Given the unexpected world situation, with months of lockdown at home and all travel plans canceled, Pol Tarrés
, Alex von Arend, Andreu Miró and Eloi Paré decided to go around Menorca by mtb. It is an island that they have enjoyed many times but never by bike.
Pol, Alex, Andreu and Eloi, met many years ago practicing bike trial as they competed and travelled with the Spanish team at several world championships and world cups. Pol is the only one active and he is one of the best riders in the world being in the top 10 of UCI World Ranking since 2015.
The trail they want to do is the Camí de Cavalls, it is an old path that surrounds the island of Menorca. The origin of the path is uncertain, but it is accepted that its function was military: the guards used to protect the coast and they rode horses, hence the word “Cavalls” (which means "horses" in Catalan) in the name of the road. The road is divided into 20 different sections, each of them between 5 and 14 km and together they cover the entire island with a total of approximately 185 km
. It is a long-distance trail that circles the island of Menorca passing through its most iconic and paradisiacal beaches.
The boys arrive in Menorca on Friday at 7:00 in the Balearia as it is the easiest option. The ferry arrives in Ciutadella, from where they start, and you can enter the boat by riding your bike, so you don't have to take it apart or put it in a suitcase and it is also free with the ticket.
At 9:00 a.m. they leave the 40 Nord Outdoor office, the agency that organises Camí de Cavalls 360º
, which has helped them design the stages and the entire trip before arriving and once there, logistically with the suitcases, refreshments and possible assistance they need.
It does not seem like much but the terrain is very hard and technical since it is very rocky, there are even some points where you have to load the bike.
The first kms to Cap d’Artrutx are very flat and it's easy to ride well although there is still some mud from last weeks rains. They follow the coast overcoming the first obstacles that the trail presents, giving a glimpse of what the island of Menorca is made of. After passing through several beaches, they arrive at one of the most famous on the island: Macarella. It is surprising that one of the most iconic beaches is completely empty. This is how it is during the off-season part of the year.
A few meters later, on one of the descents, Alex cuts the tire with a stone, loses control of the bike and falls into a bush. Luckily he only takes one hit and Andreu, with McGyver's skills, fixes it with a piece of camera and 4 patches. The group resumes the march and between Cala Galdana and Son Bou, they leave the coast, changing the landscapes of turquoise beaches and cliffs for thick forests, completely different landscape of the typical Balearic Islands. The trails are much more pleasant and flowy.
Before reaching Cala en Porter there are quite difficult areas, short climbs with steep slopes that are very difficult to overcome on the bike, even pulling out their trials skills, still, easily overcome when loading the bike. They arrive at Cala en Porter after sunset and it is getting dark and cold. It is time to speed up to get to the Artiem Capri hotel in Maó, have dinner and get the bikes ready for the next day.
As they designed the stages, the second is the shortest and most affordable one with about 49 km and 650 of unevenness, starting at Mao and ending at Ses Salines. It is the shortest and most rolling of the 3 with short and affordable uphills and downhills.
The landscape has already changed, there are no longer white sand beaches and turquoise waters, the north of the island is rockier, with gray colors and dark blue water. Always with a lot of contrast.
In this part of the island, the “Camí de Cavalls” crosses the “Parc Natural de s’Albufera des Grau” with a great contrast of landscape, agricultural areas, forests, wetlands and islets on the beaches. Since they are on a good timing they decide to take a little detour to visit the Far de Favàritx, one of the four lighthouses of Menorca. The scenery is very different from the rest of the island with dark gray and black colors and very little vegetation.
They decide to make the last stop in Arenal des Castell before attacking the last km of the day. In the last part of the stage they ride over some cliffs and then they enter into a more wooded area until they reach the hotel. Day 2 is over.
On the third day, the accumulated fatigue is already becoming very noticeable and. The last stage is not the longest but it is the hardest. Joan, from Camí de Cavalls 360o warns the guys that the numbers cannot be trusted since there is around 60 km and slightly less than 900m of slope. Something that shouldn't be a problem for any rider with a few kilometres on their back. They recharge at the hotel with a good breakfast as it is not entirely clear if there will be time to eat because the intention is to reach the iconic Pont d’en Gil before the sun sets for the final photo. Before leaving, Joan mentions that there is an area that the locals call “Mordor”. Eloi asks him why it is called that, to which Joan answers "Don't worry, you will know when you get to Mordor"
The first kilometres are very similar to those of the previous day but with more oranges and yellows tones. They arrive at the famous Pregonda beach, one of the most emblematic of the island and closed by some islets called the Escullar de Pregonda.
The next part of the stage passes through a very virgin area, and one of the hardest, passing through the fearsome Mordor that Joan commented on. The path is very broken, with sharp rocks and hellish slopes. Even with their trials skills at some points they have to get off and carry the bike to overcome the most complicated steps. They reach the highest point of the stage, where go from 0 to 126m above the sea level in less than 900m and in some points reach more than 35%, which is really exhausting.
According to Pol, the last part, from Cala Morell to Pont de’n Gil, was one of the hardest things he has ever ridden. The terrain is the most broken, and least rolling on the island so it requires 100% concentration in addition to a good technical and physical level, any mistake is a fall. Also, Aitor, one of the cameras, in a very rocky area with stones in the shape of knives makes a cut to the wheel that tubeless cannot close, so they put a couple of tubeless plugs to close the hole and continue.
After two hours suffering through they arrive at Pont d'en Gil a very famous natural bridge, where photographers Álvaro and Aitor use the sunset to take some impressive photos. From there to the center of Ciutadella they pass through Cala en Blanes until they finally arrive at the hotel. They can already say that they are Camí de Cavalls 360º finishers!
In conclusion: Camí de Cavalls is a demanding route for those who want to enjoy the best views and paths on the island of Menorca. They recommend doing it with double suspension XC bikes with rolling tires but with some side protection since otherwise there will be punctures very often.
Back home on the ferry, they talk about what the next adventure could be, Mallorca? The Canary Islands? Depending on the situation of the pandemic they will decide but it will surely take little time to venture into another project...