La Palma is one of the Canary Islands, which sit in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Africa. If you want to escape cold winter weather at home, La Palma is a perfect destination as the weather remains warm and sunny. It is not just the temperature that attracts mountain bikers however. The island has a huge number of trails and a variety of terrain to challenge any rider. It also has the perfect host to help you discover them: Atlantic Cycling based in Puerto Naos on the west coast.
Founded by Philipp 12 years ago, the goal of Atlantic Cycling is to help mountain bikers discover the island, assist them with accommodation and anything else they might need. You can either hop on board one of their shuttles in the morning and make your own way down, or let one of their qualified and highly skilled guides show you the way.
I thoroughly enjoyed four days of guided rides with Atlantic Cycling during a Christmas holiday on the island. The shuttle to the top of the island can take a while (up to an hour and a half!) but the wait is well worth it, as you are rewarded with ancient footpaths and cart tracks to take you back down to sea level.
La Palma is a volcanic island. Pretty much any route you take down will be steep in places. In one ride you are likely to encounter most, if not all of the four terrains on the island: pine forest strewn with slippery pine needles, dense and dark jungle, deep volcanic ash to practice your drifting, and choppy lava flows. Each type of terrain presents its own set of challenges, and each is guaranteed to put a smile on your face!
My personal favorite was the long descent over ancient cobblestones down to Santa Cruz. The cobblestones in question vary in size and have a wildly uneven surface. Choosing a line in advance is essential, especially on the tight corners and switchbacks!
The usual day with Atlantic Cycling involves two shuttles with a break for lunch in between. You can expect up to 3000 meters of descending each day and it is a good idea to install a fresh set of brake pads before you go.
Atlantic Cycling cater to all styles of mountain biking. Whether you are into freeride, downhill, enduro, or ebike enduro, they have you covered. They also offer ladies only weeks and skills courses.
If you do not want to bring your own bike, Atlantic Cycling have a small fleet of Liteville trail bikes and Mondraker ebikes for hire. They even have a couple of apartments next to the shop in Puerto Naos to save you the hassle of searching through hotel websites.
Each ride usually ends with a descent through a dry riverbed. Water has worn the lava flow (relatively) smooth over time, allowing you to flow nearly all the way down to Puerto Naos at the end of the day.
Watch out for the patches of sand between the stone! At the end of the river are a couple of seriously steep rock rolls down waterfalls for confident riders. After the riverbed you can cruise the last few meters down the road to the town or take on the infamous Häuserkampfweg. This short but technical trail is littered with golf ball sized volcanic stones that love to slide under your tires. Good luck!
Whichever route you have taken back to Puerto Naos, beers by the ocean with your riding buddies and guide are a must!
For more information head to atlantic-cycling.de