After spotting a sign saying Formentor and having a photo taken next to it to show the chap in the bike shop as proof that we made it we decided to head off further towards the lighthouse.
Our thinking was that it is going to be downhill most of the way to Playa Formentor and hopefully we can get the ferry back to Port Pollenҫa from there after having a cooling dip in the sea. The lighthouse is starting to feel like a stupid idea now. I’m hoping there is going to be a toilet at Playa Formentor as I am seriously thinking about dropping my shorts and squatting by the side of the road before I have an accident.
We set off down the other side of the mountain towards sea level, freewheeling and taking in great gulps of fresh air. I have started shouting cheerily “hola” to the professionally kitted out cyclists struggling to go up the mountain in the other direction, I’m finding it very amusing when they look at our old shopping bikes and wonder how we made it up to the top.
After what must have only been 15 minutes we reach a sign directing us to Playa Formentor on the right. We happily cycle along this short road to the beach and I’m really pleased to notice a toilet which I rush into. I return to my son and leaving our bikes we have a short trek in both directions along the beach. The beach is quite crowded, predominantly with Spaniards; it has a lovely sandy beach and a backdrop of lush green trees and mountains. It looks picture perfect, almost tropical.
We nip into the cafe and buy a couple of cans of pop which we drink straight down and buy a couple of gifts from the shop for my daughter who has not come with us this year, opting to stay in England.
A Ferry docks whilst we are taking in the scene and I pop along to ask if we are allowed to take our bikes on the ferry. We are told yes, but not on this one. The next ferry is at 3.30pm, it is 1.30pm now giving us 2 hours to kill. My lad wants to get his snorkel out and have a swim, but I’m thinking of the beach at Cala Murta that the bike shop proprietor teased us with earlier in the day. After a look at the map provided by the cycle shop which showed the path to the tunnel appeared to be only a slight gradient, heading between the mountains, rather than over them I persuaded my son to continue.
Off we set again; the road had loads of cars parked on the verges on each side in an attempt to avoid the charges in the nearby car park. These parked cars went on for a mile or more; all the time the road was going slightly uphill, one of those annoying hills that seem to go on forever. My son was flagging, we spoke of showing the bike shop owner the photos of the tunnel that was now our new target and laughed about his imagined surprise. This spurred both of us on with renewed vigour.
The road started getting steeper again; we passed an amazing looking bay on the left and stopped for a while to get our breath and to take some photos.
Off we set again this time walking and chatting until we rounded a corner and in front of us was the tunnel that we were looking for, but no sign of legendary Cala Murta beach that we searched for.
To the left of the tunnel were some steps that went vertically up a sheer rock face, they reminded me of the part in Lord of the Rings where Gollum was leading the Hobbits into a trap up the side of a mountain.
I looked over the side of the road next to the steps and felt a bit giddy at the sheer height of the drop and wondered just how anyone could contemplate going up these steps. There was what looked like a bus stop on the other side of the road, I began to think this was a secret route through the mountain to the beach, but it wasn’t.
My son wanted to go through the tunnel; so after working out how to turn on the lights on our bikes we set off. It was about 200 metres long, steep and dark. When we got out the other end of the tunnel a line of ten bikers went past on really big, powerful motorbikes; they sounded like tanks going through the tunnel. We stood looking at the views thinking about what to do next, we were going to miss the 3.30pm ferry and the next one afterwards was 4.30pm. We couldn’t afford to miss that or we might end up getting back to the bike shop after it shut at 7.00pm. We decided to head back, feeling quite satisfied that we had managed to go further than the bike shop owner thought we would get.
We turned round and began freewheeling back to Playa Formentor. As we came up to the amazing bay we had seen earlier I noticed the sign to Cala Murta on the other side of the road, we’d walked straight past it earlier transfixed by the view over the road. We decided we had time to walk down to the beach (no bikes allowed), have a quick dip in the sea and still get back for the ferry, but it was going to be tight. We locked our bikes and set off down a winding path in a leafy gorge. We passed a school camp full of children, lots of wild goats and several people walking back up towards the road. After about 15 minutes the path flattened out and we arrived in a small bay with about 5 or 6 people on the pebbly beach.
We stripped off our shoes and socks and headed into the sea. I was about to launch myself in and my lad said I had better take off my cycle helmet. Doh! We went in and had a swim round, cooling down and looking at the fish and boats in the beautiful bay. My lad started laughing and pointed at the beach. I looked round and a goat was trying to eat my socks, much to the amusement of the locals on the beach! I staggered out of the sea and across the pebbles to rescue my socks. My son came and lay down next to me whilst we dried off in the sun, I looked at the time and realised that we had better get a move on or we were in danger of missing the ferry; I really couldn’t contemplate cycling back up the mountain to the summit. We quickly got our socks and trainers on and walked briskly back to our bikes.
We mostly freewheeled back to Playa Formentor and arrived with 20 minutes to spare before the ferry was due. We spent this time sitting on the harbour and hoping we would be allowed to take our bikes onto the ferry, the alternative was making me feel quite anxious!
Luckily we were allowed on the ferry with our bikes and took our seats on the top deck with the bikes safely stowed away below.
As we approached Port Pollenҫa I noticed some smoke coming from a building to the left of the harbour and pointed this out to my son.
As we neared the harbour everyone onboard was looking and taking photos of what looked like a hotel on fire, I asked one of the crew if he knew what had happened. He said that they had heard an explosion and that they thought it was a hotel on fire! Once safely docked we decided to investigate the fire and cycled down the sea front to have a look. From what we could make out a building, not sure if it was a house or hotel behind the seafront properties had caught fire, and sparks had set grass and palm trees alight. We couldn’t get very near to find out the full story.
After this small detour we set of back to the bike shop on the final leg of our journey, this passed quite uneventfully, the two intrepid explorers thinking about their adventure as they clocked up the final few miles. Back at the bike shop we gleefully told the proprietor that we had gone through the tunnel and visited the beach he had told us about. He appeared suitably impressed.
We staggered off, walking like John Wayne to regale my wife with the story of our adventure and she listened politely.
I vowed to sell my bike when I got back to England, never wanting to ride one again, but I’ve been out on mine today and perhaps I was a little hasty! I think I’ll just hire a better one next time, any volunteers to join me at the end of the month?