Wow, what a day! Just as I think Lanzarote has given us all she can give there's a whole new world of wonder to see. I always forget just how much can happen in one day on two wheels so bear with me whilst I try to do this one justice.
We camped in El Jablo last night, the sandy desert between Famara and La Santa, with the sea on our right and the view of the hills to our left.
Leaving the sand we rode past the famous Club La Santa, where you're in for a treat if you like a bit of exercise. It's well known as a training place for the elite triathletes and uber fit people. After a brief stop at the supermarket we left the road and hit the gravel and headed inland.
As we neared Tiagua we passed Mount Timbaiba with it's rich red base standing out against a backdrop of brown. Then rather randomly we passed a lovely little windmill which looked a bit out of place if I'm honest.
Finding a tap at the side of somebody's house instead of a bucket down a well we filled up and headed towards Timanfaya volcanic national park passing through terraces and fields of grapevines. We'd seen some previously in rows with rock walls built around them as a windbreak but these were more elaborate with a semi circular wall to protect them and it was a rather beautiful sight.
As always there were hills and cacti too.
Suddenly we turned left onto singletrack that led us to another world, a lava field. It was pretty mental and quite technical at times riding over the large pitted rocks but absolutely thrilling - particularly when Charlotte mentioned just how much falling on the sharp volcanic boulders would be.
All of a sudden it was over and we were spat out onto another dusty gravel trail as a farmer went by in his tractor, very surreal indeed. After a short climb we were rewarded with a nice singletrack ridgeline to climb followed by a fast descent.
Stopping for lunch we were rather dumbstruck about the day so far. Every corner seemed to bring a new surprise, a different view and it's so exciting. After lunch we turned the corner onto a lunar landscape. Black sandy gravel winding it's way though the volcanoes that towered above. Rather fittingly out of knowhere a big blue gazebo appeared with ESA (European Space Agency) in letters on the side. Maybe we actually were riding on the moon.... ;-)
Leaving the national park behind we had a short road section down into the little town of La Asomada before the tarmac ran out and the gravel saw us climbing in the hot sun. Thankfully the majority of the day had been cloud cover as the heat of the direct sun was a lot to handle on those uphills.
What goes up.....must come down and what a treat it was. A bit rocky in parts and with some deep gravel pits we hurtled down enjoying the breeze and the views below.
Suddenly I heard something fall from my bike and looked behind to see the bag of pasta on the floor. Pulling on the brakes as hard as I could to stop without losing control I realised that my chain had come off the front derailleurr and then I saw the reason behind the escaped bag of pasta - the bungee cord holding it on had pinged off and the gotten stuck in the rear wheel and cassette! Pulling the brakes even harder I willed the bike not to choke up and throw me off but thankfully I stopped and took in the damage.
I had been incredibly lucky that the rear wheel hadn't locked up and after extracting the slightly mangled bungee cord it seemed that all was well with the wheel. Charlotte appeared and rescued the pasta before agreeing that I'd been very lucky. Not one to dwell on it, I re-mounted The Beast and continued down the hill, maybe a little bit more reserved than before I must admit.
Passing through the quaint little town of Uga we continued the few miles into Yaiza for a well earned cold drink. An ice cold cerveza for Charlotte and a can of the good stuff (Coke) for me and we watched the world go by as we reviewed our plan for the rest of the day.
From Yaiza to Playa Blanca the trail goes to the coastline and wiggles around it with a rather beefy 600m of climbing and no resupply points or any towns along the way. There was nothing for it, we'd have to fill up all of our water bottles and ride heavy as with only three hours until sunset we'd be camping somewhere along the route tonight. Decision made, we loaded up and headed up the gravel track. It was a long uphill that didn't look too bad until we started to ride it and before long I was panting and willing my legs to pump those pedals.
With a little breather halfway I literally rode the second half from rock to rock, eyeing up my next little challenge with a mental 'let's get to that rock' mantra. These are the times when you wish you were fitter so it doesn't hurt so much but unfortunately there's only one way to get that fitness and it's by riding the hills, haha. Arriving at the top, I'd literally just pulled up my pants after a quick wee to see a young woman on an e-bike looking fresh as a daisy. She then proceeded to tell me that she'd be waiting for her sister for some time as she was on a normal bike. Thankfully Charlotte arrived and after a bit of smalltalk we said our goodbyes and set off down the reward for our toil up the hill. It was a pretty rocky descent and with a full waterbag strapped to my handlebar roll I took it rather slowly but it was enjoyable all the same. Crossing a road at the bottom it now seemed that we'd been transported into a mini Utah, complete with orange rock stacks. Honestly, there's never a dull moment on the Granguanche Lanzarote!
Within minutes we were greeted by an incredible descent through a valley and we both gasped at the site of it.
Raw, natural beauty that just makes your heart sing and your pulse quicken. Honestly it doesn't get much better than this and it turned out to be the gift that just kept on giving, a long descent, slightly technical in places and my calves actually ached from freewheeling for so long. I shan't complain about that one though!
Leapfrogging each other down the winding valley we were grinning from ear to ear when we reached Playa de la Arena at the bottom. Funnily enough what goes up must go down and unfortunately for us the reverse is also true, what goes down, must go up!
Not a chance of riding this section, it was hike-a-bike time. Your bike always seems so much heavier when you have to push it and luckily it was only a fairly short section that we couldn't ride. Back in the saddle it was an up and over jobby and then we were treated with a glorious winding singletrack along the clifftops - fantastico!
Descending through rocky switchbacks we arrived at Playa de Casa beach.
Wandering down, there was a large cactus garden at the bottom and an odd collection of bits and bobs in the side of the cliff that looked a bit like a shrine. It was a bit strange as we didn't think that this was an easy place to get to but somebody obviously makes an effort to keep it looking so good.
Charlotte wanted to stop for the night and it was now nearly 5:30pm. With an hour or less of daylight left for riding and a very tough looking next section which would leave us with no flat ground to camp on, we decided to call it a day, have a wash in the sea and camp by the beach. Walking back up to our bikes we heard a noise and a Jeep came down the rough track. Damn, that scuppered our plans a bit, although it looked like they were just taking a few photo's and they left after about ten minutes. Back to plan A, we stripped off and got into swimwear before heading into the sea. I got a shock when I walked down the steep, black rocky beach as I hadn't realised that there was a man fishing around the corner- good thing we didn't decide on a skinny dip or he would have had a right eyeful!
Feeling much less dusty and slightly more human it was now a case of waiting for the fisherman to leave however after half an hour or so when the light faded he was still around and Charlotte saw him setting up camp on the other side of the beach. We weren't going anywhere and so put up our tents and then cooked up a meal of pasta with tomato sauce and mackerel, delicious!
Another day over and it was one to remember in so many ways. Now time to rest these little legs ready for tomorrow's mission :-)