Lanzarote:lava and boiling cualdrons
The day dawned with a clearly defined rainbow in the sky, betraying a night of heavy rain. For once, I saw what lay at the end of the rainbow…………………
The bus driver happily loaded my bike in the
boot, en route to the ferry port in Corralejo, in the north of the island. My attention was caught by the vast natural sand dunes along the way. My immediate thoughts were they were the result of years of sand storms blowing from the African continent, but the bus driver assured me it was a local,
Disembarking in Playa Blanca, on the island of Lanzarote, my planned route was to take me in the direction of the Janubio Salt pans (the production of sea salt has been a major
product in the local economy), the “Hervideros” which are amazing ´boiling
cauldrons´ produced by the sea rushing into volcanic caves, and El Golfo, a semi-circular volcanic amphitheatre that amplifies the furious crashing of the seas on the western coast.
Heading out of Playa Blanca I was distracted by a hand-pedalled recumbent
cycle wizzing around a roundabout. Any sympathies I had because of the disabilties of such cyclists disappeared completely when I realised I had absolutely no hope of ever catching up with this one. He was out of the starting blocks! Later in the day I was to encounter another, and I began to wonder if there was a special training camp for para-olympic cyclists. Not only is this island swarming with cyclists doing their winter training, but you may have to dodge out of the way of hoards of quad-bikers, “quadding” the length and breadth of the island.
The western coast of these islands is not the haunt of beach-lovers. The wild winds and crashing seas make this volcanic shoreline a visual fascination, and a coastline to be treated with respect. (We once nearly lost our daughter to an unexpected surge from the sea, and we remember that moment with recurring nightmares).
The landscape along the south-west of Lanzarote is entirely volcanic. The landscape is filled with lava flows and volcanic rock, which is austere in the extreme. but the villages of Yaiza and Uga are quintessentially typical of the interior. Whitewashed, low-lying buildings that permit only green paint on
the woodwork (the inheritance of the efforts of Manrique to save the environment from the nasty developments of the peninsula).
Arriving at Fermes, on a high promontory overlooking the south coast, I was terrified by the steepness of the drop down to the plain. It felt like a 25% drop, the point at which you feel as if you are being tipped over the handlebars of the bike.
Revisiting Lanzarote on a bike, and “feeling” the contours of the landscape as
only a cyclist can feel them, helped me understand, not only why there are so many winter-training cyclists on the roads, but also why this island is the scene of a famous internation Iron-Man competition later in the year.
Distanced covered: 65kms