We are delighted to share a conversation with one of our very own Baroudeurs, Tom Smale.
A Baroudeur since 2017, Tom has since left the London citadel and made the cycling haven of Mallorca his new home.
Now a seasoned resident rider, Tom shares insights into how he has made this transition work and his exciting new plans to provide a cycling adventure like no other on this island paradise. Welcome to Ride Mallorca.
“I always go on a ride in the morning. It must be a Baroudeur thing. I haven’t shaken that.”
How was your Christmas in Mallorca?
I had a very quiet and relaxed Christmas this year, just Zoe and I. They celebrate on Christmas eve here, so people meet at 12:30am – bars are open until 6am! I had gone to bed long before that… It’s nice that we also get to celebrate the Reyes Magos up to 5 January in Spain. It means we can spread out the Christmas celebrations with friends and take a few more days for longer rides.
How long have you been there now?
2 years, since November 2020 – we are living up in the mountains – Valldemossa (the highest and coldest town in Mallorca).
Why did you move?
To live with nature on our doorstep was the main guiding principle. I’m fortunate to not have to be anywhere permanent for work – I founded Wunder Workshop with my partner – and we have been making herbal products and supplements since 2014. I realised that working in this field that moving out of London would be a good idea even before Covid hit, and we looked all over the UK and beyond before deciding on Mallorca.
“I’m loving where we are in the mountains – you feel the full force of nature, both good and bad!”
There are no regrets. Sometimes we do feel isolated, but we are fortunate to have met so many nice people. The cycling is pretty good here too and it has been my way to meet a lot of locals and other internationals who call the island home. The only problem is I live on top of a big hill. Every ride ends with a 5km climb at an average 5.3% that can take anything between 15-20 minutes to complete – but of course the bonus is good fitness.
What’s the good side of living on the island?
I’m loving where we are in the mountains – you feel the full force of nature, both good and bad! Fortunately, the weather is normally good. There’s also a small but close-knit community to keep us connected to the real world, and great bars and cafes in Palma. Of course, the cycling has been second to none. The climbs don’t necessarily get any easier, but the views don’t get old either!
“One thing the Baroudeurs will like is that they (Team INEOS) are riding tubeless.”
Sport is a huge part of the island’s identity, and it has been amazing to get to know so many passionate and professional sportspeople. It’s not every day that you bump into some of the best athletes in the world, but I’ve been fortunate to bump into and follow the wheels of some of the world tour’s best riders and chat to them during their winter training. I was with the INEOS cycling team the other day and speaking to one of the cyclists on their training camp. He was a former Olympic rower and a phenomenally gifted athlete – despite weighing a good 15kg more than me, he took 5 minutes of my Sa Calobra time. He now cycles for the INEOS sailing team in The Americas Cup – he uses his legs to power the hydraulic system to change the mast/sail position – who knew that’s where cycling could take you?!
I tagged in on a coffee ride of theirs and it gave me a good insight into what to their training rides are like. What they eat, schedule, day plans, etc. I will do a write-up on the Ride Mallorca blog and I think it will be useful for people. One thing the Baroudeurs will like is that they’re (Team INEOS) are riding tubeless.
That’s what we like to hear. So tell us what you’ve got planned for 2023
I have a cycling retreat/training camp called Ride Mallorca planned from 9-14th May this year and a few local races outside of this. Having ridden solo for big parts of the year, I had been thinking that it would be amazing to share some hidden local routes and see everyone chasing each other up on the winding climbs of Mallorca. It is designed for dedicated amateurs but with all of the comforts of a pro team to ensure that everyone can take on the best the island has to offer and beat their PBs.
What makes Ride Mallorca different than the rest?
I believe what will set us apart is the holistic approach – it goes without saying that the cycling will be an enjoyable challenge. They are no-drop group rides but allowing space to let those butterflies loose that build up in your belly at the bottom of a big climb – we all have a competitive side that I think should be encouraged.
Outside of this, it is designed to make sure that recovery and rest are optimised, focusing on the quality of food and recovery. After a long group ride it takes a special type of person to muster up the energy to cook a decent meal for everyone, so we’ve removed that requirement just like all the pro training camps. Unlike the pro camps there will be time for coffee and cake, but no slow long lunches in the middle of rides that break the rhythm and make riding uncomfortable.
“I believe what will set us apart is the holistic approach.”
I’m incorporating a few local touches, and getting friends involved who are incredibly gifted. For instance, the chef on Ride Mallorca is passionate about all the elements of nutrition and caters for all food requirements. She’s really excited to do this because of it being more performance focused. The food is going to be a huge element. You’re going to need to fuel 5-hour rides over the 4 days.
The plan is to make everything on the menu. Everything will be tailored as well as it can be, including road snacks like rice-cakes, bars, protein shakes – all personalised; decent ingredients; local; organic – that’s a big part of the ethos – being in tune with nature.
Then there’s accommodation. It’s located off the beaten track, but still good access to where you want to go. It still has its own pool, garden, post ride recovery area – everything that the pros would have access to like massages and yoga.
Should people be worried that this trip is performance based?
Perhaps I scare people with performance driven side of Ride Mallorca. The idea is to ride for 3 to 5 hours each day; covering ca. 100km in distance each day with lots of climbing. But no one is getting dropped. Rather than just cruising, stopping for a long lunch, where the last couple hours become horrible because you’re still digesting. Whereas with Ride Mallorca, if you do a big ride, but you’re not necessarily stopping for a long time – you get the best of both worlds and rest well. There will still be beers, I’m not going to be that strict. It’s a holiday.
It’s still for those who want to test themselves and the dynamic changes very quickly. The cyclists I know are a little bit competitive. It’s nice to have that competitive element, so I’m leaning into this and making sure that I’m going into it in good shape because I know how hard people like the B’s train throughout the winter.
“Ultimately, I want people to feel really good after this. You’ll be exhausted, but re-energised to explore more on the bike.”
What do you want people to get out of this?
The main thing is to get people to see the Mallorca that I see. What’s intrigued me is that most of tour guided cycling is in the north. When I did the 312 (the classic loop) the north was my least favourite part – yes, there’s lots of cyclists, but there are also lots of cars relative to the rest of the island. Whereas on Ride Mallorca it is an altogether different story: the quiet “comfort” of the mountains draws me.
You can easily access four very different routes from location of the finca too. In the north you are constantly tracking over the same roads you did the previous day. You can travel 30km before you see anything new. From here you can travel new roads with 2km from where you started in different direction.
Ultimately, I want people to feel really good after this. You’ll be exhausted, but re-energised to explore more on the bike.
What time of year is it best?
When I look back at my time here, the month of May has become my favourite time to explore on the bicycles.
The Easter holidays in April mean the roads are very busy. Similarly in the summer it can get far too hectic; especially, between the months of July to August. It’s not just busy; it can get incredibly hot too. Particularly post-Covid, the tourist industry went from zero to 3 million overnight.
” The food is going to be a huge element. You’re going to need to fuel 5-hour rides over the 4 days.”
Plus, it might sound obvious, but it is short sleeve riding in May. It is typically mid-20s: perfect temperatures to ride long and as hard as you want.
What time of day is it best to ride?
I always go on a ride in the morning. It must be a Baroudeur thing. I haven’t shaken that.
But we will make the most of the fact we have all day to ride – the mornings are the best but if there’s any adverse weather it can be avoided.
At the moment, this winter, the road is pristine. But they often have a shimmer of dew, and it isn’t always an obvious hazard.
What’s with the questionnaire?
I wanted to know who is interested in such an event. I was then thinking it would be nice to have something to help tailor to people’s needs. That’s changed slightly. I now realise that not everyone rides for a club or rides often as they’d like but are real strong in other ways – so I’m making this a little more accessible.
What would you like to see Ride Mallorca develop in to?
What would be exciting would be to have mini teams from different clubs in the UK and beyond showing up. It would be nice to have an international mix where people get along and fight it out on the bikes and learn from each other’s experiences too.
What keeps you motivated?
One of the things that still inspire me to ride are the Baroudeurs conversations. What’s so special is that people live and breathe cycling and every member lifts people up. I was so lucky to find the Baroudeurs when I was living in London. People here love cycling, but the Baroudeurs have that attention to detail that sets them apart.
It’s absolutely all the good things and all the passion.
:: If this sounds like the cycling adventure for you, please get in touch with Tom at https://ridemallorca.co.uk/ ::