Named after the Latin word for dogs and not the birds (the birds are, in actual fact, named after the island) the Canary Islands are located off the north east coast of Africa. A sub-tropical archipelago of incredible natural beauty, they are also home to some rugged terrain and volcanic activity, all of which makes mountain biking in the Canary Islands a whole lot of fun.
This guide aims to break down the islands into individual destinations and highlight the best spots to get on your bike and tackle some of the tough climbs, trails and downhills on offer.
The largest of the seven islands, Tenerife is perhaps best known for its summer holiday resorts but away from the tourist hotels and beaches, the island is well worth exploring on two wheels. With almost guaranteed sunshine and plenty of dusty trails to check out all year round, the island has a real wilderness feel to it.
With a mixture of easier 4×4 tracks and some tougher, rocky single tracks, there is something for almost any rider on the island. Mysterious volcanic landscapes dominate and with majestic views of the coastline and Atlantic Ocean from almost anywhere, climbs are well worth the effort.
If you want to cover the best terrain in Tenerife check out the trips offered by Lavatrax, they have been guiding people to the best MTB trails in Tenerife since 2006. Their enduro/all mountain packages offer the kind of mountain biking most of us love, long technical single tracks with descents of around 2000m, peppered with uphill sections so you feel you have earned it. These are un-manicured trails natural in nature which will take you through stunning routes of 25-40km.
Lavatrax also offer less technical cross country riding that has been risk assessed and graded using the MIAS guidelines. Ultimately they will help you create your ideal MTB trip around your preferred riding style, fitness and ability. They can of course provide the bikes, and will be your guide throughout to ensure you get the most from your trip. Lavatrax offer a range of holiday packages, so visit their website: www.lavatrax.com or give them a call (+44) 0872 4261223 to find out more.
Another of the larger islands, this volcanic island is dominated by wild coastline, huge sand dunes and dried river beds, meaning there is plenty to challenge any mountain biker. Head out to the 800,000 year old lava tube in Villaverde, or catch a boat with your bike to the nearby Lobos Island. Speak to Easy Riders for more information.
With some of the best tracks and trails in the archipelago, this is a great island for MTBers. With some trails up to 70km long, and climbs of well over 1,000m, this is serious stuff but well worth the challenge. Again, the rocky, volcanic terrain means you need to keep your eyes open and on the path – not always easy when the views are so spectacular. Free Motion specialise in MTB tours on the island.
Another destination you might better associate with lobster-red tourists and fry-ups, the interior of the island is like a different planet – both literally and metaphorically. This enigmatic landscape of hardened lava flows and craters is like a ready made bike park, testing out many different riding styles and skills.
Without the uplift associated with with the Alps enduro tours of Lanzarote are very popular. If you are unfamiliar enduro riding is doing both the uphill and the downhill in the saddle, in competition the only times section is the downhill. With the longest downhill track being 8km, there’s plenty of fun to be had, but there are Enduro routes all over Lanzarote.
As the first of the Canary Islands to be certified by the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), Lanzarote has 6 enduro tracks which connect with each other. With a range of styles and different difficulties they can take you to a different area of the island each day of a weeks holiday.
Lanzarote Cycling can help you to arrange your Lanzarote enduro tour plus any other riding.
Although the island is smaller than the above destinations, there is still plenty of great biking to be had. MTBers can make good use of the over 1,000km of signposted hiking trails – often ancient paths that have been in use for many centuries. Many of the best tours on the island start at high altitude, so you can either cycle up or drive up in the car, as many are accessible by road.
We recommend Bike ‘n’ Fun to help you arrange any biking in La Palma. Their guided tours, bike hire, shuttle service and incredible network of trails offer some of the best mountain biking in the Canary Islands. All of the Bike ‘n’ Fun rides are rated from level 1, easy paved paths with minimal uphill, to level 4, for advanced mountain bikers that can handle single track and up to 3500m uphill altitude difference.
There are rides suitable for all ability and fitness levels and every trip will be organised with this in mind. You can find out more at www.bikeenfun.de by calling +34 – 922 40 19 27 or emailing [email protected]
There are a number of other smaller islands to explore when mountain biking in the Canary Islands but the above should be more than enough to help you plan exciting Canary Island mountain biking holidays.