No words describe Sa Calobra – as a cyclist, it is just a road you have to experience to believe! Welcome to the ultimate cycling destination that is cycling Mallorca.
The switchbacks are unrelenting – they just keep coming, piling one on top of the other. The road is narrow and tight. With the constant mass of cyclists travelling up and down the road, I can not even begin to imagine what it is like for the drivers. Patience is a virtue as they are often made to wait behind the bikes navigating the twists and turns that give this road it’s name – the Cobra.
The climbing begins straight out of Inca – then it is game on! To get to the Cobra, one first needs to climb up towards Lluc, following the masses as they make the turn to the road to head down to Sa Calobra. The road to the port was built in 1935, giving beach access to the tourists – how did they do it? But if you think heading down to the sea is all downhill, well, there’s a bit more climbing to be had. After cresting the peak, there’s 12km of descending through switchback after switchback – for cyclists – euphoria!
At its peak, Sa Calobra reaches 683m above sea level before serpentining through incredible rock formations, skirting the ridges and winding down through switchback after switchback of cycling euphoria. In a word – a marvel – unimaginable how these ridges, twists and turns were ever put together to create such a journey from sea to sky.
This is not a ride for the faint of heart. First, there is the climb to get up to the turn to Sa Calobra. Then, the descent – hair raising, exhilarating, breathtaking – the views are spectacular. The turns are technical and the volume of cyclists on the road at this time of year only add to the mayhem – but it is so worth it. No words adequately describe the experience. The road down to the sea is 12 kms – blink and you miss the markers on the side of the road as you speed down the mountain. On the way up, you will have more than enough time to count the kilometres down as you wind your way to the top! It is unrelenting in the climb – the varying grades through the switchbacks a welcome relief to the legs as they turn the pedals up the road, some more slowly than others! As you climb, you see cyclist after cyclist descending, grins from ear to ear as they soak it in, all senses going into overdrive!
Then you are at the top – from the peak, you descend back to the turn off and the well deserved snacks. On a sunny day, it is a challenge to even get a spot to sit as the scent of fresh Valencia oranges waft through the air – the perfect reward for your efforts. Back on the bike, time to descend through the trees, welcoming the shade as your hard work is done. There are four noises that you hear on the Cobra – the free wheel of descending cyclists, the huffing and puffing of the climbers, the horns and engines of the buses as they haul themselves up the climbs and the wind chime sounds of the bells on the goats in the forest.
Most of the group, it was the first time cycling Mallorca. While they had all hear about Sa Calobra, it was the first time they had cycled switchbacks like these – a crazy 8 km maze of twisting roads and hairpins as the road carves through the cliffs and plunges down to the sea. When asked to describe her first experience on the Cobra, the word that came to my friend’s mind is “surreal”. Even though I tried to describe the experience to her, she agreed that it really was something that had to be experienced for herself. Welcome to Sa Calobra!