Joe Schwartz – Where exactly is Tenerife?

Where exactly is Tenerife?

This is a question normally asked in the initial research part of planning a trip somewhere exotic, before you’ve made any decisions, but I had already committed to this destination and legitimately had no idea where the island was. The reasons for this were a long winter of ski guiding, my Ireland-med school-attending girlfriend, our months apart from each other, and that Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands off the coast of Morocco, was the furthest south she could get a direct plane ticket to after a rainy winter in her new home of Cork. The plan was already in action, and I would have been happy to meet her on an oil rig in the middle of the Atlantic, so tickets to this Spanish island were booked, and then I started looking in to exactly where I was headed to.

As a mountain biker, the first order of business in any research into a destination is to find out what the riding is like. Any trip tends to revolve around this factor, no matter the purpose of the voyage. My web research led me to Lavatrax Tenerife www.lavatrax.com . They seemed to have a good quiver of routes, and used the word of the moment “Enduro” several times, so I figured they were on top of things, and reached out to them. Lavatrax founder and lead guide Darran promptly replied, and I was set for some riding during my stay on Tenerife.

Driving from the airport, I quickly realized that Tenerife was not a singular-landscape type of place, as we moved thorough ancient pine forests, old lava flows, over misty mountain passes lush with greenery, and down to our home base of Garachico, on the Northern side of the island, nestled in a rocky bay next to the Atlantic. The quiet and historic streets of this small town were a welcome sight after driving by some of the tacky and crowded resort enclaves to the south.

Riding with Lavatrax, I was struck by the diversity of the trails on this small island. Our rides would start in the Canarian pine forests, singletrack cutting through the sturdy trees. Mostly descents, the trails would eventually pop out of the trees, and into an arid landscape dotted with cacti and covered in lava rock. The demanding terrain never let off, requiring the utmost patience to keep a flowing line down towards the blue expanse of the ocean, far below. When flow was achieved the trails seemed to open up, lines appearing amongst the unforgiving rock. It took me a bit to find this flow, as a result of a long season of ski guiding, I had not been on two wheels in months.

The island is riddled with trails, many of them original cart paths (or caminos) and hand carved singletrack historically used as the primary way to move around Tenerife. With the extremely varied landscape, Lavatrax’s awesome network of “enduro”-style trails, and the potential of many more undiscovered routes, Tenerife is a cool option for someone looking for an out-of-the-way mountain bike adventure. Just maybe look it up on a map before you book your tickets.