Destination Tenerife - Winter Sun

9th November 2016

Destination Tenerife - Winter Sun 

Tenerife has been on my holiday radar for years. I knew of friends going there at all times of year for every activity; surfing, climbing, mountain biking, road biking and running and every photo I ever saw on social media has one common denominator... sun!

The first week of November saw Sarah and myself take a 6 day trip to Tenerife, we boarded the plane with bike boxes and running kit ready for a week of relaxing the only way we know how.

On leaving the island last week my feelings towards it were mixed, there were some aspects of the place I thought were unbelievable and others which left me underwhelmed. It's my mixed feelings which prompted this blog.

What I liked.

The weather has to be Tenerife's biggest asset. Even with our accommodation being at 750 metres it was still warm enough to be in shorts & t-shirt for the majority of the day. It was much warmer down at sea level but also considerably chillier up high. The high point on the island is Mount Teide at 3718 metres, there is the most unbelievable plateau at around 2500 metres. The landscape is just incredible, like something off of Mars. There isn't open access with in the National Park, however there is a pretty extensive set of trails which are well mapped and way marked. Unfortunately we didn't get to run here as much as we'd perhaps have liked* but I would love to go back to run these trails, it really was other worldly. 

Tenerifes topography is another big plus. From see level to 3700m in a few miles is fairly impressive! With the Teide plateau being ~2500m there is the choice to do a lot of your running at altitude, making Tenerife a really great candidate for some winter altitude training. It's worth bearing in mind that I'm looking at this from a  mountain runner's perspective. I wouldn't recommend this for a high altitude venue for those looking to train on manicured paths. 

Tenerife Teide trail running

What trails. 7am on the trails beneath Mount Teide. This is typical of what the trails in the Teide NP are like

In addition to the wonderful running which we did on the island we perhaps did more road biking. This is probably the sport Tenerife is most famed for, a number of the top riders head out here to train and it's obvious why. 40km uphills, switchback after switchback, pretty smooth tarmac and from our experience some quite considerate drivers! We got to ride around the Masca Gorge in the North West, over Teide in the centre and also in the North Eastern region, Anaga. We were truly amazed by the beauty of the landscape and the quality of the riding.

Although we didn't get chance to climb or surf the island has good amounts of both.

Tenerife Masca gorge ride

The end of the Masca Gorge hill - I believe this is more commonly known as a 'sting in the tail'

Tenerife Masca road bike

Happy faces before we encountered Masca's 'sting in the tail'

What I didn't like.

Being typically  British I could write more about what I didn't like so much. However, before you read it - I would definitely go back to Tenerife. A number of the elements I wasn't so fond of were a result of lack of knowledge opposed to permanent features of the island.

We were staying in the most beautiful wooden lodge, it was large, open, clean, warm and homely. However, it wasn't near any trails. I believe we take open access and endless footpaths for granted in the UK. It's easy to leave your home and find a path to run on but in Tenerife it's not so easy. It's not to say this doesn't exist on the island but it is problematic. I've sinced used Strava Route Builder  and Heat Maps to see where people run on the island.

Tenerife running heat map

A useful tool for anywhere in the world but especially in areas you're not familiar with. It's important to remember a lot of the heavily run areas are the tourist hot spots so are perhaps worth avoiding if you like some peace and quiet.

 

The island seems totally devoid of any culture. It is strewn with LIDLs (making shopping cheap and easy - every cloud!), the nature of a volcanic island lends itself to being a little untidy but 95% of every building seemed to be made of exposed breeze blocks & people seem to be conscious of they're land, most houses and farms are industrially fenced off and quite unsightly.

The beaches we visited were mixed, they were all clean however they weren't quite what I'd expected. For some reason I had this image of sandy beaches with clear water. I do believe here though that this was our error and there are some beautiful beaches on Tenerife but it just takes some knowledge to find the ones which aren't too busy and lend themselves to swimming and relaxing in the sun. I can't comment on some of the beach resorts, as I'm not the greatest fan of busy touristy places we avoided them.

Here's a list of some of the things we did which were good & some things which I'll do when I return...

  • Find some accommodation which is.
    • Near to trails
    • Near (ish) to the orbital motorway
    • Not in touristville
  • Do more research into beaches and swimming
  • Hire a car! I would not visit the island with out a hire car
  • Consult friends on their experiences and find out what they did which was good and vice versa - local knowledge could make or break your day
  • Always, always, always drive around Mount Teide and never, never, never think the scenic route over the top will be easier, faster or better. 
  • Take a bike box instead of a hold baggage. The cost to put the bike box not the plane was negligible or free (Iberia) and the perks of having a bike on the island is great

If anyone has any questions about the island or even some suggestions of places I should go when I return I'd love to hear from you - steve@frontrunnersheffield.co.uk

 

 

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