Gran Canaria is a cyclist’s heaven thanks to the well maintained roads, lack of traffic and year-round sunshine — with the temperatures rarely dropping below 24°C, even in winter. Mountain bikers have a wide variety of tracks and trails to choose from as they explore the dormant volcano and its legacy of peaks, valleys and volcanic craters, known as calderas. From lush forests in the north to windswept sand dunes in the south, this small island packs in lots of varied and exciting terrain.
This ride is all about the descent! Starting at San Bartolomé de Tirajana, 900 miles above sea level, you end on the beach at Playa Del Ingles (which literally translates as ‘English man’s beach’). This track takes you past one of the biggest archaeological digs on the island, after which the La Forteleza route is named. As you speed down the fast, narrow mountain tracks, keeping an eye on the sparkling sapphire of the Atlantic as it grows closer, you’ll be greeted by stunning panoramic views of the east coast of the island.
Since Gran Canaria only measures 50km across you wouldn’t expect it to house a canyon to rival the famous one in Arizona, but it does. The Caldera de Bandama is a vast cauldron-like feature formed by a land collapse following volcanic activity and is the focal point of the trail. The route then takes you through the small farming communities of Ayagaures and Fataga, descending down the Barranco de Fataga, known as the ‘valley of the thousand palms’. With its shades of brown and green it is a trail and view unique to Gran Canaria.
Pico de las Nieves
Meaning ‘snow peak’, Spanish Pico de las Nieves is the highest peak of Gran Canaria rising 1949 metres above sea level. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to reach the summit as it is host to a military installation. The route makes up for that, however, as it takes you through volcanic landscape, which winds between rainbow-coloured rocks and calderas that were formed over 2000 years ago. This side of the island is cooler than the rest and offers you the rare sight of the clouds creeping over the mountain tops and pine forests.
The Valley of the Tears (VOTT)
As its name suggests the VOTT is not for the faint-hearted! Starting from Maspalomas on the southern side of the island this route takes you along roads that zigzag up the mountain, with increasing steepness as they take you 1380 metres above sea level into the heart of the island. On your way into the clouds you’ll pass by lush vegetation and almond groves, their scent taking you up the final climb. Riders who reach the top will be rewarded with views across the Atlantic Ocean to the snow-capped peaks of Mount Teide on Tenerife, 70 miles away.
Image credit: San Bartolome De Tirajana