Unbelievably Gorgeous Winter Riding On An Island Escape

Jan 14, 2020
by Kathi Kuypers  

Like chickens on the roost. Angie and Kathi enjoy the last bit of sun after a good day riding in the most southern area of La Palma El Faro

Words by Kathi Kuypers

Snow is covering the trails and all we want is to escape this cold, not bike-friendly, winter. Then we think, what about La Palma? Europe's top mountain bike island. We surf over lava sand and then dive into the jungle until the ocean stops us for a dip in the Atlantic.

Life is short. Eat the cake. Buy the bike. Take the trip.

Geologists dispute that the huge crack down the center of the Canary Island could claim the western flank of the Vieja. A volcano could collapse the ground there if there is an eruption sparking a landslide into the Atlantic and sending a mega-tsunami with 160-foot waves across the ocean. To be fair, having this in mind can add a little bit extra flavor and adrenaline to your trip. But Angie and I only experienced that the most dangerous force of nature was a cactus which stuck into a tire and caused a flat.

Because of the thin mountain air on Roque Kante the occasional uphills are a bit harder than normally. We need jackets because it s 20 degrees colder than down in the city.
Because of the thin mountain air on Roque Kante, the occasional uphills are a bit harder. We need jackets because it's 20 degrees colder than down in the city.

When we have landed at Santa Cruz de la Palma airport we felt a pleasant 20 degrees on our skin. We were picked up by Acerina from Aceshuttle to take us to the other side of the island. It felt like we have taken a wrong turn and she had driven to Mars.

Fist bumps aka Patattas Frittas

Our first day leads up to the eastern part of the island. We start at 1500m above sea level with flowy trails through pine forests, parallel to a mountain ridge. Wind clouds build up and lead to a green jungle forest. Angie is chasing me and I try to give us a nice dogfight. As a former Downhill racer, Angie knows how to keep pace on a trail. I give it all and get some good speed on my spinning wheels. I can find some jumps made of woods and Angie crows because of rapture. We keep getting faster and I hit some blind little drops. These maneuvers boost my adrenaline level and I am glad I land on both my wheels. I hear Angie yelling, she was probably as excited as me coming in hot and making it. O sole mio!


 Knubbelbus is Philipp Foltz owner of Atlantic Cycling very own special Shuttle bus. This Mitsubishi L300 has its own character and gave us some good laughs over the weekend.


Nothing beats our La Palma private shuttle "Knubbelbus". It was love at first sight. Knubbelbus means something like "a bus you want to cuddle." With an average speed of 40km/h we discovered the island at a snail's pace. Our driver and Knubbelbus and Atlantic Cycling owner Philipp Foltz turned on the radio and the party bus was on fire.


The stones here are red and in the corners it more feels like riding on glass beads instead of dirt.
I normally only ride park but La Palma's trails are just too good to be true.

Kathi and Angie chase each other down the infamous Bachbett.
Kathi and Angie chase each other down the infamous Bachbett


These 2 guarantee some good laughs on and off the trail. You can call them dumb and dumber or tipsy and tipsier. They also shred so try to keep up -


The lava stones are black and next to the trails you find little bushes which look like lettuces. Kathi and Angie make their way down to Faro de Fuencaliente.
The lava stones are black and next to the trails you find little bushes which look like lettuce. We make our way down to Faro de Fuencaliente.

La Palma is well known for its culture festivals. Isla Bonita Love Festival
La Palma is well known for its cultural festivals. "Isla Bonita Love Festival"

Thanks to our shuttle aceshuttle.es we start on 2400 m above sea level and the first part takes us down on rocky technical trails. You follow the crater edge of Caldera to the western coastal town Tazacorte.
Thanks to our shuttle (aceshuttle.es) we start on 2400 m above sea level and the first part takes us down on rocky, technical trails. You follow the crater edge of Caldera to the western coastal town Tazacorte.

Angie and I were particularly taken by the lava sand surfing afternoon. We hiked our bike up those slippery sandhills and surfed our way down on black sand. One step forward, two back. First thing at the top: I took off another layer. But all the efforts were absolutely worth it. The lava fields of Llano de Jable are even better than any bike park playground. I am still testing the grip and how this loose surface behaves on a bike. It almost feels like powder skiing and after a couple of tries, I managed to ride some curves. Oh man, what a ride!

The lava fields of Llano de Jable are like a big playground for Mountainbikers. What a great fun surfing lava fields on your bike.

Just go out book that flight and make it happen. Dreams can either sleep away from you or you go out and make it work

Our tummies growl and we stop for a bite in a monastery. We eat typical food of the area: Queso aside con mojo verde, or grilled cheese with green Mojo-sauce and potatoes. We also have Cones and Papas arrugadas, or rabbit meat with jacket potatoes.

For the next day our photographer and guide Kirsten Sörries takes us to the very south of the island - the Salinas at the beacon Faro de Fuencaliente. This area is very "young". In between 1677 and 1971 massive lava sand fields from volcanic eruptions have formed this side of the island. Angie and I totally forget to take pictures for our Instagram stories and just breathe in the moment of this beautiful side of mother nature. We watch the sun slowly setting and Kirsten takes some last shots.

You follow this trail until GR131 which follows downhill to the lighthouse Faro de Fuencaliente.
The lava flows from past volcanic eruptions, the most recent in 1971, leave a red tinge to the earth.

Angie Hohenwarter is a former Downhill Racer and she just loves pinning a good trail down the mountains.
Angie Hohenwarter is a former Downhill Racer and she just loves pinning a good trail down the mountains.

The black Lava sand is almost as big as little marbles. It almost feels like riding on Powder and you need a proper speed that your tires don t sink.
The black Lava sand is almost as big as little marbles. It almost feels like riding on Powder and you need a proper speed that your tires don't sink.

Don't forget your Bocadillo! In the morning, Angie reminds me to pack my canary sandwich and we head up to the Roque de los Muchachos. This trail leads from 2400m above sea level to the ocean. "Summit to the ocean" seems like the daily theme here on La Palma.

And again La Palma shows us another totally different environment. When we cross the cloud layer we see a never-ending landscape with bushes, stones and dusty steep trails with rock gardens. We stop at Europe's highest observatory and get on the bikes.

It s getting quite cold during the night on Roque Kante and in the shadow of some bushes we still could find some frozen ground.

We experience a new OHO! adventure. Red stones and prickly bushes make the trail challenging. Into the gnar, I follow Angie and she shows me the perfect line through the rocks. We embrace the moment of pure trail shredding and enjoy what these paths line up for us.

After 2300m of descent, we rolled down to Tazacorte harbor and enjoyed an ice-cold beer at the promenade.

Because of the thin mountain air on Roque Kante the occasional uphills are a bit harder than normally. We need jackets because it s 20 degrees colder than down in the city.

Summit to the Ocean is the MTB-motto on the island.

Watch out for the big pine cones of the pine trees. They sometimes cover the trails and are hard as stones.


Our tour started on 1500m above sea level through a thick pine forest. Because of the trade wind this area is significantly very humid and the forest looks more like a green jungle.

The Santa Cruz Trail tour starts on 1500m above sea level through a thick pine forest. Because of the trade wind, this area is significantly very humid and the forest looks more like a green jungle. This trail down to Santa Cruz is 16.5km long and it takes about 2.5 hours to get down to Santa Cruz. Be excited for great corners and little rocks you can use as takeoffs!

In Santa Cruz you roll through beautiful colorful houses on pebble stone to the harbor.
In Santa Cruz, you roll through beautiful colorful houses on pebble stone.


All the trails are well marked on Trailforks.



Angie s signature saddle Chepi from SDG.

Atlantic Cycling even has some local dirt jumps. The crew went there to celebrate Kathi s birthday.
The Atlantic Cycling crew has built some small jumps close to the ocean.

Through the pine trees on red rocky trails this is typical La Palma avenue.

The huge lava fields of Llano de Jable is great fun to slide down. On the highest point you have a great view of the Ruta de los Volcanes.

Angie and Stefan in the most technical and most challenging part of the Tablado Tour.
Angie and Stefan in the most technical and most challenging part of the Tablado Tour.

Life's easy on the island. I think we could get used to this way of life with happy people and no rush at all.
xoxo Angie and Kathi

Whoever has seen the shining eyes of two best friends after a good day of riding their bikes will feel the desire to experience the same adventure automatically.

Special thanks to Philipp Foltz from Atlantic Cycling and Aceshuttle.
Photographer: Kirsten Sörries
Riders: Angie Hohenwarter and Kathi Kuypers

Follow us on Instagram:
@angiehohenwarter
@kathikuypers
@kirstensoerries

Regions in Article
La Palma


42 Comments

  • 23 1
 When you feel like you've got the world in La palma of your hand
  • 23 0
 face palma...
  • 15 0
 My mother would like to have the cliche'd interstitial text put on reclaimed pallet wood and hung in the living room
  • 8 0
 "Angie and I totally forget to take pictures for our Instagram stories and just breathe in the moment of this beautiful side of mother nature."

You make that sound like a bad thing Smile
  • 3 1
 I asked her hand on the beach of Puerto Naos, it is on the west coast with a beautiful sunset on the horizon. Went biking on those sticky rocks "infamous Bachbett". Rented a Scott enduro bike at some bike rental in Puerto Naos, they had a van lift to the top for cheap. Great memories, want to go back and visit the jungles in the north.
  • 1 0
 It’s an amazing Island, some of the very best bike riding in the world, although some of the locals destroy everything, building illegal trails. however, a stay is not complete if you haven’t experienced the outstanding starry Sky there. that’s what La Palma is actually most famous for, they have a law since 1977 forbidding light pollution because of the European Northern Observatory on Roque de los Muchachos.
these two videos illustrate it well, and both have actually been produced by Mountainbikers Smile
Island in the Sky vimeo.com/53845425
Island in the Sky II www.youtube.com/watch?v=CI8P7gMJbVg
  • 4 0
 don't go there - its terrible
  • 1 0
 What what you talking about
  • 2 0
 Just FYI: you should only ride the Roque Trail (Kante in German) at sunrise, as it is inside the Nature Park. Anyway it is an ugly and boring island.Smile
  • 1 0
 I went on holiday to La Palma a few years back and after about 4 minutes on the shuttle bus to one of the islands only 'resort' hotels i wished i had my bike!
  • 4 1
 La Palma is totally sh1t. There are no trails here. Please stay away.
  • 1 1
 There are loads of trails if you know what your doing
  • 2 0
 @Superone1973: Don't worry, I think everyone is being sarcastic to keep people away and save the island for themselves ;-)
  • 1 0
 At last people are discovering the island . Cheap flights with easyJet lgw to spc. My bungalows are bang in middle of island with amazing views. Lapalmabungalows.com
  • 2 0
 Looks like a great adventure, the Canary islands are underrated!
  • 1 0
 Bin there done that - it was perfect... mit sure about the current situation of prohibited trails for bikes
  • 2 1
 I love this! Kathi is my hero. So great to see. The photos are amazing. Never knew about this spot. Rock on Kathi!!
  • 1 0
 South Africa is ace this time of the year.
Check out the multi day race in Lesotho
kingdomenduro.com
  • 2 0
 Omg patattas fritas????
PAPAS FRITAS COÑO
  • 1 0
 Looks awesome. I'm headed to Tenerife in February....anything similar there?
  • 1 0
 all trails prohibited
  • 1 0
 La Palma or Gran canaria are they best island for riding nice trails www.besttrails.ch
  • 1 0
 Oh my goodness. That looks absolutely sublime....
  • 2 1
 Great photography @kirstensoerries !!
  • 1 0
 He knows something about taking pictures... I have one of the calenders he has for sale in my office. Realy a nice one.
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