Friday, 11 November 2011

Hill Climbing Season - Tenerife style

                 Garmin Stats

 The hill climbing season has been in full swing and is coming to an end. The nationals were the other week with a 4miler at 3%  up long hill which I have climbed before but not taken much notice of. I'm not keen on the short harp efforts just like sprint triathlons so I went in search of a climb worthy enough to actually call a hill climb. I suppose leaving the country was actually cheating but since I had the opportunity to climb a mountain I thought that it would be rude not to.

 Wednesday 2nd November saw my arrive at Tenerife South airport and immediately I went on a run to scout for a bike shop. Just over 5km around Playa de las Americas but I somehow missed the bike shop I was looking for. The next day on a family walk of about 10km we found it and had a nosey on what they had to offer. . They had Carbon Ridleys and Focus's which looked brand spanking new and barely ridden. The owner informed me that they had only been open a few weeks and were trying to get off the ground but the have an established shop in Medano. Harsh negotiations with the wifey and mother saw me able to ride the very next day!

Friday 4th November, barely able to sleep the night before I shot up out of bed when the alarm went off and readied everyone for breakfast. It was then a 1.3mile run to the bike shop and a run back if I was able to at the end but I took enough dosh for a taxi. My Garmin was pre-loaded with a 100km + route and I wore my Rochdale Tri gear. Temps were around 25 degrees and wind was very harsh, around 15-20mph with some big gusts. After quickly setting up my bike and purchasing some energy bars ( my bananas had pulped due to running with the bag on my shoulders) I was away in glorious sunshine.

UP and UP, the ascent started straight away. I overtook a german roadie who was pootling and going the same route, I deduced after a strange conversation but there weren't many others about. I started off feeling super strong but as I ascended, the temps dropped, the humidity increased, the oxygen decreased, the wind howled from the NNE and I gradually grew wearier and wearier. The climb was amazing, the roads superb, traffic so polite and light yet there was just no respite for 27 miles. All my drink had gone after 20miles  and dehydration could have been a performance limiting factor as it can't be a coincidence that after 50miles I stopped at a petrol station to refuel and my heart rate was workable again.

My turn off to TF-38 was approaching and I missed it carrying on along TF 21 for a bit longer which I would come to regret as I turned around, should have carried on. TF-38 is probably the worst of the worst of all cyclists nightmares. The road looked like it was made from old volcanic lava that had been cluster bombed then nuked for good measure leaving this obstacle course for a main road! If that wasn't bad enough I also had the full force of 30-40mph head winds to contend with. Arghghghg. Luckily there was hardly no other traffic and I was able to zig zag from one side of the road to the other, sometimes purposefully  to avoid the holes other times I was blown all the way across. Cobbles would have felt like silk compared to this and after 10mins my feet and hands were numb and my back was burning due to the torture although i was unsure if the bike position had anything to do with the latter.  I had to descend really slow in places or the vibration got so bad I just couldn't hold on or  because of the tight corners. Once off that road though the feeling was like going to the bog and relieving yourself of a massive dump.....ahhhhhh.

The mist had lifted and the air was getting warmer with every metre travelled. Once on the other side the mountainous craters separated and revealed open space, blue skies and miles and miles of banana plantations. I now had about 30miles of downhill riding and I figured that it would all be done at a considerable speed however I was terribly mistaken. I couldn't feel my legs at all for starters and those tight bends had returned along with some really steep sections in the middle of nowhere. I did go in totally blind and followed someone elses route but it all added to the fun. They had picked some really nice, totally quiet roads for the way back but on the odd occasion it looked like I was going the wrong way and they were building main roads on top of the old roads shown on my Garmin and were a few hundred feet out of position.  My heart rate had plummeted  to about 80 now and luckily a service station appeared on the busy coastal road of TF 47.

A couple of powerades later and I was back on track. If I was quick enough I would be able to make lunch which finishes at 3pm, I had set off about 9.45am. The drink must have done wonders as when I got back I was full of running so after saying my goodbyes and packing my bag I was straight into the run, that's another couple of kilometres under the belt.

 Managed to run over 20km whilst away but was unable to get back out on the bike. Unfortunately I must have put on a stone due to the joys of 'all-inclusive'. Never having been on one before I was a bit sceptical of the quality of food but was totally surprised and ended up stuffing my face every meal time and with christmas approaching at warp speed the next couple of months will be a difficult test of limiting the self indulgence but I know I wont be the only one!