Living on Lanza
The Highlander, Motowns – British Family Bar, The Black Bull and a souvenir shop promising PG Tips and Marmite line the main car park in the centre of Costa Teguise. Tattooed, white-turned-scarlet arms stick out of sleeveless t-shirts and beer 0’clock starts with the bingo and/or football, i.e. at 4pm.
No prizes for guessing which nation is best represented in the little town where I’m currently based…
Debatable sculptures by the sea in Costa Teguise
Despite the tourists I like the friendly atmosphere of Costa Teguise. The Italian on the square serves Tapas and the local Spanish-run bakery is called Damien’s and promises French croissants, but serves “tarte de queso” and bocadillos. I like their coffee but they don’t have wifi, so I go to the Moonlight Café down the street when Dani and his Italian boss no longer need to ask me what I want.
I’m staying with photographer James and labradoodle Pippin in a perfectly-located town house. The half-dozen kitesurf shops and bar lining my street are a hive of bustling activity, their owners yelling at each other in French all day as they drag their sails and boards up and down the road from the beach. They must have a blast with the wind here.
There have been a good few days when I’ve actually chosen the turbo trainer over the road after being blown clean across it on one brave but scary – and hence very short – attempt at hill reps with a crosswind.
Riding out of town into the wind
In fact, I’m almost ashamed to say I haven’t been particularly adventurous on the bike at all. Wind scares me a little, as do fast-moving cars, long straight lines and no hard shoulder. I’m also intimidated by the incredible number of crazy fast triathletes on mega-watt bikes, crouched in aero-positions I can only dream of, doing rides longer than I would usually dream of too… The area North of Costa Teguise has provided more than adequate riding ground in all the time I’ve been here, usually at the crack of dawn so I have the road to myself, and I have no plans to change that in the last weeks I’m here. I used to be able to follow the coast up to Orzola into a massive headwind and then belt it back in half the time. The wind has swung round over the past few weeks so now the ride out is amazing and the return is a slog – not so much fun that way 😀
View from the top of Mirador del Rio, Northen tip of the island
Speaking of headwinds, if you’ve never swum into one, it’s worth it just for a giggle. Discounting two weeks of cold weather when I chickened out and got a pass for the indoor pool, I did most of my swimming in the gorgeous 10-lane, 50-metre outdoor pool of the Occidental Lanzarote Mar (or Barcelo depending on who you speak to) hotel. I don’t know if the architects thought about PB swim splits when they laid it in a perfect wind-current direction, but I definitely swam a few very fast 50s there; and struggled to beat 40” going all out on the way back up the pool.
Another lonely swim in the lovely 50m pool at Hotel Occidental Lanzarote Mar
Running-wise I didn’t think there was much beyond the clogged beach promenade yet I quickly discovered I was wrong. Even when I got here and wasn’t allowed to run, the trails behind the town were pretty cool to walk along. Reaching them was easy: straight out the back of Costa Teguise on the same paths Pippin occasionally allowed me to walk her down when James wasn’t around. You just go past Poo Gardens, up Shit Lane, across Crap Wasteland and then you’re in the wilderness.
(If you’re heading back, you can also go via Smelly Crescent. The dog walkers here all seem to know the loop, and none of them carry little plastic bags. Or possibly like me they do, but conveniently turn their back or look at their phone as their four-legged friend stops mid-sniff and hunkers down a little closer to the footpath than they would have liked. Pippin tends to glance quickly over her shoulder as she does it, a silent but clear message: of “can I do my business in peace please?” Happy to oblige.)
Miles of wilderness to run
Once you’re done dodging dried up dog dung you can go for miles around and between the volcanoes. I tried going up the closest crater on one of my earlier long walks but that almost ended in disaster when I suddenly realised I was doing more climbing than walking, and made the mistake of looking down. I spent the next fifteen sweaty minutes with my back plastered to crumbling rock, terrified of going up but too scared to go back down, recording the event with my phone for my family’s benefit in case I ended up in a messy heap 200m below.
Steeper at the top than it looks
I didn’t. I somehow pulled myself together, threw dignity to the gale-force wind and scrabbled down on my bum, volcanic gravel flying everywhere every time one of my racing-flats lost its grip on the loose rock. It took three times as long to get back to the main trail as it did to go up, but I was in one piece. Needless to say, I stayed on safer paths after that.
Although as it turned out, I still managed to fall on my face a few days later 🙂 Catch you soon for an update on that!