Beaches, sunshine – and every type of trail you can think of (except mountains!).
The Cami de Cavalls is a 185km ancient path that follows the Menorcan coastline (so closely that at some points you’re almost in the sea). You can hike, run or horse ride around it (it was originally designed for defence and was patrolled by soldiers on Menorquin horses), or you can ride a mountain bike.
It is an extraordinary trail featuring gullies, rocks (so many rocks), valleys, wetlands, sandy coves, short, steep rocky climbs and – what goes up etc. – steep drops. It is also a constantly changing landscape: Menorca has been declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO and you experience almost every Ecosystem in the Mediterranean world as you ride. So, you are riding boulder strewn headlands one minute, then rooty trails, sandy beaches and board walks the next.
We took four days to do our trip and everyday was an adventure mostly centred around a) staying on the bikes and b) staying on the trails, most of which are pretty remote. However get yourself to civilisation and Menorcans are super friendly and always happy to point you in the right direction or help out. A special mention for the restaurant owner (and mountain biker) who put in a call to the bike hire shop for us when a tubeless tyre, several inner tubes, mobile reception and our ability to master mountain bike terminology in Spanish all failed. Restored by good will, coffee and new inner tubes, we were soon back on our bikes again.
We wish we had taken longer to ride the trail as there are so many sights to see – we all wanted to shop in beautiful Ciutadella, for instance (I am so going back there, and next time in a more glamourous outfit) – and beautiful beaches to enjoy and often we just didn’t have time to stop. We did prioritise skinny dipping in the sea though – it is beyond inviting when you’re two hours into a ride in full sunshine (note – we visited in October and the riding temperature was perfect).
There are no mountains – but there is one great big climb. Part of the coast is unsuitable for bikes and so the trail took us inland. We were warned that it was an uphill slog though compared to some of the rockier sections of coast we found it quite easy: certainly there are longer and harder climbs at home in Surrey (yes, really). Just goes to show how your skills are built according to what you’re used to riding. Note though – this is mountain bike territory only: I love this sign!!!
No holiday is complete without a souvenir, and we all came home with lovely thigh bruises having lost arguments with tricky rocky sections. Having had post-fall elbow surgery six months ago I count myself pretty lucky that it was only my thigh got a battering. I also got a lovely set of pedal bruises up the back of one leg thanks to the sections where I had to carry/push/climb the bike over rocky ledges and steps that my inner Rachel Atherton couldn’t quite rise to the challenge of.
Our trip was booked via specialists Cami de cavils 360 . They arranged our accommodation, bike hire – full sus Trek 29ers (so glad I didn’t take my own as its bike-batteringly rough terrain), provided a thorough briefing, map and Garmin, booked accommodation, moved our bags each day and were very nice to us.
We’d ticked the accommodation box marked ‘comfort’ – a good move, as we stayed in some quite lovely hotels. I particularly appreciated the one that had a spa within ten metres of my bedroom door. I tested it out (purely in the name of research, of course) and can happily report that is just what you need after a dusty, hot day on a mountain bike.
Exercise makes you very hungry indeed so we made good use of each hotel’s self service breakfast and dinner buffets, and ate at beachside bars at lunchtime. There are fewer of these than you might expect – Menorca is largely ‘unspoilt’ – but they were all good.
This is one beautiful island with some amazing riding. Visit soon.
Vote for your favourite sportswoman of the year with Glamour, and help support the fight against sexism in sport.
With the annual back slapping fest that is BBC Sports Personality of the Year looming, it is worth reminding ourselves that for the last eight years the winner has been male – and only 13 winners in its 61 year history have been women.
With this in mind, Glamour magazine – one of the UK’s most high profile women’s titles – has drawn up its own visionary shortlist featuring female athletes who have, to quote ‘smashed it this year’. All we have to do is vote for our favourite (or favourites!).
Not surprisingly, I’ve voted for Sarah Storey and Lizzie Armistead – but I hope the list also opens up discussion: personally I wish Rachel Atherton – World Champion Downhill Mountainbiker – had also been included because she is right at the top of her game, wins everything she looks at, and is a superb ambassador for the sport.
Unfortunately, and as far as I am aware, there will be no swanky awards ceremony to announce the winners – a pity, as Glamour throws a very good party if the Glamour Women of the Year awards http://www.glamourmagazine.co.uk/fashion/celebrity-fashion/2015/06/glamour-awards-dresses-red-carpet-2015-photos-glamour-uk are anything to go by. But who knows for next year (and if it happens, can I have a ticket please?)?
Finally can I just add that it is great to see such a high profile title as Glamour supporting women’s sport in this way, as part of their ‘Say No To Sexism in Sport’ campaign.
It is no secret that, in order to attract the big budget sponsors necessary to support our athletes and help encourage more women to take up sport, we need mainstream media to highlight the inspiring stories and incredible achievments that make women’s sport so special. Kudos to Glamour for leading the way. Follow the campaign at @GlamourMagSport.