Tenerife – Mount Teide 51km 2325m Climb – Trip Report

Ros Edmonds has written an account of her trip to Tenerife where she tackled Mount Teide. Sounds pretty amazing

Mount Teide, Europe’s Longest Continual Climb

The girls were going away on a swimming training camp. So a quick search for cheap flights during the dates they were away resulted in Tenerife.  Flights were booked and I was left in charge of accommodation.

I chose El Medano, as it was apparently less commercial and still very Spanish compared to the majority of other resorts near to the Southern Airport….. At least that is the reason I told Ian.  Other plus points were, it was a straightforward route up Mount Teide and there was a bike rental shop just 50 metres from the apartment.  “What a happy coincidence” I commented when we arrived. “It would be so easy to cycle up Teide from here”

I rented a bike from Bikepoint in El Medano.  I did not prebook as advance bookings are not allowed for less than 3 days.  They also will rent out any kit you may need.  I went prepared with shoes, helmet and bottles.  They were very helpful, asked if I wanted carbon, but after experiencing the wind tunnel that is El Medano I requested a nice heavy bike.  I wanted to stay on the road! They found me a small triple that was a good fit.  It only had one bottle cage and no place on the frame to fit a second, not a problem I thought, I had done my research, I could stop at Granadillia 11km and Vilaflor 25km, I would be fine. (Mistake!!)  By 9.30 am I was outside the shop, battling the wind trying to get on the bike (the wind was blowing it from under me) and I wondered if I was mad attempting to cycle up a Mountain in such conditions.

It is apparently the longest continuous climb in Europe from 0 metres to 2107 in just over 37k. Then it’s a downhill into a crater, a gradual uphill follows until the cable car station at 2325m which is the highest point of the road.  This is about 51km. I planned to at least get to the café at the Parador Hotel, where many of the cycle teams including Sky, stay for their winter warm weather training.  The idea was to get food and water there and perhaps continue to the cable car station before retracing my route back down to El Medano.

Anyway, it was a struggle the first 10k or so battling the wind, upward gradient, horrible road surface and traffic.  After reaching Granadilla the surface improved, the wind eased and the traffic got lighter.  The scenery was amazing, cactus and wild flowers everywhere, the bright blue sea getting further and further away.  I was warm and enjoying myself.

After about 17km I was out of water. I realised I should have stopped at Granadilla. The next place I could get any was Vilaflor still about another 8km. It seems crazy but 8km is a long way when it’s hot and uphill.   I stopped for a rest and ate my banana. As the wind had dropped the heat had intensified, so I took off my arm warmers and basked in the sunshine.   At this point Ian arrived in his little rented Fiat Panda.  I wasn’t expecting to see him; I was so pleased and waved excitedly assuming he would have a drink.  Unfortunately he hadn’t, why would he?  So I told him to go up to Vilaflor and get me a bottle of water. “Can’t, he muttered nowhere to turn around” and off he went.  Anyway I made it up to Vilaflor with a mouth as dry as the Sahara, where Ian stood waving 2 bottles of water at me.  This was at about 25km which had probably taken me about 2 hours.  I stopped drank one and poured the other into my bottle.  Onwards and upwards.

The road after Vilaflor was amazing, no wind, hot and the surface was smooth and wonderfully twisty.  I road upwards into huge pine forests, to my left I saw little toy boats in the vast blue ocean and the odd fluffy cloud beneath me.  It got harder and harder as I climbed, I got hotter and hotter and each hairpin looked like it must be the top edge of the crater, but it wasn’t!  On and on and I got slower and slower and a few super fit cyclists over took me with a cheery “hola”.  I was out of water again and the next place I knew was the café at the parador hotel in the crater.  Eventually I saw a sign that indicated I had reached 2107m at El Retamar and I turned a corner into an icy blast of wind. Down I went into the crater with the wind dramatically slowing my descent, my bare arms were freezing and my fingers poking from my gloves began to go numb.  I reached the level and pulled into a parking area to put on every item of clothing I possessed.  Off I went, on the flat now, battling against the wind and a whirlwind of sand spiralling into my eyes and nose.  The scenery had changed into a moonscape, I had passed black lava fields on my entry into the crater, now I was in a red sandstone desert with the snowcapped peak of Teide rising another 1600 metres to my left.  Very dramatic.  But I was struggling, where was the café??  I needed water.  The road surface on this stretch is diabolical, dodging potholes and ploughing through the sandstorm I plodded on for what seemed like ages, now upwards again and eventually arrived at the café.  Ian was waiting in the café car park and a cyclist who had overtaken me shouted a cheery well done!

After a well needed sandwich, coffee, can of cola, water I decided not to bother with the cable car station.  I had done 47km and Ian said he had been to it and there wasn’t really much point in me going any further as I didn’t intend to go up the cable car.

I started the descent, initially downhill, then uphill to get out of the crater.  Then a superb but slightly scary descent to Vilaflor.  I stopped there for a drink and stretch, then the best bit, the road from Vilaflor to Granadilla is superb, I thoroughly enjoyed myself leaning into the hairpins and freewheeling all the way.  The traffic was light and I was getting warmer again, I followed a couple of other cyclists down to Granadilla where the fun ended.   Granadilla is the point where the winds start, the road surface is terrible and the traffic starts to accumulate.  Down to San Isidro, over the Autopista then the final descent into El Medano.  This was really scary, the road is very exposed and the crosswind was blowing me all over the place.  The vibration from the terrible road surface gave me numb hands.  I had to take the centre of the road as I couldn’t keep my line and didn’t want to get blown sideways into a car.  My front wheel felt like it was being blown from under me so I had to reluctantly slow down to keep safe.

I arrived back at Bike point with 2 other cyclists who had followed me down from the Autopista, all of us reliving the horrors of the wind and road surface on the last few kilometres.  Overall it was brilliant, so glad I did it!  Total ride was 94km.

None of the climb is difficult. What makes it hard is the fact that in 37km there is no flat bits.  Obviously some sections are harder than others but there is not one flat section in the whole of the climb.  Added to that there is the wind and the heat and the need to carry plenty of water!  I’m sure most of you in the club would not find it any problem and would fly up much quicker than me.  I really recommend it.

From what I saw Tenerife is brilliant as a cycling or triathlon training holiday, or even just a quick escape from the family holiday for a day or few hours.  I was pleasantly surprised at how green it is.  A very beautiful Island.  We travelled by car to the north, it was all very green and mountainous.  El Medano is a nice seaside town but is very windy and is a mecca for kite and wind surfers.  Playa de las Americas and Los Chrisianos were worth a visit but not really my sort of place, they are huge purpose built tourist enclaves.  But within a few kilometres you feel a million miles away.

We went the last week in February and it was warm enough to swim without a wetsuit and not too hot to cycle.  I don’t think I would have attempted Teide in the height of summer.
Climb Profile – Mount Teide

Head Coach Ed Morgan AKA Commonwealth Games Baton Bearer

Taff Ely Tri’s head coach Ed Morgan is going to be a commonwealth games baton bearer when it passes through Wales.

Ed is quoted as being ‘chuffed to bits’ to be nominated and then getting the pleasure to be a baton bearer.

The occasion will be part of Aberdare festival that will be on the 25th May 2014.

Craig yr Allt Fell Race – 25th January

Even with the weather being so bad at the moment it is great to see that Taff Ely Triathlon members are getting out there racing. This week saw four members doing some fell running. Simon Morgan provides an entertaining report.

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It was all Vicky Jones’s fault. ‘Come do something a bit different’ she said. ‘Ros and I had a go the other week, it was a right laugh. Though we did put the “fell” in “fell running”’, she said.

And so Sara Morgan and I found ourselves celebrating St Dwynwen’s Day up to our knees in mud, covered in scratches, soaked to the skin, and absolutely loving it. In the good company of Ros Edmonds, Vicky, Sarah Adams, 80 plus others, 1 man and his dog.

The race was organised by the Mynydd Du Club ( http://www.mynydd-du.org.uk/home ) as part of a winter series. But apparently there’s events organised throughout the year. There was some initial confusion when we got there, but some of the other runners were keen to help us out. Top Tip 1 – get there early, start might be ages from the sign-up point.

The organisers were slick, gave a good race briefing, had sign-posted the route very well and had marshals at all key points. And all for just £3! Was a bit nervous when we were given a map of the route – my orienteering is right down there with my DIY skills – but it didn’t prove an issue thanks to the quality of the organisation: gave us an incentive to keep up with the field though.

Our thinking was: it’s under 4 miles – how hard can it be? We also turned up with ordinary daps and a technical  T, with some heavy warm-up clothes. Turns out gloves, headgear and a wind-proof top were mandatory; trail or fell shoes highly recommended.  Top Tip 2 – check the website’s terms and conditions. As proud as I am of my TET Hoodie, it’s not the best thing to run in during a monsoon – I’m carrying enough extra weight as it is.

Quick word on our fellow runners. Quite a mix of ages and looks. A few looked like Forrest Gump after he’d run the US a few times. Should’ve known better when I clocked the worn but high-spec kit that was standard – didn’t pay to under-estimate these guys. Even the dog tied to his master’s shorts turned out to be useful. Top Tip 3 – carry stodgy doggy-snacks to every race to slow down your four-legged competitors. (Ok – there may be a limited market for that one).

We started at the back. Race went north straight away, tarmac initially then muddy trail. Sara and Sarah hit a nice tempo, I left them and started picking off those ahead of me, even as things started getting slippy. Including 1 man and his dog. I was feeling good. But the first downhill was a revelation. The regulars (and their pets) start flying past me as I negotiated the mud, streams and greasy hillocks. There truly is an art to this kind of descending. And, well, mine is a bit like my orienteering. And DIY.

The next half hour was a succession of scrambles up, slides down and stumbles through streams. Think desperate cons escaping the Deep South Penitentiary with the prison guards on their trail. Excepting the fact that the bloke with the dog was actually ahead of us. At one point I was holding the sides of my hoodie out as a sail to push me up yet another hill. Quite how many hills were squeezed into 4 miles is still something of a mystery. Traction was sometimes all but impossible, as more of the field came past. I’d love to say it was all down to Top Tip 4 -wear trail or fell shoes. But, let’s face it, the dog wasn’t wearing them.

And so, after the muddiest, narrowest descent yet, we all got to the finish. Cheered on by the soaked-but-supportive marshals. And a cheerful yip from the dog, by now busily tagging a gatepost. The squelch back to the cars – and Ros’s bike: the woman lives Rule #5 – was enlivened by talk of our (mis)adventure.

But my mind kept going back to the knowing look one of the marshals gave us at the finish. He knew we’d caught the bug and would be coming back.

Tor-y-Foel Fell Race – 11th January

It’s good to see that Taff Ely Tri members are racing early in the New Year. Vicky Jones gives an account of the Tor y Foel fell running race.

7Fell.3 km with 370m of climbing – it seemed like a good idea in December – excellent training for the climbs of the Slateman triathlon I’ll be doing in May.  99 of us gathered on the Taff Trail near Talybont Dam in beautiful weather for the 2pm start with Ros and I representing Taff Ely Tri. From the start it was clear that most of the gathered crowd were experienced fell runners but we didn’t let this put us off.

The run began with a steady incline made difficult by uneven ground with the sun in our eyes and by the time I reached the point where I could see the summit far in the distance the first runners were already ¾ of the way up – and looked to still be running! Along with most of the competitors the slog to the top was done slowly, with no hint of running, in fact at one point I was moving so slowly that the auto-pause on my Garmin kicked in and didn’t resume for four minutes!! If you’d have asked me at this point if I was enjoying it the answer would have been an emphatic NO. But then, the summit, there were four enthusiastic and supportive marshals, amazing panoramic views and a lovely downhill stretch.

Once I persuaded my legs to move again I was off and amazingly I was smiling. From there it was a mix of running, slipping and sliding to the end. The support throughout from marshals and other competitors was amazing. The results aren’t out yet  but the timing guy told me I was sub 60 minutes so I’m pretty pleased with that and am already looking forward to my next fell race. If you haven’t tried fell running then I heartily recommend it – there’s another event in a couple of weeks and at only £3-5 an event there isn’t really an excuse not to 🙂

For more information and fixtures have a look on the Welsh Fell Runners Association website http://www.wfra.me.uk/index.htm

Bog and Bryn – 13.7 mile multi terrain race with 1640ft of climbing.

Ros Edmonds has provided a race report from this tough race which took place on the 3rd November and is organised by the Fairwater and Cwmbran runners.

Over to Ros:

I hadn’t done a standalone running event for a few years as my running has gone downhill steadily due to a long term knee problem (and getting older) .  However I was hugely encouraged by a good run at the Gower Triathlon in September so feeling positive decided to enter the Bog and Bryn. I then forgot all about it, had a very social long weekend away and before I knew it, it was a couple of days before the event and I realised I had done no preparation and almost no running for a month!

After weeks of continuous rain it was encouraging to arrive at Cwmbran Stadium in the sunshine.  Approximately 200 of us started with a lap around the field before going off along a few hundred metres of road and pavement, along a canal tow path then, standstill as a queue formed to get over one of the many stiles on the route. We were then onto muddy fields and the ascent started.  The route took us up and up over fields, tracks through forests, across streams and almost scrabbling over rocks.  The scenery was amazing although a bit difficult to appreciate as it was a constant battle to stay upright  given  the conditions underfoot and the need to constantly watch where  your feet were going.   I came across an old running mate from a few years ago and we chatted a little and then leap frogged each other throughout most of the race.  The sun continued to shine and we continued to go up, occasionally getting stuck in mud and trying to yank feet out without losing shoes!  I walked some of the steeper bits as did many others around me.  The atmosphere was friendly and encouraging amongst all the other competitors.

Eventually we started to descend; this was great fun although I was starting to feel tired at this point.  Bouncing down through the mud, through a field of cows I managed to overtake a woman with a strapped up ankle, which apparently she had broken just a couple of months earlier!  Down onto the canal towpath with only a mile or two to go, I was starting to feel my lack of preparation.  I also realised that I should have prepared more by bringing some gels or chocolate bars.  Three cups of cold water were nowhere near enough to sustain me over this event.  Completely drained I managed to slowly jog along the canal tow path where the lady with the broken ankle overtook me!  It wasn’t much further to go and I was back on the field we had run around at the start.  My finish time was 2 hours 46 minutes.  I was exhausted but had really enjoyed it.  I will be back next year, but with a bag of food to keep me going!

There were 183 finishers, the 1st place time was 1 hour 33 and the last place was 3 hours 55.  So this is certainly an event for all abilities.  Fairwater and Cwmbran runners did a fantastic job with over 50 smiling and encouraging marshals on the well marked course.  They must be congratulated on planning a route with so little tarmac.

In summary a fantastic event I would recommend to all.

Club AGM Tuesday 10th December

There will be a Taff Ely AGM on Tuesday 10th December 2013 at Abercwmboi Rugby Club, we would like to welcome all Taff Ely members to the meeting. Please can all members be at the Rugby Club by 7pm for a 7.30pm start. The proposed agenda is below. If anyone would like anything added to the agenda, please contact Adrian or Helen Colley through the emails addresses on this website. The position of Club Treasurer has become vacant, and we would like to invite anyone to take this position at the AGM. I would to take this opportunity to thank Ros for all the effort that she has given to this position.

AGM Agenda

1. Chairs report
2. Treasurers report
3. Election of officals: Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer, Club Welfare Officer
4. Ratification of Club President: Phil Gibbon
5. Club Fees 2014
6. Web site developments, social media
7. Events for 2014: suggestions for club championships
8. Development of a social committee
9. Coaching developments and sessions
10. Welfare and Safeguarding changes
11. Welsh Tri membership
12. Community Chest applications and sign offs
13. Club Kit – update
14.AOB

Pembrey MT10 – Welsh Middle Distance Trail Running Championships

Aled Smith has kindly written a report of the Pembrey MT10 Trail Run race. This was attended by four members of Taff Ely Tri (Aled Smith, Adrian and Helen Colley and Gerwyn Malpas). It sounds like a great event. Well done all.

So onto Aled:

It was set to be a great race, the weather was perfect, overcast not too cold with a few sunny spots now and again and not a breeze! It was an 11am race start, which definitely beats getting up at stupid o’clock in the morning to travel to other races, it was heaven!

Helen and Adrian Colley, Gerwyn Malpas and myself all signed up on the day, which I regret doing now but more on that later! We had all heard a great deal about the race, but none of us had actually done it before so the excitement of doing something new was definitely there.

It was a well-attended event and from what I’ve heard it keeps on growing each year, just 4 people shy of 400 on the start line. It was hard to judge what time to aim for in this event as I had never done it before and didn’t know what the course was like. When we were under starters orders they gave a brief description of the course and said it was ‘undulating’ with sections that look as though a battalion of tanks had driven through it, they were definitely not lying!

The hooter went off and as usual I went off like a bat out of hell, doing sub 6 minute miles for the first mile and a bit, I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep that up! Having never run on this type of terrain before I found it very difficult on the small narrow trails, and ended up with a few cuts from branches and wondered how I didn’t go over on my ankles! Around the halfway point there comes the undulations, by that they mean a few 20% muddy sandy hills with a bloke at the top shouting encouragement which didn’t make things better when your calf muscles are screaming for oxygen!

Just after the half way mark I was doing around 6:30 minute’s miles, hitting 10k in just over 40 minutes, and then came the flat part which should mean the fastest section, right? Not for me, I had no power on the flat and kept dropping places and time, minute miles hitting the 7:30’s, not a happy bunny! The next section of the course was bliss, the nice stretch along Cefn Sidan beach. I got onto to the beach and felt my legs burst into life and got my head down and into a rhythm, I made up 10 places from the start to the end of the beach section, getting back into the low 6 minute miles again, but the damage had already been done! The last 2 miles was across the section where it looked as though a battalion of tanks had been through, it was an absolute bomb site, up and down on ankle breaking track, but it was great fun. Coming out of the forest in sight of the finishing banner it would have been rude not to have a sprint finish with the guy who was in front of me the whole way!

Finishing times;

Winning time – 58:29

Myself; 1:12:19 – Gerwyn; 1:16:08 – Adrian; 1:27:23 – Helen; 1:41:07

This event was also coupled with the Welsh Middle Distance Trail Running Championships, however, in order to qualify to compete in the championships you had to register a week before! Turns out that if I had signed up a week previously instead of doing it on the day I would have been Welsh u20 Trail Running Champion, never mind hey!

Great day out with great company and definitely the best running event I’ve done, would highly recommend it, a tough and thoroughly enjoyable course.

Aled Smith

Bike Ride Saturday 16th November

Route is

Fiddler’s Elbow (9 a.m.) – Ystrad Mynach – Newbridge – Pantside – Hafodyrynys – Pontypool – Llanover – Llanellen – Abergavenny – Crickhowell (café stop @ No18) – Llangattock – Beaufort – Tredegar – Trecatty – Trelewis – Nelson – Fiddler’s Elbow (57.3 miles). Garmin data below

http://connect.garmin.com/course/4958842

0830 hrs at Troy’s or 0900 hrs at Fiddler’s