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  • Finlay McPherson

Tour de Lanzarote

As the rest of the cycling world cast its eyes upon France, and the two young phenoms battling it out for yellow, I headed to Lanzarote to participate in a European cycling adventure of my own.

I had cycled in the heat before, but nothing compared to this. In Lanzarote, the heat is all-encompassing - not even the frequent winds could keep the sun’s rays at bay. It hits you as soon as you emerge from the shade. If there was ever a place to get some warm weather training, this would be it. Even in the searing heat, as I dragged myself up the slow climb leading me out of Porta Calero, the only thing I could think about was how fantastic the road surface was on the island. While the UK has rough and pothole-laden roads that sometimes make you feel as if you’re riding through some of the hardest sections of Paris-Roubaix, the roads of Lanzarote were as smooth as the very best stages of the Tour. Road surface is one of those things in cycling that you don’t acknowledge until it's perfect. When I went on rides at home, I knew the roads were bad but I just assumed it was somewhat par for the course.What I didn’t realise (perhaps quite naively), was that the roads of rural Suffolk pale in comparison to those in Lanzarote.

If I hadn’t felt the difference between the road surfaces on the climbs, I could certainly feel it in the flats and whilst roaring down the descents. It was markedly easier to carry speed through the straights, and the descents didn’t feel as if I was going to go over my handlebars at 60kmph. It was such a joy to ride on the roads, and enhanced the experience no end. Road surface aside, there were many positive elements to the Lanzarote cycling experience. One of the most notable was the cycling culture and the way in which fellow cyclists interact with each other. While in other countries it may be customary for riders to nod their head at each other and simply cycle past, the cyclists I encountered in Lanzarote both on the road and at the various cafés were friendly - and always made sure to say hi and goodbye. While it may seem like a minor detail, it goes to show the island's positive attitude regarding cycling and helped bolster the experience.

The routes we decided to conquer were awesome and enjoyable: the slow climbs up from the harbour to the island's mountainous region. While the climbs were pretty tough at times, they were more than worth the effort as they set up some of the best descents I’ve ever encountered. The sweeping descents from the very highest points of the island, back down to the harbour, were an absolute joy to ride. The smooth surface meant that I could carry far more speed downhill than I ever had done in the UK, which also meant the brakes of my bike got used far more frequently than I was used to.

All in all, Lanzarote is a fantastic cycling destination, and I would highly recommend it to any fellow cyclists. Once you get used to the heat, it's nothing but a great place to ride. While most of the cycling fans looked towards the mountains of France, I found my own cycling adventure in the Canary Islands equally enthralling.


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