I'm a bit of an adrenaline junkie, so it didn’t take me long to accept the thrilling offer to fly down to the Canary Islands a week in November to try out our new cycling holiday through the coasts and volcanoes of Lanzarote, my first chance to try out a road cycling trip. As a matter of fact, I was more or less jumping up and down like a child before Christmas!
With my past of being a competitive swimmer, having completed an Olympic Triathlon, and generally being described as a "fitness freak" (I tend to spend my lunch breaks outside running), I thought I would be in great shape for a week of cycling. Turns out it is a very different set of muscles required! Nevertheless, I loved every second. After my first day in the saddle, after ascending the switchbacks of the Mirador del Rio climb, and after some sweating (and a little muttered swearing - why did I choose to cycle?!), I found myself on the top of an impressive hill, overlooking the oldest volcano of Lanzarote, dramatic backdrops of volcanic cliffs and incredible coastlines. The endorphins were pumping through my body and the only thing I could hear myself saying was: "This is AMAZING. I LOVE CYCLING." (Fear not) - A road cycling trip is not exclusively for super-humans. Everyone from avid club cyclists to Sunday riders were sharing the smooth roads and the incredible scenery that Lanzarote had to offer. It is, however, safe to say that I was somewhat a novice to the road cycling holiday concept and that some more pedalling preparation would have been more appropriate. Ladies and gentlemen, cyclists and non-cyclists, here are my top 3 things I learned road cycling in the Canaries:
1) Winter Blues Be Gone!
Road Cycling in Lanzarote's volcanic landscape
November was the PERFECT time to go. The nights were drawing in and I was fighting the urge to stay in my bed all day (never mind feeling motivated to ride my bike!). Some 125km off the coast of Africa, Lanzarote was waiting for me, to help me forget all about dark nights and cold days. Thank you Canary Islands. A few hours flight from mainland Europe and an all year round road cycling heaven. From now on, I'll make sure I have sunshine plans to look forward to over those long winter months, as it was such an incredible pick-me-up.
2) Sunscreen vs Cycling Tan-Lines
When you live in a country with 4 seasons in one day and approximately 360 days of rainfall (hello, Scotland), getting the chance to spend a week in the sun and with temperatures around 20-25 C is a blessing from above. One must not come back without a tan. So there I was, reluctantly looking down at my shockingly pale legs and the bottle of sunscreen spf 30 in my hand. It was a fierce battle. Cards on the table, the sun protection lost and the bizarre cycling tan-line won. I returned home with unevenly sun burned limbs and multiple bottles of soothing Aloe Vera gel in a desperate attempt to try get the stinging burn under control. Lesson learned for next time? Probably not. But you should learn from my mistakes.
3) Papas Arrugadas and El Grifo
Ask anyone who knows me and they will in a fraction of a second confirm that I am a true food & drink lover and would never turn down an offer of a cheeky pint or glass of oh so re-hydrating (?) wine. However, I can guarantee that pedaling up and down volcanoes for at least 6 hours a day will make food & drinks taste a million times better. Especially when you can indulge in locally grown wine and tickle your taste buds with traditional gastronomic treats (make a note of El Grifo and Papas Arrugadas con Mojo Rojo).
Just a quick cautionary note – dehydrated and hungry, the delicious grape juice is likely to go down like a treat and straight to your head, making the ride back to the hotel slightly unstable. That one glass of wine can surprisingly often turn into a bottle. Enjoy responsibly and maybe leave the bike at the hotel for those evening adventures.
Evening refreshments don't come any better.
Spending my days on the bike ascending Cat 4 climbs, descending sweeping downhills, and pedalling through lava fields and volcanic valleys and vineyards did not only teach me a lot about myself, my stubbornness and refusal of giving up but also got me completely hooked on cycling. Whether you are an avid road cyclist wanting to enjoy a moderately challenging week in the saddle, or a laid-back novice up for a challenge and keen to trying something new, our Lanzarote cycling tour will have different route options and bikes to meet your individual needs.
Guaranteed is an active holiday filled with incredible wow-moments, great food and drink and ideal cycling temperatures. All. Year. Round. The icing on the cake? Put your photos on social media and I can guarantee a flood of jealous comments from everyone at home! I’m already counting down the days until the next trip. You in? See more about this cycling trip in Lanzarote on our website, it's a great introduction to road cycling or a great relaxing break for experienced road cyclists.
Get in touch with us to organise your next adventure!