Camí de Cavalls by bike. Complicated?
Cycling the Camí de Cavalls is worth it, yes! but how complicated can it be?
Camí de Cavalls or GR223, an ancestral path that is said to have had a basically defensive historical purpose. This circular path that runs along the entire Menorcan coastline was used by the island’s soldiers to communicate between the different watchtowers and fortifications, thus protecting the area from possible enemy incursions. A path they used to follow on horseback, hence the common name Camí de Cavalls (horses in Catalan).
How nice it sounds to be able to take a route that connects unique beaches, cliffs, lighthouses and rock deposits, doesn’t it? And it must be magical to cycle along. However, before venturing out over 185 km of rocky roads, you might consider a few things.
Questions to ask yourself before cycling the Camí de Cavalls…
- Is this a practical cycling route?
- So, should we avoid cycling the Camí de Cavalls with family and children?
- And if I dare, what should I take into account to cycle the Camí de Cavalls?
- And cycling the Camí de Cavalls on an e-bike?
- I dare in spite of everything! How many sections can I divide the route into?
One of the most common misconceptions we have about Menorca is that its low relief and terrain with few slopes means that cycling shouldn’t be an excessively simple task. However, the route we follow is pure MTB. If you imagine a kind of greenway or a path made for cycling, it’s quite the opposite.
You will find, among other things: narrow paths, descents very close to the cliffs and extremely technical, branches and bushes which can make cycling difficult, stones which will make you bounce permanently and which can easily cause a puncture and, why not, an awkward fall. All this seasoned combo of sectors in which, even being the maximum boss of MTB, you will be forced to get off the bike and take a good walk. That we chose this cover photo to illustrate the Camí de Cavalls is no coincidence, it is a warning of what you should keep in mind.
Those familiar with the Camí de Cavalls choose to make a variation on the original route, omitting some sections such as the stretch between Cala Pregona and Alocs, the northwest corner in the west of the island.
Unless your children are real MTB pros, if you want to discover Menorca by bike in peace, feeling like one of those incredibly perfect and repulsive families in the advertisements, you better opt for a different type of route on the island.
To begin with, be aware of your real capabilities. No matter what you want, it is not recommended to cycle on these difficult roads without technical MTB knowledge and a good experience.
Buy a bike with a good wheel width and double suspension, and be prepared for routes with a lot of physical stress. Although there is apparently not much difference in level, we will experience several ascents and descents along beaches and cliffs.
Don’t forget the helmet either, because as we said, it’s no surprise that you can sometimes fall off along the way, and it’s always good that you’re well protected just in case. Pol Tarrés himself and his friends, with whom we illustrate this post and who have a lot of experience in the world of BTT, can confirm this during their experience with the Camí de Cavalls.
Although e-bikes improve their performance by leaps and bounds, buying an e-bike can make it easier to complete the Camí de Cavalls in some sections. However, it can also be a handicap because it’s not pleasant to have to get off the bike and carry the full weight of an e-MTB. In any case, you can do some easier sections, and leave the hard ones for another time, or do it on foot.
The more daring do it in 3 stages, the mega-brave in 4 stages and the brave in 6. Below is the route in 4 stages so you can download the GPX.
Camí de Cavalls – Stage 1 of 4 – Mahón – Fornells
Distance: 42.58 km. Altimetry: 893 m. Download the GPX.
Camí de Cavalls – Stage 2 of 4 – Fornells – Ciutadella
Distance: 57.06 km. Altimetry: 1070 m. Download the GPX.
Camí de Cavalls – Stage 3 of 4 – Ciutadella – Son Bou
Distance: 53.18 km. Atlimetry: 800 m. Download the GPX.
Camí de Cavalls – Stage 4 of 4 – Son Bou – Mahón
Distance: 40.34 km. Altimetry: 793 m. Download the GPX.
Images courtesy of: Pol Tarrés.