Late January, I wanted to kick the year off with a big ride, and catch some winter sun, so I find myself heading out to the idyllic island of Menorca in the Mediterranean. In Oct ’18 I hiked the GR 221 on neighbouring Majorca so felt somewhat prepared for Balearic island conditions.
GR 223 – 114 miles – 4200 ft elevation
I’ll let the video and music do the talking on this one, it’s a gorgeous island in its own way, not breathtaking like the high alpine, or heart-stopping like a tranquil mountain lake, Menorca in the offseason is quietly rugged, every turn reveals another perfect bay, every crest shows a new view. It is not a hilly island at all, but if you have ever travelled on a coastal path you know it’s rarely flat.
This is for sure a mountain bike trip, a gravel bike would be torture, I would highly recommend a full suspension MTB too, the island has some of the roughest and most technical terrain and with limited long descents, it requires you to keep momentum at all times to find the flow. Bring your good legs on this trip!
In January it was plenty warm for someone coming from a Welsh winter, though I packed sleeping kit for a frosty night, just in case.
If you are planning on visiting out of season then you will not find supply outside of the main towns, but you will have the trail to yourself. Take a bigger pack and stock up in the starting capital of Mahon, and you will be able to resupply in the old capital of Ciutadella half way round. The main issue is water, make sure to have at least 2 litres at all times, carry a filter and take every opportunity to refill. Meals that do not require water might be the best option.
If like me you arrive at the tail end of a storm like Gloria, then be prepared for mud and long stretches of flooded trail, you might have to change your route if parts look impassable.
If you can handle riding in the heat, then the islands season is May-October, you should find the coastal resorts with their shops and restaurants alive with life, rather than the strangely fascinating ghost towns out of season (though the desolate luxury villas can be a nice place to bivvy)
The Cami De Cavalls was originally intended to link the many watchtowers around the coast of the island, it is primarily a walking and horse riding route, though mountain bikes can muscle their way around, expect to hike-a-bike. There are many prehistoric sights on route, along with seemingly hundreds of smugglers caves and holes, these warrant a longer trip to take in as many sights as possible.
Menorca and this beautiful trail will take you back to the simple life, of swimming in warmer water, riding for the pure joy, and finding flow around this stunningly rugged little island.