The fascination amongst cyclist regarding Tenerife is unparralled. From the likes of Sir Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome, Lance Amstrong and many more, Teide Bike climb, as we like to call it here at Bike Point is a must. This is where some of the serious high altitude training takes place and many personal challenges are accomplished. We are fortunate to have this mythical beast…….
It is the largest of the seven islands that make up the Canary Islands and it is located 200 miles from the coast of Africa and depending on where you are coming from in Europe it is not very far. For example, it is a four-hour flight from the UK, a five-hour flight from Germany, and a three-hour flight from Spain’s main land. As a result, its close proximity makes it an ideal cycling destination. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves and discuss why this island is where you need to be!
Tenerife is dominated by the presence and sheer beauty of Mount Teide, which, at 3,718m, is the highest mountain in Spain and a major tourist attraction for anyone visiting the island. Even China’s president, XI Jing, visited the region in 2019 and couldn’t leave without admiring Mount Teide’s beauty.
Tenerife’s climate makes it an ideal winter training camp location. The southern part of the island is dry and barren, whereas the northern part is more lush and green, with slightly cooler temperatures. Even on a small island like this, the riding is varied. Tenerife’s road circumference is only 223 miles.
The weather is much more stable and predictable here than in other popular winter cycling destinations. Even in November and December, when temperatures can reach as high as 26°C during the day and fall less dramatically at night.
We rode out from our shop in El Medano upwards in the direction of the town of San Isidro. Although we were only 5 kilometres into our ride, our heart rates were already rising at a rapid pace, which was rather concerning, given that we still had a 30 kilometres of climbing ahead of us.
By the time we left San Isidro, our small group had split up, which was fine with me because long climbs like this should be done at your own pace. Teide bike climbing from the south side is divided into two sections: the lower section leading up to Vilaflor and the more barren section taking you closer to the summit. Vilaflor, at an elevation of 1,400 metres, is the highest village on Tenerife, situated to the south of Mount Teide and accessible via three different routes. This is an obvious and convenient destination for riders who want to accumulate a lot of climbing with out the strain and stress of doing high altitude climbs.
The road to Vilaflor climbs gradually and offers many interesting views as well as relatively gentle gradients with only the occasional steep climb. We stopped at a local gas station to refuel and regroup, which was, at least for me a much-needed break. After this we continued our ride out of Vilaflor marvelling at changes in landscape, from one of farmlands and open spaces to the covered pine forests and bushes. While the road continues to twist and turn, the gradient stiffens in places, and by the time you reach the edge of the forested area and begin to enter the rockier and more barren landscape, you’re pretty much using top sprocket of your cassette.
The final 5km of our the climb was grueling because of the steep inclines. To make things worse there are no hairpin bends to relieve the strain on your legs, even for a brief moment, and there are no flat sections aswell. The upside to all of this is that it’s a great climb for forcing you to maintain a consistent workload and focus on your pedalling technique.
When you finally reach the summit, you are greeted with some of the most breathtaking views you will ever find on the island. On clear days, you can see deep into the valley below, but most of the time you are presented with a view of the cloud, which seems to hover between 1,200m and 1,500m. There is a 4km descent and then a long plateau before climbing slightly back up between the climb’s summit and the Parador (lodgings). Teide is described as a moonscape landscape, there is very little vegetation and signs of its previous lava flow and lumps of molten rock formation from its previous volcanic eruptions.
Unlike most climbs, Teide can be warmer at the top than on the lower slopes, where clouds can hang around even during the day. We certainly noticed a significant temperature change when we reached the plateau the day we rode it. It is wise to bring several layers with you as you never know what you will encounter.
It took us three long hours to reach the summit, but it was well worth the effort. The descent was fantastic, taking the same route back down it was quite smooth without being overly technical or tight. You can often see below you so you have a clear idea of what is coming up next and whether there is any traffic. Tenerife drivers are very considerate, for example, whenever I got close to one, they would either keep a safe distance before overtaking or, on rare occasions, allow you to overtake. I believe it is correct to say that motorists on the island have a high level of road awareness and the regard for cyclist safety is held in high regard.
The only thing you need to be cautious of are the clouds. We hit them at about 1,800m and were treated to an unusual combination of fog lights, temperature change, and reduced visibility for a short distance. However, by the time we got to the lower parts of Vilaflor, the clouds had cleared and we were back in the warm sunshine.
Tenerife and Teide are unique in many ways; in a four-hour ride of just under 80 kilometres, we ascended and descended 2,100 metres and saw a variety of scenery and terrain. If you are fit and want to become seriously fit, this is the place to be. Teide Biking, as we call, is a must!!
For our Teide Bike experience some of the team rode the following bikes from the range of bikes we have here at Bike Point:
Looking to complete that perfect cycling holiday, then we have put together a list of hotels that we would regard as been cycle friendly.
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