The night was long, cold and lacking in sleep for all three of us as we emerged from our tents in the early morning bleary eyed. It was silent but for the sound of the stove roaring away for much needed hot drinks and porridge but I was already out with my shovel in need of the call of nature. Something hadn't agreed with my stomach the previous day as I'd had to get up during the night and it was the same thing again at first light. Not hungry but needing to eat I managed to eat my porridge and made sure I drank plenty of tea to hydrate myself. It had rained on and off throughout the night and I had a little pool of water in my tent beneath my sleeping mat where there was a dip in the ground - lovely! My tent inner was also rather mud splattered and everything was just wet and muddy, grim, grim, grim! There was a hopeful five whole minutes of sunshine as the clouds cleared to allow us a view of the snow capped volcano Tiede that had us oohing and aaahing at the wonderful view.
After putting it off as long as we could it was time for the worst task, packing away a cold, wet, muddy tent. I'd just finished packing my wet stuff away as it started to rain again. I headed up to the shelter to boil more water for us to drink before we set off into the mist.
We had a climb of around 700m to make it to the Corral del Nino at 2,240 metres, surpassing my previous highest climb up Pico de las Nieves in Gran Canaria so at least we'd be generating some heat to keep us warm. Setting off in the drizzle we were straight back into the pine covered hills of the previous day. Each finding our own pace we crept our way higher and higher losing the shelter of the pines and emerging onto open misty moorland. In small bursts of effort the sun tried hard to breach the clouds and light the day up.
The terrain had changed greatly, we were now riding gritty, black sandy tracks and were surrounded by lots of yellowing bushes dripping with raindrops.
We were definitely nearing volcano territory with the changing colours of the mountainside, from black to red and beautiful in it's ethereal mistiness.
We arrived at the top in a cold, wet wind at Corral del Nino without a single view in sight. I'd found the climb very manageable with a nice gradual gradient and was both excited but nervous for the inevitably cold downhill that awaited us.
Layered up and stuffing snacks down quickly in the cold wind we set off to see what awaited us on the other side. The downhill gods were smiling on us as we saw the glorious smooth gravel doubletrack ahead. Speeding down it with cold smiles the sun teased us as it tried to show itself through the mist.
The riding was fast and it was a welcome reward after the long climb. Looping, sweeping trails curving around rocky heights and finally we broke below the clouds to find our mysterious friend the sun!
The joy bubbled up and had me whooping down the trail, thrilled with the feeling of the sun warming my bones. Stopping to wait for the others they were just as buzzing as I was as we enjoyed the moment and felt the cold, wet memories of the last days slowly fading into the past.
Rounding a corner to see Charlotte and Alice stopped by the side of the trail I joined them for a long overdue lunch stop. Sat in a golden glow of sunshine I was truly in heaven, the hot sun beating down on me as I munched on my cheese sandwich. Tenerife had finally delivered the goods!
Basking in the warm rays we had a long lunch and only really moved as the clouds returned and threatened our little party. It was time to continue our descent and chase the sun. It appeared sporadically but we were again engulfed in the white mist as we realised just how long the downhill was. I was having strange problems with my chain and gears and eventually on an uphill when I downshifted I heard a horrible crunching sound and came to an abrupt halt. Now I've seen a few chain-suck messes in my time riding but nothing quite like what had just happened. I shouted to Alice that I had a problem and she stopped to help me. The lower part of the chain had wrapped itself around the top part of the chain on the front chainring, I wished I'd taken a photo but I was too busy wondering how the hell it had happened and how I was going to manage to fix it as it was wedged tight against the front derailleur and chainring. With Alice holding my bike I tugged, twisted and pulled to try and free the chain but it was stuck like glue. There was no choice but to break the chain, unwrap the mess and use a quick-link to rejoin it. Five minutes of stressing later and I had untangled the mess and was re-joining the chain together. I was so pleased that Alice had been with me, it's always good to have moral support and another person validating what you're doing when the sh*t hits the fan.
Back on two wheels I was treating the gears with kid gloves as I willed The Beast just to make it to the end of the day. Reunited with Charlotte we continued as a group and came across a rather interesting turn off the route. There had obviously been a landslide ahead and the route was gone and it seemed that we were heading off onto a very rocky hiking trail detour.
It only took one fall where I was pinned down by my bike handlebars on the edge of the precarious trail before I decided to stop being stupid and to simply push the bike down. We were now faced with a big, steep rocky hike-a-bike nightmare to get out of the misty, spooky canyon and it was certainly a workout for the upper body as we heaved our loads up the crumbling rocks.
Our final kilometres before we reached the road and civilisation of Vilaflor included a 250m climb and then thigh killing continual ups and downs. We were all feeling the long day as we zoomed into Vilaflor and stopped at the first cafe we saw. It would have to be a quick stop as we still had 25km to go to Los Cristianos but that didn't stop us from having a nice hot drink and a plate of sweet churros, mmmmm!
From here the trail notes said that there wasn't a single metre of elevation on the ride. Given our past experiences I wasn't sure whether to believe them or not but we were all pleasantly surprised by the wonderful ride that ensued. Riding through cloud and rain there was very little pedalling required as we cruised our way down neverending sweeping switchbacks to be met with a glorious post-rain scene of late afternoon sunshine on the mountains.
Looking down over Los Cristianos there was a sense of relief that we were in touching distance of our goal.
As the roads got busier we stopped to figure our directions to the apartment that we were staying in. Finally wheeling our muddy bikes into the San Marinos Apartment block we collectively sighed as we dumped our stuff and took stock of the day. We had made it up and over the pass, dealt with biting cold and miserable misty rain and then basked in the glorious warmth of the sun. Pine trees, volcanic gravel, rocky canyons and fast road switchbacks, it had been quite a day.
Showering the mud from our weary bodies we left the task of sorting our wet kit and bikes for the next day and headed out for some well earned food and drink. It had been a strange few days in Tenerife but we'd had plenty of adventure and we'd ridden it together, three women smashing it on the trails :-)