Mallorca 312 is the number 1 gran fondo of Mallorca, and probably one of the most beautiful gran fondos in Europe. With as many as eight thousand participants and sold out in one day, the popularity of this gran fondo should be obvious.
The Mallorca 312 is an epic gran fondo where you can choose between three different distances: 167 kilometers, 225 kilometers and, of course, the infamous 312. 312 was the number of kilometers I rode on this beautiful island last year, but this year it was deliberately reduced. Since I was already at training camp on the island for a week before the gran fondo , I decided to ride the middle distance.
Each distance has its own classification and all routes start at the same time, which means you can even switch distances along the way. That joint start causes a massive gathering of all riders in Platja de Muro. The organization of this gran fondo is really fantastic, but the opening of the starting box is still a chaos every year. While I was on time and thought I would be able to start at the front, I saw all cyclists running through gardens and houses (yes, really) to get to the front. Result for me: starting somewhere in the middle.
But the frustration is quickly forgotten, after a fast start towards the first mountain: Coll de Femenia. The organization has ensured a completely car-free course, at the feed stations there is plenty of food and drink and along the way there are volunteers every few kilometers who can offer help in case of an emergency.
From the first climb, it's important for me to overtake many riders in a good rhythm. The first 150 kilometers of the course involves climbing and descending ten categorized cols and overcoming over 3500 meters of elevation. To save time and not have to stop at the first feed station, I have an extra water bottle in my back pocket. Despite good power, I do not immediately manage to get into a good rhythm and find a good group. At the beginning of the climb my competitors drop me, after which I overtake them up one by one in the final kilometers of the climb. The heat begins to take its toll on many and around me I see some overconfidence. I decide to quickly fill up with water at post 2 and 3 and continue steadily. I know that the last two climbs of the day, the Galilea and the Grau de Superna, are going to be tough and so it turns out. While others are dropping back significantly, I am still able to ride steadily up here as well and have energy to spare. My nutrition and pacing plan appear to be working. I join a group of Spaniards who warn that after 150 kilometers they are going to crank up the throttle to gain time. Turning up the throttle and headwinds turns out to be a bit trickier for the Spaniards than for a Dutchman from the countryside. After a few turns in the lead, they can no longer follow the wheel and I decide to ride solo from group to group until the last stop. Along the way, one more fast hitter from England joins, allowing me to take some rest now and then. At the last stop at 193 kilometers, I throw two cans of cola in my water bottle and start a pairing time trial together with the fast man from England towards the finish, which we reach in less than an hour.
With a 169th place out of 1900 participants, I am super satisfied with this gran fondo, which is much more than just the 312. A truly beautiful race, through the most beautiful areas of Mallorca. Like the organization along the way, the afterparty is well organized: a medal, music, a nice atmosphere and a good pasta while watching all the other participants enter. Riding the 312 was epic, but even the shorter distance proved very rewarding. The "Mallorca 312, more than a gran fondo!" is the slogan of the organization and so it is!