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An Off-Road Tour in Menorca: The Cami de Cavalls

August 25th, 2011 leave a comment


Got a week to spare? Looking for a place to go in Europe with good weather, and easily reached by low-cost airlines? Want to bike off-road?

The Cami de Cavalls on the Spanish island of Menorca might just be your perfect destination. David Piper recently cycled this path, which runs around the edge of the island. He sent us this trip report.

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Its name would imply a road for horses, or more accurately a donkey track and if you travel along its ruggedly beautiful course you may well meet a few equines but more likely to bump into hikers (not literally I hope) and a handful of cyclists, as the path is open to all non-motorised transport.

Cami de Cavalls
A GPS of the track from a mountain biker. Download it here. (Page is in Spanish)

The Cami runs for 250km around the perimeter of the Spanish Balearic Island of Menorca. It takes you to undiscovered coves and along rocky cliffs, although it doesn’t always hug the coast. From time to time it diverts slightly inland. It rolls along leisurely, never with an epic climb but the surface can be very rocky in places so this is really a mountain bike tour.

I struggled around on a fully rigid expedition bike, but would have been much happier with at least some front suspension. You’d certainly get more from the ride if you had a pannier full of off-road skills too.

Cami de Cavalls
A view from the track. Photo courtesy of David Piper

Being roughly rugby ball shaped, the island would take at least three hours to ride by road end-to-end, and an hour or so north-to-south, so rather than carrying all your kit around from point-to-point you might consider staying in a central location and riding out to the coast each day. Campsites are few in number on the island but there are opportunities for stealth camping, especially nearer the coast where privately owned land is less common. You could also consider a cheap off-season package holiday, as it would take a week of gentle riding to get all the way round and the island has a pleasant climate all year.

Bike hire is available, but I don’t think you’d be reading this article if you were considering this option, and if so – think again! I checked a few rental shops and none of the bikes I saw were even roadworthy.

Old guy and his trusty bicycle
An old man and his trusty bicycle. Photo courtesy of David Piper

I rode in July but still found plenty of solitude on the white-bleached cliffs and pine scented forests. Only occasionally was the track busy with other people on vacation and walking to the beach, and in these places it made sense to walk along with them rather than risk a collision.

Whilst a basic map of the island is handy, the route is very well signposted so getting lost is virtually impossible – just head to that sparkling blue Med, and don’t forget to pack your swimming trunks, but you may not need them on some of those beaches!

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Thanks to David Piper for sending in the trip report and photos. Visit David’s website, about his many bicycle trips around the world.

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