TRAVEL: Mallorca - where life is not just a beach
The wind is my hair and adrenaline coursing through my veins as the riders speed along the peaceful, shimmering, roads of the green oasis that lies in the centre of this hilly Spanish isle.
Sweat pours off their foreheads as I take the easy route, zooming past the fastest on the 103km Viva Sportive race on the back of a motorbike with an outrider.
Okay, I cheated.
But, hey, I’m no Bradley Wiggins, I admit.
The last time I was here, I was a shy 10-year-old on rare ‘abroad’ holiday with my family, slathered generously with Factor 50 and sporting freckles on my face.
But is not just me who has moved on from innocence to adulthood - this Belearic island with a family friendly reputation has also grown up and is on the move.
At great speed.
And, yes, this is Mallorca.
Of course Mallorca (or Majorca as it is frequently spelled and pronounced in the UK much to the chagrin of the Spanish) remains the perfect family destination with a reputation for clean beaches and a friendly welcome.
But for those in the know, this island is now so much more.
You can’t argue with that blue sky.
Or the golden beaches.
The sumptuous Tapas and delicious Sangria.
But for those who love life to be two-wheeled, Mallorca is a cycling mecca.
Many of the world’s biggest teams train here including Team Sky, including Lancashire’s own Mr Wiggins, who has a home on the island.
But the winding hills and green oasis of the centre are also ideal for those of all abilities.
And it is not just cyclists who pour here in their thousands, Mallorca is a fitness destination sporting world class facilities.
With fantastic beaches and pools to chill out at afterwards, as an added bonus.
Who wouldn’t want to train on the Spanish isle?
Spring and winter months are the most popular when the temperatures are cooler, though still much warmer than the UK.
So the traditional season is expanding and with airline Jet2 providing direct flights Manchester, with easy and safe carriage of bikes for the dedicated, thousands are flooding over for a break in this green, beach ringed, paradise.
I stayed at the first hotel to embrace the all-year-round Mallorca, the Viva Zafiro in Alcudia - sponsors of the Viva Sportive.
Brand new last year, this is a five-star luxury experience, just 300m from the beach and taking inspiration straight from the Caribbean.
My room is beautifully designed and arranged to take advantage of glorious views across to the mountains (from the bath and the bed, no less), a fantastic dressing area and boasts two floors with the second featuring a sun bathing area and a hot tub.
If my room has been on the ground floor I would have has my own path straight from room to lap-pool.
The wow factor is just everywhere.
If so inclined you could stay in this stunning place for a whole week, eating at the restaurants which include the Market Buffet (when I say buffet I mean feast) or at one of four a la carte restaurants, including one for adults only.
Or you just relax on the roof terrace, cosy in your hot tub with a glass of prosecco, staring at the azure skies.
Something I would definitely do after a day out racing on the bike even if - as in my case – it’s a motorbike.
But the whole of glorious Mallorca is there for the exploring.
If not of the energetic persuasion you can drive round the calm and pleasingly quiet roads and see most of the island in a few hours before heading back for a chilled beverage.
We made a stop in the beautiful Port de Soller, nestled in the mountains between Alcudia and Palma city, where we ate in glorious sunshine on the dockside at the port, rubbernecking at the moored yachts and pretending they were ours.
We selected at random the Ca’nquiros cafe, where we ate the freshest Tapas and Paella.
Next we stopped by Palma city to gaze up at the beautiful cathedral looming into the blue skies over the stunning Mediterranean.
Then we passed through the 24-hour party holiday Mecca of Magaluf before heading back to our home in Alcudia to explore.
Alcudia itself is a perfectly formed resort, with restaurants, port and beach all within brief walking distance of the Zafiro.
We spent an evening dining until we nearly burst on Tapas at Ramon’s, before enjoying a few drinks until the early hours in a nearby Irish bar.
ou can also explore the old town, giving a glimpse of how life used to be in the Mallorca of days gone by.
Since then, Mallorca has stepped up a gear – time to get on your bike if you want to fully experience this gem.
• Jet2.com also flies to Palma from Leeds Bradford, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast International and Newcastle Airports.
• Fares with Jet2.com start at £40 one way including taxes.
• Jet2holidays breaks to the 5-star Viva Zafiro Alcudia & Spa start from £759 per person for seven nights half board, departing from Manchester on 12th June 2016. Price includes 22kg baggage and transfers.
• To book flights visit www.jet2.com or for package holidays visit www.jet2holidays.com or call free on 0800 408 5599.