Valley of The Tears - give me your success tips

So in mid March I’m off to Gran Canaria to deal with unfinished business.

Visited in March 2019 with a group of friends but we didn’t make it to the VoTT, partly due to time constraints but also due to having a fairly large mix of ability in the group (I was firmly in the middle!).

Anyway - the VoTT is the ‘A’ ride of the trip this time and we are in a much smaller group of more similarly able riders.

Looking on Strava, the median time for people accross my age / weight categories appears to be around 1 hour 25 minutes for what is labelled the ‘official’ segment from the lake to the final T junction.

My best real world power for that duration isn’t fantastic and taking account of my TR improvements but then factoring back due to the heat (I don’t cope well once it gets into the high 20s) plus it will be at least 1200m of climbing to reach the start, I have worked out I can probably realistically manage a 1hr 30 so I’ve set myself a stretch target to beat the 1hr 25 median I previously mentioned as a minimum and then if possible smash that as best I can :grin::muscle:t2:

I know what power / speed I need to be averaging to achieve this and my TR plan builder is set up to help me training-wise

I’ve done the usual reconnaissance on Google Earth and Strava and watched very many PoV ride videos on YouTube (whilst on the trainer) plus searched for tips and advice on the usual websites.

Conclusions drawn so far are:

  • it will be pretty hard but is achievable
  • it’s not as steep as Hardknott and Wrynose passes in the Lake District (I coped with that) but is considerably longer so pacing is absolutely critical
  • the first 4K is super steep so really need to pace that very cautiously
  • there is a shorter but equally steep bit near the halfway mark
  • use the (few) downhill bits to recover, rather than press on
  • bring the right bike - I’m hiring a Giant TCR rim brake with 50/34 chain set and an 11-32 cassette
  • watch out for traffic and the edge (plenty of parts have no Armco)
  • no opportunities to top up water along the way (13.2k?) so make sure bottles are topped off ahead of time

This is all well and good but it’s a bit ‘2nd hand’ when taking it off the web

What I’m after is any first hand hints and tips from any TR forum members who have actually done this climb and experienced conquering it?

Times for your age / weight / Watts/kg for the official segment would also be really helpful to further gauge the reasonableness of my targeted time of 1hr 25

Any guidance appreciated.

Thanks
Dave

I’ve done this climb twice. I run roughly at 4w/kg (70kg, 40 years old) so I’m a decent climber for whom the climb should be a challenge but not impossible.

What gets me is the heat.

First time the average temperature was 28C and I wasn’t too bad - just had to stop briefly 2-3 times when my heart rate threatened to get to unsustainable levels. Finished in 1hr06.

Second time, average temperature was 33C, max 37C, and I completely succumbed to heat. After several stops and a period where I could barely stand up and push my bike, let alone pedal, I finished in 1hr33.

You’ve got the right idea with everything else. On the steep sections, be prepared to grind. You can’t spin up 20% even in 34-32. Definitely recover when it gets easier. Completely fill your bottles in La Aldea de San Nicolas, maybe even take extra if the forecast is hot. And don’t be proud about doing it non-stop; a little break might do you more good in the long run than pushing on.

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Excellent - this is the sort of steer I was looking for - thanks :+1:

Oh, and the surface is pretty loose and broken up, especially at the lower slopes - so don’t pump your tyres up too hard, and be prepared to stay seated to keep back wheel traction if necessary.

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Which segment do you plan to do? This one? https://www.strava.com/activities/2213235021/segments/55887157303

A lot depends on where you tackle the climb from, if you descend from Artenara you’ll face a much easier job. If you’re coming from San Nicholas be aware that you’'ll probably be climbing for at least an hour before you even get to the proper start of VoTT.

I’ve done it a couple of times and my fastest time was 1:05, I think I had an FTP of 277 and weighed about 71 kgs at the time. I think it was the fourth day of my holiday though so I wasn’t exactly fresh. I ended up averaging 230 watts for the above segment.

Average power calculations are particularly difficult barometer for this climb as you won’t be able to keep an average power. I’ve always needed to go heavily in to the red just to get up the first steep switchbacks and then recover and go deep on the later ramps again. I’m not sure what plan you’re doing but make sure you have plenty of over unders and some VO2 work in there.

As Martin says the climb is always HOT so try and do it as early as you can in the day.

Good luck! It’s a disgusting climb but i great sense of achievement once you’ve done it. Let us know how you get on.

Aaron

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I did it in October and my main tip is to plan your approach in terms of fuel and hydration. It’s an out of the way place to reach and you want to make sure your arrive with sufficient water. We had stopped in Artenada but arrived at the VOTT low on water due to the approach taking longer than expected and it being a very hot enclosed valley. I have done similar climbs without too much problem but once dehydration set in my power just plummeted.

Your points look sensible but we didn’t experience any issues with traffic - a handful of cars passed us

Enjoy (if you can)

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Yes that’s it. We’ll be riding from St Bartolome so approaching the lake from the North in a loop via Tejeda and Artenada.

We plan to stop in Artenada and refuel / top up extra bottles etc.

Thanks for the heat related tip - we will depart base as early as we can :+1:t2:

This was my attempt, took me about an hour and ten minutes, I’m ~80kg and was 19 at the time, average power was 255 or 3.2 W/Kg.

I was running mid compact 52-36 and an 11-28 cassette, don’t do that.
As far as I remember the effort was really on/off, super steep climb for 10 minutes then the grade lets off and you can “rest”.
Take everything you need with you, there are no shops for many, many km’s around the base or top.
The first part of the climb is probably the steepest, but you will be on fresher legs than when you reach the next steep part so save your legs and go a bit easy on the beginning.

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Thanks for the advice :+1:t2: