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Event Review

REVIEW: Mallorca 312

by Nick Gregory

ES Flag

Mercifully these are tackled first, as the prospect of taking on the climbs of Sa batalla, Femenia and the infamous Puig Major with 250+km in the legs would be truly horrifying. At 1,445m, Puig Major is the highest point in all of the Balearic Islands, and the mountain towers proudly above the Serra de Tramuntana. Even here Mallorca excels; cyclists have a love-hate relationship with climbing - there's nothing more rewarding, but there's also nothing more painful. With smooth, quiet roads, spectacular views and perfect gradients, Mallorca is a grimpeur's delight - and makes climbing as close to enjoyable as it's ever going to get for the rest of us. 

After the mountainous stretch the route dropped back down to the sublime coastline round Deia, wending its way through picture-postcard villages perched on the side of cliff faces before splitting at Valledemossa. The shorter 167 route headed back to the finish via the quiet interior of the island, whilst those of us on the 312 continued to chug our way along the undulating road towards Andraitx and then Palma. 

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M312m

M312l

By roughly the 200km mark the worst of the climbing was very much behind us, which was pretty vital for me as I was now moving into uncharted territory in terms of distance. I spent the next 50km in a dark place, both physically and physiologically, as I struggled to keep the pedals spinning when faced with even relatively benign rises in the road. Having turned northwards, into what proved to be a stiff headwind, and with 100kms still to go the sun beat down relentlessly - banging the drum on the slow march to the final feed at Arta. 

The event is organised by Arta's cycling club, and despite the fact that there's still 26km to ride from here, you could be forgiven for thinking it's the finish. The town was in full fiesta mode, with the central square transformed into a feed station that more resembled a street party. Music blared and beer flowed as each and every rider was greeted by rapturous applause. After nearly 300km in the saddle, the final 26 were a mere formality - albeit a very torturous formality. I rolled down the final straight to polite applause from those spectators who remained, and under the finishing arch to be presented with a t-shirt and a food voucher before collapsing into a plastic chair. Never has bolognaise tasted so good. 

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The event doubled in size from last year, and of those taking part 900 were doing so for the first time. Participants came from as far and wide as New Zealand, Japan, Chile, Brazil, South Africa, Canada and the USA. The event has come a long way from its inaugural edition in 2010, which featured less than 200 riders; and it's hard to imagine that demand for places will not continue to grow, particularly from riders in the UK - who this year accounted for 21% of the total field - given the massive rise in popularity of the sport in Britain.  

The Mallorca 312 was certainly tough - the toughest day I've ever had on a bike - but I managed to get round in just over 13hrs, thanks in no small part to an 80km tow from a group of strong local riders who took pity on the hapless foreigner. However, the difficulty of the race contrasts with the beauty of the locations it passes through, and there is a crumb of relief in the fact that the topography does become more forgiving as the day wears on, with the mountains giving way to coastal plains. Still, it's a mammoth undertaking that requires a strong mind as much as it does strong legs. However, the 312 - as with Mallorca itself - rewards anyone willing to give it a go with a true feast for the senses - stunning views, exquisite food and unforgettable memories.  

I will be back again very soon. 

M312o


Cyclosport's Nick Gregory travelled to Mallorca courtesy of the Balearic Islands and Spanish Tourist Offices, for additional information:

Email: info.londres@tourspain.es
Website: www.spain.info

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Official Review

1. Feed Stops (correct foodstuffs and energy drinks, the right many, well spaced) 9 out of 10
2. Timing (correct and easy to use) 10 out of 10
3. Signage (Clear, concise, maps, profiles, route card) 9 out of 10
4. Facilities (HQ, Parking, Toilets) 10 out of 10
5. Support (Sag Wagon, Outriders) 9 out of 10
6. Friendliness / Professionalism (Sign-in, marshals, support) 10 out of 10
7. Website - ease of use (Online and postal entry, clear concise) 8 out of 10
8. The Course (Area of outstanding beauty/scenic, quiet roads, cleverly designed?) 10 out of 10
9. Would you recommend it. (Would you ride again?) 10 out of 10
Overall Rating 94.4%




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