In the last 10 years Gran Canaria has gone from being a cycling backwater to being Europe's top winter cycling destination. Biking is a perfect example of a niche sporting activity that Gran Canaria needs to encourage to diversify its tourist industry.
We love stories about people coming to Gran Canaria and seeing more of the island that just its beaches and bars. So we got Raymond Leddy from Cycle Gran Canaria, the one person who has done more than anyone else to put the island on the cycling map, to tell us exactly why Gran Canaria has become such a biking hotspot. This is what he said:
"Gran Canaria’s roads are almost F1 quality throughout. Combine this with ideal cycling weather twelve months of the year and we have ourselves a cycling paradise. GC has at least 25 distinct routes, and some have yet to be ridden in a particular combination, so there's always new routes to stitch together.
In GC, once you get over past Ayacata and Tejeda or San Nicolas, you're in pro land, because that's all you'll meet, if you're fit enough to red line with them. GC routes and climbs are characterized by short punchy ramps, level sections, and then more steep climbs with percentages over 15% and up to 25%. You'll feel pain you've not felt since that headlock at school!
Gran Canaria goes from sea level to mountain within five minutes of riding. You hit burn right from the get go. It's also the only place in Europe where you can zip up a mountain during the winter.
The word is now out on Gran Canaria: Cancellara has property here, Saxobank are committed to coming to the island (don’t you read the news) in 2015, BMC, thanks to Cycle Gran Canaria, will be here again this winter. Bennati and his trainer come too; it gets quite crowded. Nigel Mansell’s UK Youth team with Magus Backstedt, who are sponsored by Cycle Gran Canaria, are slated to be here next winter once again.
I have counted over 80 riders on a single climb on Gran Canaria (Soria) and it's great fun pretending it's the last Alpine stage and you've got 30 seconds on the peloton! Everyone does that right? Really, just me? Must be the constant sunshine!
The bike hire structure on Gran Canaria is excellent. Free Motion have it sown up and quite rightly too; quality, quantity and German efficiency in equal doses.
You don’t even have to stick to the island. Cycle Gran Canaria and TenerifeBike Training are teaming up to offer a two-island cycling holiday called Twin Peaks. Yes you've guessed it: You'll be ferried over from GC and back with both companies pulling out the stops to ensure you cross Twin Peaks off your 100 things to do before you die list. Contact either for more details.
So in summary, Gran Canaria is the place to be if you want sun, routes and bikes without any hassle."
Pack the lycra!
Click here for our guide to Gran Canaria's top road biking routes. Or contact Ray for more info on the Tour of Gran Canaria and cycling holidays in Gran Canaria.