Off the road and on the mountain bike
With a bit of a splutter and a couple of false starts, my Mallorcan mountain biking career is up & running and it has been one of complete discovery. At Marsh-Mallows, we have created a number of mountain bike excursions as part of our road biking events. It gives our guests a completely new perspective of Mallorca. Last year we ran 10 very successful days, using our team of guides and a few stars from Tramuntana Tours in Soller.
I therefore decided that I it was time to experience the off road stuff for myself and have been out for a few spins with Andy Mitter the owner of Tramuntana Tours. Last week, after a tour of the Balitx valley, Andy and I had a quick coffee in Port de Soller…
DM – It’s a standard first question, but how did you end up here?
AM – I moved to Mallorca in summer 2004 having spent a sabbatical year travelling. We had many summer holidays here on the island (my Mum is from Soller) and therefor decided to give island life a go. I had lived in big cities most of my life, London, Manchester and Barcelona, so Soller was a pleasant change and I haven’t for one day regretted relocating.
DM – And the shops… how long have you had them?
AM – Tramuntana Tours opened it’s doors in the centre of Soller for the first time on the 6th February 2005. We were due to open a few days earlier, but my daughter Ellie was born on the 1st Feb. In 2008, we opened a second store in Port Soller. The store in Port Soller is open from mid-February to mid-November and the one in Soller town is open year round.
DM – What sort of activities do you offer?
AM – The idea for the business came from our year travelling – having done so many different activities as we hopped around the globe. We started offering just hiking and mountain biking tours, but it has grown over the years to include sail boat charters, canyoning (mainly in winter), coasteering (mainly in summer) and sea kayak excursions. We also hire road, mountain, hybrid and increasingly electric bikes, which are growing in popularity. Last year we became an authorised Trek bike test centre.
DM – As you know I have got into the mountain biking here, but it’s not what I expected… AM – No, it’s a pretty unique place to ride. I had done a fair bit of mountain biking in the UK before moving to Mallorca,… mainly in the rain and mud! Here it is the polar opposite, sun, dust & rocks. The mountain biking can be quite tough on the body and bikes… it is a rocky island, with very little soil coverage. It is quite technical and therefore makes it a difficult place for beginners to start out. However, the scenery is absolutely amazing. Around here, you are never far away from a great sea view, 500 year old olive trees and beautiful villages such as Fornalutx and Deia.
DM – Today we did the Balitx valley & last week the Sa Comuna… AM – Sa Comuna de Bunyola is my favourite place to mountain bike on the island. There are so many different routes and you do not have to worry about private land, which can be a problem in some parts of the Tramuntana mountain range. The area is a designated communal area, mainly covered in pine trees and endemic plants. It’s also home to plenty of wild goats pattering about. It’s one of the few places where they cannot be hunted. The nice thing about Sa Comuna is that no two rides there are ever the same and after 12 years living here I am still finding some off-the-map routes. It also has something for all levels of rider with easy routes and rocky, technical downhills for those who enjoy more of a challenge. Basic fitness is required. It is a 6 kilometre ride uphill from the village to the start of most of the trails. That’s why those e-Mountain bikes are proving more and more popular.
On our Balitx ride
We rode 26km in approximately 3 hours, ascending and descending 750m (on a flat road biking ride we would have covered 90km!)
From the port we headed out the back via the roundabout with the massive prawn! We rode along four wheel drive tracks that snake through picturesque, private olive plots above Soller. Once at the Mirador, we began our descent into the tranquil Balitx valley, lined with stone terraces of ancient olive trees. We wound our way down a dirt track, to the foot of the valley and the old farmhouse Balitx d’Avall, now a working farmstead (agroturismo) and well known for its fresh orange juice. Our journey home took us via the Cami Vell – the old Balitx road back to Soller. I cannot emphasise the beauty and tranquility of this ride. As someone new to mountain biking this was a far more relaxing and enjoyable ride than the more technical rides we have done out the back of Bunyola. It was also nice not to fall off!
A quick note for the diary – In March there is a new track event at Palma Arena. The Six Day Series Final is an exciting International Track Cycling event which will be taking place at the Palma Arena on the evening of 17th March. The world’s best track riders will have qualified from Six Day events in London, Amsterdam, Berlin and Copenhagen. The full field will be announced shortly, with everyone hoping that local rider Albert Torres makes the grade. The Six Day Final aims to fuse brilliant racing with a fiesta like atmosphere. The organisers have been working very closely with Miguel Indurain and Joan Llaneras – two legends of Spanish cycling.
5-12th – Paris-Nice
17th – Six Day Series Final in Mallorca
18th – Milano-Sanremo
20-26th – Volta Ciclista a Catalunya
26th – Gent