In the summer of 2012 I set off on a month long trip to Tenerife, this time taking my van with me and driving to the rock, with my hand bike and my gravity bike on board. This was quite a major road trip, which involved catching the overnight ferry from Plymouth to Santander. Once in mainland Spain I had a full day of driving until the sun began to set. I slept in the van, and continued my epic travels the next morning, arriving at Cadiz that afternoon. I then boarded another ferry for the 48 hour crossing to the Canary Islands. I was tired but relieved to arrive in Tenerife two days later and headed to my friend’s house, which would be my base for the duration of my stay.
I must say a huge thank you to Matt and Miriam for putting up with me, and feeding me for a whole month! I had an amazing time, partying with their family and friends, meeting up with other mates on the island, riding my hand bike along the beaches of the south coast, and downhill MTBing at every possible opportunity. The whole visit was well worth the hassle of driving over and, when it came to an end, I really didn’t want to leave…
Heading up the road from El Roque, we drove a few miles past Jama to a spot not far from the next village of La Escalona. The locals have been riding this trail for some time and have made a well worn route through the rough undergrowth, carving a nice but narrow trail in the terrain. They have also added some man made features such as drop offs and small sections of north shore, making an already difficult track even more technical. The run starts on dusty ground, with several rock drops to launch off. The trail then twists and turns across the dry, open scrub land with very little margin for error on some of the bends.
As the route heads further down the hillside the ground gets much harder, with large boulders and big slabs of rock to negotiate, as the whole run gets steeper and faster. The added obstacles of large cactus and small trees demand a high level of concentration, as you hurtle down the mountain trying to stay on your racing line! After an even steeper, rockier section of chicanes and drop offs, which try to pull the bike one way and then the other, you reach a section of north shore which crosses a small but deep ravine. The run then finally widens out into a fast, dusty trail again, with a series of man made dirt jumps, before finishing on waste ground at the back of the village in San Lorenzo.
The start of the trail begins above Vilaflor, Spain’s highest village, around 1400m above sea level. The ground is a mixture of everything, with dry and dusty parts, sections of picón (volcanic gravel), to rocks, boulders and rough scrub land. It begins in very dry woodland, descending across the rocky ground until you reach a recreation area in the centre of the town. The route then takes you out of the village onto tarmac, heading back down the mountain for a mile or so, and cutting back on to rough ground a little way down the road. This is where the trail begins to get very rough, with boulders hidden amongst the thick vegetation.
The line twists and turns across this barren landscape, with a variety of natural features to test your riding skills. Some sections are very steep, with more rocks and boulders to swerve as you race down the challenging terrain. This part ends as you meet the road again, before cutting back into the final section a mile or so later. The ground gets gradually faster, as the rocky surface makes way for another dry and dusty region of the island. Dry stone walls, left over from old farmland, also run alongside some sections of this trail as it continues to snake through the wild vegetation. The finish line is marked by another short section of road near Jama, leading you down to the start point for the San Lorenzo trail (see above).
This ‘secret’ trail is known only to a few locals, based in the north of the island. Covered by thick woods and vegetation, the trail is relatively short, snaking through a tunnel created by the canopy of trees. The fast, dirt surface is narrow and steep, with natural rock drop offs along the route. There are also rocks and roots hidden in the undergrowth, on the sides of the track, ready to knock you off line without warning! I fell victim to these, hitting a small boulder on a bench cut section of the run. It fired my bike sharply to one side, sliding off the narrow path and rolling the bike over as it dropped into a gully. I came to rest upside down against a tree, and all tangled up in it’s branches. Once my friend Manu had performed a minor rescue operation, we continued down the steep trail, crossing rockier sections and a series of tight chicanes before suddenly reaching the bottom, ending at a hairpin bend on the main road.
See previous reports for more information…
■ La Crucita to Arafo
■ Las Lajas to Los Olivos
■ Las Lagunetas to Agua Garcia