The Mallorca1127 Challenge

Ride 1127 kilometres (700 miles) in seven days. Climb many Mallorca mountains. Finish with the 245 kilometre, 4500 metre ascent, TransTramuntana4500. The Mallorca1127 Challenge: my finale to the 2015 season.


Day 7 - The TransTramuntana 4500 Finale!

My 700+ mile week came to a close on Saturday, with the almighty TransTramuntana 4500 event. Including the ride to and from the start, it would be a 250km+ day, with 4500+ metres of ascent. One way to finish off the legs, before flying home!

An early alarm, solo breakfast, and spin to the startline in the rising sun, saw start to another great Mallorca day. Lined up with 600 other participants, we prepared for the off…

The race went from the gun. For the first hour or more, climbing to the top of Puig Major, I clung to the front group; eager not to be dropped, and left to ride the 235km route solo.

When we began our descent to Sollér, our front group's early pace-setting became evident. The police were forced to neutralise the race for a while; with the aim of re-grouping the strung-out peloton, for safety reasons. We remained neutralised until the turning point of the TT3000 (the smaller brother), from where the police escort turned off.

At the turning point, I found myself in a great little group of mostly local riders. We decided amongst ourselves, to ride at a comfortable pace; unsure of how many riders were up the road.

The majority of the next section, from Valldemossa down to the turning point at Andratx, and the base of the mountain range, all rather blurs into one in my memory. The overarching feeling though, was I was just very glad it was warm. Unlike on Tuesday's Andratx Mountain Epic, the Mediterranean wasn't boiling fiercely with rain storms.

Our small group continued to ride together, through the small little climbs from Andratx towards Puigpugent. A couple of riders went off the front, but I was happy with the pace of the group. We enjoyed climbing together, as well as making the most of the well-stocked provisioning points. I was grateful that the brutal pace of the first hour hadn't continued.

After a few smaller climbs, we soon found ourselves heading up the Coll Sollér. From here, it would be straight into the second ascent of Puig Major, from the reverse direction. With a few of the riders in our diminishing group now struggling with the 200km+ we had in our legs, I decided to push on alone. A climb like Puig Major is best done at your own pace.

The second ascent of Puig was a challenge. 14 kilometres of continuous ramps and false flats, took its toll on my weary legs. I was glad when I reached the tunnel at the top; safe in the knowledge that the last 30 kilometres to the finish, were largely downhill.

A rapid return to Port de Pollença saw my ride tied-up in eight and a half hours, or thereabouts. I was somewhat surprised to find I had also done the 4th fastest time! I certainly wasn't expecting that, when we had begun that first climb of the day. The TT4500 proved to be a fantastic event, which I certainly hope to do again… perhaps with a win next time?!


The TransTramuntana brought to a close a fantastic week of riding on Mallorca. 700+ miles. 45+ hours. Countless mountain ascents, and countless coffees. The #Mallorca1127 was a very special way to finish my 2015 season. I can safely say I feel I know this beautiful Balearic island a bit better now. I can also safely say, that it really is a stunning place to ride a bike.

A special thanks goes to the organisers of the TT4500, and to Hotel Viva Blue. If you need a cycle-friendly hotel to stay in, Viva Blue is perfectly positioned, with fantastic rooms and superb food. The friendly staff made my stay very comfortable and relaxing; so I could concentrate on the bike riding, and making the most of a great week away.
Another beautiful dawn to start my last day on Mallorca

The peloton heads up the first climb of Puig Major

Beautiful coastal roads

Challenge complete. What a great day out.



Day 6 - Three Monasteries

I modified my 'Three Monasteries' route from the one originally shown in my Ride Plans; mainly because I wanted to ensure it finished with a run through Pollença, to pick up my number before the TT4500 the next day. The new route, included Bonany monastery near Petra, Santuari de Cura near Randa, and also passed close to Lluc monastery for the second time (the revised route also meant I got to do Coll de sa Batalla again, result!)

The sun was out from the off, and it wasn't long before my gilet was safely stashed away in my jersey pocket. The ride started with a spin along the road towards Artà, before turning inland, and heading to the picturesque town of Petra.

Before long, I could spot my first monastery of the day, atop an escarpment just behind Petra. Let the climbing begin! The joys of Strava route plotting, meant that this first ascent suddenly became rather... agricultural. Let's just say it's a good job I run Pavé tyres all year round; because my pilgrim's route up, definitely wasn't the main road. The view from the top was breathtaking though, and well worth the technical ascent (I loved it really).

From Bonany, it was back on the largely deserted B-roads for a while; heading towards the isolated mountain in the centre of the island, atop which sits Cura monastery. The climb up to Cura is long and interesting, with multiple intermediate viewpoints and varying terrain. After eight kilometres of pushing the pedals in the mid-day sun, I was rewarded with another spectacular view at the top.

The next substantial climb, was the now familiar Coll de sa Batalla. To get there though, I had a long weaving path across the island; taking in a number of interesting little towns, and backroads through the farms. I rewarded myself with a quick coffee stop in Caimari, before beginning my third ascent of the great climb to Lluc monastery.

Perhaps my legs are getting used to the mountains, or perhaps I was just fuelled on coffee and pear cake; either way, I seemed to reach the top of Batalla in no time. From there, it was just a case of the fast descent down to Pollença, to pick up my number, before spinning back to the hotel. The final big one, the TT4500 awaits...

Pretty sure this wasn't the main road to Bonany monastery, it was good fun though

The view from the top of Bonany

It is worth weaving through the little towns and villages

The view from the top of Cura

A quick cake and coffee stop, before the final ascent of the day to Lluc monastery



Day 5 - Lluc Monastery - plus a surprise road to nowhere

This was a much needed easier day. An intended 84km spin to Lluc Monastery, then back to Pollença and along the seafront. The wind had calmed down overnight, and although the roads were wet when I first set out, the sun soon shone through and dried everything out.

My route took me down some deserted little backroads, through the orange groves, to the commune of Calmari. Out of the back of this little village, is the start of the Coll de sa Batalla; a climb that I now reckon is my favourite discovery, so far. The small road weaves up through the forest, and then finishes in a series of tight hairpins at the top. I was kept company for the majority of this ascent, by a lean looking Spaniard, who seemed intent on challenging me... I couldn't resist (perhaps it wasn't quite so much of a "spin", up that bit at least).

From the top of Batalla, it was a short descent down to Lluc monastery. To be honest, it actually turned out to be a bit less interesting than the other lesser-known monasteries that I've stumbled upon so far. I stopped to quickly take a photo (which looks too grey to be worth posting), then started back up the hill, leading to the long descent to Pollença.

The sun was out by the time I reached the port, and I couldn't stop myself extending things a little further than planned... I decided to ride up to the first viewpoint on the Cap Formentor road. On arriving there, I was again fell "victim" to temptation, and started making my way up a further small road, which I spotted off the main route. It led to the most stunning viewpoint I've ridden to yet.

Lots of photos, then a long (warm!) descent back down to Port de Pollença. A quick coffee, then a spin back along the seafront. An easier day, followed by some much needed poolside relaxing.
The early morning cloud soon burnt off

The Coll de sa Batalla - my favourite climb yet

The long descent to Pollença

Heading up the Cap Formentor road - a bit sunnier than the Day 2 ride

I think this viewpoint is a bit better than the one down there...

The road to nowhere, that had the most spectacular view

Another great day in the saddle



Day 4 - Andratx Mountain Epic - with a whole lot of weather

This day was always meant to be an 'Epic'. The route was set to be similar to that of the TransTramuntana4500: heading down the mountain range from Pollença to Andratx, then back up, with a few "bumps" on the return leg too. 220km with 3,500+ metres of climbing.

When I woke up, it looked like things would be a little bit more "Epic" than I had intended though. The Force 9 winds hadn't abated, and despite the forecast being for sun all day, the skies looked ominous. With a gilet packed in my back pocket, along with a good amount of food, I headed out.

The first stretch up to Pollença, confirmed that it was indeed damn windy! The strong north-easterly had quite a bite to it, too; I soon slipped on my gilet. It was a crosswind for that first section, but as soon as I turned towards the mountains, it became a welcome tailwind; threatening a serious headwind on the return leg!

The mountains were fairly kind, for the first part. I enjoyed racing a Swiss ski team on their land skis for a while, before they stopped off to put on rain jackets. That should have been a sign...

After cresting Puig Major, the descent down to Soller was cold, and I was grateful to be following a group of German cyclists, who kept me on my toes. By the time I reached the bottom though, I had goosebumps; this isn't right, this is Mallorca?!

The ascent out of Soller warmed me up a bit, but after the turning for Valldemossa, the rain arrived. All of a sudden, I started to get very cold. The section from there through to Andratx, was a battle. I was surprised how much of it I recognised from the Mallorca312; at least that let me gauge how far it was to go before the turning point. I continued down the coastal mountain road, battered by the wind, and able to see every new rain storm coming in off the dark blue Mediterranean.

Luckily, on turning in land, things improved dramatically. There are a few awesome little single-track climbs between Andratx and Puigpugent, which soon put a smile back on my face. I was also grateful to be sheltered from the wind, in the tree covered roads.

From Puigpugent, it was a fast and long descent down towards Palma; before retracing similar tracks to Day 1, as I headed back north in the setting sun.

It was an 'Epic' day out, for sure. Low points, included talking to myself on the freezing coastal mountain road, asking why I had been so foolish not to have brought arm warmers. The highlights, included the isolated single-track climbs back from Andratx, a surprise bit of off-roading when my Garmin had a wobbly, and a late afternoon stop, to grab coffee and Bunyols (doughnuts), for the final push back into the headwind. Luckily, Day 5 is an easier one...
Garmin wobbly leads to Strada Bianche!

Late afternoon Bunyols and coffee stop

Setting sun, looks a lot more like Mallorca should do

Strong man. Not sure I felt that strong through those mountains...



Day 3 - Artà, Cala Rajada Lighthouse and Porto Cristo (and a lot of wind!)

The forecast for 'Mallorca1127 Day 3' was "stormy", and it didn't disappoint. Sat eating breakfast, I wasn't quite sure how much easier this planned day three ride would be, compared to the two previous days. A Force 8 headwind on the way back to the hotel, would make things interesting...

From Playa de Muro, I started out east, along the rolling road to Artà. My first real climb of the day was set to be an out-and-back, to the north of the historic town. After weaving through the ornate streets and markets, I found the single-track road. It was pleasantly deserted.

The out-and-back was only set to be a short one, heading up to a nature reserve. However, I was enjoying the climb so much, that when I spotted a fork in the road pointing towards Betlem church, I couldn't resist. The climb turned out to be one of the best yet: five kilometres of single-track road, with only a herd of goats and one moped as company. The view from the top, was stunning.

Back down through Artà, my next target was the route out to the Cala Rajada Lighthouse. Another twisty little road, battered by the northerly wind, led me out to the sister lighthouse of Cap Formentor. The Mediterranean sea was roaring fiercely in the background.

From Cala Rajada, it was down the coast with a whistling tailwind, to a café stop at Porto Cristo. The coffee never tasted so good.

My return leg was predictably, a bit of a struggle. However, I enjoyed the surprise backroad diversions, with miniature switchbacks, as I headed back over the hills to base. It's always a great feeling when route-planning works out well.

Back at Viva Blue, I headed to the spa, for a bit of hot and cold leg bath treatment. Hopefully that, and a big meal this evening, will set me up for tomorrow's mountain epic...

The first climb of the day - just a handful of goats and a moped as company

The road to Betlem church

Riding heaven

Quite a backdrop!

Cala Rajada Lighthouse

Blustery conditions on the Mediterranean sea



Day 2 - Sa Calobra and Cap Formentor Lighthouse 

I awoke to moody skies on day two. Little could dampen my mood though, with two great dead-end climbs to ride: Sa Calobra and Cap Formentor.
The first climb of the day was actually the Coll de sa Batalla, which I rode in low-level cloud, but still had enough visibility to take in the ornate rock gardens, and avoid the odd goat that ventured out into the road. From the top of the Batalla, it was up the middle part of the Puig Major, before turning off to head down to Sa Calobra.

As with any dead end climb that you descend before re-ascending, the feeling of the swooping hairpin descent is slightly overcast by the knowledge that every metre dropped downwards, is another you'll have to soon regain. The re-ascent of Sa Calobra was undeniably enjoyable for me though, and each hairpin bend opened up a great Mediterranean view.
After Sa Calobra, I pulled on a rain cape, as a few spatters were beginning to fall. It was then a long descent down to Pollença, before the ascent out to Cap Formentor Lighthouse.

Cap Formentor is the most northerly point on Mallorca, and so it was perhaps predictable that it was also the most overcast and windiest. Regardless, the ride out there is interesting, challenging and has some stunning vistas. I didn't hang around for long at the lighthouse though; it was zip up, and descend back to the seafront at Playa de Muro.

Another 100 miles in the bag, with multiple categorised climbs. I love the mountains...

The second category climb of Sa Calobra

Through the tunnels on the Sa Calobra climb

Down to the bay, then back up again. Every metre descended is another one to regain

Looking back, on the climb out to Cap Formentor

Cap Formentor Lighthouse

Heading back to Port de Pollença



Day 1 - The Mallorca167 Route

After arriving in Mallorca on Saturday evening, I had just enough time to build up my bike, fuel up at the hotel buffet and double-check my route plans for the first day. I'd kick-start my Mallorca1127 week, with the route of the Mallorca312's little brother - The Mallorca167.

I was welcomed by blissful sunshine from the off, and heading into the Tramuntana mountain range brought back vivid memories of that first climb during the Mallorca312 challenge. Up and over the Puig Major, then the Sóller, before sweeping through the beautiful town of Dejà, and then to a lunch stop at Valldemossa. Re-fueled on coffee and Mallorca fruit pie, it was a rolling route back northwards to Pollença, then back to Playa de Muro. What a great first day. 

The climb over Puig Major

Descending down to the valley floor

My lunch stop location in Valldemossa


Comments

  1. Great riding! Not sure my Rockrider 5.1 would be able to handle that though!

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  2. Looks amazing Tim - definitely a place to consider for next year!

    Are there water fountains at certain places? I can imagine in the heat of the sun and all the climbing, plenty of drinks are needed!

    - Ross

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    Replies
    1. Hi Ross,

      There aren't really water fountains that I would be comfortable drinking from, although the locals do. I opted to nip into local stores, which are in most small towns, and great a bottle of mineral water.

      Hope you get to ride in Mallorca next year!

      Tim

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