This report has its origins in my very first trip to Tenerife three years ago.
When I first explored the Island, I cycled alone, leaving my wife to enjoy a traditional, albeit lonely sun break, as she waited for my daily return to the hotel.
One fateful day whilst climbing out of the beautiful seaside town of Playa San Juan, a cyclist rode alongside me and began to chat. Amazingly he deciphered my murmurings and grunts as I tried to both breathe and talk whilst ascending the 9 km, 7% incline in the warm February heat. Ian and I discovered we had a lot in common and promised to keep in touch.
I have found that cycling alone often results in meeting new friends. Therefore, if you are hesitant in taking part in a cycling holiday or training week alone, don’t be. It has certainly paid dividends for me.
Ian escapes the British winter by enjoying an enviable lifestyle living and cycling on the largest of the Canary Islands. When we met up again last year he gave me some great ‘insider advice’, so it was only natural to ask his advice for this year’s spring foray.
As usual, Ian came up trumps and recommended the services of a local cyclist, born and bred on the island; Jorge. This young entrepreneur has recently set up his own company, Bike Emotion, providing Apartments in Tenerife, car hire and most importantly bike hire. He is based in the small town of Chio, about 25 minutes by car from the southern airport and the large busy sprawling conurbation of Los Cristianos, Playa de las Amercias and Costa Adeje.
Although I have complete faith in Ian, I was unsure on what to expect on our arrival. Through email exchanges Jorge had stated he would give good service, but how often has good service been promised only to result in disappointment?
However, Ian’s description of Jorge as a genuine, young man passionate about cycling, appeared to be true as I, my wife and twenty year old daughter received a lovely warm welcome at the airport and offers of help from Jorge. Conversation flowed, helped by the fact Jorge speaks excellent fluent English.
Chio is ideally situated for the start of a myriad of routes in the best cycling area of the island as well as being only a short distance from the main road to El Teide. It sits about 700m above sea level and hence it is a couple of degrees cooler than the tourist towns mentioned above. A price worth paying for not having to cycle through the mayhem of the hectic congested urban roads.
Additionally, by staying in Chio you experience the lifestyle of the local population, as the town is untouched by development or tourism per se. It is not short of amenities however, as it boasts several local bars / cafes, a supermarket, bank, and small restaurant.
Our apartment was furnished to a high standard and had access to a roof terrace. As usual for Spanish properties, there is no central heating but electric heaters are provided to take the chill off on the cooler spring evenings.
Part of Jorge’s service is delivery and collection of hire bikes if required. I should point out, hiring of bikes can be independent of accommodation. In our case, once we had settled into the apartment we were taken to his bike shop, Bike Emotion.
The bikes were as advertised on his website, Trek Advanced TCRs with a 28 cassette. Jorge and his skilled bike mechanic, ensured our bikes fitted perfectly.
Another part of his service is the opportunity to have Jorge as a guide. Jorge is really enthusiastic about showing the best routes, vistas, climbs and coffee stops the island has to offer.
Over a barriquito (a gorgeous liqueur coffee popular in the Canaries), in the in the nearby San Juan bar, we planned our week. We explained how Katherine is relatively new to road cycling, Jorge understood and offered to coach Katherine throughout the week. The routes sounded great and certainly most of them we would never have discovered by ourselves.
And indeed that is exactly what happened. Day after day we set off at about 08:30 am to ensure we were back before the hottest part of the day, and cycled the beautiful quite roads with the most fabulous views.
Ascending to the top of El Teide is a big lure to cyclists when visiting the island. But by no means is it an absolute necessity as there are so many other excellent climbs and challenges. However, it an epic ride accumulating in the most dramatic volcanic scenery. It would be shame not to give it a go.
So, the original plan was for Katherine to have a day off as I attempted to conquer the mountain with Jorge. However, Katherine had a different idea, much to the disappointment of her Mother, who would end up spending yet more time soaking up the sun and enjoying the café culture on her own.
Setting off from just outside San Migual, to avoid the horror of cycling through Los Cristianos, three amigos began the climb to the summit of El Teide. Katherine rode with Jorge as I attempted to improve my fitness and strength by cycling at a higher pace. My pride took a knock however, for every time I stopped for a few moments to take photos, the jovial pair would catch me up!
Remarkably Katherine accomplished the 2220m climb with relative ease. Her face was a picture of pride and accomplishment. And I must say her father was just as proud for her. It must be said her achievement is testament to Jorge’s gentle coaching and encouragement.
On our last day Jorge took me to one of the toughest climbs on the island, not widely known by the general public. The climb is used by professional teams to test their mettle and I can see why!
I suffered on gradients of over 20% and had to put my feet down on three occasions just to get my breath back. Nevertheless, it was a great test and I had a huge sense of achievement when eventually reaching the top.
All to soon it was time to give our bikes back. We had a most enjoyable week, and Jorge had been true to his word – great service. We couldn’t have wished for better.
Jorge’s enthusiasm and passion for cycling shone through; he was far more concerned about providing the best assistance and service than for charging for every penny.
Incredible to think I would probably have never discovered Jorge and his business if it wasn’t for cycling alone and chatting to a stranger.
We will certainly be using Bike Emotion again.
Thanks Jorge and thanks Ian!