Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Week 4

January 29, 2016

100 miles

Strava Link
Week 4

Route Map/Profile


Ride Report 
I drove out to Yerington to avoid the rain, but there was no avoiding the wind. I'm not usually a fan of doing multiple loops, but on windy days like this it helps to break up the headwind portions. After the 3rd loop I was hoping to continue going west on 208 through the canyon there, which is a nice scenic area next to the river. However, the wind was super strong at that point and was gusty near the canyon.

This has never happened to me before, but I couldn't make it through the canyon. The wind was too gusty and unpredictable. I've ridden through a lot of windy days, especially in Washoe valley, but the wind there is usually steady and predictable. Just lean and push through it. This wind wasn't so easy. At one point it turned my wheel sideways and I was lucky not to crash. Even after I stopped and put my foot down, the fight wasn't over. It was difficult to even stand up straight with my bike. During that whole process the wind blew my sunglasses off of my head and they went flying down the road.

I tried a couple more times and wasn't having much luck. I went ahead and put my ego aside and turned around. No need for a stupid, avoidable crash. I took it easy for the rest of the ride. The wind had really picked up and I just wanted to finish without crashing.

As I was driving home there was a lot of rain in Washoe Valley and there was an overturned semi on 580. My day wasn't great, but it could have been worse. At least I stayed dry and upright. On to week 5.

Friday, January 22, 2016

A Week of Riding in Tenerife

In January of 2016 I was lucky enough to spend a week riding in Tenerife.

Why Tenerife?

If you don't know, Tenerife is the largest of Spain's Canary Islands and is pretty much a cycling paradise this time of year because the temperatures are warm (an average high of 70 degrees), the sun is usually shining, and there is a ton of climbing. The most notable climb is Teide, which tops out at about 7,300 feet. There are a number of ways to approach the climb, but any way you slice it you're looking at at least 20 miles and 6,000 feet of elevation gain. For comparison's sake, Mt. Rose is the longest climb we have in Reno and it's 16.5 miles and 4,200 feet.

Getting There

Tenerife has two airports, one to the north (TFN) and one to the south (TFS). There are quite a few European airports with direct flights to one or both airports, including LHR, AMS, MAD, FRA, and more. Madrid had multiple flights per day and seemed like the logical option, so I flew Delta from JFK to MAD, then took Iberia from MAD to TFS.

From JFK to MAD I got a bulkhead aisle seat and I was feeling pretty good about things. The middle seat next to me was empty for the longest time. I try not to get excited when that happens because it seems like someone always comes in at the last moment and sits in that seat. Sure enough, in came not just one person, but a woman with a stinking lap child. So there I was for 6 hours next to this squirming little piece of crap who kept crying and kicking me. It wasn't the ideal situation, but the flight actually seemed to go by faster than I thought it would.

We landed in MAD somewhere around 9:00 AM and I switched over to Iberia for an 11:30 flight. Customs and security were both fast and I was able to make the switch with plenty of time to spare. Iberia seemed like a good airline. Not much was different, really, except that the announcements were in Spanish. What's funny is that even in different languages you can tell when the pilots are talking. They still have that same delivery.

Renting a Bike

I rented from Bike Point and was very happy with the experience. I showed up maybe 5 minutes before the shop closed and the staff was still nice and took care of me. The bike was a Ridley Fenix (carbon) with full Ultegra and Mavic Asksium wheels. I've done a little bit of renting around the US and a bike like this would easily cost $50 a day, probably more. Back in December in Orlando I rented a much lower quality bike for about that much. However, this bike cost me less than 200 Euros for the whole week. That's a hell of a deal. And again, all the components were solid. Everything was Ultegra, even the brakes. The bike came with everything you'd need- tire levers, a spare tube, a pump, a mini tool, and 2 bottle cages.

Rental Bike
I've heard good things about Ridleys but have never lusted after one like I have a Scott Addict, for example. After riding the Fenix for a week maybe that will change. I was impressed with the way it handled on the descents. It struck the right balance- not too twitchy but still responsive enough.

The Hotel

This is the one thing I would change about my trip. I stayed at the Hotel Aeropuerto Sur for the whole week. Here's the good news: (1) It was cheap. (2) It was clean. (3) It wasn't in the main tourist area but was still within a few blocks of a bus stop. (4) There was plenty of food within walking distance. Here's the bad news: (1) “Free wifi” meant free wifi only in the lobby, not the rooms. (2) The hot water was only hot for 1 of the 7 nights I was there.

I wasn't super happy with the hotel, but in the end the bigger mistake was staying in the same area for the whole week. I should have switched over to the north side of the island for a few days. You'll never see it all in one week, but I could have seen a little more.

The Rides

Enough BS. Let's get to the ride reports.

Day 1 (Jan 13)

I ended up sleeping about 14 hours the night before and didn't wake up until 11:00 or so. This was just an easy ride to get a feel for everything. The route was simple: I went up to TF-28, went northeast, then turned around and came back.

TF-28 became one of my go-to roads. It's a quiet, winding road that often has views of the ocean. There are a few rough stretches, but for the most part the surface is pretty good. The terrain is mostly rolling hills. This seems like one of the few places on the island where you can do a ride without a ton of climbing.

Heading north on TF-636

Heading north on TF-636




TF-28. There are some ups and downs, but nothing too long.

Tunnel on TF-28

Tunnel on TF-28

TF-28. Little towns are never too far away.

The ocean and a faint outline of Gran Canaria


Day 2 (Jan 14)

No more messing around. It was time to tackle Teide. I went ahead and rode over to Los Cristianos and did the main Strava Segment from there. It takes TF-28 to TF-51 to Vilaflor, then TF-21 to the summit. All told, that is 20.3 miles and 6,912 feet.

I wasn't going to ride all that hard on Day 2. I wanted to kind of see what Teide was all about and come back later in the week to try to go faster. I felt fine early on and made it to Vilaflor without much of a problem. However, as I would learn, Vilaflor is only the beginning. Sure, up until that point you have climbed 13 miles and 4,200 feet, but there are still 7 miles and 2,700 feet to go. I had 3 gels with me, and that turned out to be not enough. I started feeling hungry and just couldn't keep up a good pace. It wasn't a serious problem. I wasn't on the verge of bonking or anything, but on a climb like that you need all the energy you can get.

I ended up with somewhere around 2:30 for the climb. Even with the rough 2nd half I was hoping for a better time than that, but that's the way things go sometimes. No big deal. I was just happy to be out there in my shorts and a jersey in cycling paradise.

At sea level in El Medano

The first section of the climb has some shoulders.

It's not long before you can see the ocean below you.

The early portion of the climb

Smooth roads

Leaving Arona

Still in the cactus zone

Slowly getting higher above the ocean

You can see the road above

Smooth roads early on

You can see that the scenery is about to change soon
Out of the cactus zone and into the forest

Into the forest

Another island in the distance

Near the summit

Near the summit- looking north

Two islands in the distance

Welcome to the park

Day 3 (Jan 15)

My first international century. I decided to stick to TF-28 because (a) I enjoyed it on Day 1 and wanted to see more of it and (b) My legs were dead and I didn't want to do much climbing. It turned out to be a good decision. TF-28 remained a nice, quiet road for the most part until I got closer to Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Then things got super busy and I turned around a little early and just added a few extra miles on a side road later on. Tenerife is like that sometimes. One minute you'll be on a scenic road with almost no traffic and the next minute you'll be in the middle of a crowded town and traffic is crazy. People drive so differently, too. On the empty roads people give you plenty of space, but in town people will pull right out in front of you and do not care. It's especially bad in roundabouts. As always, ride defensibly as if nobody can see you.

No big deal. After I turned around it wasn't long before I was back on the empty roads having a good time. Towards the end I made a turn off of TF-28 towards Las Vegas for the few extra miles I needed. Holy crap were my legs dead at that point. I was crawling. You wouldn't think I'd be so tired on only the 3rd day, but I guess that's what Teide can do to you.

Twisting and turning roads

The highway below. This is towards the northeast side of the island.

After the turnaround point- heading back southwest

The ocean was never too far away.


Looking back northeast
This is what the warning sign was all about.

A little different from Nevada
Day 4 (Jan 16)

Day 4 was an easy day. I rode out to Playa de las Americas and just explored around a little bit. Playa de las Americas was packed with tourists and the beaches looked nice, but it wasn't exactly the best place to ride. However, just like on the 3rd day, it doesn't take long to get out of the busy areas and onto quiet roads. There's also a Bike Point here, so this could be a good base for your vacation. You'd be right at the base of the Teide climb and close to TF-28. I didn't ride any of the coastal roads on the west side of the island north of Adeje and those look promising. In fact, if I go back to Tenerife I might go ahead and stay in Las Americas myself.

I took TF-28 back to the hotel. There was a nice, short climb between La Camella and Granadilla that I thoroughly enjoyed. Again, the scenery was great and the traffic was low. It was a great way to end the ride. The whole day felt lazy, but I still got in almost 5,000 feet of climbing. You have to love Tenerife.

Somewhere near Adeje

Looking back towards Las Americas

Other riders on TF-28







Day 5 (Jan 17)

Back to Teide. This time I went straight from the hotel, which was about 20 miles and 6,400 feet. I took TF-64 to TF-21 out to Vilaflor, then the same route on TF-21 from Vilaflor to the summit as Day 2.

TF-21 was a lot of fun. That stretch was 8 miles at 5% with a lot of switchbacks. I was feeling pretty good at that point. I was keeping a high cadence, hoping to save some energy for later on. Remember, from Vilaflor to the summit is 7.5 miles at 7%. I felt pretty good for the first few miles or two after Vilaflor, but eventually ran out of gas. What can I say? Teide is a beast.

I would be disappointed, but how can you be disappointed when you're out there in cycling paradise in the middle of January.

Day 6 (Jan 18)

Strava Link 

This ride was the highlight of my trip to Tenerife, but it almost didn't happen. I had just climbed Teide the day before and I wasn't so sure I could handle another big day of climbing. I didn't sleep too well and convinced myself that I would bail out and turn around on TF-523 instead of making a complete loop. I'd still probably get around 9,000 feet of climbing for the day and that wouldn't be too shabby for January.

I got on TF-523 and it inspired me to keep going. The views were great, there were a lot of switchbacks to keep things interesting, and there was almost no traffic. I may not have been going fast, but my legs weren't hurting and I was in a good rhythm. Sometimes when you're feeling bad and you're on a new climb you'll keep looking around each corner hoping to see the summit. This was completely different. I was looking around each corner just waiting to see the new scenery. That's riding at its best. That's why I came to Tenerife.

Another island in the distance- Gran Canaria
Before I knew it I was at the end of TF-523 and I had about 49 miles. Seems perfect for that bail out, doesn't it? Well, I was feeling good so I scrapped that plan. I knew that I was more than halfway to the high point, so why not keep going? I didn't know (bad wifi in the hotel) the exact numbers. I had just done about 11 miles and 4,000 feet. There were still 8 miles and 2,000 feet to go.

That extra climbing was worth it. The scenery on TF-24 was spectacular. This is where you can really see the volcanic features of the island. You can think of Tenerife as a mixture of beach, desert, forest, and volcano. If I had skipped this portion of the ride I would have missed out on the volcanic side of things and that would have been a real shame.

At the end of the day I was tired and my legs were toast, but it was worth it. If you're ever in Tenerife this is the loop to do!


Day 7 (Jan 19)

Strava Links: 1 and 2

This was just a recovery day. I did a little loop and headed south towards El Medano to hang out at the beach for a little while. There are some good access points there on TF-643 that are away from the big crowds.


In total I ended the week with 440 miles and 46,200 feet.

Getting Back  

On the way back I decided to fly through AMS. There was an afternoon flight on Transavia that gave me enough time to return my bike in the morning, then take the bus to the airport. As mentioned, there is a Bike Point in El Medano, which was only about 5 miles from my hotel. I rode there, then took the bus (TITSA) from El Medano to San Isidro to TFS. The two bus rides cost about 4 Euros total.

Flying TFS-AMS took somewhere around 4.5 hours. I got in to AMS at 11:00 PM and my next flight wasn't until 9:50 AM the next morning. I just went ahead and stayed in the airport all night. I figured if I got a hotel I might get 6 hours of sleep if I was lucky. That didn't seem worth it. Might as well save a little money, because this trip already cost me a lot.

The flight back to the US was AMS-PDX on Delta. Flight time is about 10.5 hours. That's a long time. Maybe MAD-JFK would have been a better idea. Luckily, I had a good seat.

Go to Tenerife!

It's warm and there's a ton of climbing. (I barely even scratched the surface in 7 days.) What more could you ask for?