As almost every year, our second short holiday this year was one for the beach. After all, Paula loves nothing more than to lay comatose in the sun all day long and I had my fun when I dragged my sorry ass through the Dolomites on “zee baik”…
So, she picks the destination and I’m happy wherever she finds our accommodation. Egypt, Turkey, Tunisia, Portugal or Mallorca, it’s all good.
Wait, what?! Mallorca, favorite preseason training ground of half the pro peloton and every other wannabe cyclist like myself? You’re kidding, right?
Well, she wasn’t and obviously I did not dare to argue about it. However, I might have accidentally left a flyer or two on the kitchen table, or occasionally mention a famous climb I had heard of that might or might not be on Mallorca, like something called Sa Calobra…
So, by the time we packed our suitcases, she casually mentioned I might want to take a cycling kit, because there was always the remote possibility that I would run into a bicycle rental shop* and she knew I would go nuts.
Yes, I know and your envy is completely justified…
Anyway, no need to argue that it is economically more sound to rent a bike for a longer period than once or twice for a day, so I got myself a nice BFM Dominator for 12 days. I got my bike at a small rental shop in Can Picafort, called Velo-Plus and I highly recommend them for their personal service. I had a look at Hürzeler too and that’s obviously a great place, but a little too impersonal and busy for my taste.
And while Paula was doing her thing – i.e. nothing, but the tan she gets while doing it, is amazing – I was plotting rides around the Serra de Tramuntana.
* Obviously, none of the flyers I dropped, mentioned that there are about 3,000 bike rental shops on Mallorca…
My first trip brought me up and down the first peak of the road to Cap de Formentor, the Mirador.
On my way back from Formentor beach, I also climbed up to the watchtower, the Talaia d’Albercutx. That part actually had the best views…
The next day, I ventured south, towards Artá. I’d seen what looked like a nice little climb on the map, to the Ermita de Betlem. While the Ermita itself offered next to nothing, the road up there offered a nice series of hairpins and it was quiet.
One of three ways to reach Sa Calobra, is from Pollença up the Coll de Femenia towards Lluc and the summit of the Coll de sa Batalla. The latter starts from Inca (Caimari) and I would get up that end later on.
(The third way up – and second most popular climb on Mallorca – is via the Puig Major from Soller up to Túnel de Monnàber. That’s a 14 kilometer long climb, with a steady gradient around 6% – I only descended that after my second attempt at Sa Calobra…)
I had a look at the Santuari de Lluc, to see if it would be an interesting place to visit – not really – and then went on to Selva, descending the Batalla, enjoying the attractive hairpin sections.
From Caimari, I followed the Ironman route back to Alcudia, taking the shortcut through Sa Pablo back home.
After a rest day on the beach, I was planning on climbing the Sa Calobra.
Since the complete party (Paula, my father in law and Riet) would be laughing at me from within the car while I rode the bike, I did not transfer to Inca by car so I wouldn’t have to take the bike apart (I’m lazy like that).
So, starting in Can Picafort, riding towards Inca, up Coll de sa Batalla, up the short end of the Coll dels Reis (the official name of the climb), down to Port de Sa Calobra at the coast and back up the long end, it would be a 120 kilometer round trip…
After the 30 kilometer warm up, with the “Col” de Campanet and Camí de Fontassa, I started the climb up the Batalla. Sadly – and I had noticed them too while going down the other day – so did the big buses full of tourists not willing to cycle their way up.
As these buses are actually a bit too big (long), they need more than the complete width of the hairpins. If you come down, they have priority and you’d better halt your descend some 25 meters before the hairpin. But as I was also going up, I was not amused I was cut off several times when I also wanted to use those hairpins.
Halfway up the col, I had to make another surplace and when I wanted to get moving again, my chain broke. Needless to say I uttered a few profanities, but luckily the bus was out of reach before I could drag the driver out of his cabin.
I waited for a few minutes for Paula to catch up, put the bike in the trunk of the car (as I didn’t want to walk home – I’m lazy like that), kicked some more rocks, insulted a few other bus drivers who obviously had no idea why I was doing that and when it was safe, got in the car myself and we drove back to Can Picafort…
In the afternoon, after I got a replacement bike – so I wouldn’t have to wait for a chain swap – I went up the Talaia d’Albercutx from both ends again.
As I was determined to give it another shot, I had a relatively flat ride to Manacor – Rafael Nadal was not at home – and back the next day, followed by a rest day.
Paula agreed to go along with me alone on the “Sa Calobra quest”, so this time I could save myself the trip to Inca by bicycle – to compensate, I added a nice loop over Sóller…
As it was just the two of us, we arrived earlier at the start of the Coll de sa Batalla, so there was a lot less bus traffic. I managed to get up that col without breaking the chain this time and both the rolling transfer to and the climbing of the Coll dles Reis went rather smoothly.
We had a coffee break down in Port de Sa Calobra, after which I started the ascend of arguably the most famous climb on the island. On my way down, I already had a good impression of the road, which is not named “Cobra” for nothing.
Traffic, i.e. oncoming buses, was a bit more annoying by now, but I got up without trouble. Just before the summit, but after the 270 degree “crossover loop”, you have the best view on a large part of the road below you.
After that, the rest of Puig Major (past Gorg Blau / Cubér) was a breeze, as was the descend towards Sóller – we had another coffee break halfway down that at Cami de Bàlitx, where you have a fantastic panoramic view over Port de Sóller down below…
From Sóller, I climbed the Coll by that same name, as the tunnel obviously is closed for bicycles. That climb, has some fantastic sections of hairpins, one shortly after the other.
Not willing to give up and cower in the car, I stubbornly pedaled on. The descend was a cold affair – 15 degrees Celsius is a fine temperature, but not so much so when you’re soaked and you’ve only just adapted to 25 to 30 degrees Celsius…
Anyway, the rest of the ride back to Inca, going up and down through the hills, was somewhat better and by the time I arrived in Inca, I had all but dried up.
Tired, but satisfied, I got into the car and Paula drove me home – as usual 🙂
The day after the “queen stage” of our holiday in the sun, I decided to ride the full length of the Cap de Formentor. The weather forecast was not very good for the last half of the week and we would use one day for the trip with the old train and motorcar between Palma and Sóller / Port de Sóller.
And it was. Some breathtaking views, the climbs not too difficult and the spectacular entrance to the lighthouse, first going down and then up again.
Also the panorama at the cap is quite spectacular and looking down the cliff to the blue water far below, must be exciting for people suffering from vertigo 🙂
We then had our excursion to Port de Sóller. The ride on the train is definitely a nice one, but for truly stunning scenery, you’re better off riding around in your car or on your bike. Only the view on Sóller from the Mirador des Pujol d’en Banya is nice and the train will hold there for a couple of minutes.
The motorcar from Sóller to Port de Sóller didn’t bring many more views, but the small port is nice and has a great surrounding. While we were enjoying our lunch, it started to rain and that lasted until we got back in Palma.
And as forecasted, the next day brought us lots of rain too: some 80 mm of rain until around 15:00. When it cleared a bit, I got on the bike for a short ride and I was back in before it started to pour down some more…
I hope Paula will be able to get a few more hours in the sun for the remainder of the holiday. The forecast looks slightly better, but that is as accurate as it is back home.
If it does clear up, I may get another ride in*, or also just enjoy the sun – the temperature is about right by now: some 25 degrees Celsius. When I drove up to Betlem and Coll de Femenia, it was over 30 and too hot for me to lay on the beach 🙂