I am back again on La Palma at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos (ORM) – for the 4th time already. I have 11 nights of work at the Mercator Telescope, then I will fly to Tenerife to continue there with another instrument. As always, I can only say that this island is amazing. Every time I take the taxi from the airport to the observatory, I can not stop staring out the window to look at the landscape. This is the first time I am here during summer, and I have to admit that the temperature is much nicer up here at 2300 meter, than it is in e.g. October. I don’t need my winter coat anymore, and I don’t need to put a kilogram of warm clothes (knee warmers, arm warmers, neck warmer, wind coat, rain jacket, etc.) on when I roll down with the bike on the morning, a simple jacket is enough. So during the day it is typically ~20°C (but it feels much more thanks to the Sun), while on the morning it is around ~15°C. Now again I took my racing bike with me (and I will have a week of cycling after my observing run on Tenerife), so already here I use it every day to commute between the Residencia and the Mercator Telescope.
I need to ride up once before dinner to start the calibrations (~5 PM), then I roll down to eat (~7 PM), and after a small nap I ride up to catch the sunset (which is around 9 PM) and start the observing night. Then I work till the Sun rises, and go down to sleep around 7:30 AM (and sleep from 8 AM to 4-4:30 PM). The ride itself is 2.65 km @ 6.9% with a maximum over 100 meters of 10.3% (a hard 3rd category climb in Tour de France terms), so it is not extremely difficult, but riding above 2000 m makes every climb a bit more challenging (click on the climb-plot and it will be bigger). But it is very good high-altitude training, and 3 times faster than walking! (I don’t even think about driving up with a car, that’s not my thing :D)
On the last afternoon I rode a new personal best up to the telescope, reaching the ‘summit’ in 11m 09s, which corresponds to a VAM of ~1000 Vm/h (yeah, I know it is not really a pro value, but who cares :D)! My previous bests from last October and this May were 12m 05s and 11m 36s, respectively, so the improvement is very clear. Oh, and these were ridden while carrying a backpack… After this record ride, I took the evening ride a bit easier and recorded the scenery (turn the volume down, if you don’t want to listen to my still quite hard breathing…). It is a nice place to work at ;)