Ros Edmonds has written an account of her trip to Tenerife where she tackled Mount Teide. Sounds pretty amazing
Mount Teide, Europe’s Longest Continual Climb
The girls were going away on a swimming training camp. So a quick search for cheap flights during the dates they were away resulted in Tenerife. Flights were booked and I was left in charge of accommodation.
I chose El Medano, as it was apparently less commercial and still very Spanish compared to the majority of other resorts near to the Southern Airport….. At least that is the reason I told Ian. Other plus points were, it was a straightforward route up Mount Teide and there was a bike rental shop just 50 metres from the apartment. “What a happy coincidence” I commented when we arrived. “It would be so easy to cycle up Teide from here”
I rented a bike from Bikepoint in El Medano. I did not prebook as advance bookings are not allowed for less than 3 days. They also will rent out any kit you may need. I went prepared with shoes, helmet and bottles. They were very helpful, asked if I wanted carbon, but after experiencing the wind tunnel that is El Medano I requested a nice heavy bike. I wanted to stay on the road! They found me a small triple that was a good fit. It only had one bottle cage and no place on the frame to fit a second, not a problem I thought, I had done my research, I could stop at Granadillia 11km and Vilaflor 25km, I would be fine. (Mistake!!) By 9.30 am I was outside the shop, battling the wind trying to get on the bike (the wind was blowing it from under me) and I wondered if I was mad attempting to cycle up a Mountain in such conditions.
It is apparently the longest continuous climb in Europe from 0 metres to 2107 in just over 37k. Then it’s a downhill into a crater, a gradual uphill follows until the cable car station at 2325m which is the highest point of the road. This is about 51km. I planned to at least get to the café at the Parador Hotel, where many of the cycle teams including Sky, stay for their winter warm weather training. The idea was to get food and water there and perhaps continue to the cable car station before retracing my route back down to El Medano.
Anyway, it was a struggle the first 10k or so battling the wind, upward gradient, horrible road surface and traffic. After reaching Granadilla the surface improved, the wind eased and the traffic got lighter. The scenery was amazing, cactus and wild flowers everywhere, the bright blue sea getting further and further away. I was warm and enjoying myself.
After about 17km I was out of water. I realised I should have stopped at Granadilla. The next place I could get any was Vilaflor still about another 8km. It seems crazy but 8km is a long way when it’s hot and uphill. I stopped for a rest and ate my banana. As the wind had dropped the heat had intensified, so I took off my arm warmers and basked in the sunshine. At this point Ian arrived in his little rented Fiat Panda. I wasn’t expecting to see him; I was so pleased and waved excitedly assuming he would have a drink. Unfortunately he hadn’t, why would he? So I told him to go up to Vilaflor and get me a bottle of water. “Can’t, he muttered nowhere to turn around” and off he went. Anyway I made it up to Vilaflor with a mouth as dry as the Sahara, where Ian stood waving 2 bottles of water at me. This was at about 25km which had probably taken me about 2 hours. I stopped drank one and poured the other into my bottle. Onwards and upwards.
The road after Vilaflor was amazing, no wind, hot and the surface was smooth and wonderfully twisty. I road upwards into huge pine forests, to my left I saw little toy boats in the vast blue ocean and the odd fluffy cloud beneath me. It got harder and harder as I climbed, I got hotter and hotter and each hairpin looked like it must be the top edge of the crater, but it wasn’t! On and on and I got slower and slower and a few super fit cyclists over took me with a cheery “hola”. I was out of water again and the next place I knew was the café at the parador hotel in the crater. Eventually I saw a sign that indicated I had reached 2107m at El Retamar and I turned a corner into an icy blast of wind. Down I went into the crater with the wind dramatically slowing my descent, my bare arms were freezing and my fingers poking from my gloves began to go numb. I reached the level and pulled into a parking area to put on every item of clothing I possessed. Off I went, on the flat now, battling against the wind and a whirlwind of sand spiralling into my eyes and nose. The scenery had changed into a moonscape, I had passed black lava fields on my entry into the crater, now I was in a red sandstone desert with the snowcapped peak of Teide rising another 1600 metres to my left. Very dramatic. But I was struggling, where was the café?? I needed water. The road surface on this stretch is diabolical, dodging potholes and ploughing through the sandstorm I plodded on for what seemed like ages, now upwards again and eventually arrived at the café. Ian was waiting in the café car park and a cyclist who had overtaken me shouted a cheery well done!
After a well needed sandwich, coffee, can of cola, water I decided not to bother with the cable car station. I had done 47km and Ian said he had been to it and there wasn’t really much point in me going any further as I didn’t intend to go up the cable car.
I started the descent, initially downhill, then uphill to get out of the crater. Then a superb but slightly scary descent to Vilaflor. I stopped there for a drink and stretch, then the best bit, the road from Vilaflor to Granadilla is superb, I thoroughly enjoyed myself leaning into the hairpins and freewheeling all the way. The traffic was light and I was getting warmer again, I followed a couple of other cyclists down to Granadilla where the fun ended. Granadilla is the point where the winds start, the road surface is terrible and the traffic starts to accumulate. Down to San Isidro, over the Autopista then the final descent into El Medano. This was really scary, the road is very exposed and the crosswind was blowing me all over the place. The vibration from the terrible road surface gave me numb hands. I had to take the centre of the road as I couldn’t keep my line and didn’t want to get blown sideways into a car. My front wheel felt like it was being blown from under me so I had to reluctantly slow down to keep safe.
I arrived back at Bike point with 2 other cyclists who had followed me down from the Autopista, all of us reliving the horrors of the wind and road surface on the last few kilometres. Overall it was brilliant, so glad I did it! Total ride was 94km.
None of the climb is difficult. What makes it hard is the fact that in 37km there is no flat bits. Obviously some sections are harder than others but there is not one flat section in the whole of the climb. Added to that there is the wind and the heat and the need to carry plenty of water! I’m sure most of you in the club would not find it any problem and would fly up much quicker than me. I really recommend it.
From what I saw Tenerife is brilliant as a cycling or triathlon training holiday, or even just a quick escape from the family holiday for a day or few hours. I was pleasantly surprised at how green it is. A very beautiful Island. We travelled by car to the north, it was all very green and mountainous. El Medano is a nice seaside town but is very windy and is a mecca for kite and wind surfers. Playa de las Americas and Los Chrisianos were worth a visit but not really my sort of place, they are huge purpose built tourist enclaves. But within a few kilometres you feel a million miles away.
We went the last week in February and it was warm enough to swim without a wetsuit and not too hot to cycle. I don’t think I would have attempted Teide in the height of summer.
Climb Profile – Mount Teide