With its unique landscape and pleasant climate, Lanzarote is a popular destination. Especially for cyclists. On a racing bike, mountain bike or e-bike; for each his own.
‘It’s ugly but so beautiful’. Dave is a Scot who is approaching sixty and has been on the island for almost 10 years. Brown head and strong thighs. ‘I have been cycling for forty years. This remains one of the most beautiful places. Lanzarote has a unique volcanic landscape. It is one of the smaller and above all quiet Canary Islands. Tightly paved roads with relatively little traffic. Enough height difference for effort and challenge. Also suitable for the lesser climbing goats. Dave takes care of Bike Sensations bike rides around the island and takes me out.
It takes some getting used to to cycle on the half meter wide hard shoulder on one of the main roads of the island where a maximum speed of 90 km per hour applies. The quality of the road surface is excellent. The verge is not used as a refined waste bin. Along the LZ-2 we climb and descend on the way to Yaiza. Just before the camel roundabout, a camel stands behind a fence, staring indifferently. We’re probably not the first to see the beast plodding uphill today. The volcanoes in front of us are slowly approaching. The landscape changes from black and dusty with white houses here and there to a moonscape. When we pass the Timanfaya devil we know that we are entering the special terrain of the national park. In a straight line, the two-lane asphalt road cuts in front of us through the landscape of blackened lava rocks, flanked by resting volcanoes, which together form the Montañas del Fuego. Hundreds of years ago, eruptions of these volcanoes created the inhospitable petrified landscape where no plants or animals live. Where normally an endless column of cars is waiting in front of the parking lot for the bus ride through the fire mountains, three cars are now standing in front of the barrier. We start for the ascent to Tinajo for a well-deserved coffee and cheesecake.
Large amounts of ash spilled over Lanzarote during the eruptions. The lava soils appear to be quite fertile. Passing vineyards planted in walled semi-circles for protection from the wind, we continue our way back to Puerto del Carmen. The wind is, as on other islands, something to take into account. Despite the pleasant temperatures, the sometimes strong wind can lead to less pleasant temperatures and, moreover, be treacherous on the bike with gusts of wind.
In the distance, the glittering sea and the white mass of houses of Puerto del Carmen are visible. The climbing is done. We throw ourselves into the department. With 55 kilometers and almost a thousand altimeters in our legs we turn onto the Avenida de las Playas.
Manana, manana. Life on Lanzarote is pleasant. A nice climate and great cycling. Johan Wagenaar should know. Ten years ago, after becoming attached to the island on vacation, he started a bicycle rental business. Bike Sensations has grown from twenty bicycles to 450 bicycles and six shops on the island. The fleet has a Dutch touch with the Sensa brand as main supplier. Wagenaar: ”Lanzarote has suffered quite a blow in the past year. I expect the island to become increasingly popular, especially for athletes. Take, for example, the Iron Man that is organized here every year”. The island also has plenty to offer for mountain bikers. For experienced bikers that is. Johan is clear about that: ”The trails are very technical. Rocks and stones combined with steep climbs and steep descents make it challenging but also dangerous”. Mountain biking is prohibited within the boundaries of Timanfaya National Park. Outside of that, you can actually blast any volcano. There are no fixed routes with road markings. Adventurous, but also a bit more difficult to really drive a route.
Along the jagged coastline is a trail that connects Puerto del Carmen to Puerto Calero and extends further south. I swapped the thin tires for fat tires. A first introduction to mountain biking in Lanzarote. Razor-sharp are the rocks that protrude from the sea along an abyss with a depth of at least fifty meters. Maneuvering along stones and boulders, the tires of my Sensa are looking for grip. Getting off and walking parts on this route is no shame. Sometimes cycling is simply not possible. After a bit of relaxing pedaling on the deserted boulevard of Puerto Calera, overlooking a marina, I start the second part offroad towards Playa Quemada. The trails get narrower and more difficult. Making speed is impossible. Mountain biking in Lanzarote is quite a challenge.
Lanzarote is certainly bike-friendly. Hotels take this into account and the infrastructure is good. For example, a bicycle path has been built along the coast from Puerto del Carmen to the capital Arrecife. Road bike, mountain bike or e-bike, everything is possible. A small cycling paradise.