Monday, March 6, 2017

Gran Canaria Day 2:

Day 2 in the Canaries stepped it up a notch. Thomson formally divided us 25 or so riders into A and B groups. Naturally Dave, Brett and I signed up for the A group, 11-12 riders total. The temperature was perfect at 8:30am. The pace was a little less spirited riding out of Playa de Mogan than yesterday’s shakedown ride. Once we turned off GC-200 onto steep GC-605, the governors were turned off and our group began to fragment.

GC-605 was fabulous segment to climb. It switched-backed up all walls of a huge canyon at persistently steep grades. There was very little traffic. Frequent vistas down the canyon were your reward for all the strenuous effort put into the climb. I stopped numerous times to snap photos, falling well back from most of our group. Might never be here again and wanted to capture it.

The A-van awaited us at the first crest. A small descent brought us to the remainder of the climb, which topped out at 4300ft above sea level. We stopped briefly for in Ayacata for Americanos at a cafe before beginning the long plummet down.  The temp had risen enough that even at elevation, it was still perfect and nobody put long layers on for the descent.

There were some sucky pavement sections. You'd be ripping 40+ mph then hit rotten asphalt and be like oh faaaawk! We did quick Regroup in not easy to navigate San Bartolome de Tirajana before continuing downward plummet on much better pavement.

It wasn't all down. We cliff-hugged through the Fataga Valley, sometimes called the Grand Canyon of the Canary Islands. Views did not disappoint. At one point the road pitched up rather violently and was barely one lane wide. There were huge numbers of cyclists going by in opposite direction here and moderate traffic. It was quite sketchy at times. A truck was heading down and met a car and plugged things up for those caught behind it. I would not want to back a car down that!

The view from the top was best of the ride and maybe one of the best on the island. Reminded me a lot of the Gila Canyons of Arizona where the Arizona Trail passes through. So similar, except in AZT case, singletrack is cut into canyon road instead of a road.

From top of the Fataga Valley, it was all downhill to the ocean at Maspalomas. Maspalomas was a bit of a CF, very high traffic, lot of it stop and go on the GC-500 we had to take all the way back to Playa de Mogan. Must have been 30 or more round abouts and several tunnels along the way, and we climbed the same 30-50 meters about a hundred times along the coast it seemed. Would like to have taken pictures here, but the train I was positioned in was too good to lose and have to solo it all the way back. The finish was all trafficy, mainly Maspalomas and a few other coastal communities we rode through.

Jordi, our Thomson ride leader, announced we were up to the last climb. It was then a brief plummet back to hotel. The gloves came off, like it was a Tuesday Night Worlds finishing sprint. An "Oh Faaawk!" was heard as riders bolted up the fairly steep wall.  No, I did not play those shenanigans. Probably would have cramped up. I finished with just over 100km on the Garmin in 4hrs moving time. Oof, that was harder than it looks on paper. I logged about 6500ft of climbing with my new Garmin 1000, although a few others in the group logged over 7000ft.

A and B vans getting ready to roll out. Thomson support is top notch.
Beginning the climbing in earnest on GC-605

Looking down to where GC-605 branches off GC-200. Our hotel is down valley around bend on coast. Dark band in background is not clouds. It is the Atlantic.

Looking down an a few thousand feet of climbing. This was pure bliss, very minimal traffic, good pavement.

Further up GC-605 with small convoy of tour vans coming up. Probably 8% grade average, but sections steeper for sure.

Somewhere between 3000-4000ft, flora became ponderosa pine forest or what ever they call these pines here.

Heading up to Ayacata

Heading up to Ayacata. Dave second wheel, Brett 5 more wheels back.

Bike cafe in Ayacata

Some of the gang in Ayacata

Beginning descent from Ayacata, Jorgi leading the way

Heading down to San Bartolome de Tirajana

Brief regroup in San Bartolome de Tirajana

Heading up cliff hugging road in Fataga Valley

Lot of one-lane road in Fataga Valley. Had some pretty sketchy pinch points here. Could be right out of Arizona.

Fataga Valley, aka the Grand Canyon of the Canaries
Brett, Dave and myself at vista of Fataga valley

Descent to Maspalomas with ocean in distance. Some fast ripping here too.

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