TSC headed to the winter sun island of Tenerife in late November 2015 to tackle the infamous longest ascent in Europe, starting from sea level in Puerto de la Cruz and cycling just under 31 miles to the Volcanic summit of Mt. Teide at 2,325m.
The Winter Training Camp involved booking return flights from Thomas Cook from Newcastle (£170 each) and separately booking the well reviewed hotel Elegance Miramar in Puerto de la Cruz (£13 pppn All Inclusive). On arrival a 9-seater van was collected from Auto Reisen car hire at the South Airport (£120 for 4 days) and Bikes were hired from Bike Point Tenerife at their El Medano location close to the airport (£45 for 3 days).
We went for the cheapest bikes with the lowest gears and were given an assortment of models and sizes including BMC, BH x2, Marin, Focus and Ridley. The bikes were obviously all well maintained and we had no mechanical issues or punctures, and although one ‘only’ had a 28 on the rear cassette (all others 32) we had no problems at all and would definitely recommend Bike Point who had a very friendly and helpful attitude. The hire also included pedals.
We decided to stay in Puerto de la Cruz mainly for its location at the bottom of Teide, and it also offering us a couple of decent routes in the North of the Island. In truth, the challenging terrain of Tenerife meant that it was hard to come up with any 50 mile loop with less than 3,500m of ascent whether you were located in the South or North. The weather in the North is well known for being cloudier and wetter than the South, however we didn’t come for a sun tan and were only concerned about wetting our throats.
We ascended Teide on the first morning, having pre-loaded the route onto a Garmin in order to be able to navigate our way out of the busy town centre in the first 5km. Once this was completed we were on the TF-21 all the way to the top for the approximately last 45km. The climb itself was just as we expected with no real steep sections (7% at most) but the sheer amount of miles of constant uphill tiring the legs. The last 13km of the climb are actually the slightest and so this was a nice end to the climb.
We had a support driver and car, and so were able to use the car to carry extra layers, kegs of water to top up bottles and a good stash of energy gels. We carried just one bottle each due to this, however I think even without a support vehicle one bottle would have been enough at this time of year, as the longest section without a potential shop to top up water was between Aguamansa (22km) and Portillo (40km). Temperatures were 23c at the start at 09:30am and around 14c at the summit at around 15:30. Our ride time was just under 4h30 however photo stops, water refills and adding extra clothing took our total time for the climb to 6h05. https://www.strava.com/activities/441898931
The descent down to the town was slightly spoiled as fog came in in the afternoon and brought some moisture and dampness to the roads. Both on the climb and descent the roads were empty of traffic, however the road surface was noticeably worse than that in Mallorca so caution was needed.
The second route we completed was in the North, with the weather not as good as Teide, we drove to the town of Las Canteras and followed the TF-12 climbing through Las Mercedes to the Cruz de Taborno and onwards to El Bailadero before starting the simply stunning descent down to the seaside town of San Andres where we stopped for lunch. After lunch at the excellent La Pandorga (€10 for 3 courses & a beer)the roads were much busier and less scenic as we wormed our way through Santa Cruz and back to our car, taking on what must be one of the steepest climbs on the island, the Calle Subida Cuesta Piedra at around 17-25% for its 1.1km length. In hindsight it would have been a better ride to go back the way we came, although there was heavy rain up towards El Bailadero. https://www.strava.com/activities/442217552
After this ride we returned the bikes and enjoyed the free beer and cuisine of the hotel as well as the local sports bar the Bee Hive. Overall it was another fantastic TSC trip as we put another big Tick in a big Box by completing Teide. However, after this we thought the island did not offer as much as Mallorca for other routes and so wonder if we will return. Never say never…