Mallorca & Sicily
Island Cycling Meccas
It’s hard to think of a location that is more popular as a cycling destination for pro and hobby cyclist alike than Mallorca. In spite of its long history as a refuge for disaffected artist and intellectuals, from Chopin to Robert Graves, and then as a party hub for the electronic movement of the 90s, it still has managed to be prime training ground for cyclists for decades.
Though it is the largest among the Balearics, Mallorca has the charm of being small enough to be entirely accessible by bike staying in one base location.
Of course, to make the most if it you should like a little climbing, and have the fitness to be in the saddle for 100km at a time.
The largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily has been a key possession through the centuries for both marauders and empires. Many have left evidence of their time of occupation, giving Sicily a decidedly multicultural flavor where east and west have met and mingled. But even with a treasure trove of ancient architecture stretching back to before the Greeks, perhaps its most famous landmark is a natural one: Mount Etna. Etna is still extremely active, and helps keep the lands surrounding it fertile and productive with amazing wines, fruits and vegetables resulting.
It also attracts intrepid hiking and cycling enthusiasts. In fact, the entire island is a dream destination for anyone who loves outside adventures, amazing food, and friendly people. Road cycling, mountain biking, hiking, swimming, you name it and Sicily can deliver.
Status as cycling destinations
Prime. The ultimate cycling destination for pro spring training camps, early season races and tourist hobby cyclists year round. With a number of excellent mountains to climb as well as coastal flats, there is something for everyone on this small island.
Emerging. Though not the Italian cycling hotbed that the area around Lucca may be, Sicily has tons to offer people new to cycling as well as advanced riders. With the success of Vincenzo Nibali in recent years, a greater emphasis has been put on development of cycling and cyclists native to Sicily.
Since both benefit from a Mediterranean climate, they have very mild winters, and typically not overly hot summers, though some northern Europeans might find themselves struggling those days in summer that go above 30°C.
Food & Wine
Amazing. Hearty meals based around pork, fish and in season veg makes finding a great meal in Mallorca more a struggle from the sheer agony of choice. Try a coca de cuarto with your coffee ride, or a delicious pa amb oli if you are more the savory kind.
Amazing. With influences from Africa, the Middle East, Italy and even Spain, Sicilian may be considered the original fusion food. And the wines coming from producers around Etna are quickly gaining a much deserved desirable reputation.
Current most famous native is the tennis legend Rafael Nadal. And such famous artists and writers such as Joan Miro, Frederic Chopin and Robert Graves have had extended stays on the island. Among cyclists, Vicente Reynes, who had a long successful career in the pros, comes from Deia.
The Greek mathematician and scientist Archimedes of Syracuse came from the island which was a colony of Magna Grecia at the time. The Nobel Prize winning writer Luigi Pirandello also was born near Agrigento. And of course Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa who wrote the classic The Leopard (Il Gattopardo) is a Sicilian native. Cycling fans will all know Vincenzo Nibali was born in Messina.
Pro Cycling Events
Mallorca Challenge which kicks off many a pro’s season in February.
Though Sicily does not currently have an establish annual race, they are often hosting several dramatic stages for the Giro d’Italia, most recently in 2018 when Etna was once again tackled.
From Port Soller, set on a bay, you can find flat easy rides or hit the mountains with routes to Coll de Soller, Puig Major, and Sa Calobra. The Tramuntana Mountains will offer quieter rides for cyclists wanting to avoid crowds, and they support much of Mallorca's wine and olive oil industries.
Whether you are in the south near Ragusa or in the north by Balestrate, you will discover fantastic cycling and considerate drivers. Many roads in the interior are being decommissioned, so you will find them quiet, if in uncertain condition. Ideal for cyclists who like a little gravel in their rides.
Perfect time for visit
Year round, though most cyclists find it most pleasant to escape their winters and train there from November to April.
Perfect for cycling year round as well, it can get very hot in the summer, so may be best as a late winter, early spring training base.