The title is from dangerousroads.orgís description, but Iím getting ahead of myself.
Warning for the easily upset - this tale contains no traces of Versys (but hopefully is still worth reading)
Once a year my wife (the lady who is apt to say to me ďwhat are you doing hanging around the house? Why donít you go out on your motorbike?Ē) have a long weekend in Mallorca visiting a friend. Normally we go in October when although the weather is still comfortably warm it can get a little damp. Last year as we were driving back to the airport the island was engulfed by the storm that killed 10 people.
This year however was going to be a little different. Because our friend was having a birthday (age ending in 0) we were going to be there for the end of June and beginning of July. Scorchio.
Get up at the crack of crowsfart on the Saturday morning, tube to the airport, sit on the plane for two hours, leave the airport. My wife and another friend head for the car hire place but I go to the bus stop and catch the bus into Palma where I pick up a rented Ducati Scrambler. The guy in the rental shop gave me a map and very helpfully marked out what he thought were the best places in the island. Not just roads, but pretty villages and towns, great views, even a place for breakfast.
I shall leave the description of the ride to our friends house for now, suffice to say it started by deliberately going in the wrong direction to enjoy the mountain roads.
After discussing my plan with our friend, she confirmed my feelings, that for where I was intending to go the next morning I needed to be there early before all the tourist coaches arrived and made the road dangerous, so the next morning when my alarm went off at 06:30, my body clock was on 05:30 and I didnít know what the noise was. When I worked it out I got up as quietly as I could, got dressed, managed to avoid smacking my head on any of the low doorways and went down to the kitchen for a cuppa and a quick bite to eat.
Consciousness returned I grabbed my stuff and slipped out of the door into the early sunshine. The day smelt wonderful as I pushed the bike through the gates into the lane. Ignition on, press the starter, into gear and off I went as quietly as I could.
I reckoned that I had about an hour to ride to where I was going, but what a ride. A nice bike, a cloudless sky, the temperature was cool but not cool enough to feel chilly, the roads were empty, the air smelt good, the mountains were just visible on the horizon. If only every day could start this well.
When I got to the last town before the mountains the fuel gauge was showing half full, and as I didnít think this bike had anything like the range of a Versys (it didnít) I stopped at a petrol station and filled it up. A good decision on my part as it saved me from sweating about fuel later on.
I was expecting to go along a fairly flat road and then turn off to my destination and start climbing, but almost as soon as I left the town the road went into the mountains and started climbing up the side of a gorge, Hairpin after hairpin, up through the trees into the sky, dizzying views off to one side and then the other as the road went round the rock.
Letís just get this out of the way right now. I.Am.Scared.Of.Heights.
Too late now, Iím committed. I couldnít cope with doing a u-turn this close to the view. But it got easier, when the road got near the top it went away from the vertical drop and into the trees, just being a winding road. With nothing at the edge except a two foot drop into a steep slope with trees to break the fall!
The road ran on for some miles, up and down, in and out of the woods, big drops appearing occasionally. Even with my phobia about heights it was really quite pleasant. Eventually though I came to the sign that I was looking for.
From here to the village was 12k
The first couple of kilometres, including a few hairpin bends, go up to the Col de Cal Reis at 682m. From here the road runs down at an average gradient of 7%, with 26 hairpin bends, but first thereís the famous 270 degree bend that goes round and then under itself.
Under the bridge and round the little corner and the view is incredible. Ahead you can see the road coming out from behind a rock and snaking down, while to my right the mountain just dropped away seemingly vertically with the road thrown onto it.
Despite my acrophobia (I cheated and googled it) I didnít feel scared by it. I think it was just so breathtaking that my brain didnít have any capacity left to consider ďwhat ifĒ.
Down I went, hairpin right, hairpin left, hairpin right. Curves in between. A goat crossing the road. I saw one other vehicle, another bike, coming up.
Bend, hairpin, bend, hairpin, bend, hairpin. The bike didnít have a loud exhaust, but when I closed the throttle going into the hairpins it popped and banged pleasingly.
Eventually thereís a short break from the hairpins as the road runs along a winding section bordered with pine trees, but no opportunity to go fast as the bends are all blind and get tighter, until you go round another pair of hairpins and the road goes through cleft in the rock. Round a curve and now thereís a faster section with good visibility before itís time to get rid of the speed for a 180 degree right hander and then youíre free of hairpins, just bends until you get to the village.
I parked the bike and walked down into the village, the road doesnít go anywhere else, and just sat there with a big grin.
It was too early for the cafeís to be open, and to be honest they looked like the sort of establishments geared up for dealing with tourists in bulk, or bulky tourists, so I walked back up to the bike and went up the hill.
I reckon itís even more fun going up. I still had the road almost to myself, just a couple of cars coming down. The cafe at the 270 bend wasnít open yet so I kept going until I got to the top of the Col.
Two thoughts entered my brain, ďitís still earlyĒ, swiftly followed by ďit would be stupid not toĒ. So after a u-turn down I went again. There were a few cyclists about, but I really wasnít going fast and I was the biggest thing on the road so it was easy to give them plenty of space.
When I got to the bottom the cafe opposite the bike parking was opening up. But they were playing music, oh what vile music. Songs of the calibre of ďI will always love youĒ, but with extra-saccharine arrangements. Just being in the vicinity was raising the risk of developing diabetes.
Maybe if I set off now I can get back to the top before the tourists arrive. A few more cars coming down as I come up, but still pretty empty and Iím beginning to remember whatís around some of the corners and where the goat is.
All the way up to the sign again, but as I went into the 270 degree bend I noticed that the cafe was open, so another u-turn and back to it, and a stop for a much needed coffee and cold drink in the shade outside, enjoying the view.
Sadly, despite working perfectly the day before and perfectly the day after my gopro decided not to play ball this morning, and I couldnít be bothered to find a shady place and put my glasses on to try and decipher the error message, and Iíd really come here to enjoy the ride not to try and do a sequel to Duel, so I thought that I would do a last descent and ascent (for this trip!) to take a few photos.
By now the tour buses had begun to arrive so I had to take a very careful journey down, and even more careful journey back up (looking about 3 hairpins ahead to spot them). Pictures taken, I left to go south again happy that Iíd been able to enjoy the road.
But Iím going to go and enjoy it again.