In Search of True Majorca
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Formentor means perfection. Not literally, but when it comes to cycling routes this one is as perfect as a glass of Bollinger 1975 is for James Bond. If you are a well-traveled cyclist or a Majorca enthusiast, you’ve certainly already been here, but perhaps not experienced the peninsula’s current perfection: newly laid asphalt. If not, you’ll simply have to come back—you won’t regret it. What was once “just” one of the world’s most beautiful roads, leading to the northernmost tip of Majorca, is now a complete dream for road cycling.
Words: Teodor Malmborg
Images: Jonas Kullman
The lead-up to it is exciting and hits the mark. A hairpin bend after the final roundabout in Port de Pollença and your pulse will be shooting up as you take a couple of switchbacks on a challenging incline. There aren’t too many turns of the pedals before the view of the stylish beach resort soon becomes a beautiful and noticeable distraction. A few more bends, find the right tempo and start to drink in the dramatic mountain scenery instead of the sea view.
The July heat makes its presence known, even though it’s early morning, and facing a steady wind up the pass is pleasurable. Unavoidably, the downside is that it takes even more effort to improve on your time up to the viewpoint. Not without reason, the Majorcans call this peninsula the meeting place of the winds, which may well have something to do with the continual headwind. Then Strava fever sets in. The summit can be seen from a distance, so two more gears, out of the saddle, 150 meters à bloc and the fantastic view will just have to be admired in full another time—with a double-digit heart rate.
Panting recovery, shade, downhill. Daring lines lead to a fantastic flow in the hairpin bends that are shadowed by large pine trees. Green vegetation meets barren cliffs that drop down to the bluest of blue seas. Jet-black, perfect downhill asphalt. Brake, release, turn, repeat. Back at sea level, swishing past the bathing beach and the legendary hotel, a couple of straight stretches through a forest increase the average speed, despite being gently uphill. This is particularly true now—this is where it used to be old, bumpy asphalt that ate away at the enjoyment of even the most dedicated pavé fetishists; now it is of newly asphalted 22mm-tubular euphoria.
Up into the sections to which words cannot do justice. My guidebook calls this stretch “unforgettable,” and that’s just about driving it by car. Dizzying drops down to incredible bays, the tunnel, surreal rock formations in all directions that look like stage sets. Challenging bends. The fear of heights multiplied by speed. Pulse-raising, tricky little sections and longer harder ones. You’re always one wandering goat from death. With a bit of luck they’ll stay where they are, masticating the bushes. More uphill, and here and there the original old donkey trail can be seen in the terrain, one that took a heroic effort to cover a century ago. Doable on a mountain bike? Forget it. Focus, ride. A shift from lush and soothing to bare and desolate. A feeling of exposure as the sea spreads out and the peninsula narrows further.
After an exhilarating downhill and a hop uphill, you’re at the foot of the dazzling Formentor lighthouse. Two hundred meters above the sea, it rises up from a terrifying cliff. And my legs are already longing to ride the same incredible 14 kilometers back. A cortado in the shade and I’m ready to go.
Kullman: jonaskullman.se and Instagram @fotografjonaskullman