Friday, March 10, 2017

Tenerife Day 5: Up and Over el Teide

Day six of the Canaries training camp was a logistical marvel that Peter and team have put together. The day starts the evening before for the Thomson team. The bikes are loaded atop the support vans and driven to the ferry for the transfer to the next island over, Tenerife.  Our morning starts at a harsh 4:30am. We have light breakfast at hotel and pile into hotel shuttle for 45min drive to Gran Canaria airport. The flight is a quick 30 minute puddle jump. Then we pile into the vans for another 45 minute dive to the southwest side of the island where are ride starts just above sea level. From there, we climb monotonically about 7000ft at 6% average grade over 21 miles, topping out at about 7800ft at highest point of ride. We drop to only around 3000ft on other side, where a short 15min shuttle gets us back to the Tenerife airport. 30 minute flight, 45min shuttle back to hotel, just in time for second seating of the fantastic food spread our resort puts on each evening. Our day finished around 10pm, but the Thomson team still had to get the bikes and vans back via ferry to Gran Canaria for the next morning's ride. A lot of work for one ride, but it is a very special ride, a climb that many top pros also train on.

To start the day off, I got maybe 90 minutes sleep. Not sure why. Too much caffeine earlier in the day? Metabolism jacked by so much activity? Sucked man. I was in complete mental haze getting ready to roll out at 10am on Tenerife.

My GPS showed 90F shortly after staring in Los Cristianos. I was pretty sure I lost all my sunscreen in 30 minutes. Was going to be a soggy chamois riding day. The air was much more clear than the previous days, maybe because the Saharan desert dust wasn't quite coming over this way in the morning. This would make for some clear pictures later on. I hadn't explored what to expect up top, so it was mostly going to be a surprise.

The A-group got pretty spread out. It is training camp, and the ground rules were each person climb at their desired pace. I took lots of pictures with the good LX7 camera, so I was stopping a lot and leap-frogging with Brett on the climb. About an hour into it, Brett's rear tire pretty much just exploded. We were maybe 3rd and 4th riders heading up and had a nice pace going. Kinda sucked. Don't know what happened. It was not a puncture. The tube blew out internally on rim-side, but not at a spoke hole either. Never seen anything like it. Jordi from Thomson was not far behind us and helped get Brett going in no time. But now were were DFL out of the A-group.

The scenery wasn't changing much. You're on this side-skirt of a giant volcano, which some place on the top ten most dangerous volcanoes in the world. You can't really gain perspective of how steeply you're climbing because your whole reference plane is tilted. Your legs know it though. I stopped taking so many pictures and picked up the pace a bit. The higher you get, the more obvious it becomes your riding through pumice and lava flows, even though sparse canary islands pines now add some green  to an otherwise Martian looking landscape.

I reached the initial peak around 7000ft and nobody was there except Adam with the van from TBT. An initial fast descent took me into a barren lava flow waste land, Teide National Park. The terrain looked very much like Haleakala on Maui, also a volcano island. Signs indicated when various flows occurred. The ski was pristine blue, the first time on this trip. Maybe we rose above the Saharan dust? The wind has been from the east all week, off the mighty Saharan desert, driving the temps up and putting a dry haze in the air. The air felt more Arizonan desert than tropical island, that's for sure.

The climb side-skirting the summit cone was a brute. Another 1000+ft of vertical with some insane cross winds. A bit trafficy too, as there is a lift that carries tourist to the 12,000ft summit crater. Hard to believe that the cone stood another 4000+ft above me. Another spirited descent with sketchy cross winds brought me to the lunch stop at the Papillon restaurant, which our van just arrived at.

From here, it wasn't all downhill back yet. Another 800ft grind in noticeably thin air had to be scaled before the real descent began in earnest. The descent was a white knuckle speed fest. The road was mostly good, but random bits would really throw you for a loop. I hit a heave hidden in a shadow of eucalyptus trees going over 40mph. It actually launched me, and when my front wheel regained contact with the ground, it was not quite pointed in direction I was traveling. I shudder thinking about how closely I came to completely losing it. That rattled my nerves pretty good.

The temperature was mostly in the 70's up top, but as we dropped, it climbed back up to around 90F. The ride ended just below 3000ft at tiny local bar/pastry shop. Several locals were hanging out while 18 spandex clad foreigners nearly took over the place and started devouring treats and beers. Our hard work was over, but the day was hardly over. We had a flight to catch, shuttles to endure, and hopefully catch the second seating of dinner at our resort base camp before the closed.

Our flight left an hour behind schedule. There was a bit of anxiety in the ranks about supper. Back to back big effort days require big calorie replenishments.  We did make it back in time with little margin to spare. The ride went about 60mi in 4.6hrs. I logged 9200ft of climbing, but most others in our group logged more.

Unloading the vans, heading toward the faraway dome (beyond bumps in foreground)

Looking back towards Los Cristianos, the prominent double bump in previous photo now barely noticeable in center of image here

Canary islands pine appear while getting up into pumice land

First glimpse of summit cone just peaking out after first high point at about 7000ft

el Teide with recent lava flows plainly visible

I take photos with no cars, but there was fair amount of traffic on this road up and over. Similar to Saddle Road on big island of Hawaii, I'd say

Another angle of el Teide

Probably due south of el Teide 

Looking back down descent from around 7700ft, near the high point of the ride (and probably highest road on the island)

Some rather unearthly looking landscape here. 

Red cinder cones, just like in the Hawaiian islands.

Dave, myself and Brett at our lunch stop at the Papillon restaurant 

Kristen, Brett, Clint, Todd, Matt, Andy and Dave ready to roll out after lunch

Now east of el Teide, some lingering snow is visible 11,000-12,000ft

Of course, any volcanic island needs an observatory up top, right?

Coastline about 7500ft below.

Final regroup before nearly vertical mile plummet to finish

Photo doesn't really depict how large these structures were. Sure was nice to have a clear day for this one. Peter mentioned this was the clearest he's seen it. Usually you run into clouds and/or rain as you descend the rainy side.

1 comment:

Jason said...

So you banked quite a bit of vertical credits! Those high speed descents sound fun except for the unpredictable pavement parts. I'm surprised they don't keep it up better given the amount of cycling that takes place. I'm sure the Canary Islands want to keep both pro and recreational tours coming.