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Tenerife (2014)

In December 2014 I cycle on the Canary Island Tenerife. The hilly tour starts in the arid south, goes into the gorgeous Anaga region and high above Los Gigantes, and approaches the El Teide volcano two times. The weather conditions vary: sun, wind, rain and mist, and temperatures ranging from 0 to 25 °C. In six days I ride 435 km and climb more than 11,000 meters.

Day 1: San Isidro > Santa Cruz de Tenerife (90 km)

I had almost not been cycling on Tenerife right now. Yesterday on Eindhoven Airport, Ryanair initially did not accept my bicycle. I had packaged it the way I had done when flying previously (foam, bubble plastic, canvas cover), but the lady at the check-in desk told me that the bike should be in a box or a closed bag. I argued that the baggage rules do not include the word ‘closed’. Under pressure of a growing queue behind me the lady gave up and accepted the bike nonetheless.

I stock the packaging materials at the hotel in San Isidro and take the TF-636 to the northeast. The landscape is rather unimpressive, but the winding road keeps me awake. The first part of the day the land surrounding me is arid. There are few people around: occasionally an old men working his piece of land. The route is easy: short climbs and moderate slopes, still totaling almost 1,500 meters in elevation.

From Güímar the view to the north-west is nice. At my right the busy traffic on the highway is clearly visible. From here to Santa Cruz there is ribbon development along the road. Santa Cruz is a large city (more than 200,000 inhabitants); it can be difficult for cyclists to find the right way. I am glad that they invented GPS. I make some additional climbs to visit the Decathlon store. The hotel is situated in the city center that is decorated in Christmas style.

Day 2: Santa Cruz de Tenerife > Costa de Valle Guerra (70 km)

Immediately after Santa Cruz the landscape completely changes: I leave the dull, densely populated hills and enter the sparsely populated, green Anaga mountains. Quite a contrast to the harbor, the oil storage tanks and the oil platform at the right. On this sunny Sunday morning there are many joggers and speed cyclists. In San Andrés I turn left onto the TF-12. This well-constructed road leads to El Bailadero on the main ridge of the mountain range.

I take the TF-123 to the east, and next turn left to Cabazo del Tejo. This jeep track is doable. At the end of the track I have a magnificent panoramic view of the cliffs in the north-west. From this view point I take the shortcut to Chamorga: a 300 meter descent on a steep and sometimes slippery hiking trail. I have to carry my rear panniers separately. I slip, fall on my saddle and hurt my ribs.

Chamorga is disappointing and I quickly head for El Bailadero and next Las Mercedes. The road goes on or close to the mountain ridge and offers spectacular views to all directions, including, far away, El Teide. After a long descent I end up at the Lagarto backpacker hostel: bed and breakfast for 15 euros, and for an extra 9 euros I can join the barbecue and have unlimited drinks. The atmosphere is great with guests from Spain, Italy, Australia, England, France, Finland, Denmark, and the Netherlands.

Day 3: Costa de Valle Guerra > La Higuerita (90 km)

Ouch! Perhaps it was not such a great idea to get into my bunk bed at 1.30 a.m. The energy is lacking to go cycling to El Teide, but… come on! When I go off the sun shines – I even use sun cream – but within half an hour or so it starts raining and it twill stay like this until 5 p.m. The route that I made up at home appears to be a challenge. The “white roads” on the map are, with no exception, very steep, often 15 to 25%. I am therefore glad when I reach La Esperanza and can continue my trip on the easier “yellow” TF-24.

The road follows the mountain ridge to El Teide. It is cold and wet, and due to the mist I cannot see anything of the surroundings: I will have to sit out until the end of the day. It therefore comes as a surprise that near Montaña de la Negra (200 m below the 2,300 m high summit) the sun comes through the clouds; my efforts (more than 2,600 m climbing) are rewarded with the view of the 3,718 m high Pico del Teide and the observatory in the sunset. It is chilly; there even is ice on the road. What remains is a long descent in the dark to La Higuerita.

Day 4: La Higuerita > Las Portelas (53 km)

Today I start early and I try to avoid the “white roads”. The first part, via Los Realejos, La Guancha and Icod de Los Vinos is quite nice. The road from Icod to El Amparo starts extremely steep and is on average more than 8% until Montana de las Parras. At Erjos I take a 10 km long hiking route through the forest. The road surface is doable and I can descend for the greater part of the route. Unfortunately the bushes are too thick to see the landscape.

In Las Portelas a very steep climb follows to today’s finish location: Albergue de Bolico. Its buildings, painted in “Basque red”, contrast nicely to the light-green surroundings. I will stay here for two nights. The three other guests are from the Netherlands too. The Spanish biology student Maite (?) is our guest lady. There is a huge kitchen, but I have nothing to cook, and there is no supermarket in the village. Fortunately there is a restaurant along the main road.

Day 5: Las Portelas (rest day; 30 km)

I have little energy, my (bruised?) ribs start to ache and tomorrow’s trip will be demanding. So today I try to relax. I first cycle down to El Palmar to do shopping. Right there the sea wind suddenly starts to blow very strongly; I have to take shelter behind a wall. The road to Teno Alto is strenuous: a climb of 400 meters in 4 km on a poor road surface. I can see little of the surroundings due to the clouds (which are, strange enough, dry).

At arrival at the plateau the sun comes through. I cycle on some of the many narrow roads, and make photos of chickens, geese and goats. On the way back I take a narrow, hard-surfaced and sometimes very steep road that ends above Las Portelas. I then cycle on the TF-436 to Taibabapass, but there it suddenly starts to storm. After fifteen minutes waiting I flee to Las Portelas. The rest of the day I just hang around in the Albergue.

Day 6: Las Portelas > San Isidro (102 km)

I get up quite early and am pedaling my bike at 7.45 a.m. The TF-436 goes high above Los Gigantes and is great. Early morning it is quiet up here; the tourists going for a hike into the Masca gorge are still in their beds. Too bad that there is not enough (sun)light to make decent photos of this valley. The climb of more than 400 meters to Santiago del Teide is pretty tough (10%), but thanks to the diverse road I hardly notice.

After a quick breakfast in Santiago I take the TF-375 and next the TF-38 to El Teide. For a long time the road is very boring: climbing 4 to 5% on long stretches of straight roads, and surrounded by clouds that hinder any views of the landscape. It is not until the last curve, at Cuevas de Somara, that the sun comes through and I can see El Teide. From here I enjoy the best view of the volcano; the wonderful light-green colored trees contrast perfectly to the brown soil and the blue sky.

At Boca Tauce I turn left and cycle in a western-like landscape (Cañadas) to the east. Until now the car drivers on this island have behaved perfectly well, but the tourists that come from the terrible beaches of Playa de las Americas sometimes drive in an irresponsible manner. The bizarre rock formations look funny , particularly the the balancing Roque Cinchado. (Even though I find the lava sculptures on Iceland far more interesting.)

I cycle back to Boca Tauce, climb a little further and have amazing “sinister” views of conifers against the thick clouds. What remains are 33 km and a drop of 2,000 meters to San Isidro. In the hardware store beneath my hotel I buy an additional canvas sheet and rope, which will minimize risk of Ryanair not accepting the bicycle for the air transport. I get up at 2.45 a.m. and return to the Netherlands at noon. I have really enjoyed this cycling trip!