A Day of 2 Halves

The plan yesterday was to go riding AM then pick up a hire car in the afternoon but the rental company called me and said they were closing at 12 noon, so the day got flipped. I would have to go riding PM now instead. We went for a wander for breakfast and found a “local’s” coffee shop (aka no english spoken) and enjoyed a couple of coffees and a fresh croissant each. I managed to pick up a couple of bocadillo’s (baguettes) for our lunch in my broken Spanish too.

We picked up a Fiat 500 with a cool retracting roof and set off to explore the island. First stop was about 30 mins down the road. Jardin de Cactus. The premise here is a walled cactus garden dug into the ground showcasing thousands of different cactus species while overlooked by an old windmill. It’s the work of a famous Artist from Lanzarote called Cesar Manique and quite a thing to see. Check out the gallery. You wouldn’t ever know if you drove past it.

After this we carried on up the coast to a place called Jameous del Agua which was to blow our minds again. More work of Cesar Manique. This guy has taken a small section of an exposed former lava tube from an extinct volcano and built what I can only describe as a visual marvel and paradise.

As soon as you walk in you descend into a cavern that hosts a bar and cafe each end and in the middle is a 7m deep, crystal clear pool. The actual tube from the volcano is 6km long and runs 2km out to sea but is not connected to the sea directly. The section we are in is just a tiny part where the roof has collapsed and the water has seeped into it over many years. It’s an amazing sight.

A narrow walkway has been built so you can walk to the other side to another bar area and then climb back out to be met by a swimming pool that on first glance looks like a white sandy beach and oasis but it’s not , it’s just white washed. I could have just jumped in. It looked amazing and still in the old lava tube with the old roof missing.

Up some stairs was an indiscreet door which gave way to an auditorium that had been built in another part of the cavern. Another amazing sight but the somber music made you feel like you had walked into a funeral.

the acoustics must be awesome

Upstairs and back above ground there was a new, interactive museum that talked about the work to map the lava tube and the types of volcanic rocks on the island. Sally and I enjoyed a great tour of the whole length of the lava tube that had been mapped on a VR headset. We also played a game of guessing whether the pic was a Mars or Lanzarote landscape and only got one wrong despite a random woman rocking up next to us and starting to randomly press buttons on the game then walking off. Some people are weird.

Lunch beckoned so we drove a short way back and then pulled up and ate our sandwich overlooking the coast. It was much windier today and small dust clouds were blowing up ahead.

Back at the apartment Sally had some travel work to do so I decided to get out on the bike and do my planned ride. It was about 2.30pm when I headed out. The wind was strong and for once I put some sunscreen on as the sun was beating down too.

Out of town I picked up the gravel tracks which nestle amongst the old lava fields that sit beside the coast. My hips were complaining a bit. I haven’t ridden this much this week for a while and the headwind was absolutely horrific. The wind on the canary islands is like rain in the UK. It’s inevitable and you have to embrace it. That means not pushing too hard otherwise you will just destroy yourself.

I eventually got to the spot where we ate our lunch then it was a few km on the road past the Jardin de Cactus before another gravel track to cut straight across to the main climb of the day from Tabayesco. Out of the village you do a couple of hairpin bends then snake up the side of a valley and head around the top ot before picking up the main road and more hairpins and height to the highest point on the island at Penas la Cache. It looks like an observatory but is actually a radar station.

What a climb though. The 5km climb from Tabayesco was quite brutal. Not the gradient, I just tapped out a nice rhythm. The sun was baking me. It was quite sheltered so there was no wind. Great views back down to the coast though. This section took me about 30 mins and I saw no one. No cyclists, no pedestrians, no cars. Nothing. Just the whole climb to myself.

Eventually I popped out on to the bigger main road (still quiet though) and tackled the steep slopes and more hairpins for the last 3km to the top and past the radar station. In total the climb took me about 50 mins.

Now over the top it was almost downhill all the way. The first few km’s were wide and fast on the main road then after El Mojon I picked up another bumpy trail. A kind of shortcut back onto the Via Cyclista (Cyclists Road) that runs parallel to the main trunk road that runs North to South. At what Sally and I call border control I had a 3km fast descent back into town and home. I was pretty tired and hot when I got back.

After a rest we went for an amazing Mexican meal and then when it was dark drove back up to the radar station to do some star gazing away from the lights. I was able to retract the roof and recline my seat and look up into the heavens and see more stars and satellites than I think I’ve ever seen before. Quite amazing.

Today I’m having a day off. We’re off around the island again in the hire car.


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