The ultra race Gran Guanche: A journey with Johann Kristan
The Gran Guanche Gravel Audax is a bikepacking event that draws participants from around the world to prove themselves on one of three carefully crafted routes. The routes are each designed for one type of bike, i.e. road bike, mountain bike or gravel bike. The aim is to conquer the given route as quickly as possible. Ferry crossing schedules are a crucial part of strategic race planning.
Johann Kristan, a photographer and filmmaker, recently took on the ultimate challenge of his first ever bikepacking ultra race. In this blog post, Johann reports on his unforgettable experiences participating in the Gran Guanche Gravel Audax, an extraordinary bikepacking event on the Canary Islands. Join him as he strategically plans, experiences stunning landscapes, and celebrates his personal triumphs along the way.
The beginning of an adventure: Johann's adventure begins in the charming town of Órzola in the north of Lanzarote. At 10 p.m., the starter field makes its way to the first stage of the race.
Playa Blanca and Fuerteventura: A moment of calm and morning bliss:
After around 100 kilometers and 2,000 meters in altitude, Johann reaches the port of Playa Blanca, where he waits patiently for the ferry to Fuerteventura. Surprised by the comfort of the waiting room, he takes the opportunity to rest briefly on the floor before boarding the ferry.
Fuerteventura: Panoramic Drives and Starry Nights:
Johann takes his time on Fuerteventura and enjoys the breathtaking beauty of the cliffs and gravel roads. After a meal in Pajara, he continues his journey and finally finds a quiet spot on the beach, where he sets his bed for the night and admires the wide starry sky.
Gran Canaria: Climbing into new dimensions:
The next stage of Johann's journey takes him to Gran Canaria, where he has to face many meters of altitude of the countless climbs. Both the asphalt and the gravel roads push him to his limits, so that Johann sometimes has to push his bike. But the reward is worth it, as once at the summit he enjoys the stunning views before retiring to accommodation with a comfortable bed and a warm shower. The next day begins with a descent and after dreamy gravel roads, Johann treats himself to a well-deserved sandwich in a quaint café before catching the ferry to Tenerife.
Tenerife: Exploring Lush Green Mountains:
Accompanied by another cyclist, Johann rides through the lush green mountains and forest trails of Tenerife. After a delicious meal at La Laguna, they decide to drive through the night, determined to reach the natural campsite known as "La Caldera". Battling dying batteries, limited light and GPS problems, they find solace under a shelter at a scenic picnic area and rest briefly before continuing their climb through a sunlit pine forest.
El Hierro: Bonks and triumphant conclusion:
On the ferry to El Hierro, Johann has had a turbulent crossing and has to face a strenuous climb on arrival in Valverde. Despite a temporary hypo caused by insufficient nourishment, he recovers and finds shelter with the other two cyclists he met earlier. As they set out in the dark the next morning, they enjoy a scenic drive through green pastures, conquer the island's second major climb and cross the finish line after four days and 18 hours.
Conclusion after the first bikepacking race
Due to the special character of this event, Johann understood what really makes bikepacking races so special - it's the experiences and the exchange with like-minded people.
Discover more in Johanns Video here.
Photos (C): Johann Kristan