"El Teide, thanks for having me."
And then it's already Saturday. Only 2 complete days of training possibilities left. Monday evening i'm flying back to the Netherlands. So Monday will just be on the mountain bike exploring the unexplored parts of this region. I've spotted a nice little abandoned church on a hillside about 10 kilometers from here. I will try to ride there somehow. And please don't get me wrong. I've loved every moment here, but it will be so nice to hold my girl again.
Yesterday I decided today would be a ride up El Teide again. This time starting from where I am right now, riding via the coast to El Medano, then make my way up via Granadilla and Vilaflor all the way to the top at the Paradores Hotel. This is were all the pro teams stay when they to an altitude training camp here at Tenerife. The hotel is situated at around 2250 meters altitude.
I must say, today was one of the best day's this week. Sunny all day, with just some small clouds during lunchtime. I love the heat, the burning of the sun, I just love the extra dimension it adds to your training. Thinking about hydration and staying protected against the sun are just the obvious ones. Some people just cope with these conditions better than others. Most of my mates prefer the colder temperatures. Luckily for them we live an train most of the time in the Netherlands.
Back to the route i'd selected today. The route towards El Medano is a tough one. It's constantly going up and down with different gradients. With eventually reaching El Medano after 30 kilometers you start all over at 33 meters altitude. If you think about the total ascent of almost 2200 meters, you know it's going to be a long climb. At least the summit is still 60 kilometers away, so you think the gradient won't be that bad. But don't be fooled. The climb is very consisting throughout the way, but there are some hard parts with gradients in double figures. But having said that, this ascent from El Medano is very easy compared to the one I did on Monday. No gradients above 12% today.
Halfway up the climb, just after Vilaflor I was joined by some Tinkoff riders, unfortunately no Alberto Contador. He was already ahead of the group. Very disappointing, but a good thing because it now meant that the riders were taking it much easier. So even I could keep up with them. Mind you, we were still pushing 250 watts all the way to the top.
The last 9 kilometers of the climb are very hard but also very very beautiful. Lot's of trees and amazingly smooth asphalt. I can see why the pro's like to train here.
Reaching the top, were it says UNESCO world heritage, I decided to stop for a few nice panoramic shots. The Tinkoff guys pressed on towards the hotel a few kilometers further. They had a date with dinner and a massage. I know what I would choose.
I regret stopping there, because although it was stunningly beautiful, it now meant that I had to do the last 5 kilometers all by my self. Don't feel bad for me but the last 5 kilometers is mostly 2% uphill with a some places 7%. Still doesn't sound that bad, but please do take in account that the wind is completely free and blowing like crazy over here. That's a top tip for anyone going to the top of El Teide:
"At the top it's almost flat, so off course there is a lot of wind."
After some terrible slow kilometers I reached the hotel. Greeted some riders and other random people who were clearly thinking I am a pro. Some of them even wanted a picture with me, don't know what for, but it's all good for me. So if you guys see some random pictures on Instagram with an unknown cyclist, please let me know.
I ordered a coffee in the restaurant and there I had a brilliant idea. At least, it seemed brilliant at the time. I now know it was the lack of oxygen in the air which made my brain perform even worse than normal.
I thought it would be nice to say goodbye to this volcano in a special way. And I didn't wanna just say: "Goodbye and i'll see you next time." No no, I decided it would have to be something different, something more meaningful. So I thought, maybe I should kiss the lava? But no, because lava, as I found out earlier this week can be very sharp. So I was thinking and thinking and then I had it. So I set off, wanked towards a cave, picked up a nice rock, and said some kind words, and threw the rock against the cave. Seemed greet at the time, but when, after a long descent, I reached sea level. And my brain was finally working in it's normally crazy way, I was thinking about it and essentially what I did was throw a rock onto another rock. What will people be thinking up there.
Thanks for reading my story today, and i'll write to you tomorrow. Tomorrow will be a double bike day. In the morning a small 70 kilometers ease ride on the racing bike, and in the afternoon, after I watched Valentino Rossi win the Italian MotoGP, I will do a nice trip on the mountain bike.
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