If Paretti, the man responsible for most of the roads that traverse the Tramuntana mountains, had got his way you wouldn’t have to climb Mallorca’s biggest cycling climb. Three times he attempted to build a cable car line to the summit, three times warfare of some description stopped the project.
- LA MAISON
- LA VIE
MALLORCA’S COLLS & CLIMBS : PUIG MAJOR
It’s not as long as Turini but is still a stern hors categorie test from Soller, measuring 13.7km long. Michal Kwiatkowski knows both climbs and holds the fastest Strava time on Puig Major at 33:12, a record that has stood for six years. Mere mortals should aim for somewhere between 45 and 55 minutes.
For those not going for a record time or training effort, take the alternative start from Soller to climb via the village of Fornalutx. Sometimes referred to as ‘the prettiest village in Spain’ it welcomes you with its orange groves which help give this side of the mountains the reputation as the ‘Valley of Gold’. Liquid gold. The road squeezes itself between the old stone buildings, past the town square before rejoining the main climb to get back to business.
The local authorities know their audience well and have paved this side of the climb to perfection. The views across to the other side of the valley and down to the port of Soller just get better and better with each of the large open switchbacks as you climb towards the tunnel at the summit. The medium gradient of 6-7% allows you to choose your own effort but like many mountain ascents, the road gets a bit steeper in the final kilometers so pace yourself accordingly.
The Monnàber tunnel provides a fitting finale to the climbing but this mountain delivers more on the other side. Through the tunnel the Cùber reservoir comes into view between the rocks and, after the effort, it may be tempting to take a dip. Continue on and the water of the second reservoir, the Gorg Blau is closer and even more inviting. It’s known as the ‘mirror between the mountains’ that has inspired local painters and poets alike.
Look up to the left and the military dome on the adjoining peak is visible. The history books state that the Americans helped install this base and rumours still abound as to its use by them. Cyclists will notice and – depending on the effort already made – regret that the service road with its stacked switchbacks leading to the peak, is for army use only.
Past the reservoirs another tunnel back through the belly of the mountain takes you towards Sa Calobra where an internal debate might rage – more climbing or back home for a dip in the pool?