By EatSleepCycle, Girona Spain
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. After exploring the island by bike last week Eat Sleep Cycle founders Lee & Louise gave us their top 10 reasons why Gran Canaria should top the winter cycling bucket list.
1. GRAN CANARIA IS A WINTER CYCLING PARADISE
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. EPIC CLIMBS
The island does not contain a single flat road, making this an incredible place to shake off the boredom of the basement trainer. 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. Make sure you spend some time preparing for your Gran Canaria cycling vacation – as a minimum we recommend doing some exercises to build a strong core to make sure you can enjoy the climbs!
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. GO PRO WITH EAT SLEEP CYCLE SUPPORT
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. Whilst roads generally have a great surface they deteriorate quickly and it’s good to avoid descending on these sections. By joining an Eat Sleep Cycle tour discover the island like a local & enjoy the back up of support vehicle.
6. EXPERIENCE THE BEST VIEWS
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. Our Gran Canaria itineraries are flexible and tailored to the conditions each day.
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. All visitors are made to feel very welcome on this island cycling paradise.
10. THINK PANTANI
Legendary Italian climber Pantani trained in Gran Canaria & every ride contains 2,000m of climbing unless you choose not to venture off the coast road. Just something to be aware of when planning your rides! We plan rides which allow some time to rest and recuperate throughout the week, as well as the chance to let rip on a climb.
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! Want to learn more about Gran Canaria, click here to visit their tourism site. Iberia flies there through Madrid, Norwegian Air through Gatwick, so does British Air, Aer Lingus, and discount carriers like Ryan Air and EasyJet but they don’t have U.S. partnerships.