By Artem Kazachkov
Moderate to hard
Mallorca's main gem!
Coll dels Reis
Sa Calobra is Mallorca’s main gem in terms of cycling and arguably the most challenging climb on the island. If you come there for a week (who would go to Mallorca for even less at all?) then you better hold off Sa Calobra for midweek - first to get in shape and second - well, just don’t rush to the main dish! Getting in shape will just make you enjoy this amazing ride much more. But be sure, whatever your plans are, the day you’ll head to Sa Calobra is going to be The day.
Why the hype? OK, to be clear, Sa Calobra is quite challenging. It’s not those long and gruelling Alpine passes but it’s long enough and steep enough to make your quads burn. Sa Calobra is a 10 kilometers climb with a gain of about 700 meters that gives you roughly 7% of gradient. Expect to hit some 12% a couple of times, especially between kilometers 7-8. The summit of the climb is the pass called Coll de Reis, just a bit higher than the famous spiral bridge.
The climb itself will take an average cyclist about 45 minutes or more. If you want to get in the first few thousand in the strava leaderboard for the segment, you’ll need to make it in less than 40 minutes, with the speed of some 16 km/h, which is mindblowing given the length and steepness. And yes those beasts crank above 300 watts for the segment. But hey, are you sure you need this?
Speaking of the difficulty, the climb itself is quite far from the place where most of the cyclists tend to stay – around Pollença and Alcudia. From Port de Pollença for example you will have in your legs already 45 km and some 800 meters of climbing – just to arrive to the turn from the main road towards Sa Calobra. And if you want to make it there and back, you are definitely up to an epic ride!
The main trick for this ride is that you have to go down first and then to go up the exact same way, and there is no other way around. So it’s not as we cyclists prefer – suffer first and then get the rewarding wind in the face downhill after. You’ll have to be riding down, squeezing the brake most of the time and feeling how you will just now will have to nail this all the way up! The descent can be quite scary, especially depending on the traffic – make sure you are aware of the cars and do not risk the blind turns. Animals happen to get on the road as well sometimes. So take it easy and try to enjoy what is really cool downhill.
The climb takes you on the mountain road that is an outstanding example of engineering art. Twisting through the rocks it took lots of effort to build. And of course the road is famous for what is technically called the spiral bridge – 270 degrees ramp where the road turns and runs above itself. Be sure to notice that – there are only 5 such road constructions in entire Europe!
The ascent is very stable and even, there are no flat sections but neither are there very steep ones. You start off from the sea smoothly with some very nice climbing with gradients of 6-7%. Around 4k there are two switchbacks that would make your device show you 11% but that’s a false alarm. 6k will cut you a little bit of slack and steepness will go down to high 5%. Just make sure you still keep some energy for the last kilometer as it gets to almost 8% average with a couple of points of 11%, right before the famous Sa Corbata spiral bridge and finally Coll dels Reis. That’s the summit and from there you will head slightly downhill until you reach the main road in a couple of kilometers.