2019 was a big year for me. I had accepted a new job offer and was due to move from Lleida in Catalonia to Córdoba down south in September that year. Before that, I decided to embark on a trip to the Baleares while logistically, it was still straightforward. It was the end of June just as a sweltering heatwave crippled the east of Spain and Southern France, so I knew I needed to be careful. To get myself and the bike to Palma de Mallorca, I got a Rodalies service to Passeig de Gràcia, cycled to the ferry terminal to check in with Trans Mediterranea, and boarded with all the other cars.
It gave me time to reflect on the trip itself, 4 days riding, 290km, temperatures around 23 degrees in the morning and up to 37 degrees in the afternoon. The itinerary was as follows:
- Palma- Cala Ratjada 132km
- Cala Ratjada- Pollença 65km
- Pollença- Sóller 53km
- Sóller- Palma 40km
This wasn’t the original plan, as I wanted to do a longer final day via the western town of Andratx, but I decided I wanted more time in the city of Palma before getting the late ferry back.
The ferry was 7 1/2 hours long, and I arrived in Palma at 20:30, enough time to check into my hostel, and enjoy a late evening wonder in the city centre as well as warm my legs up for the following day. I was more than pleased to find that it wasn’t totally overran by tourists, and it was a very pleasant surprise given how many people visit the Island. Of course I had to take the opportunity to see a night shot of the Cathedral, that dominated the coastline when I was docking. The hostel was a shared room for 30€ but I was a little nervous leaving it where they told me to, but thankfully nothing happened. It was to be an early start tomorrow.
7:00 and I was heading off. It was important that I paced myself well to begin with before reaching the coast to the East. Essentially the journey would take a minimum of 7 hours riding, and along the south western coast before going inland to Campo and Felanitx. The first 10km took me along the cycle path, past the iconic Cathedral, and right on the water’s edge past Can Pastilla to S’arenal. I highly recommend passing through this way as there virtually no cars and you forget about the airport, however S’arenal is one of the notorious towns for heavy tourism and partying, but so early in the morning meant very few people at least.
You do eventually get to the point where you night to rejoin the main road, in this case the Ma- 6014, where there is a small climb up to over 100m. There was a shopping centre outside Puigderos where I stopped for breakfast (there is a good bakery facing the main road). I didn’t want to stop in the actual towns as they looked like housing estates with nothing particularly interesting, but continue further and the road and for a brief spell you end up with some impressive sea views at the southwestern point of Cap Blanc. From there you go inland through the wine fields at a good pace. I stuck to the same coded road up to a junction which took me right on the Ma-6015 to Sa Ràpita.
Sa Ràpita is a small coastal town which meant a rapid descent some 5km or so to get there, and I decided to enjoy a short break right on the waters edge where the heat of the day was building. 36 degrees was forecast in Palma, so the chances of it getting as warm if not warmer than that was very much a possibility inland, which the next 50km entailed. Sa Ràpita was a relatively quiet and peaceful town with a rocky shoreline, but a very nice chillout spot nonetheless. There are few monuments apart from the Torre de Son Duri, which is along the Avenida Miramar, and that was the road out of town towards Campos.
The Ma-6030 connects Sa Ràpita with Campos, and is 11km away and inland. While the journey was mostly flat, and a cycle path is largely connected, the sun by this point started slowing me down, and forced me to have an extended break in the city centre. Again, the countryside was as typical as the previous road with lots of vineyards giving way to the largest town on the trip so far after Palma. Campos itself is a pleasant farmer’s town with the Església de Sant Julià in the centre. It was also one of the quieter towns of the whole trip, with Mallorquí being spoken by a lot of the locals, a perfect rest stop for any cyclist.
The Ma-5120 was the next road to the next town called Felanitx, and was 13km away. This point the sun and heat was starting to have an effect on me, and I had to take some breaks and take it easy every few kilometres. You also end up climbing to some small foothills, which in normal conditions would take about 40 minutes to do. It took me about an hour, and while the scenery was beautiful, I needed to find a bar to rest properly. On the Plaça Espanya I got my reward with some well needed food and air conditioning. If you happen to do a trip around this area, be aware that you should stock up on any supplies here before heading to the coast, as there is little around in the next 20km.
Felanitx had a little going on than Campos, and the Parroquia de Sant Miquel was impressive. The narrow streets could take you to the top of the hill where the Calvari monument was based and give you some impressive views. The people there were also top draw, so worth a visit, but after a few hours recovering the mornings ride, there was still over 50km to go. The Carrer de Bellpuig took me to the Ma-4010, where the hardest road of the day would test how well I recovered. While the hills were occasionally covered in dense forest, some nice views for the sea from time to time can be found when you turn off to the Ma-4014, a beautiful country road along the hills that any cyclist would enjoy, and better still it takes you directly to Porto Cristo, the next stop on the tour.
Porto Cristo is 25km from Felanitx, and in my opinion, was the nicest coastal town I visited that day. The Port de Manacor was particularly impressive, and walking along the marina was amazing, especially as it opened up to a small beach with some impressive sights of the surrounding area. The best part of all was the abundant shade by that time of the day, so you have to enjoy it. There is also a lot of caves on the outskirts of the town such as the Cuevas De Drac and the Cuevas Dels Hams, which I didn’t have time to visit on this occasion, but are worth checking out.
The next part of the route was actually one of the worst of the whole trip, but still a necessary part, and that was taking the Ma 4023 to Sa Coma and Cala Millor, the latter of which I took the next break. It’s largely an uneventful road with quite a few confusing side roads, so I just followed the sign to the beach where there was a cycle lane. A popular destination particularly for Germans, it’s a very much seasonal resort town, so expect plenty of beachfront hotels.
I went along the beachfront, dodging all the tourists, and going as far as the road allowed me before turning off on the Ma-4032, then the Ma-4033 and finally the Ma-4040, themain road to Capdepera, the last town before Cala Ratjada, and a small but deceptive climb. My progress was a snail’s pace at this point, with lots of stops to keep me from doing some serious harm to myself, but by this point, it was late in the evening, and the sun was setting shortly, I knew I was close.
The road itself is really pleasant, with Capdepera a pretty spectacular view at the end. I decided to spend some time there on the 2nd day, as I was too destroyed to see it at that moment, and the next part of the journey would backtrack a little. The ring road around the town, the Ma-15, gave me a view of my bed of the night for the first time, and getting into the town centre was lively to say the least. The bars were full and definitely catered for international travelers, in fact I found a hotel where the reps only spoke German, definitely not real Spain.
Nevertheless, After finally finding my hotel, it was rest and recover and getting everything ready, as day one drew to a close. I suffered way more than I would’ve liked, but the views that I had were worth it on the whole, and it was nice to see places that were more off the grid on this Island. The heat is brutal in summer, despite many opportunities to throw yourself in the sea, so you have been warned. Up next: Cala Ratjada- Pollença.