Cycling holiday firm Velusso has grand designs on satisfying the needs of City cycling enthusiasts. Its aim: to combine a luxurious break with a darn good workout while providing snippets of what it’s like to be a member of the Olympic cycling team.
The post-London Olympic cycling boom led to increasing numbers of cycling holiday options springing up, with getaways available in the mountains of the Alps, the Pyrenees or the Dolomites.
But one mecca for cyclists, as evidenced by the number of professional cycling teams that train there, is Majorca. In particular, the town of Pollenca.
Situated in the north east of the island, the port-town roads make a good case for the European Union. Flanked by mountains, the highways are beautifully tarmac-ed, which – as you are regularly reminded by the roadside signage – is due to generous funding from Brussels.
It is in a luxurious villa just outside Pollenca that Velusso bases its Majorcan trips. The firm was founded by James Bowtell and Will Rylance, a pair of cycling aficionados with one thing that makes them stand out from the crowd. Both have worked in the City for years (at KPMG and Goldman Sachs respectively) and know how hard it is combine a passion for bikes with a busy working life. So both know that maximising every hour of holiday time is hugely important. And this is where the pair’s exacting eye for detail comes in.
After a seamless 40 minute transfer from Palma airport to the north, I’m soon sat down at the villa’s lunch table, tucking into freshly prepared, locally sourced food.
Feeling a million miles from the morose weather back in the UK, it isn’t long before I’m wondering if I should be reaching for the Ambre Solaire.
My bags have already been whisked up to my room, which, when I get to it reveals a fantastic view of the port town and the mountains we’ll tackle later in the day.
The ride is glorious, with only the odd goat threatening to cause mischief on the long descents that follow sweat inducing climbs.
After a quick change, it’s back downstairs to a carefully planned briefing from the trip’s professional rider: Dan Patten of Team Wiggins. It’s the same process before each day’s sortie: an itinerary, the location of coffee and lunch stops, the more challenging parts of the route and meeting points for climbs that could split the group.
So, after what only feels like minutes after lifting off from Gatwick, we’re rolling out into the Majorcan sunshine.
For most keen cyclists, bikes are very personal things and you may be keen to bring your own steed with you.
But if that seems too much hassle, Velusso has an agreement with a local high-end bike shop to cater for your needs. In the weeks before departure, drop an email with your size and the type of bike you’d like to hire and it will be waiting for you; fully set up and ready to go.
Velusso cleverly plans each day’s route well in advance of arrival. Riders upload their training to an app in the weeks before a trip. This means abilities aren’t simply designated beginner to expert, they are specific and based on empirical information, meaning routes are tailored accordingly.
The pro experience becomes apparent as you start to clock up the kilometres. Patten intersperses nuggets of advice and coaching with anecdotes from the pro peloton, while behind you is the team car packed to the gills with spare wheels, tyres, drinks, homemade cakes, gels… you name it and they’ll have it.
However weird it might seem to have an Olympic cyclist for an assistant, Patten is more than happy to act as your “domestique” on these rides – dropping back to the car to pick up a fresh drink or grab a wind vest for a long descent.
The ride is glorious, with only the odd goat threatening to cause mischief on the long descents that follow sweat inducing climbs. Spinning back to the villa we’re greeted with protein shakes and a well-stocked fridge full of local beer and wine. In fact, during my entire stay at villa, I rarely find myself without a drink or nibble in my hands. Meanwhile, Velusso’s sports masseuse is set up and ready to sooth aching muscles.
After a debrief of the day’s ride – which can be as detailed or swift as you’d like – we prepare for dinner. Here there’s the final treat as a local star chef cooks up a fine dining menu supplied by Michelin Star brand Marc Fosh.
For some cyclists, trips like these are measured in kilometres ridden and metres climbed. If this is all you’re after, Velusso probably isn’t for you.
Sure, Velusso can cater for those who want to get some mileage in, but the trip is planned as a holiday rather than a training session. It strikes a great balance between doing enough exercise to justify eating well and rewarding yourself with a couple of drinks.
All of this is in a package that maximises every minute of your break, allowing for the smaller things that a luxury holiday delivers while remaining conscious that time is a limited commodity.