In this first post in a series of my favourite rides in Majorca I’m going to cover the most well known of all the Majorcan climbs; Sa Calobra. I can’t go to Majorca without having to visit Sa Calobra at some point and I usually do it via the following route.
Sa Calobra is 10Km of twists and turns with a fairly constant gradient in between the hairpins. There aren’t that many places on the climb to recover.
Sa Calobra is actually the name of the little port and bay where the road ends. There is one road in and one road out, unless you catch the ferry to Soller. The climb itself is called Coll dels Reis and tops out at 682m.
To get the most out of a trip to Sa Calobra it’s all about timing! You need to time being on the descent/climb before or after the tourist buses are going up and down it. Get stuck behind one of these on the way down and it’ll ruin your fun and you’ll be sucking diesel fumes all the way. It’s also no fun if one is chomping at your heels all the way up either. So for me it’s an early start so that I can be at the bottom no later than 10:30. The other option is late afternoon after all the buses have taken the tourists home.
As I always stay in Port de Pollenca when I go to Majorca I take the most direct route from there to Sa Calobra, which means out through Pollenca on the MA-10 and the 8Km climb of the Little Pig (Coll de Femenia, 517m). This is a nice climb to start the day on, not too steep with an average gradient of around 5%-6% and not too long, 8Km; although the drag to get to the official start of it can be a bit tiresome, particularly if it’s into a head wind! Don’t be deceived that you’ve finished climbing once you get to the top of the Little Pig though, the road rolls generally upwards all the way past Luc and after turning right at the T-junction along the top towards the Aqueduct and the Orange Man.
Once you leave the main Pollenca – Soller road at the Orange Man, taking the right turn and head down towards Sa Calobra there is a nasty little surprise waiting for you; a 2Km climb up to the top of the Coll dels Reis before you start the decent properly all the way down to the bay of Sa Calobra. The top part is characterised by the famous carousel, tight hairpins and large walled terraces before the descent opens out a bit to longer flowing sections; beware the squeeze about two thirds of the way down, there’s only just enough room here for a bus to get through! A bus and cyclist won’t fit at the same time!!
Once at the bottom you have 2 choices, after enjoying the view and getting some pictures: grab an ice cream and head back up, or head back up……… either way the only way is up.
You already know the road, you’ve just come down it, so settle in and enjoy the climb. The best bit in my opinion are the series of tight hairpins up against the gorge wall that eventually lead you back to the carousel. You get tantalising glimpses of the carousel as you round these bends, but it seems impossibly high above you. Watch out for traffic, particularly cyclists heading in the opposite direction! Don’t be fooled that you’re at the top when you get to the carousel though; you still have another 500m or so of climbing from there to the real top.
Once over the top it’s back to the Orange Man and Aqueduct for the inevitable coffee and cake before heading back along the lumpy top (surely it wasn’t this lumpy on the way there?). At the Luc T-junction carry straight on pass the petrol station (Coll de Sa Batalla, 484m) to descend the Selva gorge. This is lovely descent in fantastic scenery. In Selva, after climbing into it (did I say the climbing was over?) take the small left turn just prior to the sharp right turn signposted Moscari. This section of road used to be dreadful, but it was straightened out and re-surfaced in 2016. As you ascend the small climb (well smallish) up into the woods just before Moscari look up into the trees on your left to spot the large statute of Jesus that overlooks Moscari.
The road continues through Moscari towards Campanet, which means the roads are going to get rough! Campanet is a maze of one-way streets and every year the local council appear to change the layout of the one-way system! My advice is to skirt the left hand edge of the town taking the first left turn as you enter the town then taking the right turn just before the road turns sharp left and leaves the town. You want the road out to Coves de Campanet! Once on this road stay on it all the way back to the main road between Pollenca and Sa Pobla. Heading towards Pollenca follow the main road until the Golf Club on the right where you can cut back through the lanes (via the WALL and probably getting lost for a bit) to Puerta Pollenca and more cake!!
By the time you get home you’ll have covered 67 miles (107.2Km) and done somewhere in the region of 6,900 ft (2,130m) of climbing.