For most Swedes that grew up during the 1980’s, the Canary Islands are associated with drunken Scandinavians crammed in chartered airplanes, lobster colored Scandinavians lying next to swimming pools below huge ugly hotels and fat Scandinavians eating Swedish food on authentic Spanish restaurants with fake grapes in the ceiling.
I knew that there was another side to Gran Canaria than that even before I went there myself. I, like many of you too I guess, felt my eyes popping out of their sockets when I saw Dan Milner traversing the island in Trail Ninja, Ep 11. In addition, my MTB riding friend Karin has lurked around in the Canarian mountains twice during the past few years and the reports she has sent home has been inspiring to say the least. But in spite of images of rad terrain from both Go-pro heroes and more normal human riders, I still had that Canary-stereotype in my head as I stepped out of the airplane in Las Palmas.
To be honest, the stereotype isn’t completely wrong: there are quite a few restaurants serving Swedish Pizza (for those of you who are fortunate enough to have avoided Swedish pizza, let me just say that ordering Swedish pizza when you can have ANY other kind of pizza is like choosing American Budweiser when you can have the Budweiser Budvar (or some other decent lager)), and there are a whole lot of Scandinavians with way to many hours in the sun spending even more hours in the sun on the beach.
But the ugly part of Gran Canaria is neatly clustered on the south corner of the island. For the most part, Gran Canaria looks like this:
In other words, for the most part, Gran Canaria looks like nothing out of this world. Nature went completely bonkers when it created this place.
On the 15th of April, I and the Hobbit left a very gray north of Sweden for a very sunny Gran Canaria. My expectations of the trip were both extremely high, and extremely low. On the one hand, sun, mountains, my sisters and my older sister’s fabolous family is a combination hard to beat. On the other hand, I still had that stereotype of Gran Canaria in my head. In addition, in spite of our victories in the Swedish mountains a few weeks back, neither I nor Martin were in prime physical condition. I was a bit scared that we wouldn’t be able to suck all the juice out of that tropical island. I’m pretty sure that we didn’t even come close, but I am equally sure that we did a fine job trying. And the juice that we did manage to get out was sweet as pie.
All in all, we spent 4 days on our bikes on Gran Canaria. Our shortest ride took 5 hours from door to door. During our longest ride, we spent 12 hours on (and off) the saddle. Each day in the saddle, we saw bloody fantastic scenery and as we rode down (and up) bloody fantastic trails. And each day when we came home, the table up on the roof terrace was already set and covered with bloody fantastic food and a shit load of wine. And every evening as we ate all that wonderful food and fantastic wine, we got to hang out with my favorite gang of bloody fantastic folks.
I’ve decided that I bloody love that island.
Edit: I thought that I would eventually get down to writing the full story about Gran Canaria here on hungryhen, but I never did. However, I did write an article for HappyMTB. It’s in Swedish, but if your’e interested, it can be found here.