Our first official ride involved two significant climbs; Ermita de Betlem near the town of Arta and Ermita Bonany near the town of Petra. As we went through the town of Arta, the narrow alleyway like roads and historic building structures emanated a strong sense of history and heritage. (clips of Arta coming soon)
On the outskirts of Arta, we passed an undulating area of greenery and Abu Thamim informed us that the first climb, Ermita de Betlem was approaching. With this announcement, the group splintered with each of us climbing at our own pace. The gradient rose gradually throughout. After seven hairpin bends, the flat section of the finish was finally in sight. At the top we were rewarded with a magnificent view of the bays of Alcudia and Pollenca, the Serra Tramuntana mountains and Cap de Formentor.
We then headed back the way we came. Our route took us through Arta again and then south towards Petra, the location of the last climb of the day; Ermita Bonany. Along the way we had a few toilet and refuelling stops. As we neared the second climb, Monjur decided to showcase his latest party trick, aptly named ‘The Titanic’.
The second climb had a similar pattern to the first, we all went at our own pace and regrouped at the top. Compared to Betlem, the climb was sheltered from the sun by surrounding trees, however it did feel slightly steeper especially nearer the top, possibly due to fewer switchbacks and the legs feeling the mileage we had covered so far. Upon reaching the top we were met by an imposing church and a superb view of Petra and its surrounding areas.