Back in February Ben Thomas Coaching hosted coaching clients and guests in the training haven of Gran Canaria. These weeks were a key part of preparation for the 2018 season. Here’s my view on this ‘Training Haven’.
Whilst I’ve worked for guiding companies in the past this was my first attempt at hosting a training camp. It’s been great to have the opportunity to train with my clients, see the progress they are making and identify points to focus on in the future. We completed some spectacular days of training in and around the mountains climbing from sea level to 2000 metres altitude. Off the bike we enjoyed some great laughs and relaxation time including eating some great Italian food from La Vicaria in Ingenio which is one of the top rated restaurants on the island. Each evening we had the fire roaring in the living room, enjoyed the fruits and vegetables grown in the garden and even got the wood barbecue going a couple of times.
Gran Canaria is one of the lesser known Canary Islands for cycling. Whilst many top pro teams head to Lanzarote and Tenerife they miss out on the larger selection of mountain roads on offer on Gran Canaria. Whilst we were there we did spot several pro riders and mountain bike teams including the Squadra Wilier Force 7C team, Czech National Team and jb Brunex Felt Factory Team.
The north of the island is much greener whilst the south is dry and dusty due to the more reliable weather. In the south you have around 6 different routes up to the top of the mountains, enough to ride a different route for an entire week. The north offers many more options. We stayed in Ingenio but if you want almost guaranteed sunshine stay somewhere on the south coast. We trained on the road because of the variety of options and generally good tarmac, however if you want to ride offroad there are meant to be some great trails on the south west of the island near Soria.
If you’re flying from the UK various airlines have options available including Easyjet from Gatwick most days of the week and BA from Heathrow but only on Saturday’s. I flew out to Gran Canaria on the same flight as Simon and Dan from the Global Cycling Network, both of them having never visited the island before, look out for their coverage on YouTube.
Here’s 2 of my favourite rides on the island, they are quite an adventure so you’ll need your big boys or girls pants!
This 157 km ride with 3580 m’s ascent starts from our base in Ingenio but you could pick the route up at any point. Ingenio is a small authentic Canary town chosen for its close proximity to the airport, good local amenities, and various routes into the mountains. From here the route traverses around the mountains on the spectacular winding GC501 and GC65 roads to the south where we descended down the GC60 to Maspalomas, the main tourist area on the island. A short ride along the rolling sunny GC500 coast road brings you to La Playa de Arguineguin where you begin the big climb of the day up the GC505 to Soria before taking the road on your left signposted to Presa Las Ninas and San Bartolome. Engage granny gear and forgive the uneven tarmac because this ribbon of road offers some of the most spectacular climbing on the island. Once you reach the GC605 turn right and keep climbing. If the market stall is setup just after this junctions it’s worth filling your bottles and grabbing some food for the final effort to the top of the mountain. On reaching the GC60 you’ve reached your maximum altitude for today, give yourself a pat on the back, you’ll have been climbing for 2 to 3 hours! From the top at the GC60 you turn right and enjoy almost 2 hours of high speed descent back to Ingenio via the GC60, GC65 and GC500. Looking for something shorter then start in Maspaolomas, ride the Soria GC505 and GC605 climb and then descend on the GC60 back to the beach.
Guests ready for another day in the mountains
Pacing round the beautiful coast roads
If the first route isn’t epic enough for you this next route will challenge anyone with 157 km’s and 4000 m’s ascent. Starting from our base in Ingenio we once again traversed the mountains on the GC501 and GC65 but this time turned right on the GC60 heading up through San Bartolome where there’s a very nice bakery we can highly recommend. Exiting the village continue up the GC60 past several viewpoints. Turn left onto the GC506 to begin a thrilling magical ribbon of tarmac which I believe to be the best descent on the island. At Pie de La Cuesta which is the base of the descent turn right onto the GC200, follow this all the way to San Nicolas where I’d recommend filling your bottles in the supermarket because you are about to hit one of the hardest cycling climbs you’ll ever ride. This side of the island is very different from the tourist locations in the South, San Nicolas is a central hub of crop farming on the island. The GC210 climb starts off rather inconspicuously through these farms before beginning to snake its way up through the valley towards several tough sections of switchbacks past numerous reservoirs providing ample photo opportunities. The climbing has only just begun when you reach the GC606, the Valley of Tears, 960 metres of ascent coming up in just 11 kilometres, bring your granny gears! The name says it all, this is tough but complete the challenge and you’ve earned a pudding or beer that night. Reaching the top turn right at the junction and enjoy almost 2 hours of high speed descent back to Ingenio via the GC60, GC65 and GC500.
Home grown produce. Train hard, eat well, recover.