Liam Hallam is a Sports Science graduate, a competitive cyclist, and runner who loves to travel to Europe in search of great adventures.
Cycling Climbs on Gran Canaria
Great Weather for Year-Round Cycling
Set in the North Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Morocco, the Canary Islands offer a warm climate year-round with stable temperatures. It's no wonder they are a popular holiday destination for Europeans.
Over time the Canary Islands have gained a great reputation as a cycling destination. Lanzarote is iconic for its yearly Ironman competition, and Tenerife offers professional athletes an opportunity to spend time at altitude as part of their training without such worries as snow on the roads during peak training periods.
Gran Canaria is slightly less known than its neighbours for cycling, but it is the training ground for many professional teams. Team Ineos have trained there, and in the past I've spotted pros from NTT, Jumbo-Visma and AG2R teams whilst out riding.
The benefits of riding on Gran Canaria include much less traffic on the roads compared to Tenerife, as well as significantly more rideable roads. It also offers far more mountain roads to climb and descend than Lanzarote. Be prepared to climb, however, on any visit to the island.
Gran Canaria's Best Road Cycling Climbs
Many cyclists wish to judge themselves when the road twists upwards. Whether they're wanting to race competitively or complete a particular sportive event in a good time, it all involves training. You become a better climber on your bike by riding climbs, and Gran Canaria has a great selection to really test yourself, including being able to climb up from sea level to over 1900 metres to the vertical highest point on the island—Pico de los Nieves.
View from Pico de Las Nieves (1940 m)
The Big One: Pico De Las Nieves
In pretty much the center of the island is the mighty Pico de Las Nieves (Peak of the Snows), the highest point on Gran Canaria. The highest road point you can climb to is the Mirador Pico de Los Pozos, west of Pico de Las Nieves, where you'll usually find a handy van selling tourist items alongside snacks and well-earnt cold drinks.
One of the best ways to climb up is from Maspalomas on the GC-60, taking in the Degollada de Los Yeguas (480m above sea level), which then includes a short technical downhill to Arteara before the climbing begins again up to the alto de Fataga (930m), with a short descent to San Bartolome de Tirajana before the climbing starts again up to La Plata, where the road becomes rolling up to a well earnt potential stop in Ayacata.
From Ayacata comes arguably the hardest section of the climb, as you head up to Roque Nubio after turning onto the GC-600. As you climb higher the road conditions worsen, until you turn onto the GC-130 for a final push towards the top on much smoother roads.
From the top you'll be able to see the impressive Roque Nublo (Cloud Rock) and even Mount Teide on Tenerife in the distance.
Pico de Las Nieves is a big challenge, but achievable if you break the ride into chunks. If you've never climbed so high, don't be afraid to stop. Fataga offers plenty of cafes, there's cafes in San Bartolomé, and there's a lovely cafe we used next to the turn off the GC-60 in Ayacata.
Pico de Las Nieves With the Col Collective
Atop the Degollada de Las Yeguas (480 m)
Climbing the Degollada de Las Yeguas
It's a tough slog out of Maspalomas on the GC-60, but that initial tough effort gives way to a great warmup climb that drives you up to 480 m above sea level.
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The climb starts with a tough drag out of town, but once you've climbed over the motorway, the concrete jungle subsides, and the rugged beauty of Gran Canaria starts to show itself as you climb upwards amongst the throngs of other cyclists heading up out of town. The GC-60 is an extremely popular climb for cyclists.
The Degollada de Las Yeguas is a 10-kilometer climb from the motorway crossing in Maspalomas, with a very short downhill section early on, as you pass the cemetery before the road begins to snake up towards a set of hairpins.
Towards the top of the climb is the Mondo Aborigen archaeological site (with a cafe if you're struggling) before the final kilometer push to the beautiful Mirador at the top.
Atop the Cima Pedro Gonzalez
The Cima Pedro Gimenez
Often known as 'Monte Leon', the Cima Pedro Gimenez is a short loop close to the resort of Maspalomas. With a choice of two ascents, you can choose the shorter, tougher ascent via La Data or the slightly more gradual approach via the Ayagaures Valley, which is arguably a nicer route in itself.
The climb up via the Ayagaures Valley takes you up a beautiful set of sinuous curves through the village of Ayaguares where a cafe has recently opened. After Ayaguares the road gets significantly tougher before you hit the top of the mountain pass at 490 meters above sea level.
The Soria Climb
The climb of Soria is tough but rewarding. It starts with a long steady drag up the valley from the El Pajar roundabout at Arguineguin for 14 kilometers, before the climbing starts after Cercados Las Espinas. There is a little over 5 kilometers of proper climbing up to Barranquillo Andres, with a few tough pitches that hit up to 14% with an average of 8%.
The Serenity Climb from Mogan
If you're looking to climb arguably one of Spain's best cycling climbs you need to sample Serenity. It's a curvy goddess of a climb that will have you hooked and wanting more.
The downside is that from the cycling hotbed of Maspalomas you'll likely need to do an out and back route to Mogan or you're inflicting a full day of cycling on yourself by needing to drop down the Valley of the Tears to La Aldea before a meaty trip back towards Mogan and over Serenity.
8.5 kilometers of varied pitch climbing await intrepid explorers with an average gradient of 6% though on a map you almost seem to be going nowhere.
Cycling Down Serenity
Sinuous Roads up to Soria
Toughest Climb on the Island: Valley of the Tears
22 kilometers long and an average gradient of 6% sounds tough but achievable for most club cyclists compared to the giants of the Alps and Pyrenees. But the Valley of the Tears is a brutal beast of a climb, not to be underestimated. Fortunately, the climb finishes outside a rather nice cafe in Ayacata that is well worth stopping at.
Starting in San Nicholas and getting steeper as the climb goes on and gets tougher as you turn off the GC-210 onto the narrower GC-606 which narrows to barely a car's width in places. The views are stunning but you'll have difficulty making the most of them.
The Valley of the Tears
Liam Hallam (author) from Nottingham UK on April 02, 2020:
Thanks Liz, I'd definitely go back and head to the North. We stayed in Maspalomas and it lacked charm compared to the places we'd usually stay. It's a great island to explore
Liz Westwood from UK on March 23, 2020:
Having visited Gran Canaria three times, twice in the tourist south and once the north, I was interested to see some of the interior from the high points in your photos. Exploring the north of the island in early summer off the main tourist trail was a great holiday.
Carlos Henrique from Caracas on March 18, 2020:
Amazing climbs my friend.