Bucket List Cycling Vacations to be Found Off-Season in Mallorca, Spain

Photo: Mallorca 312

By David Chauner

There are iconic events in every participatory sport that stir the imagination and make the inspirational bucket list of average Joes and Janes who seek ultimate personal challenges: finish the New York Marathon, survive a Tough Mudder, conquer the Hawaii Ironman triathlon.

Exotic locations help. Great hotels, fantastic meals, pre- and post-event parties, and a great venue where the spouse and kids can have fun usually narrow the choices.

For today’s cycling set, those choices are many.

Mallorca 312 healthyaging.net

The ride start. Photo courtesy of Mallorca 312

Cyclosportifs, Gran Fondos are Big Rides for Rec and Amateur Cyclists

The hardest of hardcore racer wannabes will sign up a year in advance to join some 15,000 amateurs for L’Étape du Tour, a daily leg of the Tour de France where participants can get an honest-to-goodness taste of what the pros experience during a stage in the Alps or Pyrenees, complete with closed roads, mountain passes, and leg cramps.

Known throughout the world as cyclosportifs or Gran Fondos, literally “big rides,” variations of these events have grown in size and stature to cater to every type of cyclist from an indoor Peloton rider to a recreational biker and amateur racer. They often have a theme like the Farm to Fork Fondos in the Eastern U.S. that promote the ecological connection between bikes and farm-to-table foods. Almost all of them feature some challenging hills; scenic backroads; timed sections, for the competitive; and shorter distance options, for the more pedestrian.

One cyclosportif that has it all takes place every April on the cycling-crazed Spanish resort island of Mallorca. Cycling fans know Mallorca like baseball fans know Florida. It’s where spring training takes place and where international pro teams flock to limber up and get ready for the long European season.

Iberostar healthyaging.net

Poolside at Iberostar Playa de Muro. Photo courtesy of Iberostar Hotels and Resorts

Mallorca is Hidden Gem for Cycling

For decades, pro racers and their fans have gone to Mallorca from Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Germany, and the U.K. to exchange the cold and snow of late winter for the balmy temperatures, quiet roads, and varied terrain of the beautiful island.

They pile on the miles and fill preseason resorts, which is a boon to Mallorca’s tourist industry that doesn’t peak until summer. Every March and April afternoon, Mallorca’s outdoor cafes fill with cyclists returning from their morning rides. Every nationality, age, and shape is represented along with colorful uniforms, exotic racing bikes, and animated conversation in dozens of languages.

More than 8,000 come to ride in Mallorca at the event. Photo: Mallorca 312

What is the Mallorca 312?

From this tradition sprung the Mallorca 312, the name of which comes from the distance in kilometers of the original route around the island.

The event was conceived by Xisco Lliteras, the current technical director and former pro Miquel Alzamora a decade ago in Playa de Muro.

This resort area is located on the north side of the island that accommodates 70,000 to 80,000 cyclists per year, a surreal haven that includes a fleet of rental bikes that would put a pro team to shame.

According to Xisco Lliteras: “We love cycling, and we felt that an international sportive would be fantastic, so we decided to do it. It’s grown year-on-year to 8,000 participants from 26 countries.”

Mallorca 312 healthyaging.net

Roads are closed to traffic for the event. Photo: Mallorca 312

Now held annually toward the end of April, the Mallorca 312 has become known as one of the few major sportifs that run over roads and are completely closed to vehicular traffic.

In order to make that possible, organizers have devised a route that incorporates some of the most scenic and challenging roads that traverse the less traveled byways of the northern part of the island.

The full cyclosportif tour of Mallorca covers 312 kilometers and has an altitude gain of 5,050 meters. The start and finish are located in Playa de Muro, near Alcúdia, and participants have 14 hours to complete the course.

For those who would like to get to the after party earlier, there are also shorter routes to choose from.
Spoiler alert: Be ready to tackle some serious climbs in every option.

Mountains to climb in the Mallorca 312. Image provided by the organizers.

The mammoth 312-kilometer route contains 5,050 meters of climbing, while there is also a 225-kilometer ride with 3,973 meters of climb and a 167-kilometer course with 2,475 meters of altitude gain.

In all routes, cyclists will ride through the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO under the Cultural Landscape category.

Legendary passes to write home about include the substantial ascents of the Tramuntana range, such as the Puig Major, Col de sa Pedrissa, and Coll de Femenia.

Whether you’re a hardcore cycling fan or someone who just revels in the atmosphere of a sporting event that’s unique and different, the Mallorca 312 is worth adding to any bucket list.

From Emily Chappell, a British woman who checked it off her list in 2017: “No sportif is as downright enjoyable as the Mallorca 312. Like the island that hosts it, it’s a cyclist’s dream – everything’s been thought of, the sun is shining, the tarmac’s smooth and inviting, the food is great, the locals are friendly, the hills are gentle but dramatic, and you get to pretend you’re a professional bike racer all day long.

What’s not to love?”

Planning to Tackle the Mallorca 312?

Well, you better start planning for 2020 because 2019 is completely sold out. That’s not to say you can’t visit and watch but this is one of the hottest cycling tickets around. Event organizers say the event for 8000 participants sold out in less than a week so mark your calendar for 2020. Or, study the event maps and book your own rides on other dates.

Most of the hotels in the area are 4 or 5 stars and specialize in cycling. Like hotels that cater to golfers, these hotels are for cyclists with areas to clean, fix and store the bikes. Many of the restaurants have menus adapted to cyclists’ needs and most of them have spas where athletes can recharge their batteries.

Colonia de Sant Pere, Mallorca.

Colonia de Sant Pere, Mallorca. Photo: Deposit Photos

Why the Playa de Muro Area is Perfect for Cycling Any Season

Whether you choose to sign up for the Mallorca 312 or just bring your bike some other time to explore the area, you will be rewarded by charming seaside villages. The beauty of this part of Mallorca is buoyed by the quiet, unspoiled towns and villages.

Cala Mesquida Bay, Mallorca,

Cala Mesquida Bay, Mallorca, Spain. Photo: Deposit Photos

Some of the spots you might like to visit are Colonia de Sant Pere, a small, non-touristy fishing village; the beach resort of Cala Mesquida and laid back Betlem on the Alcudia Bay.

Iberostar. Healthyaging.net

Iberostar Playa de Muro. Photo courtesy of Iberostar Hotels and Resorts

Where to Stay – All about Iberostar Playa de Muro Hotel

No matter what season you choose to visit this cycling friendly area, you might take a look at one particularly bike friendly hotel in the area is Iberostar Playa de Muro Hotel, an ideal base for all outdoor activities including hiking, mountain bike riding and more.

Don’t want to bring your own bike? You can rent one there. The hotel also offers a bicycle repair shop as well as guided tours around the island.

Iberostar

Gust Restaurant specialties. Photo: Iberostar Hotels and Resorts

Cyclists and all guests will enjoy Gust Restaurant at the hotel where they will find the freshest local produce, regional specialties and international cuisine served.

Following their rides or hikes, the active traveler can unwind with a massage or take advantage of the sauna or heated sun beds.

If you are not familiar with Iberostar Hotels, Grupo Iberostar is a 100% family owned, Spanish multinational headquartered in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, which has been involved in the tourism industry since 1956. Iberostar Hotels can be found in 35 countries around the world.

For further information about Mallorca, visit Spain’s Official Tourism and the official Mallorca Tourism (Consell de Mallorca) site. To learn more about the bike ride, visit Mallorca 312.

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