This is a seriously tough ride: 3,500 metres of climbing over 100km with some savage gradients. There's no getting around the fact that you're likely to form an intimate relationship with suffering.
But if you're up to the challenge, this is a ride you won't forget it. You'll pass through some of the most unique and astonishing scenery you're ever likely to see.
If you're cycling in Tenerife and you've done Teide, do this ride next. It's a stunner.
Route map and profile
Distance: 104 km
Elevation Gain: 3,560 m
Max Grade: 35 %
All metrics in this guide are approximate
The two stand-outs are Masca and the Teno lighthouse.
Riding the road from Mirador de Cherfe pass down to to Masca is one of the most dramatic descents we've ever done. Lift your eyes from the road for a second and you'll see it snaking away, heading ever downwards, flanked by precipitous cliffs. Turn a few more bends and come to "that view" of the village, running along a ridge at the base of a bullet shaped rock, a mini Machu-Piccu. Sharply-cut ravine walls rise on either side and La Gomera island is framed in the V of the ravine sitting above a sparkling ocean.
The precipitous road to the Teno lighthouse was used for the opening scene in Fast and Furious 6. It is carved into the cliff face, with waves crashing below. You won't forget it - or the stunning lighthouse at the end of the road.
1. Playa la Arena to masca: 0-20.5 km
It's uphill from the start on the TF-454 through banana plantations and with views down to the sea. You roll through the villages of Tamaimo, El Retamar and El Molledo until you reach Santiago del Teide. The adventure feels like it's about to begin as you turn left onto the narrow TF-436.
1.3 km of steep climbing (average 6.5%) takes you to the top of the pass at Mirador de Cherfe. Vertical cliffs tower above to the right of the road while on the left, the mountain drops away. You see the road spiralling downwards into the abyss, watched over by the jagged ridgeline of the Masca valley.
It's here the heart of the ride begins: nearly 4 km of twisty descent through vertical mountains and interlocking valleys until you reach Masca itself (see Highlights above).
2. masca to Punta de Teno Lighthouse: 20.5-47 km
From Masca, sweeping vistas follow together with some vicious up, down and up (gradients hit double figures in places...). It's then an 11.5 km descent through lush terraced farmland to Buenavista del Norte.
The ride from Buenavista to the lighthouse is awesome. The sharp, volcanic cliffs rise up steeply on one side and the sea froths far beneath you. On the bends you catch sight of the massive stone banking that supports the road and in places, you're riding beneath vertical cliffs that jut out overhead. After a few kilometres of climbing, it's a fast descent down to the lighthouse, with views that stretch for miles down the coastline. Just remember to take lights for the tunnels (see our Tips below).
3. Punta de Teno Lighthouse to Playa La Arena: 47-103 km
Make the most of the flat 6 km between Buenavista and Las Cruces: there's 19 km of uphill slog after that. At Las Cruces you see the road zig-zagging up above you and the fear sets in. But worry not, the gradients for the climb average at 5% and while it's long, it's not overly tough. That said, you have already got 2,400 m of climbing in your legs so don't underestimate how long it's going to take. Also expect traffic; you're on the TF-82 which is the main road between the North and West.
What goes up must go down and it's an 18 km descent to the sea. We added on a visit to the stunning cliffs at Los Gigantes, just west of Playa La Arena, but you may want to skip it and visit the pretty marina another day.
For quite an isolated region, there are a decent number of refuelling options assuming you aren't looking for a Michelin-style experience.
We explored Tenerife from the Be Live Playa La Arena. Our children loved it and we found the location worked well for accessing rides across the island.
For other options -
Take a look at more of our accommodation suggestions in our ultimate guide to Tenerife for cyclists.
Alternatively, our best towns for cyclists article should help you narrow down the best place for you to stay.