Gran Canaria: Into The Clouds
Gran Canaria has been nothing short of majestic. This was my first trip ever to this part of the world and the first time I had touched the Atlantic Ocean. Kinda wild to think that something as big as the Atlantic could be so remote.
As you might have read in my previous articles, I spent a few days in the south of the island, where I road up to the famous Pico De Las Nieves, the Valley of Ayagaures, and the mountainous town of Mogán.
The island is home to numerous micro-climates. On a single day, it could rain in the north, have full sunshine and warm weather in the south, while the peak is experiencing frigid conditions. Gran Canaria has everything from sand dunes to high pine country to coffee and banana plantations and fertile hidden valleys.
I only had one day left on the north side before I took the ferry to the queen of the Canaries, Tenerife.
The climb up to the Vega De San Mateo from the day before was so beautiful that it made sense to drop down it this time around. However, unlike the ride up to the Cladera de Badnama, the day started with full sunshine and warmer temperatures. Regardless of that, I packed my Goretex, just in case...
Just like the ride to the caldera, I took some backroads alongside some really busy ones. However, 5 or so miles into the ride, traffic pretty much slowed down. Instead of climbing up the mountain right off the bat, I rode westward alongside the mountain towards Arucas, a small town with a historic church. Throughout the 13 miles, I stayed under 1000ft of elevation and relatively flat.
Boy, all that climbing really skewed my flatness measurement.
With the Atlantic to the north and the Pico to the south, I continued west till I reached the Arucas. The parish of San Juan Bautista stands out as the most unique building I have seen on the island. A gothic church that took over 60 years to be built. However, it was active during that period until it was opened in the 1970s.
After a quick breakfast at a cafe with a perfect view of the church, I left town and continued west. Along the way, I saw fewer houses and more banana plantations; I entered the tropical part of the island. All the way from Arucas, there was this wave of clouds rolling in towards where I was headed. Almost like it was suspended over that part of the island alone.
The closer I got, the darker it got as well. As soon as I turned left from the main road and started up the mountain, I realized that I was in the clouds. What a complete contrast to the southern side, where the heat of the sun was too intense at times. There I was shrouded within the clouds where I could only see about a few hundred yards in front of me.
It felt like I was in a completely different place other than the canary Islands.
The further I climbed, the denser the clouds got. It felt like I was riding up this never-ending climb since I could only see so much in front of me. And no, this is not a complaint. In fact, I love weather patterns like these.
I must admit, it was super hard trying to take photos with my phone since everything was damp from the moister in the air. Technology fails from time to time. I managed my best, though.
All throughout the first leg of the climb, it was dead silent, except for the occasional cars passing me on the road. I stopped at some "viewpoints" where I saw the clouds washing in and out, teasing you with views beyond the silent white. The tidal movements receded the sea of clouds just enough for me to get a glimpse of the northwestern part of the island, with the deep blue ocean behind it.
On the climb up, I found out that a section on the original route I had planned was closed off due to some construction. So my two options were to either track back and link up with any of the roads running parallel to the one I was on. Or, (the better option), go down a set of switchbacks into the high end of a valley and back up towards the original route.
Although option B shaved off some miles, The road leading up to the tip of Vega De San Mateo was out of this world. The road out of the valley runs along the contour of the mountain west of it, passing through tiny villages scattered all over with the clouds rushing down the cliffs over me.
Eventually, I reached the top of Vega De San Mateo and stopped for a quick coffee since I needed a quick warm-up before the long descent into Las Palma with wet clothes. The funny thing is I stopped at the same cafe the day before for some Aquarius, an electrolyte drink, since I was sweating so much.
That's micro-climates for ya! One day it's full sun, and another is completely covered in clouds and chilly temps.
With time running out on my rental bike, I descended the same roads I had climbed the day before. Along the descent, I suddenly exited this realm of clouds as if there was a border holding the clouds back. The sun was shining bright as if there never was a sea of clouds behind me.
With this, my trip to Gran Canaria was over. What an experience that was, compared to mainland Spain. I never expected to encounter so many drastically unique climates, topographies, and roads all crammed into this tiny volcanic island in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. Sounds a bit like a fairytale, and perhaps that was one.
Next destination, Tenerife.
Catch you on the next one.