Just thought I would share with you all my bike ride that my lad and I made from Cala de St Vicenҫ to the lighthouse at Cap de Formentor.
On Thursday 1st August 2011 we spotted a bicycle hire shop that had some very flashy looking bikes outside with numerous gears and was talked into hiring them for the following Sunday (they were on offer that day!).
When Sunday arrived me and my lad had a hearty breakfast of eggs and baked beans and headed up to the bike shop to collect our fancy bikes. The chap in the shop asked us where we were thinking of cycling to and I showed him the lighthouse on the map at Cap de Formentor. He did what looked like a comedy intake of breath and said something about us struggling to do that and needing to be quite fit to get that far on normal bikes. Now my lad and I were a little perplexed by this as we are by no means unfit and didn’t think that we looked it. He went on to tell us about an amazing beach, Cala Murta, which is before the tunnel towards the end of the journey that he said that we should visit if we managed to get that far, even though he said that he didn’t know of anyone who had without having a specialist bike. This made me and my son even more determined to complete this journey and show him that the English tourists aren’t as unfit as he obviously thought we were. The shop proprietor went into the back room and proceeded to wheel out two bikes that reminded me of a bike that my Grandad used to go and get his shopping on about thirty years ago! Ours were the bikes on the right.
We got on these ancient looking cycles and set off determined to prove the shopkeeper wrong. By the time we had reached the bottom of the fist hill, free-wheeling I will add, we had convinced ourselves that they were better than they looked and that the journey was quite achievable.
We had to first cycle to Port Pollenҫa, which was a little in the wrong direction, and seven kilometres away by road according to the signs. It only took us about 25 minutes to complete this stage of our quest, mostly downhill and on the flat. The weather was a little overcast, with the odd spot of rain, not too bad for cycling though. As we went past Port Pollenҫa our eyes followed the path of the road that we were following and we ground to a halt with our jaws nearly hitting the floor.
It was at this stage that I remembered reading in a magazine that the Top Gear team had filmed some of their mad driving on these hills around Formentor. The road went in a zigzag up the side of a mountain in front of us, the first doubts set in as to whether we would be able to complete our journey, my bum started to feel numb and my lad said his man bits were being cut in half by his swimming trunks. However we kept saying to ourselves that the road only looked bad from a distance and most probably wouldn’t be that steep when we got nearer to it. Also we had to show the Bicycle shop worker what English men were made of, the expectation of a nation was beginning to weigh on our shoulders!
We had a drink of water and set off up the mountain. My son overtook me and set off at quite a pace going up the first section of the road; I kept saying to myself “Slow and steady wins the race” and kept the pedals turning. We stopped at the end of the first section and took a few photos, amazed at the views of Port Pollenҫa below us.
Off we went again, I started noticing that the cyclist’s going the other way down the hill were giving us smug grins as they wizzed past on their new fangled bikes, as if to say you’re having a laugh trying to get up here on those! At this point I started to wish that I had waited for an hour or two after my breakfast before setting off as my fried eggs and baked beans started repeating on me. To make matters worse the clouds miraculously disappeared and the sun started blazing down upon us. My chest started pounding and the sweat was pouring from my head in rivers. We stopped at the side of the road to catch our breath and tried to make out that we had only stopped to take some photos when a couple of German tourists stopped on a scooter to look at the view. Port Pollenҫa was now looking very small, but the road was still going up and round the side of the mountain in front of us!
My lad tells me that he thinks we should walk for a little while but I explain to him that the road is quite narrow and this will slow down the traffic behind us even more than we are already. Just to prove my point a coach full of sniggering tourists has to reverse past the two English men on their old fashioned bikes to enable another coach to turn around a tight bend.
We set off again “slow and steady”, the stomach acid is making me wretch and I am thinking to myself what the hell are we doing. After another stop we see a sign for an observation point and this spurs us on with renewed vigour to reach it.
When we get to the observation point, there are about five coaches, twenty cars, ten Harley Davidson’s, five or six posh bicycles and two OLD MANS SHOPPING BIKES parked there. We both staggered up a few steps and sat on a wall to catch our collective breath’s, the sweat pouring off us and both of us feeling increasingly sick.
I looked over my shoulder and was greeted by the most amazingly blue/turquoise sea that I had ever seen. I tapped my lads sweaty shoulder and beckoned him to look, he just said “Wow!”
I got up and bought two ice creams from a van that was parked next to the carpark, this immediately made us feel a little better once consumed. We got up and walked along the steps taking in the increasingly impressive views, taking photos as we went.
After a while looking at the scenery we sat on some rocks away from the other tourists and ate our pack up from the hotel; sweaty ham and cheese, melted butter, fruit and cakes. Though not the most appetising, it certainly settled our stomachs completely. We reflected upon our journey so far; we worked out that we had been cycling uphill for about two hours and our legs felt like jelly, but we had reached the highest point in the road.
We had a decision to make about what to do next, our options were:
• Turn round and cycle downhill back to Port Pollenҫa.
• Carry on and catch the ferry back to Port Pollenҫa from Playa Formentor. There was a risk we wouldn’t get on the ferry with our bikes and would have to cycle back up the mountain again. Not appealing at the moment.
• Carry on and try to reach the lighthouse.
I'll try to post the rest either tomorrow or Friday. Don't be too hard on me!