I had been regaled for a few years by teammates about Mallorca and epic riding somewhat like riding the hill country around Fredericksburg, TX, but magnified by . . . 10 . . . 100? Something extraordinary. So, I went to see for myself.

Words by guest Loren Hettinger.

What if a person could find a place where they could cycle around a Mediterranean island on pristine roads, usually shared by a multitude of cyclists and often by drivers who understand cycling or know that to share the road is really not rocket science? And what if these roads coursed through aleppo pine, juniper (enebro), carob trees, tamarisk, and wild olive forests and scrub with the occasional large, sword leaved agave? And then wound their way up and down daunting cols through sun-drenched idyllic villages on narrow streets?

Overlay all this with a luxurious hotel (the Monnaber Nou Eco near Campanet , Mallorca), featuring a pool of turquoise water, a jacuzzi, and breakfasts of cappuccino, assorted juices, fresh fruit, carpaccio, muesli, scrambled eggs, sausages, bacon, assorted pastries and bread, and of course fresh olives.

Would you go?

That question deserves the old craggy cowboy response of, “Does a bear poop in the woods?” Most cyclists I know would be on a plane as soon as they could pack enough jerseys and shorts to support six days of riding.

Trek Travel arranged the tour and before we even arrived had disc brake, carbon Domanes with Di2 shifting already set up to fit each of our road bike measurements. Paired with a Garmin loaded with maps of each day’s route we were ready to roll. Our group of thirty-three (initially) was quite diverse, being comprised of cyclists from California, Alabama, New York, Canada (Vancouver and Ottawa), Switzerland, and of course, our Colorado contingent. Many like ourselves from the Schwab Cycles Racing Team were ex or current racers, although the majority of riders were veterans of long-distance tours. We had four tour guides who alternated with three riding among the group and one driving a van for support, including setting up lunch along the route. All three guides riding among us seemed inordinately fast; maybe a result of youth, innate athletic ability, and riding these mountain roads four or five days each week. The guides exemplified the international character of the riders, being from England, Mexico⁠—by way of Bolivia and Florida⁠—Barcelona, and of all places, Durango, CO.

At the end of the week, we asked each other, “Which ride did you like best?” That’s like asking a person, which is your favorite grandkid? It’s impossible to choose.

The week’s rides were divided into “long” or “short” options, and included:
• Buger (bike orientation ride; 13 miles, 961 feet)
• Puig de Santa Magdelena (self-guided ride; ~23 miles, 1,650 feet)
• Coll de Soller/Puig Major (66 miles, 7,820 feet; 40 miles, 4,182 feet)
• Sa Calobra (61 miles, 7,100 feet; 50 miles, 6,529 feet)
• Deia (and Soller) (86 miles, 6,929 feet; 59 miles, 6,000 feet)
• Cap de Formentor (lighthouse) (66 miles, 6,262 feet; 53 miles, 4,424 feet)

In viewing the ride schedule and routes, I had contemplated that I might graduate to some of the long options toward the end of the week especially in thinking how awesome I’d feel with the “nearly pure” oxygen at sea level. However, after the Sa Calobra ride of switchback after switchback and 6,500 feet of climbing, the vision of myself and reality became more aligned toward survival. Yet, the Sa Calobra route cemented itself as one of my favorites.

The Deia route, however, also became a favorite. With three climbs and a descent into and through an idyllic village. The allure was enhanced by a quaint bicycle accessories shop and a helpful, smiling clerk who assisted us as we pulled jerseys over the ones we already wore just to see if the new ones with a kit coordinated color and map of Mallorca would add to our stature as lithe, svelte cyclists or conversely, and more likely, enhance our midline bulges.

Yet the Formentor ride, which culminated in a series of sharp switchbacks to a lighthouse on a point extending into the Mediterranean, proved to be possibly the most interesting of all. Our rest stop reverie, in the view of the white stone constructed lighthouse and blue water, was broken by a gathering cloudbank. Its gray, then dark blue (darker than the sapphire Mediterranean) and increasingly black overtones spurred us to throw down any remains of espresso, hustle to our bikes and work our way through all the cars in the parking lot to the start of the return climb. I knew we had left it too long, and that the storm was in a hurry to make landfall. My weather-predicting ability seemed on point (well, it was obvious); several large flashes and immediate claps of thunder vibrated the landscape. Then the hail started in earnest (another reason to wear a helmet), followed by stinging rain. I stopped with four others along the wall to belatedly pull-on rain jackets. As we continued to ride through the wet from above and the wheel splash from below, the rain abated, but the wind had no mercy. Despite the group being various states of drenched, we opted to tackle the final 20 miles of the day’s ride. Once we got back, a hot shower at the hotel and a beer on the veranda put the storm into perspective⁠—just another epic day on the bike.

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