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 - Words and images by Bryan Markwardt - 

 

Off to Mallorca. 

Flying from Barcelona provides an introduction to the west coast's mountainous topography, tiny silhouettes of bikes making their way along the winding roads below; after 24 hours of travel, a 9-hour time change, and what could only be considered a nap, delirium rivals excitement.

Cycling paradise, Ornot. 

Mallorca is a cyclist's paradise. To the point where I may have knocked on a rock or two to make sure it wasn't merely a movie set. The roads have been artfully crafted to carry one from A to B, not in the most direct manner, but as if following the flow of a river, along the path of least resistance. Switchbacks switch back upon switchbacks, new views, another smooth ribbon of tarmac presented. Although it is recommended one eat, drink, and rest while visiting, it isn't necessary as you are simply carried up climbs by way of a coastal breeze and good intention.

Ride, recover, repeat. 

I've yet to experience a freedom purer than that of having nothing but the following day's route on the horizon. Obligations become simplified, objectives revolve around merely refueling and riding. Along with scouting and the occasional photograph. If you are inclined to ride a bicycle for several miles for several days in a row, I encourage you to do so. Pack as light as possible. Get on the road while towns are still asleep. Shower in your kit with a recovery beer to save water. Eat lunch with the locals, whether you're fluent in the language Ornot.

The final kilometer. 

The trick to the last day is to treat it as the only day. What began with a sluggish start turned around with the favorite coffee stop of the trip in Port de Valldemossa. A quiet descent-into and climb out-of, followed by rollers into Deia, Coll de Soller, Orient, a large celebratory beer.. and I realized I'd never been happier on a bike. Rounding out a century with over 11,000' of climbing, I emptied my jersey pockets of remaining snacks with my legs in the Mediterranean before making my way back to the hotel to pack and enjoy a final dinner overlooking Palma.

 

Side note: The guys didn't ask me to say this, but shout out to The Bar Bag for making this trip possible. Not only as luggage and a snack/phone holster but prior to this, I had only carried point-and-shoots on longer rides, having ample storage over the bars meant the ability to carry a full-frame camera body and lenses 900km over 9 days

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