Mallorca 312 has quickly become one of the biggest sportives in Europe. Sportive Breaks joined over 6,500 riders on the road to take it all in…
Mallorca is the most popular destination in the world for cycling and for good reason. If you can extend your trip here at all, you wont regret it. We arrived at our hotel on the Tuesday to allow 3 days of warm up rides before hand. Playa de Muro is more of a series of large hotels rather than a beach town. The beach is one of the best on the island and still quiet in April. If you want to stay somewhere with more variety, stay in Port de Pollensa but for the convenience of being by the race village our hotel was perfect.
Our warm up rides consisted of the classic lighthouse loop, a coffee ride to Petra to try out some almond cake & a longer ride down the middle of the island to Puig Randa. It’s easy to get off the beaten track in Mallorca and have roads all to yourself and some of the local cafes and restaurants are a different world to the beachside towns.
Staying in Playa de Muro makes it so easy for the 312. Race packs need to be collected in person from the race village either on Thursday or Friday and this takes about 15-20 mins. Once we got our race numbers, we were ready to go.
For the 312 & 225 riders, Saturday is an early start, we were riding the more laid back 167km which started at the social time of 9am. Our hotel had a great breakfast from with everything you could need for a long ride and amazing churros – the best type of carb loading! The pens fill up from 6am for a 7am start and even on a warm day, early morning are chilly. The start of the 312 is a bit chaotic as thousands of riders start through a small bottle neck meaning if you are at the back you start almost 30 minutes after the leaders and a long way behind the polka dot pace setters.
The start for the 167 is slightly more relaxed and the back riders come through 10-15 minutes after the leaders. The first section of the ride is flat and quick following the coast to Port de Pollensa. The temptation is to ride hard in this part and we fell into this trap leaving us between two large groups on a long, exposed coastal section where hiding from the wind in a group would have been much better.
Just outside Port de Pollensa we turn inland and head to the first climb of the day and the start of the toughest section of the ride. The vast majority of Mallorcan climbs are smooth and steady so the biggest challenge on the 167 or 312 is the cumulative affect of the climbing. With so many riders on the road, it is easy to find someone or a small group climbing at a pace comfortable for you and have a nice chat up the mountain.
The first climb was the Col de Femenia to Lluc, a pretty climb on steady gradients. The temperature was perfect for cycling, sunny but not too hot and a clear sky which gave showed us all of the great views on offer. From the top of the climb we turned right onto one of the prettiest parts of the route, from Lluc to the turn of for Sa Calobra with amazing views of the sea and the cliffs. The road here is rolling with little flat, it is these roads that really sap the legs for later in the race. At this point we have done just 50km and we get to the first feed station. As with every big sportive, this is a bit chaotic and we decide to skip as we still have a full bottle left.
The second climb is a short kick up to the highest point of the island – Puig Major. At the summit we go through the road tunnel and then straight away its on to the long descent into Soller. At 15.5km, this is by far the longest and quickest descent of the day with a real mix of tight corners and fast, straight sections. We saw a number of crashes here as people misjudged corners. By this time, riders were spaced out so we overtook and were overtaken by only a small handful of people in the 15km.
From Soller the route just gets more stunning. We turn towards Deia where the road hugs the coast the tighter than anywhere else on the island. To start out with a 4km climb giving us great views of the Soller valley before hitting a long rolling section and by now our legs are starting to feel a little heavy. Out of Deia the road goes up for what seems like an eternity, first there is a long false flat and then we hit the last climb of the day, the Coll den Claret and after almost 100km we finally reach the next feed station with all the climbing behind us. In previous years there was some criticism of the feed stops but this year they are well stocked with cake, fruit, bars, water, sports drink & coke.
From this feed, there is still 70km home but the route is almost pancake flat after a fun descent of the Coll. Being inland, the route home is less spectacular but takes in some nice Mallorcan villages. By now, most riders are in small groups with big gaps between groups. The atmosphere is great with everyone helping each other and offering words of encouragement to people that are suffering. One of our group stopped with cramps and immediately a Swedish couple stopped and offered some magnesium.
One of the highlights on the ride back is going through the town of Selva where big crowds cheered us on and the streets look like they are ready for carnival. From here, we are onto the plains and getting close to our finish on the coast. The route at this point resembles Flanders with narrow farm tracks running along flat fields where the enemy of the cyclist changes from the gradient to the wind. Again, our small group was great at working together and we all got to the outskirts of Playa de Muro in one piece.
Riding through the finish line felt great and for the people that had ridden the full 312 was even better. Some riders were still out well after dark so we would definitely recommend bringing lights if you are riding the full distance.
We were glad to get to Playa de Muro a few days early to get in some warm up rides. Mallorca can be ridden fast but also enjoyed slow with long breaks for coffee & cake. There are so many places to ride outside of the 312 route and those extra few days were great.
The sportive is really well organised and the route is spectacular. The gap between feed stations is quite long so we wish we had brought more bars with us but other than that it was a great ride with a fantastic atmosphere and it is easy to see why so many people come back year after year to ride it.