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My Ironman Journey

Mallorca Madness!

akhilvizby akhilvizApr 5th 2015

Why Mallorca?

Back in October a good friend of mine, Lee Howarth, brought up the idea of visiting Mallorca for a cycling holiday during the Easter weekend in 2015. Lee himself is a keen triathlete but has been taking a break from the sport over the past few years due to other personal commitments. In fact, it was Lee who advised me on how to pursue my training towards my first Ironman in 2012. I met Lee at our workplace after another colleague introduced me to him as he was an experienced triathlete. Only after speaking to Lee did I realise that he had completed a few Ironmans in very respectable finishing times. He finished his last Ironman in 2011, Challenge Roth, in a speedy time of 9 hours and 47 minutes! Now that says a lot about Lee!

Lee had signed up to a few races in 2015 in order to get himself back into triathlon and therefore asked me if I was interested in joining him to Mallorca to accumulate some cycling miles in our legs. I was aware that Mallorca was a popular cycling/triathlon training destination and therefore couldn't turn down the offer!

Day 1 - Port De Pollenca/Cap De Formentor

After arriving in Port De Pollenca on Good Friday, we decided to go for a short bike ride in the afternoon to get our legs moving. We decided to make the ride short and sweet by cycling towards the most northern point of the island; Cap De Formentor. The return trip was approximately 40km but gave us a good taste of what we would expect on the days to come. The route was full of cyclists from all levels and abilities which goes to show that cycling is truly a sport for everyone!
Mallorca Madness!
Mallorca Madness!
Mallorca Madness!

Day 2 - Port De Pollenca/Coll De Femenia/Coll Dels Reis/Coll De Sa Batalla/Pollenca

This was our first “long” cycling day and we were keen on tackling the famous climb; Sa Calobra. The actual climb is called Coll Del Reis and the village at the bottom of the mountain is called Sa Calobra. We therefore rode out of Port De Pollenca along the north eastern part of the island and climbed Coll De Femenia to warm up our legs! The roads were as smooth as a carpet and the views of Pollenca were stunning.
Mallorca Madness!
We continued rolling towards the top of Coll Del Reis before descending into Sa Calobra. I can’t really find the words to describe the landscape and scenery so I’ll let the pictures below do the talking!
Mallorca Madness!
Mallorca Madness!
Mallorca Madness!
One thing is for sure, that was one hell of a climb! I managed to climb to the top in 42mins and according to Lee, the pro cyclists manage to ride up Coll Del Reis in under 25mins. Goes to show the difference between a pro and an amateur!

After the tough climb we treated ourselves to some good food and coffee, which is the main reason why we cycle! Thankfully we then had a descent along Coll De Sa Batalla which also consisted of plenty of hairpin turns followed by a flat(ish) ride back to Pollenca. What is it with the tight hairpin turns in Mallorca?

Total ride was approx 108km which we completed in less than 4.5 hours and to add to the fun, we decided to go for a short but fast 3.5km run along the beach.

This is the elevation profile for the ride:
Mallorca Madness!

Day 3 - Port De Pollenca/Alcudia/Sta Margalida/Muro/Sa Pobla/Pollenca

After the previous days’ gruelling ride we decided to make this day a shorter ride with a longer run to finish. Lee and I were disputing whether we should ride easy or ride hard seeing as we were only planning on riding about 60km towards the east where the terrain is pretty much pancake flat. I wanted to go hard on the ride but Lee was adamant to ride easy. In all fairness, Lee’s legs were sore after those tough climbs! We finally came to a gentleman’s agreement that I would lead the ride so that I have to work against the wind and Lee would draft behind me; a win/win situation!

So we set off after a healthy breakfast consisting of porridge topped with walnuts and honey. My favourite recipe! I find that porridge is the best source of fuel before any ride as it keeps hunger at bay for a number of hours and it provides slow releasing “energy”. For you nutrition experts out there, this is known as a low GI food.

We headed east along the coast towards Alcudia and were enjoying the refreshing temperatures and sunshine. We then found some countryside roads on our way to Santa Margalida before routing towards Muro, Sa Pobla and back to Pollenca. We took it fairly steady for most of the ride but when we were on the final stretch to Pollenca (approx. 20km) I decided to let loose and start stamping down on those pedals. I knew the segment wouldn't last too long but I wanted to train my mind and legs to embrace the pain!

After finally arriving in Pollenca I was left on my own to go for a run. Lee wanted to sit at the pub and enjoy a well deserved pint whilst soaking in the sunshine.

I ran along the coast towards Alcudia and focused on maintaining a steady pace outbound and then trying to return back to Pollenca in a quicker time (known as negative splitting). I started off on the run and my legs felt like jelly! I had been in this situation on many occasions but knew that my legs would eventually wake up and carry me on the run. After a few kilometres I found a good rhythm and maintained a good pace out toward Alcudia. After about 25 mins, I looked at my watch and noted my average pace. I made a mental note of it as I wanted to better that pace on my way back to Pollenca. Little did I know that I would have a slight headwind which meant that running at a faster pace would require extra effort! Upon turning around and heading back to Pollenca I could see the town far in the background and thought; “Pollenca is miles away!” I had no other option but to grind my way back home with the urge of treating myself to a coffee and cake!
Mallorca Madness!

Day 4 - Port De Pollenca/Alcudia/Inca/Coll De Sa Batalla/Coll de Femenia/Pollenca

After a good night’s sleep, we woke up eager to blast through our final day of riding on the island. We decided our route the night before which looked like this:
Mallorca Madness!
On Day 2 of our trip we climbed Coll De Femenia and then descended Coll De Sa Batalla. We thought it would be nice to finish off our trip be reversing the climb/descend on those respective hills.

As we cycled to Alcudia, we could feel a cold chill in the air due to the strong sea breezes. We then turned towards Inca and started hammering the pedals to warm up. Luckily there were groups of cyclists ahead of us enroute which led my competitive self chase down their wheels. We finally got to the bottom of Coll De Sa Batalla and began the treacherous climb. It was a shallower climb in comparison to Sa Calobra but Lee and I were racing each other to the top. We kept exchanging the lead as we fought our way to the top after which we treated ourselves to a portion of Churros.
Mallorca Madness!
Mallorca Madness!
It was plain sailing after the climb as we descended along Coll De Femenia and then gave a final blast along the flat road to Pollenca against a very strong headwind!

I wasn’t up for a short run but I couldn’t bear seeing Lee run along the beach whilst I sit in the apartment. We both put on our running shoes and jogged along the seaside to finish off what was a great cycling “holiday”.
Mallorca Madness!

Tips & Travel Advice

Port De Pollenca was a great location to stay as it offered easy access to some great roads and famous climbs. In addition to numerous bike rental shops such as Pro Cycle Hire, 2GoCycling etc, there are also plenty of hotels, apartments and restaurants to choose from so you’ll never find yourself with nowhere to stay or nothing to eat!

Speaking of eating, Tolo’s is the cyclists’ number one choice when it comes to restaurants in Port De Pollenca. The atmosphere is ecstatic, the staff is extremely friendly and most importantly, the food is mouth watering and served in good sized portions! It is also Bradley Wiggins’ favourite restaurant. Apparently, the owner of the restaurant whose name is Tolo, has known Wiggo since he was a young and budding cyclist. Wiggo used to dine at Tolo’s during his cycling training camps and still visits Tolo’s every time he’s in Pollenca. If you ever are in Pollenca, I recommend grabbing a bite at Tolo’s and if it isn’t too busy, getting a few snaps of Wiggo's speed machine!
Mallorca Madness!
Mallorca Madness!
If you are a vegetarian like me, there is also a vegan/vegetarian restaurant called Bellavista situated a few streets off the sea front. It is a joint hostel and restaurant and just because there isn’t any meat on the menu, don’t be fooled by the lack of variety! This restaurant offers healthy homemade meals other than pizza and pasta which is what you will find in almost every other restaurant in Port De Pollenca!

Since we’re on the topic of pizza, I highly recommend dining at Il Angelo. Here you’ll find your classic stone baked, thin crust pizzas with infusing toppings. Clearly, Il Angelo and I are on the same wavelength; Live and Love Your Life!
Mallorca Madness!
 
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