Staying at a hostel in San Cristobal de La Laguna we went out to explore the local area and it was raining. There was very heavy rain forecast for Thursday night and all of Friday and over dinner and drinks we discussed our options. The difficulty was that the route goes up and over a 2,200 metre pass close to Teide volcano and whatever the weather at sea level it would be a hell of a lot worse up there, much colder and much wetter. Not having packed full winter waterproofs and also not wanting to ride in wet kit for hours we decided that it would be best not to ride the following day. The next challenge was finding accomodation for the Friday night, not the easiest at all because both of the hostels in La Laguna were fully booked and there wasn't much else to choose from. In the end we found a room back in Santa Cruz, where we'd ridden from that day. Very kindly the hostel allowed us to leave our bikes there overnight so we could just get a bus back to Santa Cruz and come back and pick the bikes up to start back on the route on the Saturday morning - perfect! Well all I can say is that I'm so pleased we made that decision, it was heavy rain first thing Friday morning and it continued throughout the day.
It was roughly 10 degrees, cold and wet and honestly it felt a bit like being back at home. Friday was a very lazy day of lying around and relaxing, a bit frustrating when all you want to do is to continue the trip but it was much needed for my knees and legs I think. We definitely made the right decision though as there was a weather warning in place and apparently there were 3,000 lightning strikes across the Canary Islands on Friday.
So we found ourselves back on a bus to Las Lagunas at 7:30am this morning to get our bikes and start back on the route.
It was forecast for light showers all day and so we were prepared to get wet at some point. Riding past the airport and up the hill into La Esperanza we were already in the misty clouds and it was drizzling as we cycled along a rather busy road. The drivers here are on the whole very patient and good with cyclists but a small black car overtook us and smashed the wing mirror from a car in the oncoming traffic. The car pulled in and honked it's horn at the other driver but they simply carried on oblivious to the accident they'd just caused.
After a quick supermarket stop for supplies and a second breakfast we were hit by a rather monstrous hill out of La Esperanza, it had me puffing and panting and we all struggled to keep the pedals turning.
Here we went off-road and into the woods. You could smell the pine trees as we splattered ourselves through the rather drenched muddy track. The incline was pretty gentle and the riding was fairly nice although it was still cloudy and wet.
As we climbed higher you could feel the air getting cooler and the rain started to get heavier. It wasn't long before my lightweight waterproof was soaked and the trail deteriorated. There were huge gouges in it where there had obviously been masses of rainwater washing down it like a river the day before. We were all a bit spread out on the ride, each of us riding at our own pace and not wanting to stop to wait for anyone because as soon as you did you started to shiver with the cold.
There were a few stretches of downhill and that's where I really started to feel the cold. My fingers were completely numb and I was struggling to use the gears as my thumb was refusing to work. With no views to distract me, all I could hear was the sound of my own pedalling and the dripping of the rain.
Coming across a wooden shelter at the bottom of a downhill stretch I stopped to wait for Charlotte and Alice to see if they wanted to stop for lunch. We were still 10km away from La Caldera picnic area and we weren't even sure there would be any cover there for us to shelter under. The problem is that once you stop though you get cold very quickly. We decided to have lunch so got our wet layers off and put nice dry coats on in the hope of staying warm. The stove came out and we brewed up some tea whilst trying eat our sarnies through chattering teeth. Charlotte in particular was suffering quite badly with the cold as she has Raynaud's disease which means that her hands and feet go numb and painful in the cold weather. It was still raining and we were all a bit miserable and fed up.
We discussed our options. We could continue on the route down to La Caldera picnic area and join the road from there to ride to a restaurant a few miles down the hill to warm up, we could bail on the route completely and ride to Puerto de la Cruz and see what options there would be to get a bus from there to the end of the route at Los Cristianos, or we could just continue going up, getting wet and camp near the Ramon Caminero picnic area as we had originally planned. It was a difficult choice and we each had our own ideas of what we wanted to do. One of the biggest obstacles with bailing on the route would be finding accomodation and then also finding a means of getting to Los Cristianos. Whilst we were mulling it over we were moving around to keep warm and we were a right odd sight, as Charlotte was warming her frozen fingers in my armpits and it looked like we were dancing.
Deliberation over, the consensus was to keep going to La Caldera as we had to go down to it anyway and we could then review the situation when we got there. So off came the warm dry layers and on went the cold wet ones as we began the descent to the road. I very rarely feel like I don't want to ride a downhill but this one was cold and long.
Arriving at La Caldera we rode into the picnic area and the only shelter was the toilet block which had the smallest little overhang to stand beneath and mostly it was dripping worse than the rain. We huddled under some trees by a picnic bench to have a snack and re-evaluate the plan. I think all of us would have said yes to a magical bus that would take us and the bikes down to Los Cristianos in the warm south but it wasn't going to happen and so it was back on the bikes.
Heading for Ramon Caminero picnic area was a climb again and it had been a long day so far so it was hard work riding up the trail switchbacks but at least the efforts kept us warm. Again it was raining on and off and we had a little breather at one of the hiking shelters.
Stuffing our faces with snacks and sugar we continued and came out onto the road. Visibility was very poor as we were in the clouds and so out came the lights. I was glad of the road as it made for faster riding and all we wanted to do was to find the picnic area where we knew there would be a shelter and water. Finally it was in sight and we arrived wet but warm from the riding. After a quick mooch around we decided to camp there even though it's not allowed, we couldn't be seen from the road and it would be dark in an hours time anyway. Luckily we got our tents up before the rain started again and had dinner and got changed into our warm gear for the night.
It's pretty cool as we're at 1,500m but we'll be snuggly in our sleeping bags and fingers crossed tomorrow will bring drier brighter weather. Surely there is sun in Tenerife somewhere???