Apparently if you want your blog to gain traffic, you’re supposed to write clear, informative titles so your SEO ranking goes up, but I have an allergy to rules, an aversion to preaching and I just much prefer weird or witty.
However, the fact I’m a walking talking How To Guide in reverse does equip me with some excellent #travelhacks to share, so that others can avoid the mini heart attacks and near-death experiences I’ve endured. So here it is…
All My Heroes 7 Top Tips For Cycling Menorca
- Cycle on the right-hand side of the road at all times
- If Google Maps sends you down a gravel track, ignore it
- Propriedad Privada means private property, i.e. don’t trespass
- At every entrance to every house or path, there will be a huge, malicious guard dog, often not on a lead
- Menorca’s landscape is lumpy – expect to get your calf muscles into gear
- Coto Privado de Caza means land reserved for hunting, so don’t intrude unless you want to risk getting shot
- If somebody beeps at you several times, it’s probably not a cheery hello, so waving at them with a cheesy grin will only make things worse
Road to Nowhere
I have today and tomorrow off before I do a seven-day volunteering stint at the International Meditation Retreat. Not being one to sit still, I headed out on the two –wheeled ram after breakfast and let Google Maps show me the way to Arenal d’en Castel to check out a new beach.
Against my instincts and despite the fact I saw a sign saying Propriedad Privada, I put my trust in technology and followed the instructions down the gravel track. After about ten minutes of cycling, there was a long path to my right leading to a huge white property, and on that path, barking like a maniac with protruding fangs, not on its lead and racing towards me was an enormous guard dog.
I’ve never pedalled so fast. I kept turning around to see if it was behind me while trying to keep up the momentum and not skid sideways. My heart was beating out of my chest. A few more minutes later, the path came to an abrupt halt and all that was in front of me was a sign saying Coto Privado de Caza and a firmly padlocked gate. Thank Buddha, the dog hadn’t followed.
So now I had to backtrack, cycling back up towards the horrible hound, heart palpitations on the rise. Just before I reached the path, I quietly hopped off my bicycle and luckily, the beast was too busy enjoying a snooze in the shade to notice me tiptoeing by. As soon as I got past the second gatepost I jumped back on the saddle and pedalled to saftey.
Arenal d’en Castell
I wasn’t really in the mood for any more detours or dangerous dogs, so I decided for the rest of the day I’d stick to the refuge of tarmac.
I took the Camí de la Cucanya towards Alaior; a narrow, winding road, only wide enough for one small car to pass through. It’s shaded completely from the Menorcan sun by a canopy of green and as such, it’s a pleasant ride at all times of day. Plenty of fellow cyclists whizzed past me, tipping their helmets and saying a friendly bon dia.
After experiencing the mountainous climbs of Mljet by bike, I’d probably describe Menorca’s landscape as lumpy. Aside from Sa Roca and Monte Toro (where I’m staying), it’s not calf-killing ups and adrenaline-pumping downs, it’s just a lot of lumps – the perfect outdoor interval training.
I hurtled down the hills passed the farm where the famous Mahon cheese is made, down the avenue lined with pine trees and into Arenal d’en Castell.
I’ve never been so happy to see a playa. More white sands, more turquoise waters and this time no wind. The lifeguards weren’t up to much and it was swarming with kids, but I was just happy to be horizontal.
I lazed about on the sand, floated in the still waters and had myself a traditional Spanish siesta.
To avoid cycling home in the afternoon heat, I decided I’d stay in Arenal d’en Castell until the evening – but that meant I needed to refuel mid-afternoon. After a quick Google search, I headed to a tiny little Italian restaurant called Bella Napoli just up the road from the beach.
It’s always a good sign when an Italian restaurant is full of Italians, especially in the middle of Menorca. I ordered the bruschetta toscana and a caprese salad and sat there for an hour enjoying the plug sockets and free WiFi almost as much as the food.
After my late lunch, I headed back to la playa for some scribbles and another siesta. By six o’clock, most of the families had headed home and I could enjoy one last dip in the bay, this time without bumping into a giant inflatable unicorn.
The sunset cycle home was incredible. The fields were drenched in a golden hue, the air was cooling and the crickets gave me a rhythmic soundtrack to pedal to.
I reached the foot hill of Sa Roca and took a deep breath before starting the climb. When I said Menorca was not really calf -killing, I was referring to everywhere I’ve been so far excluding this place. As the name suggests, the small settlement of Sa Roca is nestled high up on a rock, overlooking Menorca’s highest point, Monte Toro.
Staying on the saddle from the bottom to the top is quite the challenge, and one I intend to master before I leave. But for now, I’ll clamber up slowly on foot.