Talk to any Canadian motorcycle enthusiast and they’ll all tell you about how much they dread that time of year when they need to put the bike away in the garage and wait at least six months to ride again.
I know this because I am one of those Canadian motorcycle enthusiasts.
Earlier this year, I was scrolling aimlessly through Instagram (as one usually does) during one of the coldest and snowiest days of the year, while looking out the window, bored out of my mind and confined to my living room. I stopped on one of the accounts (@CanaryRide) that I’d have been following for a couple of years because of its spectacular motorcycle content showcasing beautiful scenery, epic flowing roads and motorcyclists enjoying sunny year-round riding conditions.
The more I scrolled, the more enticed I became and then it hit me; I had to go ride in Gran Canaria asap. Next thing I knew, I was booking a flight and an apartment for Gran Canaria at the end of October, which is usually around when riding season ends here in Canada.
The Canary Islands are seven unique volcanic islands in the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of Northern Africa: Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, La Gomera, El Hierro and La Palma. The Canary Islands are still relatively unknown to many North Americans, especially as a motorcycle-riding destination.
Gran Canaria, which is the third largest island in the Spanish archipelago, only has about 20 days of rainfall a year and an incredible 3,000 hours of sunshine annually, making it one of the sunniest places in the world. Add in its year-round spring and summer temperatures, and it’s one of the world’s best places to ride a motorcycle. Gran Canaria is considered the “mini continent” due to its diverse climate, terrain and topography, which draws many European holiday makers year after year.
Once my trip to Gran Canaria was booked, I connected with my friend, Ondřej, who is the owner of Canary Ride Motorcycle Rentals based out of Las Palmas, the capital of Gran Canaria and the Canary Islands and we settled on a date to go riding together, so he could show me the island on two wheels. Hailing from the Czech Republic, Ondřej could relate to how us Canadians felt during our long winters without riding, hence why he moved to Las Palmas shortly after returning from a motorcycle trip there one year with a friend. He established Canary Ride back in December 2016 and has since grown his motorcycle fleet to include some incredible machines for any style rider that wanted to experience the twists and turns that Gran Canaria’s road had to offer, such as the Ducati Multistrada 950, Yamaha Tenere 700 and the Honda Africa Twin 1000.
Ondřej and I had made plans to ride the day after I landed in Las Palmas, but because of my unfortunate series of events with my cancelled flight from Ponta Delgada, we had to reschedule for the next day. To my luck, he was available to ride on the Monday, so we moved around our plans to fit both of our schedules.
I already knew what bike I wanted to ride on Gran Canaria’s roads before I even arrived there. I requested to ride the 2019 Yamaha XSR 700, which turned out to be a great lightweight and agile bike for the curvaceous and tight roads of Gran Canaria. The Yamaha XSR 700 boasts an upright riding position, which makes handling the bike easy on the rider, especially around Gran Canaria’s numerous hairpin turns. It has a naked styled body with a retro yet sleek sporty look and a parallel twin cylinder engine, which give it tons of pep.
On ride day, I woke up early, made breakfast and got dressed up in all my moto gear, which was killer in the Canarian heat that day, but better to prevent than to heal is my moto-motto, so no matter the weather, I always wear full gear. I walked from my apartment to the Canary Ride shop, met up with Ondřej and before we set off, we briefly discussed our route for the day, which involved riding from Las Palmas to Pico de las Nieves, which is the highest peak on Gran Canaria at 1,949 metres above sea level. We would also be riding along the most beautiful yet challenging areas of the famously dangerous highway, the GC-200 between Agaete and La Aldea.
The GC-200 hugs cliffs along the rugged coastline and offers sensational views of a series of mountains dubbed The Dragon’s Tail (Cola del Dragón). The GC-200, although dubbed as extremely dangerous due to its white knuckling hairpins, 300+ curves, blind corners, sheer cliff drops and potential rock slides, is considered one of the most stunning coastal routes in the world. As we rode along the GC-200, gliding around curve after curve, I couldn’t get over the mind blowing scenery around me. As much as I wanted to look around, I had to keep my mind focused and eyes on the road because the GC-200 has little room for errors. It was a pure adrenaline rush! For those who come to ride, know that the roads of Gran Canaria, especially the twisties, are not intended for racing. You will mainly be in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd gear (you can open up to 4th on open highway portions) due to the constant curves and blind corners constantly keeping you on your toes. Also, a suggested intermediate to advanced level of riding would be ideal because of the technicality of most routes. It’s better to ride safe and enjoy the journey.
While riding the GC-200, I’d hear the deafening sound of transport trucks blowing their horn, which let you know they were coming and for you to make room and move over. The scenery along the GC-200 is absolutely spectacular. When I watched back some of my helmet cam footage, you can literally hear me saying, “Oh wow! Holy shit!” I was just awestruck by the beauty surrounding me around every twist, turn and curve.
One of the most interesting and colourful spots along the GC-200 was the oxidized rock wall along the GC-200 at Los Azulejos de Veneguera. I parked my bike with the rainbow wall as a backdrop and snapped a photo. It was a really cool spot with a locally run fruit stand situated right along the road where you could get fresh fruit juice smoothies made to quench your thirst in the heat. Best stop ever!!
The sun was beating down on us and I could feel the sweat dripping down my face within my helmet, so we made sure to stop and take in the views with much needed water breaks. On days like that, fully geared up, dehydration is your worst enemy. We also stopped in a local restaurant along the route to fuel up with some traditional Canarian food, which included papas arrugadas; wrinkled potatoes boiled in very salty water, drained and tossed in sea salt. They are always served with mojo rojo (a spicy red salsa) and mojo verde (a savoury green salsa made with either coriander or parsley) and they are deliciously addictive. I also tried some fresh tuna steaks and they were amazing! After stuffing our faces with some incredible food, we geared back up and made our way up to Pico de las Nieves at the top of Gran Canaria. The journey to the top had at least twelve extremely tight hairpin turns that tested my slower technical riding abilities all the way up the mountain and took us through a stunning pine forest, which provided some much needed shade and cooler temps.
After spending some time up at Pico de las Nieves and admiring the views of the valley below, we hopped back on our bikes and made our way back to Las Palmas. On the way back, we made our way through cute little colourful Canarian villages dotted with beautiful Spanish architecture, twisty narrow roads covered with a canopy of lush vegetation and views towards Las Palmas in the distance.
Once we reached the city of Las Palmas, we made our way back to the Canary Ride garage, but here is a funny part of the trip that literally has never happened to me ever. So, as we were in the city, a car cut me off and stopped in front of me. I lost site of Ondřej and had NO idea how to get back to the garage. I stopped on a major street, pulled over and busted out my maps. It turns out I was a few streets away from the garage and had to find my way back, meanwhile poor Ondřej probably thought I took off with his bike and rode away into the sunset with it. Whoops! I ended up finding my way back and we had a laugh, said our goodbyes and I went back to my apartment, since I desperately needed a shower and some food! Good times.
Read more: Things To Do In Las Palmas De Gran Canaria
My incredible day of riding in Gran Canaria came to an end, but it only took one day to realize that I had to come back again soon. The thrill of riding in another country and on unfamiliar roads on a new bike with stellar views all around, definitely spoiled me and made me want more. I know I’ll be back again, especially once the cooler weather and snow starts to fall in Canada and I start to crave some much needed throttle therapy.
Read more: A Must Visit For Any Motorcycling Enthusiast
Have any of you that ride motorcycles been to Canary Islands? If not, you need to go! If you are looking to book a trip and go riding, connect with Ondřej at Canary Ride and you’ll definitely be taken care of! xo
Big thanks to Ondřej at Canary Ride for showing me a great time in Gran Canaria and hooking me up with the Yamaha XSR 700.