The preparation is absolutely crucial. Physical, material and psychological. Mountains are not for the faint-hearted, but the views, the experience and the feeling of climbing meter after meter, gaining altitude and grinding yourself up challenging elevation is undefinable by words and can only be fully understood with experience. Physically, you need to be able to maintain power for prolonged periods. If you’re not stopping to rest, climbs vary in duration and the common climbs of Gran Canaria is everything from 10 to 90 minutes.
But the physical preparations isn’t everything that I want to emphasize. You’ll need a gear ratio that suits your form and fitness, too. Fit cyclists can enjoy Gran Canaria with 53/39 chainrings and a 11-28 cassette with cadence kept in high enough revolutions per minute to be able to train back to back days and long hours in the saddle. However, if you’re unsure about your form, a compact chainset with 50/34 chainrings will be a wise choice. It might be hard to admit the need of compact gearing, but trust me… After 1.5 hours climbing you’ll be satisfied with the choice.
Lastly, the mental attitude is what makes or breaks your trip. Sure, the first day in the mountains feel ecstatic. Legs are still fresh and there’s an overlaying temptation to crunch the big ring all the way up to Ayacata, just like Pantani or Armstrong would. However, due to various reasons you will either:
a: not make it to the top at all
b: not be able to ride a single kilometer further the day(s) after
Patience really is key, and by mastering pace and heart rate control, you’ll overtake many people who might blaze past you in the beginning of long climbs.
The Ayagaures climb is my recommendation for beginners and it also suits well as a warm up. The first part of the climb is challenging, ranging in the zone between 6-12% of gradient but quickly gets easier as you progress up to Mirador the Ayagaures (vanquish point and peak of the climb). It gives you a couple of beautiful switchbacks and the descent on the way down let you enjoy Gran Canaria from one of its best sides.
My favourite all-time climb. In my book, nothing compares to Mogán. Tight, steep switchbacks take you high in short time. By your side is the shifting of terrain from the green, lush bottom that progresses into real highland environment. Climb it fast, and you’ll have the sensation of ears popping, going into the clouds and enjoying the most stunning view over sharp, rough mountains. There’s no comparison to the majesty of this climb.
Half way up, at Presa las Ninas is a mandatory stop. An old Gran Canarian man is selling fresh fruit (which might be the sweetest fruit I’ve ever had) along with local delights. Support the local business and by your best orange or banana you’ll ever have!
For the faint-hearted (or whom who need a flat part for tt-intervals): Soria valley
Although it’s not completely flat, it counts as flat when compared to the other surrounding terrain in Gran Canaria. Soria is located in a valley and by the environmental construction the wind usually blows either straight head or straight tail. Great for strength intervals or blazing time trials. If you’re going very fast, the segment is about 10 minutes long.
The Feed and Repairs
The cheapest market on the island probably. A stack of fresh water, coca cola and other energy filled nutrition is next to free compared to prices in other stores and minimarkets. Accepting both cash and cards despite its small size.
The man at Presa las Ninas
As I previously mentioned, the man at Presa las Ninas is one of a kind really, and his fruits are too (no pun intended). He also has coca cola and if you’re tired – this is a perfect point to give yourself a rest. Otherwise, just enjoy a fresh, local fruit (still no pun intended).
Cyclo Canaria & Freemotion
Many Canarian shops are run by german cyclists and the service is really good. Although their stock isn’t very impressive, you’ll be able to get tubes, tires, bars and anything that will save your trip in case of emergency. Freemotion is the biggest bike rental business and offer anything from Zipp wheeled carbon bikes to e-bikes.<
Restaurant at Ayacata
Some rumors say they have really good pasta but I can’t judge since I’ve only had bocadillo con queso y jamón (ham and cheese toast) which is really good by the way. If the weather is good, the Ayacata restaurant is filled with cyclists from all over the globe that wants to enjoy a meal, and a coffee after conquering the almost 2 hour long climb. After that, it’s pretty much just downhill to wherever you stay.