A cycling holiday in Mallorca features a whole host of road climbs packed in just a few square kilometres across the beautiful Tramuntana mountains. The most well-known of them are located in the Northern and Northeastern areas of this range, relatively far from the city of Palma de Mallorca. There are also some hidden gems which only the locals know about. One of those gems is cycling the Sobremunt climb.
Cycling Sobremunt is a short affair but a toughie. It has the steepest gradients out of any climb in Mallorca with some eye watering ramps. Want to challenge your lightweight-climber friends during your cycling holiday? This is probably not the best terrain to do so, as a pure Watts per kilo test will favour the explosive and featherweight riders.
What’s the climb like?
Sobremunt is a relatively unknown climb but amongst those in the know, it has the reputation of being the toughest in Mallorca when it comes to gradients and road surface. At the time of writing this blog, less than 500 riders have registered an effort up the climb on Strava. Given 80,000 people that have ridden Sa Calobra in the north of the island, you know why we think this is a hidden gem.
Riding out to Sobremunt
Located just 10 kilometres away from Palma de Mallorca, the most straightforward way to reach the base of the climb from Palma is to head north along the Ma-1041 road. You need to warm up before hitting the climb if you’re heading out of Palma. If you head east along the coastline, there’s a dedicated bike path that can add those extra miles in the legs while enjoying the Mediterranean ocean breeze. Alternatively, ride a loop through the flatlands to spin out your legs.
The Start of the Climb
You will find a small sign with the name of the climb (Sobremunt) that points towards a right turn out of the Ma-1041 road. From here the road starts to climb. It’s here that most consider Sobremunt to start. You will be 7 kilometres from the top although the first 2 are pretty gentle. Steady gradients of around 3%, hide the true nature of the incline in the following kilometres.
It’s at 5 kilometres from the summit that the climb starts to bite. Short short ramps of up to an eye watering 20% kick in. This is followed by beautiful but nasty hairpins made even tougher by the terrible state of the road filled. Thankfully, dense walls of Mediterranean pine trees laying at both sides of the road offer protection from the sun during most of the steepest sections.
After a brutal first kilometre of proper ascent you will find a few meters of respite before kicking up again into a relentless second and third kilometres where the gradients barely drop from 10%. There’s the occasional short descent that allows for a breather before the road gets back at you with the next gruelling section.
1.5 kilometres from the top you will have to cross a gateway on the right hand side. By this point the road surface becomes a mix of worn-out tarmac and gravel while the gradients keep averaging 10% maxing out at 18%. You will need all your bike handling skills as you grind your way to the top . Fortunately, the top of Sobremunt is not far away. On summiting, you will be rewarded with stunning views of the Palma bay. You will also be one of only a few number to have conquered this challenging climb. Whilst not as famous as Sa Calobra or as beautiful as Cap Formentor, cycling Sobremunt will be among your highlights on any cycling holiday to Mallorca.
Length: 7 kilometres.
Average Gradient: 10%.
Toughest Gradient: 25%.
In terms of duration, you will be looking at a 40 to 50 minutes’ effort provided that you can stay atop your bike all the way up.
To increase your chances to conquer this climb without having to put your feet down your gear ratio selection will be key. We recommend that you ride with at least a 32 or a 34 cassette so you have those extra teeth to find as you make your way up the climb.
As mentioned before, the short and explosive nature of this climb requires a decent warm up or else you might find your legs swollen just after a few hundred meters up the initial steep ramps. Take a ride into Andratx or even the flatlands on the other side of Palma. A quick loop of Llucmajor will get you ready to tackle the Sobremunt climb.
Thanks to the remote location of Sobremunt you aren’t likely to encounter many cars along the climb. However, you should have the utmost caution on the descent due to the poor road surface during most of the climb. A bigger tire selection (28 or 30 mm) will also give you a huge advantage in terms of traction while climbing and added safety for descending.
Where to Refuel with Coffee & Cake
While visiting the city of Palma de Mallorca you should pay a visit to the iconic Rapha cafe. Located in a privileged and charming area of the old town, the British cycling brand flagship clubhouse brings the cycling community together in this part of the island with regular rides and events, and of course with tasty specialty coffee.
The Ma-1041 road which leads to the base of Sobremunt is peppered with local restaurants and cafes where to grab a nice bite pre and post-ride. If you want to order a typical Mallorcan breakfast there are two basics that are worth a try: “ensaimada”, a fluffy wheat pastry, and toast with “sobrasada”, a cured pork spiced spread.