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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!

Guide to Cycling in Majorca - Eat Sleep Cycle

Guide to Cycling in Majorca

By Cycling in Spain, Spain No Comments

Majorca (or Mallorca as they say in Spanish) is arguably one of cycling’s most popular winter cycling destinations for getaways and is synonymous with pre-season training camps as teams escape to catch some early-season sun and take advantage of the smooth, well-maintained roads. The best times to visit the island are spring and autumn when the weather is not too hot but is warm enough to get those cyclist tan-lines going.

The Mallorca 312

The island even hosts its very own sportive the hugely popular Mallorca 312 – the course of which originally traversed the entire 312km lap of the island but now maintains the same distance but varies in terms of parcours year-on-year.

Majorca Cycling Highlights

Because so many cyclists have been coming to the island for such a long time the locals are accustomed to them frequenting the roads and as such give them due respect, which makes enjoying some of the fantastic cycling in Mallorca even more enjoyable. Here are some of the standout rides that Mallorca has to offer!

Majorca Cycling Tour Highlights - Eat Sleep Cycle

Sa Calobra
Stats: 9.4km at 7%
Sa Calobra is the most well-known climb on the island and one of the most well-known roads in Europe, famous for its spaghetti-like switchbacks the road was designed by Italian engineer Antonio Parietti and built manually in 1932.

Cap de Formentor
Stats: 17km at 2.8%
From Pollenca this climb is more of a series of kickers than one long climb, however gradients remain mostly low making it a steady ride with spectacular views up to the iconic lighthouse. It is the Northernmost point of the island and is known as ‘the meeting point of the winds’ and the wind can indeed get quite strong at the top.

Col de Soller
Stats: North 7.4km at 6%, South 5km at 5%
The Southern side of Col de Soller from Bunyola is the most popular and easier side to climb with a gentle and consistent gradient owing to the many hairpins, no longer the main road to Soller since a tunnel was built in the 1990s the road is usually empty of cars barring a few.

The Northern side of the climb is slightly harder although still not hugely challenging once again thanks to numerous hairpins of which there are more than Alpe d’Huez!

Puig Major
Stats: 14km at 5.9%
The only thing which could make this climb challenging is its length. Highest climb in Mallorca, located within the Tramuntana mountains and as such is largely sheltered within woodlands.

Off The Beaten Track Riding in Mallorca

The next set of spots for cycling in Mallorca are a bit more off the beaten track than the previous ones but are still worth the ride.

Valldemossa
Stats: 5km at 7%
If you want to take the road less pedalled whilst still experiencing what’s best about Mallorca then Valldemossa is the place to go. Steeper than the majority of other climbs but also much quieter so in our opinion it’s worth it!

Tramuntana Coastal Road
Through the Tramuntana mountains along the Southern coastline from the town of Esporles to Andratx is the rolling route of the Tramuntana coastal road. As you ride along this road the Mediterranean sea is visible on your right and the Galatzo peak is on your let making for stunning views. The road surface is high-quality and there is very little traffic making this one of the most enjoyable routes on the island.

Els Vergers/Sobremunt
Stats: 7km at 10%
Crowned by the GCN show as the ‘hardest climb on the island’ this rough stretch of road ramps up to a maximum gradient of 25% and averages 10% – with downhill sections included. At the top is a restaurant which gives the climb it’s name and is well off the regular cyclist trail.

Mallorcan Culture

We believe that a huge part of taking a cycling vacation is discovering a new culture, cuisine, architecture and unique character of each place. So many European destinations are steeped in history just waiting to be discovered and Mallorca is no exception and there are lots of spots worth visiting whilst there.

  • Palma
    Head to Palma on a rest day for a spot of shopping or to dip in and out of the numerous cafes and tapas bars. La Seu cathedral is a must-see the Gothic building is the focal piece of architecture in the city and is truly stunning to see.
  • Alfàbia Gardens
    Go for a stroll in these multiculturally influenced gardens in Bunyola in the North of the island and therefore within a close distance of the most popular places for cyclists to stay. The gardens contain exotic plants as well as orange and lemon trees.
  • Deià
    We would recommend staying in this picturesque village if you can, but if that’s not an option then a visit is certainly needed anyway just to see how stunning it is. Whilst there, visit the house of Robert Graves – the British poet and author of I,Claudius who lived in the village, which is now a museum.

Mallorcan Culture - Majorca Cylce Tour - Eat Sleep Cycle

Mallorcan Food

To go with the Mallorcan culture there is also the Mallocan cuisine which has to be tasted to be believed. There are a number of Michelin Star restaurants dotted around the island, a sign of the refined palettes that frequent the island and worth visiting if you can.

Where To Stay in Mallorca

Most cyclist visitors to Mallorca stay in the North of the island, far removed from cities like Magaluf to the South which are renowned more for partying than pedalling. In the North Port de Pollença and Alcudia are most popular as these areas are on the coast and close to the UNESCO World Heritage site Tramuntana Mountains – the highest point of which is the tip of Puig Major. The versatility of flat riding along the coast and the challenge of the  mountains are what makes the area attractive.

Hotels:
The number of cyclists that visit the island each year (in the hundreds of thousands) means that most hotels are bike friendly with many offering places to store bikes.

In the Cycling Hub:
If you want to be around more cyclists than just regular tourists then the cycling hub of Hotel Hoposa Bahía in Pollenca should be considered.

For Something Different:
And for those of you who would like something a little bit different you should check out Hotel Des Puig in Deia.

Where To Stay In Majorca - Cycling Tour - Eat Sleep Cycle

When (and how) to Travel to Mallorca

The best times to visit the island are spring and autumn when the weather is not too hot but is warm enough to get those cyclist tan-lines going! You can fly into Palma airport – the island’ capital of Palma hosts the island’s main airport. You can also get a ferry from mainland Spain (although beware that this could take up to 8 hours).

Cycling in Majorca

If the above has piqued your interest for a trip to one of the de facto cycling Meccas of Europe then we’ve got the perfect tour for you. Check out our Majorca Experience to really discover the island or take a look at our Mallorca Ride Camp to rack up those quality miles. If interested give us a call now on +34 972 649 131 or contact us online and we’ll be happy to give you more info about it!

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