It is truly inspiring when an aficionado of a sport shares his knowledge with a wider audience. Tenerife Promo are happy to have such a writer this week; ardent mountain biker, and frequent visitor to these shores, Guilliano Mata shares his knowledge and experience with us.
Winter is coming
No it’s not the next series of Game of Thrones its October in Scotland!
With the nights already starting to draw in the mountain bike community have a decision to make in the very near future. The hard-core amongst us will be looking out the Gore-Tex, charging lights and prep-ping their bikes for winter night rides, while others give their trusty steed one last wash and lube before tucking it up for the winter. I have given this much thought and have decided I will do neither, that’s right I am off to Tenerife to hit the trails with the sun on my back.
Tenerife is not the first destination that springs to mind when you think of a mountain bike holiday but after visiting for the first time in 2010 I can’t get enough of the place. I was staying with a friend who was working in Puerto de la Cruz and with hired bikes we hit the trails on Mount Teide and also visited Bike Park Tenerife. I am sad to say this fantastic trail centre closed its gates for the final time in December 2011, but fear not the natural trails on the Island still provide something for everyone.
The Island offers a real mix of trails from jeep tracks suitable for beginners to technical rocky single tracks that will test to most experienced riders. Expect long lung bursting climbs and rewarding fast flowing descents. Breath taking scenery and varied terrain around every corner will keep you focused as the trail changes from loose gravel, to rocky boulder strewn single track and compacted rooty earth demanding your full concentration.
Tenerife is the largest of the seven Canary Islands which are located just off the coast of Africa and a few degrees north of the Tropic of Cancer. This location pretty much guarantees year round sunshine providing fast flowing dry dusty mountain bike trails 365 days a year. Tenerife is a relatively undiscovered gem and many of trails offer a real feeling of Wilderness Mountain Biking, whilst being only a short flight from most of Europe (around 4 hours).
The Corona Forestal surrounding Teide National Park and the hills around La Esperanzaare some of the most popular areas offering tracks to suit all abilities. More experienced riders should visit Garachico and Icod de los Vinos in the north west and El Sauzal in the north east tip of the island to tackle the more demanding routes on offer for XC, AM and Enduro.
Downhill riders who don’t want to take on the monster climbs can take the bus from Puerto de la Cruz to the summit of Mount Teide. The bus has large underfloor storage and the driver will be happy to take bikes although you may have to remove your wheels. Take in the amazing view from the 12,000ft summit then follow the trail from Portillo a 30 km downhill blast that will really get the adrenalin flowing. I have also discovered runs of similar length (over an hour of downhill) ending in Guimar and Arafo but I would advise shuttling. On my last visit I hired a van with 5 friends and found this was the best way to get the most out of the day.
Things to know before you go
You may have read or heard that off-road mountain biking in Tenerife is illegal, this is not the case however there are areas which are out of bounds so make sure you know where these areas are. Speak to the locals, do your research or hook up with one of the islands organised tour companies.
There are a few golden rules to ensure you have a safe enjoyable trip some are common sense and others I have learned the hard way. Tenerife offers amazing and varied trails that will leave you grinning ear to ear but approach the trails with respect or you may get more than you bargained for.
- Ride safe – Wear the proper safety equipment on the trails. Helmet and gloves as a bare minimum but elbow and knee protection are advisable on this type of surface. If you’re hitting the longer downhill runs go for a full face helmet and armour up. I know it’s hot but have a spill on loose gravel and shale and it is worth a bit of sweat.
- Don’t underestimate the conditions – Altitude and heat can affect even the fittest rider so stay hydrated, lash on the sunscreen and take it easy the first few days to let your body adjust. I grew up Mendoza Argentina and have climbed Aconcagua (the highest mountain in the western and southern hemispheres) so I don’t say this lightly.
- Stick with your buddies – Ride in a group and look out for one another, not only is it more fun to ride with friends but you can share out tools, food and water to save weight. If you are planning to travel alone I would advise contacting a tour company such as LavaTrax as this is not a place to ride alone.
- Take the right kit – As well as your bike you will need to take the basics to make sure mechanical issues don’t ruin your trip. There are bike shops on the island but stock of some items is limited and who wants to be driving to the bike shop when you should be riding. I carry at least 2 tubes (I run tubeless but customs don’t like the Co2 cartridges and may open your bike box), pump, multi tool, spoke key, zip ties, insulating tape and a small torch (you never know). I also take a spare tyre, some spokes, assorted bolts and a rear mech to leave at my accommodation.
- Make sure you’re covered – Most holiday insurance will cover hiring a bike for a pedal down the promenade, but if your plan is to throw yourself off a mountain you should upgrade. Most insurance companies offer a sports package and can be tailored to suit your requirements. Specialist companies such Dog Tag and Sports Cover Direct will also negotiate group discounts for your trip.
Tenerife is a popular tourist destination attracting over 3 million visitors every year due to the year round sunshine. Due to the competition between the budget airlines it’s relatively cheap to get there and taking your bike is simple (Just make sure you have a good quality bike box or bag). Accommodation is plentiful on the island and available to suit all budgets so it’s more a case of the area you want to stay rather than the type of accommodation.
I usually stay in the Capital, Puerto de la Cruz as it is handy for Mount Teide with good transport links and offers a quieter location as a base. This area is popular with older holiday makers, but if you are here to ride that won’t bother you. This area is not a nightlife hot spot but there are plenty of bars and good restaurants to have a beer and fuel up for the next day’s riding.
If you are looking for more lively evening entertainment Las Americas or Los Cristianos may be what you’re looking for, van or car hire is a must in these areas as the transport links to the trails are not as regular. I would suggest that Costa Adeje may be a good compromise if you prefer a slightly quieter location but still within walking distance of the nightlife.
We all look for something different in a holiday so do your research and find a package that’s right for you. Don’t be afraid to shop around and drop an email direct to the hotels or apartments as there are always deals to be had. The people of Tenerife are friendly and accommodating and will be more than happy to help you in any way they can.
Forget the crowded European resorts like Les Gets and Morzine, don’t break the bank booking a trip to Whistler or Mammoth Mountain, just get on your bike and get over to Tenerife. I guarantee that once you have hit the trails on this amazing island you will be back again and again.
Ride safe and have fun.