Must ride roads: El Volcán to Playa de las Américas

Published: 11:10AM Feb 3rd, 2012
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El Volcán. A cliché of all that is Spanish. Palm trees, cafes and even those twisty narrow, cobbled streets that come overlooked by centuries-old architecture.

Must ride roads: El Volcán to Playa de las Américas

But what makes this place that little bit special – aside from the name – is the route that leads from it.

To the naïve eye, the TF-525 looks no different to any of the roads that squirrel their way around the island of Tenerife, but this single carriageway, rural route is the start of a 12,000ft climb to the summit of El Teide; the island’s volcano. And what a climb it is. No sooner have you left the town than the traits of civilisation are quickly rubbed from your view as you work your bike’s engine harder and harder in a full blown assault to climb your way up the face of a mountain.

Corners become 10 a penny, as the scenery warps into a typically alpine view with enormous pine trees littering the route, complemented by a million-and-a-half warning signs to suggest you don’t ride off the edge of the road. Providing you’ve welcomed their suggestions, you’ll witness the temperature begins to drop at a rate of a degree every two corners and, after 20 minutes, you’ll be battling your way through a thick cloud base that seems to go on forever. Dark red sandstone has taken the place of the light coloured rock from below, accompanied by an abundance of shrubbery and a ceiling temperature of just 10ºC; some 15ºC colder than it was in El Volcán.

Eventually, you break through the mist that hugs the mountainside and the views become breathtaking once more, as you stare down at the habitats thousands of feet beneath.

The next leg of the journey sees you travel the crest of a long ridge toward El Teide. From here, you have a 360º view of the ocean and islands around you. But most impressive is the conical shape of the volcano on your horizon. It’s still a good few thousand feet above you, despite the fact you’re still ascending on the narrow, perfectly smooth road that aims directly towards it.

At the junction for the TF-21, there’s a great place for lunch with fantastic views on offer. You’re now at the immediate base of the volcano, so it’s no surprise that the surroundings change once again.

Think lunar and you won’t be far wrong. A sandy, barren landscape with huge rocks and the occasional hard set flow of once molten lava makes this place incomparable. There are plenty of places to pull over and gawp at the scenery which has found its way into many major, hit movies over the years.

Once you’ve finished circulating the volcano’s crest, the descent begins back to civilisation, through the ever changing stages of scenery. The roads once again become extremely twisty and bare striking similarities to the infamous Stelvio Pass.

The further you descend, the warmer it gets and after a good half hour of slalom-like, hairpin route, you arrive into the town of Arona. From here, it’s a mere 15 minutes to Playa de las Américas where your route will conclude in the luxury of fine dining restaurants, cafes and bars.

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