GCN’s Epic Rides | Ep.1 Gran Canaria

– EasyJet, Europe’s big low-cost
airline, wanted us to shed light on some of the fantastic
and easily accessible riding locations on this continent. A short flight for a long
weekend or week away. – Yeah, but we didn’t
just want to take you to somewhere you’ve already
seen like Mont Ventoux again, or the Stelvio, again. No, we wanted to show you
somewhere that you might never have thought about
riding your bike before. Like… Gran Canaria! Look at that! Oh and yes, we did get speedy boarding. (rock music) – [Simon] We flew from Gatwick Airport just south of London in the UK. Leaving cold and rainy
England at seven a.m. And then just over four hours later after breakfast and a cup of tea, arriving in Gran Canaria. We picked up our car and
heading over to our hotel to unpack, build bikes and scope out a decent coffee shop for the morning. After after, any bucket
list ride should start in coffee shop, and our Gran
Canaria ride is no different. We’re in La Aldea de San Nicolas, a small town on the
west side of the island. Which is where exactly, I hear you ask. Well Gran Canaria is one
of the Canary Island, a Spanish Archipelago
in the Atlantic Ocean. Just off the northwest coast of Africa. It’s neighbours, Tenerife
and Lanzarote are more famous for cycling perhaps, but we don’t think they’re quite as good. Someone should really
tell all those pro cyclist stuck at the top of a
volcano altitude training on Tenerife just across the water. Our ride today is 73 kilometres long. It’s not an epic, it’s doable
by a broad range of abilities. If you give yourself enough time. But do give yourself plenty
of time because Gran Canaria is incredibility mountainous. As you’re about to find out. You might very well be
wondering why we’re at a coffee shop and Dan’s topless. And it turns out he put his
undervest on inside-out. – Oops, I did just get a woof
or two though, by a bloke. – Yeah, we’re not quite sure
he was all there, anyway. (lively music) – [Dan] We haven’t given you that much opportunity for a
warm up on this ride, so you might want to do some flat riding before you start it, if you
need to get your legs turning. But we’ll give you some
more details for this opening climb shortly. We wanted though to give
you a bit of an overview of what this route is all about. – That’s right, so, we’ve got
a fairly big opening climb, and then we’re on a rolling
road where we hit the first of our very important cafe stops. And then we hit the bottom of another pretty monstrous climb. – [Dan] We do, yeah, we
planned this meticulously, I think you might say. We wanted this to be
beautiful, almost epic. Achievable, plenty of coffee
stops, a nice place for lunch, and it finishes on a descent. So our last descent is
called the Valley of Tears. Now that a bucket list
climb for a lot of people. But why would you want to
climb the Valley of Tears? – Yeah you’d probably end
up crying, surly, yeah. (lively music) – [Dan] So let’s give
you some of the key stats for this opening climb of our ride. It is seven and a half kilometres long and an average gradient
of eight and half percent. But the last four kilometres,
which we are on now, average a little under ten percent, so it does begin to bite. It is called the GC200,
not really romantic in terms of its name. And actually it really
doesn’t do the beauty of this climb any justice at all. – Now if we’re talking times
the record is a little over 23 minutes, set by
pro-rider Matteo Montaguti. We’re gonna take a little
bit longer than that, aren’t we mate? – [Dan] Yeah we’ve already
been slogging along, and in fact we’ve already
taken a lot longer than that. – [Simon] 29 minutes. I don’t know about you Dan,
but straight out of the blocks you just feel like this place is exotic, I mean like the vegetation
is so different, just the whole air quality
is so dry, it’s fantastic. – Not only that but there is
almost zero wind here today. And we’ll talk a lot more
about weather during this video you’ll be pleased to know. But it’s such an
incredibly still day today. – Yeah, now the the other
thing about this climb, other than the grade and the length, is the quality of the road surface. Like, it sounds kinda
stupid but it’s so important that only have we got no
leg-warmers on, no overshoes, we’ve got an extra 20 PSI in our tyres. And we’re just rolling effortlessly. (upbeat music) Now we’ve only done 19
kilometres but given that this is a bucket ride where we
basically just get to do whatever we want and
enjoy it, seems like the perfect opportunity for
cafe stop number one. – Yes, let’s do it. – Perfectly located. Know what, I might get one of those juices as well as a coffee. – I’m gonna get too, yeah. It might feel a little bit
early to stop for coffee, let’s be honest, but we
have got another large climb coming up and it’s gonna
take some time to get to the top where we planned lunch So I think it’s probably the
perfect place to have them. Now we’ve got a small
cortado and a large corado. Later on we are planning
on getting a leche leche, sometimes known as a cafe
bon bon which apparently involves condensed milk inside the coffee. So for that sugar hit at the
end we got that in reserve. – I can’t believe how English
or middle-aged you sound. “Apparently it’s got condensed milk.” – Yeah, well we’re
English and middle-aged, what do you want. – You are mate, I mean. – Yes, okay. – Right, now before we
start we did talk about the fact that it’s a
bucket list ride, therefore we can do what we want
and we are allowed to stop for coffee after 20 K’s. It does beg the question doesn’t it? About what actually is a bucket-list ride. What does one have to
do to have to qualify to be an ultimate ride. What’s your thinking, Dan? – Well I think it’s quite
hard to completely define, I’m loving the fact
that the weather’s great but I don’t think that
is necessarily a given for a bucket-list ride. We might need to have an
epic one with really bad weather conditions. But just to come to somewhere
where you feel like you’re achieving something on your bike, I think is first and foremost, isn’t it? And this route already feels
like it’s gonna be like that. And it is just so beautiful. I did the research before we came out here but it is way better than I
even thought it was goin to be. – And it also, for me, this
one qualifies in the same ways because it’s taken us away
from home, and winter, and wet, and cold, and overshoes, and bib tights, so even though perhaps
by the end of summer this would feel like less of a treat, right now at this time of year in January this feels like the ultimate treat. And yet it was kinda so easy to get here. It’s brilliant isn’t it. – I’m actually looking forward
to finishing the drinks and carrying on. That is what would constitute
as a bucket-list ride when you want to leave the cafe. That’s the definition. – So let’s see, Dan firstly
put his undervest on inside-out, and got naked at the cafe, and in the second cafe we stopped at today Dan appears to be getting
naked again and now it’s because he decided he
doesn’t want an undervest on. – Well we got that big climb to get up. I was hot in the first one
and nine in the morning. (lively music) – We’ve just turned off
the coast road and onto climb number two, this is
called the Serenity Climb, which I do like the sound of. It’s eight and a half K’s long. A little bit shallower
than our first climb at six and a half percent. – Yeah, it sounds a lot
more appealing both in terms of it’s name and also in
terms of it’s gradient. And actually from what
I’ve read about this climb, I’ve got some very high
hopes about how epic it’s going to be. It really seems like it’s very narrow with some of the best
views you can imagine seeing on a bike. Let’s see if that’s true. It’s also hugely popular, 27
thousand attempts in Strava. That’s quite a lot of people. (mellow music) One of the advantaged of
Gran Canaria over some other popular cycling locations is the climate. In the summer months the average high is 27 or 28 degrees Celsius, which is warm but it’s not excessive
for riding your bike. But it doesn’t deviate much
so in the middle of winter, now in January, it’s at it’s lowest point but it’s average high temperature is still 21 degrees Celsius
which is absolutely perfect for cycling, and actually
today it’s 24 degrees right now here at 900
metres above sea level. And on top of that, versus
some of it’s neighbouring islands, it’s much less windy. – [Dan] And in fact, the
least windy month is right now in January, there is barely
a breath of wind today. It’s absolutely fantastic. – Sorry mate, just had to make sure I was getting in an instabanger. You talking about wind again? – [Dan] So I was getting a
picture for the bike vault. – [Simon] Yeah something about the weather is absolutely incredible. – [Dan] I’m starting in the big ring. – [Simon] You left it in
the big ring, show-off. (energetic music) How cool is this, literally
just crested climb number two to find some
blokes at a roadside store giving away oranges. – [Dan] This is just about
going to keep Si going until our planned lunch
stop because he’s recently been talking about chocolate energy gels and what he’s gonna have for lunch. – Just saw the signs for
white chocolate energy that was really very good. – Again, you thought about mojo potatoes, he’s absolutely obsessed with them. – We’ll explain more in
a little bit about mojo. (upbeat music) When you crest the top of the second climb there’s a bit of a change of scene. There’s a lot more vegetation up here. And we’re on kind of a plateau basically. It’s a little bit up and
down but we’re generally bowling along quite quickly. Taking off the K’s, brilliant
quite pleasant way I guess. – Yeah, we’ve been
chatting a bit more as well about what makes a bucket-list ride and since we’ve been
on this Serenity Climb, we’ve decided that one
thing that can make a bucket-list ride is a road like this that feels like it has
been designed solely to ride your bike on. – Yeah, it’s narrow, it’s
almost like a bike path width in places, and then it’s rarely straight, in fact this bit here could be the longest straight we’ve ridden on in about 15 K. Just constant twist and
turns, just fantastic. – What I really loved
about that climb most was the the fact that it
wasn’t a steady gradient all the way up, you had bits
where it was quite difficult, bits where you would
climb leisurely first. But for me, most importantly, areas where it was flat or downhill and you picked up a little bit of speed. Today it’s fair to say
I’m not quite as fit as I used to be, so I really
appreciate those bits. But the do make you feel good, don’t they? Because you hit these little sections and you carry your speed into them, and then you kind of
recover on the next bit. – [Simon] Yeah I agree with
you, to just ride up and enjoy, it’s fantastic. (energetic music) Hello everyone, the bike rack. Here’s your place, second
coffee stop as promised, we order leche leche’s. Do you think we stir it or what? – [Dan] Oh we will stir
it in a second yeah, it’s basically everything
you need for the last part of a ride in a very small glass. You’ve got lots of sugar in
the form of condensed milk, and then plenty of caffeine
in the form of coffee just on top of it. And there might be mainly
descent back to the end of this ride but, unfortunately
there is still a little bit of climbing to go before we get to it. – Yeah, according to my Wahoo,
it’s an extra 1,000 metres. That’s what it says.
– You’re joking. – Yeah so someone’s got
something wrong, Strava or… – I better two leche leche’s. (laughing) – Next stop, and looks who stopped by. – Benjamin swift, we saw Ben at the bottom of the Serenity Climb and
in the time that we’ve done that climb he’s done two. I think he’s gone up the
Valley of Tears as well. – How was it? – He’s taken an hour to
get up here but he’s also just been talking about
how beautiful the roads are around the rest of the island. And he’s been coming
here the last few years. – Well Dan is currently what
looks the pursuit of the perfect selfie, I
thought I’d take a moment to talk about geology. Oh don’t skip the video, it’ll
be brief and interesting. So the Canaries are volcanic islands and they began life about
14 million years ago, they built up and up
and up over subsequent volcanic eruptions until
about nine million years ago when there was a cataclysmic collapse of the central coldarra on Gran Canaria. Now you can’t see it very clearly anymore ’cause there was another
several million years of eruptions after that, but
you can still make it out. Such as behind us right now. Now fortunately there
haven’t been any really big volcanic eruptions for
about three million years. But what that means is that
the island is characterised by these huge canyons
that have been eroded into the central massive,
perfect for bike riding. – Is that the end of
the geology lesson, Si? – For now, actually, I’m
sure there’s more to come. – Fantastic weather here, isn’t it? Unbelievable. – Do you need to start telling
some more about wind, Dan? (bumping music) We got Tenerife in the background. Wave to the pro cyclist
stuck on top of a volcano with no roads to ride. – It is high up isn’t it. You almost have to lot up to it from the top of this hill here. – [Simon] Yeah, what
is it, three and a half thousand metres or something. – [Dan] Talking of
climbing, this point here kind of marks the end
of most of the climbing for today ride with GCN. From here on, it’s pretty
much a very long descent back to our hotel, and
again, I think for me that’s one of the things that constitutes a good bucket-ride, descent to the finish. – Hopefully the tailwind’s up. You can actually see
it, you can make it out, on the side of that valley
there up to that tiny little village where I
believe there is a possibility of a third coffee stop,
I don’t know about you. After that leche leche
I can’t imagine anything worse right now, but then it basically just drops off the end. – This is the Valley of Tears. Should be alright going down though. – I hope so. There’s a lot of aloe
verra knocking around so if we do fall off, at least we can be soothed afterwards. Hey Dan, why are you
getting undressed now? – I’m an indecisive guy
who is very sensitive to temperature changes. (laughing) (intense music) We just stopped quickly
because somebody shouted at us and it echoed
off the mountains here. – For about 10 seconds. – We’ve been doing the same
thing, it’s incredible. Ready? Three, two, one… (yells) Echo! Still going. – I’ll have a try then. (yells) Echo! Bloody hell, that is amazing. Alright then, on with the bike ride. There’s a flippin’ understatement. Dan, awkward fist bump. – That was a great ride wasn’t it. – That was an absolute party. I mean genuinely, that’s
brilliant isn’t it? – Well, not only do we have a beer, we have a beer, I say we, I bought a beer because Si is gluten intolerant. I got a beer that was awarded
Artisan Beer of the Year in 2015 and 2016 and the
Superior Taste Award twice. – Well mate, stick this
in your pipe and smoke it. My gluten free beer, high
fives all around there, is the worlds most award winning one. So there you go, cheers to you. – Is it really? – Yeah.
– Really? – Well that’s what it says
in big letters at the top. – The thing is about yours
is only 5.4% and mines 5.5. – Well having had a couple
moments to gather ourselves after that ride, we’ve got
a few things that we need to tell you, we think. So where we have stayed
on Gran Canaria is perfect for this ride isn’t it? And it’s gonna be perfect
for the length of the trip. We’ll be here riding
for three or four days. But most people who do come
to Gran Canaria with bikes stay on the other side of
the island where you can clearly see on a map,
there are a lot more roads on which you can ride. So that will be one
consideration if you do come over this direction. – The other is that final descent. Now I have no regrets for
doing it that way around because having spoken to Ben Swift, it sounded like it was
really hard even for him, a top level pro, which
I think we would have struggled up there. But it is technical to say the very least. So go down there with caution. – Yeah and one final thing as well, we’ve got to say a big thanks to easyJet who gave us the opportunity
to come out here and the excuse as well, because
this has been a real treat. – [Dan] And yeah, we
wouldn’t have come out here if it wasn’t for them suggesting it. And I definitely think that
we will be back filming here in the not too distant future
’cause it’s an amazing place. – Yeah, absolutely. Dude, please give this
video a big thumbs up if you would like to see
more of this kind of thing, we certainly hope you
would like to see more ’cause we have fun doing it. And then if you want
another suggestion for something for your cycling bucket-list, why not check out the Taiwan KOM challenge that Matt and I did back in October. – Or if you’ve got
suggestions for a bucket-list ride leave them down below.

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