Monday 8 April 2013
Starting from Santiago de Teide where the wind is colder than we bargained or dressed for in shorts, we get going pretty sharply straight up a very steep and long hill about 1 in 4, which warms us up. Immediately the landscape becomes fjord-like, with mountains all around opening out into a fantastic view of jagged peaks dropping off into the sea. A tumble of red and crusty lava rock forms the ground; there seems to be no soil, and yet amongst these, there are trees and cacti growing happily. The lava has bubbles in it which have formed caves. In places the layers have been terraced to grow vines, bananas, cacti nurseries. Our road is narrow and winding and very steep at all times. From the first pass, a breathtaking descent takes us to Masca itself, a place reminiscent of Macchu Picu, having a steep sided sugarloaf hill protruding between plunging terraced gorges. Coach loads of trippers made the roads more hazardous than they should be and the cafes and viewpoints busy. We carry on up the next giant hill to a quiet mirador café for elevenses in the now hot sun. There are a lot more climbs before a long and spectacular descent where we see Team Sky riding up towards us. They wave and nod as cyclists do to each other.
Now the descent takes us down to the coast and a busier road where a small and local café looking shut and run down provides a splendid tapas meal for us. The third leg of the triangle begins with a long stretch of unrideable 1 in 3 gradient hill followed by a sustained 6 kilometre uphill with hairpins swinging us round to view the turquoise coast every few minutes. These lead to a more easy angled hill taking us up to 3,500 feet above sea level. Just when I thought it was too hard and back and backside are complaining heartily the top is reached and a fast 3 kilometre down hill takes us back to the start. Later we go to an all you can eat Chinese, (but don’t) before strolling along the dark warm sea front.
Some information about the ride
The Teno Mountain range possesses the most dramatic terrain on the island. Here is one place where mountains (between 700 and 1100m) plunge straight into the ocean. At this altitude, the sea appears as a great wall of water, a very unusual phenomenon – it can even be a little unnerving at times.
The small village of Masca is a wonderful place to stop for a little break and enjoy the scenery, because you don’t come to these kinds of radical places every day. The descent into Masca is a rim-melter. It’s a very steep road, with more hairpins than a Japanese geisha house. The easiest route is to do the loop shown below in a clockwise direction.