A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that in mid-February I will be travelling to Tenerife for a few days of winter cycling. It won’t quite by ‘cycle-touring’ in the traditional sense, more a combination of travelling and then cycling whilst being based in the same place, a hotel in southern Tenerife. Although I still need to check all the details, I’ve been told that I will be able to hire a bike at the hotel and my trusty steeds – Wanda and Ronnie (and my rather rusty steed Reggie…) – will be left at home for the duration.
But what can I expect when I get there? Well, I was kindly pointed in the direction of the Col Collective website which has a page dedicated Mount Teide, the volcano at the heart of the Spanish island. It is, curiously, the highest point in Spain at 3,715 metres. I don’t think you are able to cycle all the way to the top of the volcano – certainly not on a road bike – but here’s a Col Collective video about cycling as far as you can go:
Here’s what the Col Collective say about the ride up the side of Mount Teide:
“Just off the north-west coast of Africa, Tenerife is the largest and most popular of the seven Canary Islands, a magnet for tourists in search of winter sun and sangria. Of course, if lying by the pool isn’t your thing then you may wish to turn your attention towards the mighty Mount Teide, its snowy volcanic peak rising up to 3,718 metres above sea level making it the highest point in Spain.
“Cycling from El Médano you actually face one of the shorter of the six main routes, just 51km(!) up to the Teide plateau. Most comparable in terms of average gradient and length to the magnificent Col de L’Iseran from Bourg Saint Maurice in the French Alps, Teide is the only place in Europe where you can climb continuously from sea level to 2,100 metres in one go. It’s not the gradient, it’s the length that really takes its toll on this one. More than a climb, it feels like a full on bike ride as you trace your way out of town and towards Las Cañadas, a collapsed crater measuring 48km in circumference that El Teide sits within.
“As the glistening Atlantic coastline and old fishing hamlet of El Médano fade away, the aroma of eucalyptus fills the air as the road gently twists and turns ahead. From Granadilla the gradient continues to hold its form around 4-6% allowing you to really enjoy your surrounds.
“Take some time to recover and refuel at the halfway point in Vilaflor, things are about to be turned up a notch as the gradient hits 11% before you rise above the clouds and enter the Teide National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site no less. There’s little wonder why over three million tourists are drawn towards Teide’s mystique. The sheer scale and beauty is hard to comprehend (especially after over 50km on the bike!)
“Although the road continues up to the foot of the volcano at 2,325 metres elevation (where you can then take a cable car to the top) it’s the Parador de las Cañadas hotel (famously used by Bradley Wiggins and Team Sky in his build up to the Tour de France) at 2,152 metres where the pro’s choose to recover and soak up the view. What a climb. What a ride!”The Col Collective, Mount Teide
There are other ways to the top, however. There’s a cable car and a hiking option but it looks as though it’s not as simple as just rocking up and either jumping on board or setting off walking. Tickets and permits are required. But definitely something to look into nearer the time. All the details are on the official Mount Teide website.
With only a few days to explore Tenerife, it’s unlikely that I’ll do any island hopping but if I did decide to jump on a ferry to Gran Canaria, the email that arrived in my inbox yesterday might be useful. Here’s what the local tourist authority have to say:
Gran Canaria, when you get off the bike
With Christmas knocking on the door, Gran Canaria these days is abuzz with cyclists looking for tranquility, a variety of routes and pleasant weather, far from the rigors of winter, which already hits cyclists’ morale hard when it gets warm outside before leave.
A cycling holiday in Gran Canaria makes perfect sense at this time, hundreds of cyclists are right now enjoying every little corner that the island has for the curious cyclist among other professionals.
But once you get off the bike, the island offers many attractions that fill hours off the road with experiences.
Gran Canaria has always taken the conservation of its natural heritage very seriously. In 2005, UNESCO rewarded this effort with the declaration of a World Biosphere Reserve. 43% of its surface is protected territory.
You can already imagine the number of places to get lost and enjoy the more than 100 species of flora that can only be seen on the Island and emblems of local fauna such as the blue chaffinch or the canary lizard.
Rest on beach
Gran Canaria has almost 60 kilometers of beaches spread over 236 kilometers of coastline, with options for all tastes.
Picturesque places like the coast of Mogán and Agaete or stupendous carpets of golden sand like Las Canteras and Amadores.
In the south of the island is Maspalomas, an ideal enclave where you can enjoy a warm sunset next to a nineteenth-century lighthouse that enjoys a peaceful retirement. Las dunes, a small portion of desert anchored by the sea, is a sublime setting for those who associate their well-being with rest.
Not just cycling
Bathed by the Atlantic Ocean, Gran Canaria has known how to take advantage of its advantageous circumstances to transform itself into a fun water park. Surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing are some of the sports that can be practiced throughout the year. Jet skiing and parasailing ensure high doses of adrenaline and the richness of the seabed is a great attraction for lovers of diving and sport fishing. Back on the mainland, golf and hiking play a major role on an Island that exposes its 24 degrees of average annual temperature as the best argument for exercising outdoors.
Travel with family
Gran Canaria is a family destination that ensures instant disconnection with the little ones in the house but also aims to establish itself as a meeting point for doing business. Its air connectivity and the quality of its accommodation allow you to combine work with endless alternatives for leisure time.
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the island’s capital, boasts of being a location where it is forbidden to be bored. The city hides its most intimate secrets in the old neighborhood of Vegueta, where interesting museums are located that the visitor should inspect.
Three identities on the plate
The gastronomy of Gran Canaria is another example of the miscegenation that has given it its triple European, African and American identity. La Isla proudly sports a wide range of products. There are exquisite cheeses, fruits and vegetables that are exported to the Old Continent, excellent fish and traditional pastries made art thanks to the legacy of several generations.
From Gran Canaria we wish you Merry Christmas…”
And a Merry Christmas to them as well.
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