It’s been an age since my last blog but it’s been a crazy year and I haven’t ridden half as much as I had hoped too. I have managed a few great rides in Asturias and ridden some spectacular new climbs; of which I will write about in the next few weeks. However, before I do so, I feel compelled to write first about the climb I rode the other weekend.
The climb isn’t in Asturias but it is in Spain, which is close enough. The climb is The TEIDE in Tenerife. Now, any of you that follow professional cycling will probably know this is a climb often used by professional cyclists, including Team Sky, for training. Needless to say, when my wife suggested we take the kids to Siam Water Park (which is right by the start of the Teide climb) as a pre-Christmas treat for the kids, I told her that it was a great idea and was looking for bike hire companies within 5 minutes.
I hadn’t ridden much in the weeks leading up to our trip but to make matters worse I came down with a horrible flu virus just days before our departure. The flu quickly turned into bronchitis but there was no way I was going to miss this opportunity. Dosed up to the eyeballs on antibiotics, my bike was delivered to my hotel (http://www.bike4youtenerife.com A Kuota Kryon Ultegra, a Great bike for a rental and fantastic service) early Saturday morning.
I must admit I wasn’t feeling good. The ride from the hotel was up hill all the way to the top of the Teide (36km) without any respite and after just 10 minutes I was suffering. However, having done most of my cycling in Asturias I’m pretty used to suffering and I know how to get up a climb without killing myself. Physically, I know what I am capable of and knew that if I tried to keep my HR at 140 or below I would be fine (I have a very low heart rate). The legs would hurt but as long as they didn’t start cramping I knew they would get me to the top. Half the battle on long climbs like the Teide is mental. After one and a half hours of climbing you know you are still only half way and if, as I did, you know the gradients just get tougher, it can be quite a challenge to motivate yourself to go further.
The gradients were actually steeper than I was expecting and although I wouldn’t say it’s a really tough climb – except for the fact it’s so long – it certainly helps if you’ve done some training for it and are prepared. After you pass VilaFlor the gradients are generally between 7 & 9% so even when you go as slow as I did, it still hurts. Any climb of 2100m should be taken seriously.
Over 4 hours after leaving the hotel (I stopped for a coffee and a cake half way up) I finally reached the summit. It must have been one of the slowest ascents of the climb on a road bike, but I was chuffed that I had made it. Quite an achievement really considering the state I was in. A group of riders was at the top but I carried on past them and started to descend the other side. The real climb is 32km long (plus 4km more from the hotel) but you can continue to the volcano if you are prepared to ride another 16km. Believe it or not, I was actually considering doing it but as I descended the thought of having to ride back up and an additional 32 km’s had little appeal – plus it had taken me so long to get up that there really wasn’t time. Sensibly I rode until I got a good view of the moon landscape at the top and then climbed back up to the top of the first climb.
The group of riders were still there by the time I got back up. Most of them had over taken me on the way up but they had stayed up there enjoying the scenery and getting their breath back. After a little chat and a few photos, they headed off, leaving me alone at the top where I took a few more pics before heading back to the hotel. I must admit it’s worth climbing the Teide just so that you can enjoy the descent. It took me just 57 minutes to get back to the hotel and that includes stopping to take photos.
All in all, a great climb. I really enjoyed it despite being ill, so it must be great when your fit and on form. It was certainly tougher than I expected but that just makes it more rewarding once you get to the top.
Here are some stats:
There are several ways up the Teidi but I started my ride from Playa de las Americas, which takes you through Arona and Vilaflor. From this side the main climb peaks at El Retamar at 2100m.
These stats are based on the climb starting at Los Cristianos:
Average Gradient: 6%
Max Gradient: 11% (very short bits)
Elevation Gain: 2100m
Difficulty: It’s bloody long and quite steep at times so definitely TOUGH.
Road conditions: Pretty good – no problem going up but quite bumpy in places coming down especially near Vilaflor.
Profile from Playa Las Americas to the cable car: