Gran Canaria 1997

Beaches, sun and cycling

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Gran Canaria is one of the islands of the Canarian archipelago. The island is crowded with small, bending roads. Although the island is not very big there is much to cycle for more than a week.  Because of the barranco's (canyons) riding is also very hard. I have been there for twelve days and stayed in an apartment in Playa del Ingles, the tourist centre of the island.
The southern part of the island is very dry. The northern part there are more villages and bushes. There are lot of dirt roads in the south, but you have to cope with some heavy traffic, because there are jeeps on the road.
The road maps are very poor of quality and difficult to find. The best map I have found was a map included with the Baedekers tourist guide.

Sunday 4 May 1997
The first day we start with the climb outside Playa del Ingles. It is very hot and the climate is very dry. There is almost no vegetation and the landscape is bare. We have some great views on the Barranco's, deep red coloured canyons.
At Fataga we stop for a drink and here we see the finish of a cycling race.
After San Bartolome the climb becomes harder and the hot temperature is killing our energy. In La Plata we decide to descend and to take a short cut. On the map there is a tiny road to Maspalomas. The road to the lake Embalse de Chira is perfectly paved. Just after the lake the good road surface is vanished and only a dirt road is left. We wish we have a mountain bike and hope that the road will change, but it doesn't. The road is 30 km long and it becomes dark very quickly. After several punctures we are don't have any patches left and so we have to walk for about 10 km. Finally we end at the back of a Pick-up truck and arrive at midnight in Playa del Ingles.

View on the canyons of Fataga
On the dirt road between Los Cercados on the side of the lake Embalse de Chira and Maspalomas

Monday 5 May 1997
The second day we cycle along the coastal road to Mogan. There is a lot of traffic on this road and frequently it goes up and down hill. In Puerto de Mogan there is a light incline to Mogan, a nice village. After Mogan the road rises steep in several hairpins through a forest. After 10 Km the surface of the road changes from perfectly paved to a dirt road. We cycle together for about 1 km, but the road becomes even worse. Johan and Martin decide to turn and I still follow the rough road. At a crossing I choose not to go to the Embalse de Cueva de las Ninas and Ayacata, because it becomes too late and the road is still very rough. I descend through the Barranco de Arguineguin. I pass the Embalse de Soria, a small lake and descend to El Barranquilo Andres and Cercado. In Arguineguin I follow the same road as we did in the morning to the apartment.

Tuesday 6 May 1997
The third day we still want to reach the highest point of Gran Canaria, the Pico de las Nieves (1980 meter). This time we try it from the south-east approach. The road up to the north from Playa del Ingles is very annoying. There is a lot of traffic on this four lanes road and wind can make it even worse. This is the only road into the direction of Las Palmas. At the airport the GC 812 is even following the highway.
In El doctoral we start to climb to Santa Lucia. The landscape is bare and we climb for quiet a long time.  Again we pass San Bartolome and now we have more time and energy to push forward. In Ayacata the road becomes extremely steep. With a lot of effort we succeed to pass this hard part. We have a good view on the Roque Nublo, a striking rock on the top of a mountain. The last 10 km are not so hard and finally we reach the highest point of Gran Canaria. Here we have a marvellous view on the island.
Soon after that we start to descend. The last 20 km we descend in the dark, which is very dangerous because we have no lights on our bikes. We arrive safely at the apartment.

On the top of Pico de las Nieves
the dunes of Maspalomas

Wednesday, Thursday 7,8 May 1997
The forth and fifth day we have some rest days. We visit the beach and take a walk through the dunes of Maspalomas. The next day we rent a car and make a round trip along the island.

Cycling along the steep west coast between San Nicolas and Agaete

Friday 9 May 1997
The next day I start in Puerto de Mogan. Martin has brought me here by car and he is going back to pickup Johan and their bicycles. The climb between Mogan and San Nicolas is not very hard, but the scenery is changing every minute. With every bend you have got another view on the rough coast. After reaching the top at 996 meter I descend to San Nicolas.
Here I have to wait for one hour until Martin and Johan arrive. Together we start with the marvellous coastal road between San Nicolas and Agaete. This part is fantastic, with amazing views, very steep cliffs, narrow roads and a beautiful scenery. In Agaete we stop for a break and we return along the same way to San Nicolas. Martin is going to ride to Mogan and Johan brings me back with the car to Playa del Ingles.

Saturday 10 May 1997
Johan is dropped by car in San Bartolome, where he starts to cycle.  Martin picks me up and together with two bicycles in the back of the car we drive to Parador Nacional de Tejeda. During this ride we enjoy the impressive landscapes in the centre of the island (Ayacata, Tejeda, Parador) with a view on the amazing rocks Roque Nublo en Roque Bentaiga. Johan has already arrived at the Parador and we prepare ourselves for a round trip in the northern part of Gran Canaria. In this part there are more roads, villages, vegetation and it is more populated than the southern part of Gran Canaria. We start to descend through a lot of villages (Lanzarote, Balcon de Zamora, Firgas and Arucas).  Here we have a lunch at the stairs of the cathedral of Arucas. After that we start to climb back to Teror, Vega de San Mateo. Here Johan cycles to the rented car and we climb along the steep road to Cueva Grande. After the top just a couple of kilometres from the highest point of Gran Canaria we start to descend to Ayacata, San Bartolome and Fataga, back to Playa del Ingles.

Teror on the North side of the island
Roque Nublo

Sunday 11 May 1997
Johan and Martin want to have a rest day, so today I make my own trip. I start along the busy GC 12. In Aguimes I ride
through the barranco de Guayadeque. It is a very narrow canyon and it is a dead end road. The temperature is very hot and that makes cycling very hard. With a slow cadence and a speed nearby the 8 km/hour the climb takes a lot of time. It is very crowdy, a lot of Canarian people are having a lunch under the trees. Finally I reach the end of the road and within a quarter of a hour I am back at Aguimes.
I visit some old cave ruins, Cuevas de Pilares and cycle to the top of Pico de Bandama, an impressive crater.
On the way back I have some difficulties to avoid the highway nearby the airport, but I succeed to find a dirt road along the high way.

The crater of Pico de Bandama

Monday 12 May 1997
We start very early and we ride along the busy GC812 to Telde. There we start with the east side of the climb to Pico de las Nieves. This climb is a real killer, a height difference of 1900 meters in 28 km.  Especially the kilometres from Cazadores until the forest are very hard. The weather is making it worse because of the pouring rain. I have problems to get the right cadence and there is not much of a view. I am glad at the moment I have reached the top and quickly we start to descend to get some warm feet.

Tuesday 13 May 1997
Today we make a small round trip. We start again along the G812, where we have to cope with a strong headwind. We pass El Doctoral, Sardina, Aguimes, Temisas, Santa Lucia and return via San Bartolome and Fataga to the apartment.

Thursday 14 May 1997
On the last day I purchase a camcorder. With this new toy I make some nice shots during the climb to Fataga, our standard climb which we have done a couple of times. I have mounted the camcorder in a saddlebag, so we have some cool video snaps just like in the cycling races.

© 1997 Mail me: Luddo Oh