Tour of Tenerife, Stage 4 (108 km, 2500 m+)

On the last day of my private Tour I decided to go to the northwestern part of the island, to the Teno region. I took the TF-324 to Los Realejos, then I rolled down (it was very steep, so I knew that will hurt on the end of the day, when I am coming back) to the TF-5 road, which is not a motorway anymore towards the west, so I am allowed to rido on it. This part of the route was not really special, though I had huge rock walls rising on my left, and the sea lying on my right, but after spending so much time on the Canaries, these things are not too extraordinary anymore. Luckily the TF-5 had a very wide side-lane all way long, so it was not that bad riding there even though the traffic was a bit higher than one would wish for… It was especially useful when I had to climb, because while my downhill speed is comparable to the speed of cars, my climbing speed lags a bit behind that. So, the first climb came after 17 kilometers:

4.3 km @ 3.8% with a maximum over 100 meters of 7.6% (4th category)

I did not really like this TF-5, so I was quite happy to leave it behind at Icod de los Vinos, and continue with a very fast descent on TF-42 towards the west, with much less traffic. There is a very nice view towards the mountain ridges of Teno and the rocky shoreline of the island from this part of the road. Soon the road arrives to Garachico, a lovely small city with colorful houses and a big rock in the sea in front.

Unluckily after leaving this place, the road quality gets pretty bad, and to make things worse it runs between endless concrete walls surrounding the local banana plantations… The next village is Los Silos, which looks also very nice with typical colored houses and a small white church, but as the road did not cross the center, I can only tell what I have seen from outside. Then after 39.84 km, I arrived to Buenavista del Norte, where the first big climb of the day started up into the heart of the Teno region on TF-436:

12.0 km @ 5.6% with a maximum over 100 meters of 13.6% (2nd category)

This was a very nice and scenic climb, on good asphalt, and with minor traffic. The switchbacks were usually very steep, while the sections in between were much easier (hence the not so high average gradient).

There were lots of typical high plants blooming along the road, and after El Palmar there was a very interesting (volcano looking) hill, with huge cracks along the sides – you can see that on the picture below.

At the top, there was (a lot of wind, but besides that) a great lookout point with amazing views towards both sides of the ridge.

From here, there came a very steep descent (with basically one lane as almost always in this region, with more space in the curves – see below), then a short climb to the next lookout point starting at 53.16 km:

1.5 km @ 7.4% with a maximum over 100 meters of 16.8% (4th category)

This was the first very steep section (in the average, a 200 meter long slight descending section is also included), where I had to stand out of the saddle to get up. Then from the top, you could look towards the see along the steep valleys, but also towards the village of Masca.

Getting down there was only a question of minutes, but there I took a short break, because I knew that what was about to come was going to be something ‘special’. So after an energy bar and some magnesium and calcium, the craziest climb of the week came at 56.78 km:

4.0 km @ 10.8% with a maximum over 100 meters of 16.8% (2nd category)

Based on the two expressions (and the feeling in my legs approved this) which are used to calculate the difficulty of climbs in my script, this was tougher than the 12 km long ascent earlier the same day! (One of the expressions even categorised it as a 1st category climb, but I always accept the lower, if they are not the same – which is quite rare.)

It was extremely difficult for several reasons: 1) the steepness itself, 2) it was the worst road surface I have ever encountered on the Canaries, I really would not want to do a descent there…, 3) it was in the middle of the day with the Sun near the zenit, in scorching hot with no wind at all… I had to be out of the saddle basically all the time, and I could have easily used an easier gear, than the easiest on my compact set… Even cars had difficulty in going up.

But I did not stop (only at one of the last lookout points to take some pictures of the road and the view), I kept turning the cranks around (quite slowly, I have to admit). It was difficult, but it was also very good, to make it. On one of the steepest sections a car ‘slowed down’ next to me, and they asked if I was OK… I was, but I got it why they asked it :D It was damn steep and hot. Then from the top you could see the Teide too!

I was pretty proud of myself that I made it to the top. I knew this would be a difficult climb, but it was much worse than I had it in my imagination. It was truly legendary. Then again, a short descent (with smooth asphalt) brought me down to Santiago del Teide, where I turned left and took the TF-82 road towards the north. Of course I still had to climb a bit… So after 62.22 km, the next ascent came:

3.2 km @ 5.5% with a maximum over 100 meters of 9.8% (4th category)

This was the last sunny stretch of road for my holidays, with nice views towards the western slopes of the Teide, but as soon as I passed the highest point (Puerto de Erjos, a bit higher than 1100 meters) I submerged into the cloud layer… From here, it was a nice, mostly smooth, long descent towards Icod de los Vinos.

I stopped at the very famous lookout point above Garachico to take some pictures – there is a reason why it is a popular spot, the view is truly fabulous. Then I had to ride again on the TF-5 road, so there is nothing special to report here. Then I had to climb back on the same steep road I took on the ‘morning’, which brings us to the last climb of my holidays starting at 97.2 km:

7.2 km @ 5.1% with a maximum over 100 meters of 15.4% (3rd category)

The steepest section was painful, but it was in the middle of a quite big city, so I got a quite big crowd looking at me :D Relatively big… Then from the top, it was just a roll home. I arrived tired, but happy about all the rides I did recently. GPS details from the last day can be seen here.

It was almost a month on the Canaries, with lot of observing, and lot of cycling, so now, sitting in Madrid, I am happy to go home. I will be back on La Palma in October with the students, but probably without the bike then, because I want to do some time-lapse photography again, so now I might carry my photography equipment instead :)

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