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10 Essential Tips for Cycling in Gran Canaria in Winter

By Gran Canaria, Spain No Comments

Gran Canaria is establishing itself as one of the go-to destinations for cyclists seeking sun in the cold winter months. The island is located off the west coast of Africa and is subject to warm weather, sunshine and very little rain all year around. We asked Eat Sleep Cycle founders Lee & Louise to compile a list of tips for cyclists after they visited the island last week.

1. Winter Cycling Paradise in Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria is one of the best destinations in the world to enjoy in January & February. Don’t bother packing leg warmers – our friend Normando, who is from the north of the island, doesn’t own a pair and rides every day. Make sure you cover your legs in sun-cream instead as UV is very high. Factor 50 is best, and you’ll still get tan lines!

2. Pace Yourself

Pace yourself & prepare yourself for some tough climbing, the island does not contain a single flat road. There are two particularly challenging climbs on the island – the legendary Valley of the Tears & the climb up to Pico de Nieves via the village of La Pasadilla. Do not start out too fast on Day 1 when your legs are fresh – the roads to not let up and you’ll be off the bike by Day 3 if you hit the climbs too fast.

3. Tranquilo Traffic

Traffic is generally very respectful of cyclists and it’s quiet on the mountain roads. The coast road should be avoided at busy times of the day but it does have beautiful sections which are well worth riding, particularly in the north and west of the island.

4. Go Local

Locals ride in the north, visitors ride in the south – both are amazing and it’s well worth exploring the north of the island if you can. The north of the island offers greener landscapes with plenty of Eucalyptus trees and a friendly cycling culture (there are so many cyclists in the south it’s more difficult to keep up the enthusiastic greetings!) 

5. Be Prepared & Know Your Roads

Do your homework – roads on Gran Canaria are in a constant state of flux with frequent closures & resurfacing. There are two key sections of the coast road which are falling away. One section has been closed for 3 years and the other has just been blocked off in the name of safety – ask around when you arrive on the island for the latest updates. Whilst roads generally have a great surface they deteriorate quickly so prepare yourself for some bumpy rides on roads which are due for resurfacing – some roads are fairly dangerous to descend but enjoyable to climb.

6. Perfect Planning

Plan to your ride up to Pico de Nieves on the clearest day of your trip so you can enjoy the otherworldly view of Mont Teide on Tenerife. Sometimes the wind blows a fine layer of dust over from Africa, blocking the view and making all the effort not so worthwhile – the dust is not likely to last more than a couple of days so it’s worth planning your ascent carefully 

7. Ride Nutrition for Epic Days

Food in supermarkets is relatively expensive but there are some great value bars & restaurants. In local bars off the tourist bus route coffee hovers around the €1 mark. If you’re bonked and in need of some serious sustenance order a ‘leche leche’ and you’ll fly up the next climb. A ‘leche leche’ is a cafe bonbon on steroids. A cafe bonbon is an espresso served with deliciously sweet condensed milk. Both drinks are €1 in the best places – make sure you carry cash, cards tend not to be welcome in these areas.

It’s also well worth carrying a stash of food in your pockets and stopping at every opportunity for water. It’s easy to run out of both if you’re on a big day & some rides take you to some fairly remote places.

8. Look Up! It’s Beautiful.

If you’re expecting to ride on a brown volcanic island, think again. Gran Canaria is full of green, lots of cacti, Eucalyptus, banana plants and there are some incredible rock formations in varying colours. Make sure you look up from the the wheel in front of you and take time to appreciate the incredible landscape.

9. Enjoy the Friendly, Welcoming Vibe

The local language is Spanish but it’s very easy to get by with English as the island’s economy is centered around tourism. It’s hard to find a menu in a cafe which has not been translated into several languages.

10. Think Pantani

Legendary Italian climber Pantani trained in Gran Canaria & every ride contains 2,000 m of climbing unless you choose not to venture off the coast road. Just something to be aware of when planning your rides!

Planning to Cycle in Gran Canaria?

If you’re planning to cycle on Gran Canaria check out our blog outlining some of the best Gran Canaria Cycle Routes & the best places to stay. Or why not sign up to our Gran Canaria Ride Camp or ultimate Gran Canaria Experience and save yourself the hassle!

Gran Canaria Cycle Routes - A Cyclist's Paradise - Eat Sleep Cycle

Gran Canaria Cycle Routes – A Cyclist’s Paradise

By Gran Canaria No Comments

Gran Canaria is truly a cyclist’s paradise. The largest of the Canary Islands looks like it was designed by road cyclists for road cyclists with its smooth tarmac, quiet roads, minimal rainfall and temperatures in the mid twenties year-round. The island is only 100km West of Morrocco and on the same latitude as the Sahara, but while there are sandy beaches in the South it’s no desert, Gran Canaria’s landscape is extremely diverse, from volcanic and barren to green vegetation depending on where you are on the island. It may not be home to the biggest, hardest or most iconic climbs but Gran Canaria has a lot to offer and certainly isn’t lacking when it comes to riding uphill (a compact is essential).

So why should your next European cycling holiday be in Gran Canaria? Take a look at our highlights and Gran Canaria cycle routes and see for yourself!

The Valley of the Tears

The most revered climb on the island is colloquially known as The Valley of the Tears, and you would be forgiven for turning on the waterworks after one glance at the stats: The climb is 11.8km long with an average gradient of 8% (bear in mind that this includes sections of descent), the maximum gradient is 25% and it’s likely to take the average punter at least one hour to complete. VOTT starts tough, with 25% gradients; so don’t attack the bottom too hard – you will need that power later on!

Gran Canaria Cycle Routes - The Valley of Tears

Pico de Las Nieves

The highest point on Gran Canaria and most commonly attacked from the town of Maspalomas on the GC60, the climb up to Pico de las Nieves is a long one: 40 km to be precise with an average gradient of 4.7%. The trick to getting through it is to break it up; the road lends itself to this as there are short descents interspersed throughout. With 11 km to go after joining the GC600 comes the hardest part of the climb, the gradients steepen drastically. At this point you will have the top and the Roque Nublo (rock in the clouds),an ancient sacred monument, in sight.

There are several routes to the top of the island, each offering different views and a sizable challenge. The toughest ascent is via the village of La Pasadilla – it’s a tough climb and it’s rare you’ll have the company of another cyclist. Just what we like!

Santa Lucia

The climb up the GC65 through the village of Santa Lucia offers a steady ascent with great views and plenty of cafe stops. As all roads do in Gran Canaria the climb takes the rider to the centre of the island, via the village of San Bartolome (where riders on a shorter day can descend back to the coast) or continue on up to Ayacate where all cyclists congregate before attempting the final kms to the Pico de Las Nieves.

Soria

This is a beautiful climb connecting the coastal town of Arguineguin to the Tauro pass. With plenty of switchbacks the road begins with a smooth surface and gets a little rougher towards the top. A sharp left at the top takes the climber away from the village of Soria on a steep, broken & very beautiful road to the Tauro pass, where the cyclist can take a left and descend to Porto de Mogan or take a right and keep on climbing.

Tauro Pass

One of the prettiest climbs on the island this pass begins in Mogan. The views unfold as you climb the valley, with switchbacks galore and plenty of cyclists make for a friendly atmosphere of suffering as cyclists of all shapes and sizes & all types of bikes haul themselves up the road.

Where to Stay

Maspalomas

The popular resort of Maspalomas has an eclectic feel, with golfers, an LGBT community, families, sun-worshipers & cyclists from all over the world all choosing Maspalomas as their base. In terms of cycling the resort offers the best location for riding unsupported with access to the widest variety of routes. There are good quality cyclist-friendly hotels offering spotless rooms and good customer service and is overall the best place to stay for a DIY cycling holiday.

Porto de Mogán (above right)

Porto de Mogan, known as the “little Venice of Gran Canaria”, is a fishing port home to many hotels and restaurants and of course, the beach! Take some well-deserved post-ride recovery time on the beach followed by dinner with a sea view. This is an idyllic spot and with only one road in and out makes for a tranquil spot to enjoy when not cycling. There are some great rides from Porto de Mogan but from a cyclist-perspective only 2 or 3 days worth of routes without taking a transfer or hiring a car to ride from a different spot.

Agaete (above left)

A lovely coast-side town in the northwest of the island, Agaete offers a peaceful place to stay away from the masses on the south. There is a volcanic beach and incredible saltwater rock pools which people bathe in all year around. The cycling from here is varied and there are lots of options. The north of the island typically experiences cooler weather than in the south with the chance of rain a little higher. But if you’re the type of cyclist looking for more of a tranquil retreat this is a great option for a base.

Las Palmas

The captial of the island is packed with history and culture and well worth visiting for a couple of days. There are some cycling routes in and out of the city but traffic is fairly heavy and so staying in Las Palmas if you’re purely looking for a cycling trip is not to be advised. Local cyclists tend to drive a few kms out of town to the coast and ride from there.

Cruz de Tejeda (above centre)

For a completely different experience stay for a night or two in the mountains in the centre of the island where there’s a Parador hotel. The hotel offers an amazing spa, infinity pool into the mountains an truly spectacular views. The variety of riding from this spot is second to none but pretty much every road starts downhill from the hotel which could make for a chilly start each morning. The temperatures are also cooler away from the beaches but could be well worth the sacrifice for the ultimate experience in relaxing places to stay.

A Perfect Winter Cycling Destination

Gran Canaria offers so many hidden gems and is simply somewhere that you must experience for yourself to believe. Deep winter is the perfect time to visit, when Northern Europe freezes dig out the summer bib shorts and basque in the wall-to-wall sun and perfect temperatures! Check out some top European winter cycling destinations here!

Gran Canaria Cycle Routes - Winter Cycling Destination - Eat Sleep Cycle

Gran Canaraia Cycling Vacation

If Gran Canaria sounds like your next European cycling vacation then take a look at our Gran Canaria ride camp tour – brand new for 2019! Give us a call on +34 972 649 131 or contact us online to find out more about a cycling tour to Gran Canaria!

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