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Fatbiking the Mallorcan Northern Mountains

This blog follows on from the Cami de Cavalles blog "Fatbiking around Menorca"

Day 5 continued: Alcúdia to the Font

As my ferry approached Mallorca, I could see that it was a very different island to Menorca. Mallorca is very mountainous and its highest point, Puig Major is at 1,445 metres. which is higher than Ben Nevis. If all went to plan, I would be cycling at close to that altitude during my crossing of the island. My very loose plan was to follow the GR221 long distance hiking trail, or the "dry-stone route", so called because it uses many of the old cobbled paths connecting the historic towns and villages. I was unsure of the quality or the gradient of the trail, but I thought that I would be able to push my bike if the trail was unrideable, and if this involved heaving it up a large mountain, I would do so! The aim was to discover how good the trails in these mountains were as mountain biking descents, and (almost certainly) to be the first person to ride a fatbike down them!

I arrived at the large port of Alcúdia, which has an interesting past. People have lived in this area since the Bronze Age, but the town was founded in the 13th Century. Prior to this, the Romans landed at Alcúdia Bay, when they captured the island, before founding Palma, and then the nearby town of Pollentia. After the Romans lost their dominance, Pollentia was repeatedly attacked by pirates, so the townsfolk created Pollenca, which I would be cycling to later that day. After the Moors invaded, a farmstead was built on a hill where the ancient town of Pollentia had been situated, which in the late 13th Century was bought by King James I of Aragon, who founded a new town named Alcúdia, which means "on the hill" in Arabic. These days, the town is a tourist hub, with its large resort, 14 kilometre long beach and walled old town.

Cycling from the port, I followed signs to the town centre and passed under a large gate in the city walls. The narrow stone streets contained many interesting looking shops and were crammed full of bars and eateries. I stopped for an ice cream and (once again!) explained the reason that my bike had such wide tyres to the friendly café owner. As I sat there, I studied my map of Mallorca, planning my route to Pollenca, which was at the start of the GR221 trail. The route along the coast looked more interesting than an inland road, so I headed out of Alcúdia that way. The cycle lane on the roadside was fantastic, similar to the cycle lanes in Menorca. I pondered why the cycle lanes in Britain are so appalling in comparison to the excellent infrastructure I had experienced on these Spanish islands.

I followed the wide tarmac strip that was separated from the main road along the coast of the Bay of Pollença. There was a strong wind blowing and the kite surfers were out in numbers. They held ropes attached to large kites that looked like paragliders, that pulled them along on surfboards. One guy in particular was very impressive to watch, making tight turns and doing flips, using the waves as take-offs for his jumps. This proved an interesting distraction for the few kilometres of riding around the bay, after which I turned left along a small country road that passed through expansive lemon orchards and vineyards. There were lots of notice boards advertising "cycloturismo" with a number of different road cycling routes mapped out, signposted and described. I will have to return here one day with my road bike, but for now, I was going to do my best to stay off the tarmac!

The scenic road led me to the town of Pollença, which contained the same style of narrow streets as Alcúdia but was much less crowded. I came across an ancient church, named "Our Lady of Angels", which was perched on a hill and as I found out, built by the Knights Templar. The interior was spectacular, with large decorative frescos painted on the ornate arched ceiling and on every square inch of the walls. I stocked up on my standard evening meal of bread ham and cheese and headed out of the town on the GR221, on which, I was pleased to find, it was legal to ride bikes.

The start of the trail was lovely; following a wide dirt road towards looming skyline of high cliffs in the mountains ahead. The dirt track became a scenic tarmac road, passing through a thick forest and climbing slowly as the mountains got nearer. Cycling quickly along the road, I saw a sign out of the corner of my eye for the GR221 and made a sharp left turn to join up with the trail. The path was overgrown but followed a dry riverbed. After a couple of kilometres, the path collapsed into the river, probably due to heavy rainfall the previous winter. As a result, I had to carry my bike for a few hundred metres before continuing. This was worrying, as if the trail ahead was in such poor condition, I would not be doing much cycling for the next few days. Fortunately, at the next sign a notice had been put up, saying that that section of trail had been closed. I wasn't supposed to have seen the previous sign, which was quite a way off the road.


Back on the maintained trail in an ancient woodland of twisted deciduous trees, I followed the dry river bed once more. The trail then became a gravelly road and climbed at a steeper, but perfectly rideable gradient. Looking at my map I saw that the GR221 went almost straight up the slopes of the approaching mountain, but that there was another trail that snaked up the mountainside and rejoined the hiking trail further up the mountain. I chose to take what I assumed to be the more rideable option and it turned out to be a good decision. The climb was perfect, being not too technical, but enough to keep things interesting, switchback after switchback in shaded woodland that kept the temperature relatively cool and with a gradient that was excellent to cycle up as I could easily spin the pedals in a low gear without having to exert too much energy.

After reaching the top of the steeper section, the trail rejoined the GR221 and led through a fenced area with a sign stating that "large game" lived inside the fence. I never found out what the large game were but there were plenty of hardy looking sheep, each with a jangling bell around its neck. The trail was now winding up a grassy pasture, out of the thick forest, which opened up a view of the surrounding mountains and the large cliffs that were now almost at eye level rather than a long way above me. On the other side of the "large game area", the track entered the forest, which led up and up until I reached the point at which I had planned to camp that evening, the "Font de Falgueres". There are a lot of "fonts" in these mountains, which are natural springs where you can get drinking water, usually with a manmade protective cover or building containing an artificial pool. This one was protected by a large iron gate, presumably to stop animals from polluting the valuable water supply. A short tunnel had been built to access the underground water source and a pipe jutted out from the rock, from which water fell into a pool. I filled up my water bladder and had a wash before hanging my hammock between two trees on the hillside. It was a lovely spot to camp that night and strange to think that that morning, I had awoken in a mosquito infested wood in the centre of Menorca.

 




Day 6: The Font to the Campsite on the Cliff

I set off again at around nine o'clock, having stocked up on fresh water from Font de Falgueres and waved good morning at a fast moving runner who had whizzed past me about an hour earlier. The trail split into a hiking path and a forest track that four-by-four cars seemed to use. I tried cycling bits of the GR221 hiking trail but it was pretty tough, being covered in large rocks and roots, so I used the parallel forest track where I could. On the hiking track, I was forced to lift my bike over some ladders which crossed a two metre high fence. Presumably this fence was so high to stop the "large game" from jumping over it. The "ladders" were slanted over the fence, with one to climb, leaning against the one to descend. They were about twice my height and it was very difficult to climb over the top while simultaneously lifting my fatbike. I managed to climb up, lift the front wheel over the top, and leave the bike hanging off the top rung while I climbed over then lifted the bike over the top and down the descending ladder.

The short descent to "Refugi di son Amer" was excellent fun, on a wide forest track with loose corners which I could skid my back wheel out on to keep my speed up as I rounded them. This was the first of many great descents in the Mallorcan mountains, and began the search for the best  descent in the world, which may continue for many years of cycling in the future! The refuge was a large stone building, beautifully situated on a rocky promontory that had a lovely mirador (view point) looking over the 13th century monastery, the "Santuari de Lluc". I crossed a road and saw a large group of identically clothed road bikers, on top of the range carbon fibre racing bikes with electric gears. The riders themselves didn't look particularly professional though; not in the best of shape and rather red faced as they crawled up the steep hill. I continued descending on the GR221, which became a twisting section of singletrack that criss-crossed the steep slope down to Lluc, traversing one way, then after a steep, sharp, technical hairpin, traversing the other, until I reached the bottom of the slope.


I arrived in Lluc and headed straight for a restaurant; I was starving! I had a mid morning three course meal, starting with bread and olives, then a very cheesy lasagne, followed by ice cream and coffee. It was very cheap but tasty and full of calories. I cycled over to investigate the monastery (followed by more comments about my bike's tyres), which was an impressive stone structure, with ornate carvings along the top of high walls that formed a courtyard. Apparently Lluc, is the most important pilgrimage site in Mallorca and was founded on the site where a Moorish shepherd found a statue of the Virgin Mary. It was a stunning little settlement, situated in a bowl surrounded by high mountains.

I stocked up at the small convenience store at the monastery. It had run out of bread but sold pizza and pie, so I bought lots of both. I then left Lluc along the GR221 and that was where the trail got serious. To begin with, I could avoid riding on the unrideable trail by following a track that run roughly parallel to it, which again was wider and less steep; switchbacking backwards and forwards across the slope. It was so hot on the unshaded sections of the trial that I had to push because I was exerting too much energy by trying to ride the technical, rocky trail and I wanted to conserve my energy and not sweat too much in the 37 degrees heat. Soon though, the track disappeared and merged with the GR221 and the bike-hike began. The track climbed and I strained on the handlebars, pushing my bike and possessions uphill, round switchbacks, over large boulders, around trees, past the tree line and eventually, after about two hours of maximum effort, onto an open plateau of sharp grass, rocks and a thin winding path that I was slowing progressing along.


But what a view! In every direction were mountains. To the north, they gave way to the sea; to the east, to the town of Pollença and further on, the Bay of Pollença, to the south and west were the large peaks and the pass that I was yet to cross, obscuring the view that I would surely be cycling towards after I crossed ridgeline that I was heading to. I pressed on, pushing along the now much easier trail, since the gradient was much shallower. I reached the top of the first peak, then rode a short downhill section of technical singletrack that I abandoned half way down. It was partly rideable and I could probably have ridden more of the descent that I did. However, an injury-causing crash up on the top of one of these remote mountains would not have been good, so I decided not to risk riding overly-technical sections. The pass was double-headed, crossing the first peak, then climbing once more to the second summit, which was very close to the top of the second highest mountain in Mallorca, the Puig de Massanella, at 1,364 metres and the highest accessible point, since the highest peak is within a military zone. The mountains that I was now cycling over are part of the Serra de Tramuntana range, one of the most spectacular and wild areas of the island.


The path seemed to go on and on, until finally I reached the pass named the "Coll de Prat" and the end of my ascent. There were a few people at the pass, some Spanish, one Frenchman and one guy from Luxembourg. They were walking the GR221 and heading the way that I'd just come. They were shocked to see a cyclist up at the top of this mountain and more so when they saw the bike I was riding. They came to admire it and once again, commented on the size of the wheels. As I approached the coll, the view on the other side slowly materialised. It was at least as stunning as the one I would soon be leaving behind. In front of a deep blue and endless ocean, was the Puig Major, Mallorca's highest point, complete with a large domed radar tower perched right on top of the mountain. There is some secrecy surrounding this military radar station, which was built by the Americans. It is a striking view and incredibly situated, but perhaps a blight on the natural landscape?


After a quick snack, I was ready to move on and in front of me lay what looked like a contender for the best descent in the world. From my viewpoint, I could see a rocky trail following a ridge, weaving down through the harsh terrain of the mountain's upper slopes, before entering a forest, where it disappeared from view. I began, quickly accelerating down the rocky trail, which could have been custom built for mountain biking. It flowed down and down, round sharp corners, with natural drop-offs, technical rock gardens and flatter, smoother sections where I could pick up speed. Very soon, 200 metres of my precious altitude gain had been transformed into adrenaline inducing trail riding and I was entering the forest again. Here the view disappeared, but the trail got even better. It was dark in the pine forest, but the trail snaked between trees, skirting dry river beds and descending down and down, seemingly forever.


Eventually it came to an end just after the Font des Prats, where I collected more drinking water. Wow - what a day it had been so far. I thought back to the long bikehike up to over 1,200 metres and the reward of what was certainly the best descent I have ever ridden. I continued and after the adrenaline left my system, realised how hungry I was, feeling very short of energy. Lluc was now a few hours behind me and I hadn't eaten much since then. There was nowhere to buy food anywhere near my current location and I wouldn't reach a shop that day so I needed to make my meagre food supplies last overnight. I continued without eating, thinking that I would get over the next pass before a snack. The next pass was much smaller and only took half an hour to ascend. Much of the trail was rideable and the descent on the other side beautiful, but not difficult, so the kilometre count for that day increased quickly. It followed a raised concrete irrigation channel, in which I washed my cycling clothes, and descended very gradually. The views of Puig Major and the large Gorg Blau reservoir that sits in the large valley between the two largest mountains of Mallorca. Along with its neighbour, Cuber reservoir, it supplies the surrounding area, including Palma, the capital city, with drinking water.

My trail led me past Gorg Blau and to the shores of Cuber reservoir. It then followed the northern shore of the artificial lake, which seemed to contain little water at this hot, dry time of year. Large mudflats had formed around the edge of the water, that would be submerged during wetter times of year. Cows grazed on the vegetation on these mudflats, which suggested the water level must have been low for some time. I continued on in my low-energy state, passing the reservoir and entering a rocky area, between two large mountains where young saplings had been planted. I stopped and had a snack; half a bottle of warm and flat coke, my last emergency energy gel and my last chocolate biscuit and a banana. I felt as though I hadn't eaten when I started riding again.

I had three slices of pizza and a pie in my bag. I planned to eat two pizza slices and the pie that night and have the final pizza slice for breakfast.  I would be hungry in the morning but if I could just get over the next small pass, it would be downhill to Soller, the next town I would reach, and I could get a proper meal there. I plodded up the track that slowly climbed to the pass south of Soller. It was pretty but I didn't really notice the scenery at that time. I ignored the obvious sign pointing the GR221 route up a technical looking footpath, in favour of the much easier dirt road that my map said would rejoin the route in a couple of kilometres. I then ignored the large and more obvious no entry and private property signs. I would play the ignorant tourist if the landowner saw me but I would soon be back on the trail and was too tired to care.

The dirt road was good and my decision proved to be a good one. I spent about 30 minutes climbing the easy gradient trail before rejoining the GR221 at the top of the pass. I had achieved my goal for that day and could now search for a campsite worry-free. At the pass, were a few goats. They were perched on the top of rocks that looked impossible to climb! One stood on top of a large boulder, with the sun directly behind it, making a silhouette against a strikingly blue evening sky. I began cycling downhill, but saw an area to the right of the trail that looked like it may contain an ideal place to hang my hammock. Then I came across what is probably the best wild campsite in the world.

Perfectly aligned to face the sunset, perched on the top of a giant cliff, was a flat rocky area containing a few sparse trees, overlooking the large town of Soller over a thousand feet below, and further on, the port of Soller, before Mallorca gave way to the vast expanse of the Mediterranean. It was the most stunning view from a campsite that I've ever experienced and it's up against rather a lot of high-class competition including the Himalayas, Yosemite National Park and the Pamir Mountains. I found a spot a few metres from the precipice, where I could hang my hammock. Between a tree and a viewpoint telescope that looked like it hadn't been used for a number of years. The hammock was also perfectly aligned to view the sunset. I set up camp, then lay in my hammock watching the sun sink into the sea while I wrote my diary and snapped at least 30 photos. The end of one of the best day of adventure that I have ever had.


Day 7: The Best Descent in the World?

During the night, the wind started howling. Fortunately I don't suffer from sea sickness, because I was rocked back and forth for the whole night! The material that the hammock was made from also flapped around like a flag, making a racket. Consequently, when I awoke from the little sleep that I did manage to get, I was shattered. In a bit of a daze, I looked around, forgetting where I was. I was greeted with the wonderful view over Soller. Looking down, I could see the route I would take into the town centre, where I could see a large church and square - it looked like a good spot for breakfast. I packed up, ate my last slice of pizza and started the long descent. It was a wonderful way to start the day. The track started as a well-built gravelly road, but quickly turned into an old stone track that curved its way down an alarmingly steep slope. Parts of the narrow track skirted cliff tops, so riding the most exposed sections was rather daunting. The descent was well-built, made from cobbles and was one of the ancient dry-stone paths, with a small step every metre along the trail. It wasn't particularly difficult to ride, but I couldn't afford to fall off on the cliff top sections.


Making steady progress, I continued down the slope towards Soller. To begin with the drop was to my left, but every minute or so, the trail reached a hairpin bend, which were just about wide enough to ride round. Each time I went around one of the hairpin bends, the drop transferred to the other side of the trail. After about 20 minutes of the bone shaking descent into a wide and spectacular gorge, the trail joined a road on the outskirts of Soller. On inspecting my back wheel, I found two broken spokes, which I proceeded to fix. I pushed my bike into a paved area next to an ancient drinking water spring. A large rectangular pool, contained within a short stone wall, covered by a sloping roof provided local inhabitants with a place to collect water to drink. It was fed by a small artificial channel built into a high stone wall surrounding the pool. I turned my bike upside down so that it was resting on its saddle and handlebars, removed the rear wheel and fitted two new spokes from my bag of spare parts, before continuing into the city.

A few minutes later, I was sitting in a restaurant on the Plaça Constitució square in front of the beautiful  Sant Bartomeu Church, eating a large plate of cheese and dried meat and surrounded by tourists. The square was full of busy restaurants and shaded from the hot sun by tall, leafy trees. The contrast between this bustling square and the remote, exposed campsite on the cliff was vast. I sat in the square for around an hour, taking in my surroundings. Soller is a pretty town, linked to Palma by an historic narrow-gauge steam railway line and to the nearby port village of Port de Soller by the famous Tranvía de Sóller tramline. A few of the beautiful wooden trams came past, completely packed full of tourists heading to the port. As I ate, a British family sat at the adjacent table and began to discuss how they would reward their son if he did well in his GCSE exams. He was taking 11 apparently and would receive £200 per A*, £100 per A and £30 per B. Apparently a C didn't deserve any reward... I decided to move on...

The trail out of Soller headed towards the north coast of the island, passing through large lemon orchards, then into a forest as the trail climbed into some small hills. It was very hot so I was grateful for the shade as I entered the trees and more grateful of the man who was selling freshly squeezed orange juice for a euro on the trailside. I bought one and let him have a ride on my fatbike as I drank it: he was most impressed with the bike, as was I with the orange juice. As the trail climbed the hillside, a spectacular view of Port de Soller in front of the glowing blue Mediterranean was revealed through a gap in the trees. After a couple more hours on a pretty but uneventful section of the ride, I reached the picturesque village of Diea. Passing the former home of the famous poet, Robert Graves, I entered the main part of the town, which sits on a small hill, surrounded by large mountains to the south and looking over the sea to the north. I stopped for a delicious lunch of fresh grilled fish on a restaurant terrace overlooking a fast-flowing stream. They had WiFi there, so I logged on to research the next section of my route. I planned to cross another large mountain, using a footpath that was marked on my map. This path had not yet been developed as part of the GR221 route though, so would likely be more difficult than the previous mountain crossing. There was almost no information available on the internet so I asked the waiter about the path. He said that you can walk over the mountain but he didn't think people cycled that way. Afterwards, when stocking up on food at a nearby shop, I asked the shopkeeper about the path. She confirmed that it was impossible to take a bike over the pass. I tried to explain that I would push up and cycle down, but this was lost in translation. After deliberating for a while, I decided to give it a go.

The start of the trail was not signposted and took me a while to find, as it was hidden around the back of a large guesthouse. The trail was overgrown and I spent the first few kilometres half riding, half pushing along a narrow trail with long, sharp grass overhanging the edges. Soon after I had started, I met a Dutch family; a mother, father and two young boys. They had walked the same way that I planned to ride and looked absolutely shattered. The mother spoke good English and explained that they had underestimated the difficulty of the trail, that they were low on water and they had planned to arrive at Diea about four hours ago! They were relieved that they were nearly at the hotel they had booked for that night. I asked about the trail ahead and was told that it was incredibly steep and not possible to ride and that there were some very exposed sections on the edge of a cliff . I explained I would push up and ride down, to which the lady said she thought it would be an excellent descent on the other side of the mountain. I bade the exhausted but very friendly family farewell and continued up the mountain pass that would lead me to the town of Valldemossa. It was mid-afternoon and I was slowly gaining altitude, so the temperature was cooling and since there was plenty of shade on the forested lower slopes of the mountain, I didn't get too hot on the climb. I rode some short sections, but the slope was very steep, so I pushed for the vast majority of the ascent. There were no signposts, like had been the case on the official GR221 trail and lots of tracks up through the tree covered slope. I had programmed the route into my little Garmin GPS watch, but because the high cliffs and steep slope obscured much of the sky, it was struggling to communicate with the positioning satellites so kept losing my location. As a result, I had to use my best guess at each trail junction, then check that I was still going the right way when my GPS did find my location. I was happy to have the little Gamin watch though, without it, it would have been difficult to navigate that section of the trail.

The climb went on and on. My cycling shoes weren't designed for walking up mountains and had metal clips on the bottom for attaching to the SPD pedals on my bike, so it was difficult not to lose my footing when the clip slipped on the rocks. The shoes were gradually becoming more and more worn and holes were appearing in the sides. My feet were sore and I could feel blisters forming, but there wasn't much to do other than continue up the slope. After a couple of hours of straining on the handlebars, my shoulders were aching, but I finally reached the top of the dirt slope through the forest. The track led to a narrow path that followed the top of a cliff face, continuing upward. I took a short break and ate a salami and cheese sandwich. Continuing, I finally reached a viewpoint over the surrounding scenery form above the trees. It was absolutely spectacular, I could see Deia, and the mountains that I had passed over the previous day. The mountains in the north of Mallorca rise straight from the sea and so look incredibly dramatic. The view of the sea from 1,000 metres almost directly above was like no other I have ever seen. Peering at the horizon, I thought that I could just make out the Spanish mainland, a dark line, separating sea and sky.

The path was difficult to progress along, being rocky, slippery and only about a metre wide, with a sheer cliff to my left. I ascended slowly and carefully, ensuring that I placed each foot in a position that wouldn't slip. I had to lift my bike over the most difficult sections  of path, but eventually, I reached flatter ground at the top of the cliff. It was a long, difficult and sometimes slightly dangerous climb, but the hardest part was finally over! I was able ride my bike again for the last couple of kilometres up a rocky, grassy plateau to the rocky ridge at the top of the mountain. It had taken me around five hours to reach the top, but I finally made it and at the top, the trail became a manmade path, constructed from large rocks and as the Dutch lady had said, it looked like an incredible descent. I didn't stop for a rest, since it was the early evening and I was itching to start the descent that day. To begin with, the trail followed the ridge on the rocky trail, offering panoramic views to both the north and the south in the evening twilight. It soon started descending steeply but on a smoother dirt trail, that I could ride down confidently and at high speed. The rocky trail soon entered the woods, where it became wove steeply in and out of trees, switchbacking across the slope. There were a couple of natural jumps and metre high drops with perfect landings that I rode over and was amazed at how well my fat bike coped with this very difficult descent. After about 40 minutes of descending, it was nearly dark but I was only around a kilometre from Valldemossa. I stopped at another font, surrounded by a some convenient trees from which I could hang my hammock from. Fifteen minutes later, I was in my sleeping bag still buzzing from that final descent. For the second day in a row, I was left in no doubt that I'd just ridden the best descent ever. This had eclipsed the previous days' offering though, it was a perfect trail. The whole day had been fantastic, probably the best of my Balearic island tour, but also undoubtedly the most difficult. The climb had really taken it out of me, but tomorrow was my last day in Mallorca, if all went to plan, I'd be in Palma the following afternoon.


Day 8: Arriving in Palma

After packing up my campsite, a short descent into Valldemossa led me to a pretty café  on a cobbled street, where my final day in Mallorca began with coffee and cakes. In no rush, I had a leisurely breakfast before setting off along the road to Palma. Gradually descending on a beautifully smooth road, I soon reached the plain at the bottom of the northern mountains and Palma had appeared on the horizon. It didn't take long to reach the city along the fantastic bike lanes that followed the main road into town.

My first impressions of Palma were that it is a beautiful, bustling, busy city that looked to be a wonderful place to live. Cycling down a tree lined cobbled road, with a thick green canopy above, to shade the roadside restaurant  terraces from the ever-present sun, I looked at the map on my phone to navigate to the famous large gothic cathedral. I soon found it, standing proudly in front of Palma's endless harbour that was full of thousands of luxury yachts. Near the spectacular cathedral was another gorgeous café on a small square where I stopped for a coffee. A storm had arrived and for about half an hour, the heavens opened in what was a fairly spectacular display of thunder and lightning and some of the heaviest rain that I had ever seen. Drinking my coffee on the covered terrace, I used the WiFi to find a hotel for the night, since the next boat over to Ibiza was not until the following morning. The hotels in Palma were pretty pricey but I wanted to find a secure place to lock my bike, so I found a few options close to the port where I would catch my ferry from the next day.

Cycling along the harbour, I soon reached the port, passing lots of inviting bars and restaurants and a few that were not so inviting. A couple of giant nightclubs looked like they'd be opening soon, set on the picturesque promenade along the harbour. I tried three hotels, settled on the cheapest of them and checked into my room. I had a shave, which took three of the free disposable razors provided by the hotel. Embarrassingly, I had to go to the reception to ask for another one, still with half a beard that the previous two had failed to remove! Finally washed and clean shaven, I set out to find a place to watch Man Utd play that evening. While watching them win, I spoke for a while to a Norwegian inhabitant of Palma. He loved the city and owned a boat, so spent much of his time cruising around the Island. He also followed Palma's football team RCD Mallorca all over Spain. For each away game, the supporters' club were offered cheap flight to the city they were playing at. He said it was a great way to explore the country.

After the match I walked along the harbour, admiring the yachts and considering the vast amount of money that they cost and the associated ethics of owning a multimillion pound boat; while just across the same sea, hundreds of migrants were currently desperately trying to reach Europe for a safer place to lead their lives. Bike touring provides time to consider such issues! I soon reached my hotel and feel asleep quickly, ready for my early boat crossing to Ibiza the next morning. Mallorca had been brilliant, the mountains in the north had provided four remarkable days of mountain biking and reaching the island with no fixed plans or idea of what to expect had set me up for what had turned into a truly unforgettable adventure.




Epilogue: Crossing Ibiza and other rides on the island

After the two fantastic adventures in Menorca and Mallorca, all that remained was for me to cycle across Ibiza to meet up with my wife, Laura, and her family for a relaxing holiday in Ibiza. The short ride across the island, from Ibiza town to its south-west corner was very pleasant. I followed a way marked mountain bike route for part of the crossing along beautiful, peaceful forest tracks that climbed over the small hills on the island. This is not the Ibiza that you usually hear about, but it was a fantastic cycling destination. Perhaps not so wild as Menorca, or so epic as Mallorca, but it was very beautiful and the cycling trails were excellent. During the brilliant week and half holiday I spend in Ibiza, I got out for three mountain bike rides on my fatbike and found some great routes in the mountains to the south of Saint Josep. If you are ever interested in riding in Ibiza, I can thoroughly recommend it and I'll point you in the direction of http://www.ibiza.travel/en/cicloturismo.php, which has a range of routes of different difficulties, all over the island.

A highlight of my riding on the island, was climbing up an old tarmac access road, used by the luxurious villas set in stunning locations in the hills on the south coast. The villas were perched on astonishing viewpoints, over the large beaches, looking out over the Mediterranean. The road followed a ridge, that looked out over the dramatic, mysterious looking rocky island of Es Vedra, with its 400 metre high cliffs, in front of which was a large wooden galleon, with three masts that had moored up there overnight. After this fantastic climb, was a great descent, followed by a short climb, then another descent. The second descent was incredible, starting as a narrow piece of single track that traversed along the edge of a steep hillside, with views of Es Vedra through the gaps between the pine trees. The gradient got steeper and steeper and the track wove in and out of fallen trees before spitting me onto a wide dirt road that led back to the place I was staying with Laura's family.

I'll leave you with some photos of my bike rides in Ibiza...














 

 

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