can be found in the form of the biggest custard tart in the world at the old pastelleria shop in the main square in Sineu. Actually, I ate two, but don’t tell anyone.

The route then follows the directions in Route 3, through Santa Margalida, and Alcudia, back to Port de Pollenca.

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Route 7

Port de Pollenca – Alcudia – Can Picafort – Colonia St Pere, and return

This is Sunday afternoon ride. A flat, "out and back" ride, on roads mostly with good shoulders or other cycling provision, and a turnaround in an idyllic coastal village, well off the beaten tourist track.

Follow the route through Alcudia as per Route 1, but instead of turning right to Santa Margalida, continue on the same road straight through Can Picafort towards Arta. Any traffic thins out after Can Picafort, and the road broadly follows the coast line on the MA-12. Sweeping downhill, it crosses the optimistically named "Torrent de na Borges" - more of a trickle in June, and then climbs slowly for a few miles.

Take the right turn marked for Colonia St Pere and weave your way down to the tiny village. It’s low-rise and low-key; a perfect place to sit for an hour at a promenade café, and contemplate the return trip by the same route.

 

Sunday afternoon scene in the bay of Alcudia

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Route 8

The Fall and Rise of Sa Calobra

Now here’s a thing. The 5-mile descent to Sa Calobra on the northern coast of the island is simply the most spectacular road I have ever cycled. And I have cycled a few. This is a mega-ride. A "get up with the dawn" ride. And even then, you will be lucky to avoid the mid-afternoon heat on the return trip.

(The descent, by the way, is on a purpose-built, steep, hairpin-covered road to nowhere. Once down in the hamlet of Sa Calobra, there is only one way out. Right back up the road again. So, be sure of your capability to climb back up before you begin the descent!)

The day starts with the climb of the Col de Sa Batalla, as in Route 6. At the junction with the MA-10, this time take the right turn on the road to Soller. The next 5 miles will see the scenery become more remote, barren and dramatic. Soon you will come to the right turn to Sa Calobra. Climb steadily on the bare mountainside for 2 miles, emerge through a rocky gap at the col, and then stop.

The 5-mile descent to Sa Calobra lies before you, a maze of impossible twisting road, a silver tangle of thread, wrapping itself in knots as it plummets down to the sea. Take a deep breath, release the brake levers, and go!

 

The Sa Calobra road falls down the mountainside behind me

This road is a cyclist’s dream, smooth and carefully made, with hairpins broad enough to sweep down without losing speed. My head became dizzy with the never-ending swoosh of air past my ears. All too suddenly the road levels out to reveal the village, a few shops and tourist cafes, and a small bay.

The climb back up is of course, hard and slow. I did it in a gear of 30 inches, but could have used lower. By 11 am the tourist coaches are arriving and you will receive applause and appreciative comments from those on the coaches, to encourage you on the way.

The return to Port de Pollenca is the same way as you came up, with a good downhill finish off the Col de Sa Batalla. If you are fit and an experienced cyclist, I urge you to try this ride – it is simply spectacular.

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Route 9

Port de Pollenca – Alcudia – Santa Margalida – Petra – Sineu – Sencelles – Inca – Selva – Col de Sa Batalla – Lluc – Port de Pollenca

Broadly, this is Route 6 in reverse, but with a section added, that takes in a loop from Santa Margalida to Petra and then up to Sineu, to continue towards the climb of the Col de Sa Batalla

At 71 miles in length, it does test the legs and lungs, especially with the climb coming towards the end of the ride. For the only part of the route that is new, take a left at the junction of Santa Margalida and follow the MA-3340 into Petra. This is actually the main road to Manacor, which is a main town on the island, and therefore the traffic is quite heavy for a few miles.

In Petra, head for the church. There is a lovely courtyard bar in the square nearby, with homemade cakes for the coffee stop. Then it is best to ask directions through the town, as the signed route to Sineu is not the one you want. Instead, aim for the quieter back route, following signs first for Saint Joan, and then taking a right turn to Sineu on the MA-3300.

Pass a huge quarry on the way into Sineu. It is very dusty, but I suppose that all that lovely Mallorcan stone has to come from somewhere... From Sineu, it is back on familiar ground, following the instructions for Route 6 in reverse.

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Route 10

Port de Pollenca – Campanet –Selva – Lloseta – Binnisalem – Santa Maria del Cami – Bunyola – Col de Soller – Soller – Lluc – Port de Pollenca

Save the best, and the hardest, till last. With two weeks of sun and cycling in your legs, this 83-mile epic provides a fitting finale to a Mallorcan cycling venture. It encompasses all the main cols in the Tramontana mountains, as well as some lovely roads skirting the plains.

Follow directions as for Route 3, on the cycleway, as far as Campanet. Follow the cycleway signs direct to Selva and straight on to Lloseta. Then work your way down towards the main road through Mallorca, the MA13A through Binnisalem. This road goes all the way to Palma, but the motorway alongside now takes most of the traffic.

At Santa Maria del Cami, leave the main road, and turn right, signposted for Bunyola. In the town, stop for food and drink to sustain you on the forthcoming climbs of the Col de Soller (all those 24 hairpins and a fast fast descent), and the 9-mile slog up to the Serra de Torella. At 1078 meters, this is definitely the highest point of the rides on the island.

From here, the road descends to the turn for Sa Calobra. Ignore this turn on this occasion, and carry on climbing and descending past the Col de Sa Batalla and Lluc, returning to Port de Pollenca on the now familiar downhill run back to the sea.

And that is that. A final ice crème at the Helado garrido, pack up your bike for the journey home, and vow to return again next year for the ultimate cycling holiday.

 

the perfect end to a perfect ride

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