Like a beach holiday with a little cycling is what I was sold. I guess I have not done many really physically challenging activities requiring all day pedalling before. But this turned out to be one.
Sometimes it was difficult to concentrate on the beautiful surroundings, because of the challenge ahead of you, but equally it was impossible to ignore once you stop. It is only 120 odd miles in 4 days and we were lucky with mechanicals with only one torn tyre on 4 bikes and 4 days
We restricted the wine input the first evening although the Menorcan charm, Rob and Heidi’s amazing pad and the atmosphere enticed you, we knew we had a challenge ahead.
Mahon was a great place to start it is quiet (Well it was in May) but it has everything you need.
As we slipped out of the capital early, the sun was already up, it was clear that it was going to be warm and carrying enough water was essential.
After a couple of miles the road turned to trail and then to board walk and then to trail, gentle climbs and gentle descent, apart from the incessant gates as you moved from one persons property to the next, it felt like this going to be a breeze. We worked our way along the coast from beach to beach, in and out of each inlet, sometimes only 50 metres of height but some difficult terrain, with some pushing and occasional carrying.
Not forgetting we were carrying 4 days of kit all the time.
We stopped at an Indian? restaurant for lunch the first day, felt happy with the mileage completed and so had a ½ chicken, veg and chips each. This did affect the next hour or so. The afternoon went well we made it to the first hotel stop, exhausted but wondering whether we could have stopped a little more to enjoy the trail and views we were in. The full suspension bikes were doing well although some complaints about the intelligent rear shock not really working which was causing slight discomfort. We were not roughing it, the hotels were a delight each night, which did mean we did not think about the evenings, but everything else was on our backs.
Day 2 was the bit I read about it being difficult in places. It was quite tricky, but being determined to ride wherever possible probably did not help, it was tough! Some climbs were completely un-ride able, having to push and carry the bike sometimes for 20 minutes at a time. And some of the descents were either too steep to keep the back wheel down or the surface was too un stable or just too rocky. You could walk or climb all this but we had come to ride it and that’s what we did, it felt quite a struggle with quite a few spills. The other days there were places to top up on water and food along the way but we knew on the this day there was not, we were in a national park and there nothing but you, the trail and some tortoises? It was very hot, we had limited supplies and the terrain was just so slow going.
While we stopped for a well earned break I worked out at the present rate our ETA was well after dark. When you have averaged only 2.5mph for some 4 ½ hours you realise that mileage is more than just a number. At some points my legs were screaming with every step pushing the bike out ahead of me. It was a huge relief when the afternoon returned to more ride able trails even with a bit of road and racing a 10 year old along a mile or so of prom.
Another awesome hotel for just a few Euros( out of season).I have often been too drunk to care where and who I sleep with but this is a first for just being too tired to care.
The relief map said that Day 3 was going to be easy with miles of flat coastline to follow but Menorca had another surprise for us, moonscape. It was flat but it was either a never ending tight winding path between rocks or a sea of flat rock full of wheel sized holes which kept you pushing hard to keep up the 3-4mph average. It was amazing sight but a daunting long ride. It eventually gave way to some beautiful trails, sweeping and flowing, a delight. Inevitably we gave in to the lure of a spectacular beach ( well they all were really) and eased our aching limbs into the soothing crystal blue waters.
After persuading Soop that a mile (felt like it to me) was far enough out, he swam under a boat and we returned to shore, dried on a rock, snacked and re-introduced our rears to the saddle. A few more miles more and few beaches more we bumped into a group of lovely ladies from Woodbridge who were drinking Gin I think and whilst it was tempting we still has another 5 miles to go and we did not have lights! Oh and the horses, absolutely fascinating and amazing to watch a group of horses with riders walk into the sea, both swimming and then returning into their depths, what a treat.
Another lovely hotel and the grim realisation that someone had been carrying everything they had eaten so far but couldn’t anymore.
Day 4. Was a mix of everything we had done before, all that was good and all that is tough (and then good because you managed it) about mountain biking. With the Ashford boys disappearing into the distance on goatier steeper pushing parts and on the faster downhill bits as well actually. But finally with not a single off so far, Soop made up for it all with on spectacular front flip, luckily managing to find the only soft bit of ground in the area, using his over-stuffed ruck sack as an airbag and sending his bike cart-wheeling down the trail ahead of him. Impressive, mainly unscathed we continued, although pain killers and then alcohol were needed later.
It was an epic ride, such a mixed terrain, constant scenery like you would not believe, mostly only accessible by using this trail.
I know it was tough but would I do it again. With Mrs A organisation, Mr A’s hospitality and such a beautiful island. Absolutely, but take 5 days.