Mountain biking Gran Canaria in 2015 was about learning the fundamentals of organizing affordable bike holidays. This time we wanted to go bigger and with a higher budget! Gran Canaria – isn´t this the place where party people get drunk and only the racing bikers go for training in winter? Obviously to us is that Gran Canaria has much to offer, if you keep away from the tourist hotspots and the roads. Inspired by a clip of the Trail Ninja on EpicTV, who crossed Gran Canaria from east to west, we started planning our own trip to the island. We were lucky because a friend of Daniel, has a friend, who has a brother, who´s sister knows somebody´s friend with an uncle…okay this is getting weird. Short: we knew someone with a house in Tenteniguada, a little town in the mountains on the island´s eastside. As the weather conditions on Gran Canaria are quite stable we decided to go there! Best decision ever!
Gran Canaria was our first destination we could not reach by car or train (surprise – islands have water all around!). Unfortunately our time slot was during high season and the prices for the flights were pretty high. You can easily find flights for half the price. After checking the internet, we made a booking through a travel agency for about 400,-€ per person return: Flight from Hamburg for Dustin and from Stuttgart for Daniel. Booking through travel agencies can be way cheaper than over the internet. It is always worth checking!
While the travel agency was busy booking the cheapest flights for us, we had to decide whether we take our own bikes or get rental bikes on Gran Canaria. Finally, we decided to go for rentals from Free Motion located in the south of the island in Maspalomas (a tourist hotspot). The main reason for the decision was the rough terrain on the island. To not ruin our own bikes at the first long bike holidays. This turned out to be a good decision as we got almost brand new 2015 Cannondale Jekyll 140 mm full suspension bikes in great condition for about 33 Euro a day.
Travelling by bike on an island at temperatures with more than 30 degrees centigrade forced us to optimize the packing list from last year (add water and sun screener!). Believe us, you are having a hard time packing for 6 days, limited by a 25-litre backpack!
For the holidays last year, we relied on GPS-tracks from the internet or on local tourist information offices. This time was different: staying in a remote area and not having a good data basis for mountain biking Gran Canaria is a bad basis. So Daniel ended up drawing our own tracks on Outdooractive and tweaking them using satellite and photo data from Google Earth. It turned out to be a great combination for finding hidden trails and nice lookouts. We put the tracks on our phones and put a safety copy online in a Dropbox folder. Ready to go!
Best travelling time
Due to it´s proximity to the equator you can go biking on Gran Canaria the whole year. July to October can be really hot, especially in the south. From November to February you can have a little rain.
Both of us had direct flights to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria located in the northeast of the island. There are more than 30 airlines flying to Las Palmas (LPA) connecting to more than 25 different countries. Often direct flights are more expensive, but if you want to arrive in good condition and fit for biking it is worthwhile spending some more money on direct flights!
Daniel arrived a couple of hours before Dustin and took the bus to Maspalomas for getting the bikes we booked weeks before over the internet at Free Motion. He also managed getting a free spare chain and a spare tire for the bikes, just in case! The rest of the time he could warm up the bike and himself at the promenade and the beach of Playa Inglés. Note to the packing list: The person who arrives first and waits in the sun should always carry the sun screener!
A couple of hours later our host picked up Daniel and the bikes and went to collect Dustin at the airport. Going by bus would have been the alternative. Knowing the public transportation options can be essential.
Amazing is the correct word in our case. Having the opportunity of staying in a friend´s house in Tenteniguada was just great (check the video!). First of all, we did not have to stay in a crowded tourist hotel and second, we had our own little garden house with a bedroom, a bathroom, a kitchen and livingroom, as well as a terrace with a small garden and an orange tree full of ripe oranges. Around the corner was a supermarket and our host Hans was really helpful and gave us a lot of useful advice. We liked the place so much we later on decided to cancel one night in a 4 star hotel for getting back to “our” house. For alternative accomodations we always compare airbnb, booking.com and tripping. Make sure you have a place where you can lockup your bikes!
Besides the Tenteniguada accommodation we had a room booked in the Parador 4-star hotel with spa and restaurant in the centre of Gran Canaria (Cruz de Tejeda) for a little bit of luxury. The view from the rooms down into the valley was stunning, but it was also (guess what?) pretty expensive compared to the house in Tenteniguada. You had to pay extra for almost everything. Anyhow we got back to Tenteniguada after only one night! If you are travelling on a budget this is not the place to go!
While mountain biking Gran Canaria you can survive with English and sometimes even German in the tourist areas, but the official language on the island is Spanish. Luckily Daniel knows a little bit of Spanish so we could communicate also with the locals who didn´t know English at all. It increases your travel comfort significantly, if you know greetings and basic questions (and answers!). Moreover, the locals really appreciate your effort.
In Tenteniguada we had a supermarket in walking distance and a handful of restaurants, mainly for locals (authentic dishes!) around the corner. We could prepare our own breakfast and buy supply for the day trips on our bikes – supported by fresh oranges from the garden. For refilling our water supplies we bought water in canisters at the supermarket, as it is not recommenced to drink the tap water (unless you need a good excuse for not going biking!). In the evening, we ended up in a small grill restaurant Las Cañas Grill where we had the famous Papas Arrugadas with Mojo Verde, steak, calamari, salad, grilled paprika or strawberry with cream.
If in doubt about the tap water, always choose bottled water. In some countries also check if the bottles are properly sealed!
At the hotel in Cruz de Tejeda we had half board booked. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take anything on our day trips or refill our water supplies during breakfast. We could have bought bottled water at the hotel at an impressive price or get it from a small kiosk in front of the hotel – half the price, but still expensive and annoying! In the evening, we tried one of the restaurants close to the hotel. Next evening, we were back in Tenteniguada! We experienced the difference between private accommodation with local restaurants and tourist standard.
For our day trips, it was essential to carry enough water and food for the day. We hardly ever crossed a place with a restaurant or supermarket during the day – and if we did they were on Siesta…
Always take enough supplies. Many times you underestimate distances, or shops are closed and all you have is the water in your backpack.
We started in Tenteniguada at 800 meters above sea level going uphill towards the islands highest peak: Pico de las Nieves at 1949 meters above sea level. The first kilometers we cycled on serpentine road and took over some racing bikers (hehehe) until we had to turn left onto a gravel road. After a short downhill in the forest another long uphill took us to the Pico. From the peak, we biked downhill on gravel roads and single tracks until the hardest downhill we ever biked until then: 400 metres on elevation loss on 70 rocky and technical switchback serpentines. Our arm muscles were burning. It was almost impossible to hold the cutlery at dinner. At least we were prepared now!
Our first official bike expedition, as we had to take all our luggage on the bike from Tenteniguada to Cruz de Tejeda. The first part of the trip was the same as the day before up to the Pico. Here we met a seventy year old racing biker from Switzerland who cycles up the Pico from sea level every morning during his 14 days of holiday. His bike has 48,0000 kilometres on the odo and this was only one of the bikes he owns. We suddenly felt very very old….
But we forgot over the beautiful downhill trails from the Pico to the Parador hotel.
We refer to this day as the day we almost died or the suicide trail! Initially we planned a day in the spa, but as it turned out to be not included in the lodging and we had already decided to skip the second night at the Parador we had to plan a new route for the day. After a short phone call with our host Hans, we decided to go down the south of the island to Temisas, where Hans would pick us up in the evening.
Easier said than done. We did the whole planning on the mobile phone based on open street map in a very short time without a chance for cross-checks with Google maps or other sources. Until kilometre four everything was fine until the trail suddenly ended in a field of cactus. We found another track that led us into a dry river bed with multiple new constructed dams made of natural stones in order to collect rain water. We climbed and carried the bikes in the Barranco de Temisas at 35 degrees without any shade over hours with less and less drinking water.
Finally, we found a narrow path in the bushes on the side of the riverbed. Still had to push our bikes through as the handlebars were too wide for cycling the path. Our water ran out about half an hour before we finally reached the road to Temisas. Daniel was seriously dehydrated and could hardly walk after two hours of climbing in the sun. A lemonade in Temisas saved our lives.
Never try to cycle the Barranco de Temisas! – Due to this experience we do not provide the tracks for day 3.
Regeneration day with Hans. We joined a bus tour over the northern part of GC. We visited nice spots far from the touristic areas in the south, saw the Arehucas Rum Distilery and had a rum tasting and for dinner we had traditional canarian food. After visiting a volcano we drove to the port of Las Palmas and back to Tenteniguada with Hans. A great experience. Feel free to contact us when you are interested in a tour – we will get you in touch with Hans.
Probably the best we ever cycled. The route was from Cruz de Tejeda down to Agaete in the northwest of GC. Hans gave us a lift from the house to Cruz de Tejeda. It started with a rocky uphill section on the side of a mountain. 200 metres of optional free fall to the left side of the track. After the uphill the downhill flow did not seem to end. Over dusty gravel roads, rocky paths, volcano sand, through pine forests and roots we biked almost every kind of ground you can imagine. 2300 metres downhill. Just amazing. Until we reached a section with approximately 60 technical and rocky switchback curves leading down the mountain. Dustin decided to push and carry while Daniel muscled up the rest of the energy he had left in his arms.
The final part of the tour was what you call epic! Amazing panorama, flowy tracks and heaps of fast curves. The feeling after our arrival in Agaete can only be experienced, not described!
What we learned
If you have to re-plan during a tour invest more time and ask locals if they know the area and if you can go there.
Even three kilometres in difficult terrain without water at 35 degrees centigrade without shade will bring you in severe danger.
We also learned Dustin does not like waterfalls when he is pissed because of stupid rocky serpentines 😉
Never underestimate the value of good tires in areas with razor sharp tire-slicing stones when mountain biking Gran Canaria. This experience helped us a lot for preparing our bikes for the Minorca trip in 2016.
All costs per person:
Flights: 480,- €
Rental bikes: 230,-€
Food: about 20,- €/day
Total: ~1180,- €
The first bike holiday where we planned everything from logistics down to the GPS tracks. On one of our trips we met a guided group of 15 – 20 bikers. We would have never exchanged our hand-made holiday against the touristic off-the-shelf solution.
After 4000 metres of elevation gain and about 480 kilometres Gran Canaria exceeded our expectations by far. It offers an incredible mixture of landscape and biking options. Especially the north of the island seems highly underestimated.
Feel free to contact us for any support you need. Hopefully the links will help you planning your own “mountain biking Gran Canaria”-experience.