Inge Bjart cllmbing 3.8 km Masca hill on Vuelta a Teide 2019
I like cycling and swimming and hiking in the mountains. It is naturally easier in a warmer climate than in Norway where I got tired of moving around and harking and coughing half the year. So then I became a natural climate refugee and out of the 70 countries I have been to on the planet I found that Spain was the most suitable in terms of doing summer sports and at the same time taking a few trips to Norway if necessary.
At first I went to Albir in Costa Blanca in September 2010 to check out the conditions there, but thought it got a bit cold at altitude cycling in November. It was relatively nice to take up swimming again and heavy to swim only 200 m the first few days, but picked it up again and made a few kilometers.
I have been many times in Tenerife on holidays since Easter 1975 when I climbed Pico del Teide (3718 meters above sea level) to check if I could withstand thin air. I started shopping with Tony in Bicisport in 1995 and formally moved to Los Cristianos as a resident in January 2011 and eventually joined the Wilier Canarias C.C. and took part in some races, first one November 3, 2012 up from the Iberostar hotel in Costa Adeja and up the west side to Mirador del Chio in the El Teide plateau.
Swimming was originally meant to be a recreation from cycling, but after a trip to Lanzarote in February 2014 I got a sneech about the "El Rio" swimming crossing in 2.6 km from Lanzarote to La Graciosa. It was first carried out on 18 October 2018. Then it was a truncated Vuelta al Teide cycling race on 30 March 2019 due to 4 cm of snow on the plateau. I started to get a little excited about taking part in competitions and was also part of Travesia a Nado Alcaravan on 4 May that year.
Then came the Covid epidemic in February 2020 and put us in a strange situation with a lockdown 7 weeks in the spring of 2020 before we were allowed to cycle and swim again. Fair enough, then there wasn't much else to do but to cut out the "pig parties" and train more which turned out to be a blessing. Covid came and went in waves with different mutants and still does, but exercise seems to be the best medicine and we trained with pleasure and got happy when the suspended events were restarted. On 31 October 2021 I was invited to Murellas del Inferno in Los Gigantes for a short 1,500 m swim and participated in the training community NPC Tenerife which meets regularly in Las Vistas bay near where I live in Los Cristianos. On 11 December we also had a charity gathering in San Juan where the fee was toys for the children at La Palma.
NPC Tenerife: Patrick, Inge Bjart, Alessandro and Moreno at Playa San Juan
April 30, 2022 4 km Travesia a Nado Alcavaran which was postponed for a couple of years. 1:18:45. No. 13 and last place in my class M60–69 where I was also the oldest (69).
Vuelta al Teide 7. May 2022
165 km The Vuelta al Teide was capped in Santiago del Teide after 70 km on 30 March 2019 due to 4 cm of snow in Las Cañadas del Teide. So then there was an attempt again 3 years later at 175 km from Puerto de la Cruz on the slopes further down than Los Realejos last time. The start went smoothly and calmly up the slopes with natural spreading. We became a group at Icod El Alto after an hour of cycling and mostly trailed Mirador de Garachico in 2:09:24 and Buenavista in 2:50:16. Then there was some spread again, but we made it up the Palmar valley to the El Baracan lookout point and met the first "wall" up to Mirador Cruz de Hilda where there was some zigzagging cycling on the road which fortunately was completely closed to traffic until 12:30. Then down to Masca and start on the real "wall" 4 km uphill. The first 3 km went relatively smoothly thanks to a bit of zigzagging cycling, but then it turned into four of us getting off the bike and walking the rest of the hill. The last km literally went smoothly and came up to Mirador Cherfe well within timeout, but you get a little worried when you see the end of the field with some service cars a few hundred meters below.
Came to the feed zone in Santiago del Teide at 80km and 5:17:10 and it was just Sergio and I continuing from there. The trip up to Arguayo was a relief compared to Masca, and down to Chio went smoothly. Then there was the 25 km and 5.5% long uphill climb up to Narcises del Teide which went on three hours, half an hour slower than in February so was clearly more tired. One part that the two of us caught up with, gave up and at the Samara feed zone two of us were the last in the field. There we began to get to know the support system well; the end car, the car mechanic and the food truck from Club Ciclista Ichiren. They fed us at will and did their best to encourage us to finish. The two of us kept a good track up to Narcises del Teide where it flattened out and we were able to take a pace on the bike to Boca Tauce well within the timeout of 9 hours.
Then a bit of struggle on the slopes up towards the Parador, slipped out a bit on the second hill up towards the lift house where Sergio advanced. Here I had to make a stop to get more nutrition in my body, chocolate, banana and water. I sat down and talked to the support staff for a couple of minutes while I was fed. The mechanic said he was Catholic and I mentioned of course that "the last will be the first". Equivalence. He liked that a lot and gave me a good push on my bike and got me up the hill to the parking lot by the walking path up to Pico del Teide. There it flattened out and quickly came up to pace speed, but then the end car came up on my side and said that I had gone in timeout 10 hours after the start. Fair enough, rode at a good speed further 10 km down to Portillo Alto in 20 minutes where I was stopped and the matter clarified. I could choose between taking the trip down to Puerto de la Cruz in the "pick up" cart or wheeling down on my own. Of course, I did the latter because it's downhill cycling I'm good at. The friend in the end car said I could stop by the time mat in La Cruz Santa, Los Realejos to record the time. Bright sunshine and took half an hour down to Chasna at the top of the cloud layer and then a tiring quarter of an hour upwards in the clouds of Benijos.
GoPro camera was synchronized and showed 6:16 PM at the finish of the last time mat
Found my way in the bends downhill easily thanks to some road cones standing in the middle of the road and yellow signs with arrows. Came under the cloud layer and in time for the time mat at 18:16:26 or 11:16:26 since the start at 07:00 at La Cruz Santa with 24 minutes clearance for timeout where the guard had been told I was the last rider. He checked the number and the machine, congratulated me on well completed and then I could just ride down to the "destination" in Puerto de la Cruz. Naturally, it is not wise to race downhill in densely populated areas. At the intersection with Las Dehesas, the lead car said I was approved and could just drive down and pick up the Finisher badge. Came down to the "destination" at Hotel Alua Tenerife, thanked the support staff for the great support and received the Finisher badge.
Drank and ate a little and actually managed to cycle up to the Hotel Parque San Antonio. There was no dancing that night, standing over dinner and relaxed on the bed with the remaining soft drinks, fruit and snacks. Took a couple of days for the computer system to update and saw that I was No. 338 overall and No. 13 out of 17 in the M60+ three minutes behind the fastest and only woman in the F60+. There were six others in the same situation as me who were taken to the mercy at Portillo Alto, but also some who abandoned on the final stretch for unknown reasons. It was foggy and dangerous without a front light. 163 did not finish a total of 175 km and 57 at 95 km.
May 14 5km Travesia Memorial de Victor Teno a popular triathlete that went missing at El Teide and found the remains of a few years later. My official time was 1:48:23 and 87th out of 90 as the oldest and only person over the age of 60.
May 28 68 km La Tea Media Gran Fondo at La Palma. Finished at 4:15:54 and 2,175 altitude meters with an average of 16 km/h that held to win the Master 60 class ahead of Francisco Abreu Rodriguez who came in at 4:33:56 and is 72 years old, while I was almost 70. There was no one else in the M60 class, so we were lucky there and got us a place on the podium to storming cheers. Last man one week and first three weeks afterwards, that's Catholic. "The last shall be the first"
June 4 (4 km) from Travesia a Nado Isla de La Palma was a heavy test with counter current and headwinds all the way and a safety buoy in tow that seemed like a drifter. Got good help from a kayaker to find the way between the waves where it sometimes blew white. 2:24:25 which is an hour behind my prime time, but came within timeout at 2:30:00 and had the honor of being last and oldest here as well. It was spring competitions for the old man.
Volcano Gran Fondo 10. September 2022
Saturday 20 to 26ºC and 13 km/h northwesterly winds. We rode down to the start at 7:15 a.m. It went as planned at 08:00 for those who were going on the long trip of 128.3 km and 3,400 meters of altitude. The first time mat was in Santa Cruz at the bottom of the first hill. 16:47, then there was Plaza La Glorieta down by Mirador Conception 52:57, San Isidro 1:00:42 and the rough hill up to El Pilar in 2:47:46, there were only ten people who gave up on that hill and David was only 2 minutes ahead of me. A great food station there with some nice girls and got water and bananas. Then it was to roll 12 km down the old "volcano road" (pictured above) on the ridge of Cumbre vieja and down to El Paso. Then it was to Tajyua and La Laguna where the Via Nueva went 3.5 km above the new lava to Las Norias with so-called "Roman cover", but it was empty of both cars and gladiators.
David a little ahead and I after. Then it was up on the new road that was laid between Las Norias and Secadero last fall to be able to evacuate the population across through Puerto Naos. That asphalt is still steady and that stretch has an average incline of 9.5%, including one of about a hundred meters by 18% before Secadera, which I walked on. Then the road felt comfortable up against the time mat in Las Manchas, which was passed in 4:24:05. Then it was down to Los Canarios where I rode past David and Jose, but logged 5:12:36 where the timeout to cycle down to the Fuencaliente lighthouse was at 5 hours at 13:00 for the sake of traffic.The same was true of those behind and 12 in front so we dropped that ride down and up and 15 got a 2 hours in "penalty" on the finish time by riding to the finish, in my 6:10:21 which turned into 8:10:21. It was now about 100 km and 2,600 hm. Got a finishing mark and 6th and last place in M60+, but not overall...
It was like May/June in particular to see the result of the volcanic eruption on 19 September last year at Cumbre Vieja or Volcan de Tajogaite as it is proposed to be called now after a referendum of 4,283 people. The new Via Nueva road over the old LP213 cannot be paved normally yet due to the heat from the lava and normally not allowed to cycle there. It is being paved gradually where possible so that those who wish can move back to their original homes, but it will take a long time before the main LP2 road and the LP212 mountain road near the volcano are reopened. In recent days, there have also been some small earthquakes with an epicenter of a few kilometres below the area, so one is anxiously awaiting the researchers' investigations. One is prepared for another eruption, but it will possibly come higher up on the Cumbre nueva mountain ridge than last year's and not destroy as much of the infrastructure except for the so-called "volcanic road" on LP302.
Travesía a nado El RÍO 16. October 2022
Very good conditions after a passing thunderstorm. Calm 22ªC sea and almost no wind. Good recreation of an event that has been suspended for 3 years. Nice to meet other swimmers my age on these islands. A very refreshing Sunday in good company with 275 swimmers who started in Playa de Bajo El Risco, Lanzarote to swim ~2.6 km across the strait to Mulle de Caleta de Sebo, La Graciosa.
I aimed for the yellow buoys just across the strait and kept up well with the swimmers around me at my usual "Duracell" speed of about 2.5 km/h. When we got to the harbour and were going to swim the last few hundred metres towards the finish it got a little more crowded and I felt in good shape and sprinted a bit to get past a dozen swimmers in slalom to the goal. There it was just a matter of climbing up the gnarled beach with a little help, getting photographed, getting a Finisher medal and taking a quick shower to rinse the eyes etc. Then some banana snacks and drinks before the awards ceremony.
Junior's Kennedy Hope Denby (F) was the best at 33:05 and Carlos Vizcaino Rigol (M) at 34:03. In the picture above you can see our M70-74 class with Sergio Luis Media Bolaños winning in 52:07, Raimundo Beltra Pico no. 2 in 58:35 and Inge Bjart Torkildsen no. 3 and total no. 240 in 1:03:39. No. 4 in our class did not finish. Sports adviser Alfredo Mendoza Camacho was responsible for awarding the prizes.
Mogan Open Water 3. December 2022
We were five people from NPC Tenerife who went over to Gran Canaria for a swimming event. Alessandro and Patrick at 5km and Charly, Moreno and Inge Bjart at 2.8km. Then it was just a matter of throwing yourself into the "steam" and swimming what one could. 20ºC in the air and 21 in moderate sea. Partly cloudy. 12 km/h northwesterly wind.. Personal 3,015 m swimming at 1:12:35, 2:24 / 100 m or 2.5 km/h in motion. First 500 m in 12:46 or 2:33 / 100 m. 1,500 m in 36:53. Best time trial 1:08/100 m. It was a couple of hundred metres longer than intended and should have swam a little closer to the pier towards the goal in Arguienguin. Officially finished in 1:11:04. They had registered me in the women's class because of my Norse name which is masculine only in Iceland and in Norway. It's not the first time it's happened, but was cleared up in the target area. Master J (70-74) location should be: 1. Juan Carlos Elgue, 48:27, 2: Francisco Navarro Rodriguez, 1:10:23, 3: Inge Bjart Torkildsen, 1:11:04. Fair enough. Charly finished 9th overall and No. 2 Master D (M40-44) in 46:45 and received a prize. Moreno No. 37 overall and No. 7 Master G (M55-59) at 56:26. Patrick finished 44th overall and won the Master I (M65-69) class in the 5 km with 1:26:06. Alessandro was No. 50 overall and No. 8 Master G (M55-59) in 1:28:03. A successful "boys' trip" in good company with other swimmers.
Traversia a Nado Alcavaran San Juan 29. April 2023
Checked in approx. 09:30 to 12:00 3 km swimming. Start number 176, 181 participants. Sergio Luis Medina Bolaños and I were only in Veteran D (70-79) then got on the podium again, Sergio won in 44:46 and I No. 2 with 1:00:16 as official time. Moderate seas so no need for a safety buoy. 2,372 m measured at 58:34, 2:28/100 m or 2.4 km/h in motion. First 500 m 11:34 or 2:19/100 m. 1,500 m 39:27. 2 km 50:32 Best pace 1:18/100 m. Max pulse 107 rest 70 on the beach. Lunch with fruit, cheese sandwiches and fresh water at the event. Social on the bus back, got crowded eventually and then we had to change buses at the station in San Eugenio because it didn't quite work. Back in the apartment in the afternoon after a lovely day with fresh people. A nice falaffel dinner at Havana's & Beach Cabin in the evening to celebrate the day.
Vuelta al Teide Medio 6. May 2023
470 started at 10:30 a.m. and was really crowded up the first hill to Arguayo Pass. Passed Chio after 8.6 km in 26:16. Las Estrellas at 14.9 km was passed in 1:01:32 and there were some friends cheering. The Mirador de los Poleos at 21.4 km was passed in 1:38:06 and there I also got a can of cold Coke from Club Ciclista Irichien which gave good energy. At Montaña Samara 30.8 km, I was able to fill up one bottle of fresh water that held to the finish. Narices del Teide had the first time mat of 32.6 km and was passed in 2:45:51 at 13:15 and was thus over the longest hill of 24.5 km which took 2:20:15 with an average of 10.5 km/h of 5.5% incline, only 3 minutes behind the personal best from 2011 so it obviously helps to be vegetarian and still train. Boca Tauce at 36.8 km passed in 2:55:36 and there was a long queue down the hill from Retamar but a lot of police watching. El Parador 43.3 km was passed in 3:20:10 and there I got a banana that gave energy! Teleferico crossed 47 km 3:39:38 and then the last hill was over after 2 km at 2,323 m altitude. The time mat at El Portillo alto 56.2 km in 3:58:36 at 14:28 and then I was well ahead of timeout at 16:00. New personal record through the national park from Boca Tauce to Portillo in 1:07.50 (18.9 km/h on average and 53.5 max) so it helped with some good company. Stopped at El Portillo 57.9 km 4:01:10 and put on my windbreaker before the descent.
The final time mat was in Cruze La Caldera after 73.6 km and 4:23:14 was the official finish time at 14:53. 4:25:01 showed the clock as I started it a couple of minutes before the start just in case. Then we were a small group that wheeled down behind the police motorcyclist with blue lights and were in the final goal at 5:00:11, 96 km and 1,909 hm at 15:32 as No. 322 overall out of 411 finishers and No. 19 out of 30 in the M60-75 class. It must be said to be well done! Max 172 pulse, 64 rest. 14 to 34ºC. Sunshine, but some clouds down to the finish. The overall winners in MEDIO were Dominik Lipiec (M40) in 2:36:38 and Andres Gonzales Gonzales (M60) in 3:01:50 in my class, just 1:21:24 ahead didn't look too far ahead. Met some acquaintances in the finish area and sat down and drank some coke and water and ate warm paella. Stopped at La Cazuela for a tasty cheese dish and gave them the white wine bottle I got from the race organizer.
La Tea Medio Fondo La Palma 3. June 2023
Got up at 6 a.m., a good portion of muesli for breakfast and wheeled down to Plaza Los Sauces at 7:20 a.m. 13 to 31ºC in the air this day. Partly cloudy and 5 km/h northeasterly wind. It took a good half hour to get everyone in place and exactly at 08:00 we started. 93 participants in Medio and 129 in Gran. This time we rode to Roque del Faro itself and I passed there on a time mat at 2:33:59 as No. 81 overall after about 34 km which was about halfway. It was enough with just one bottle and filled up with fresh water and ate a banana. That and three power bars held for the trip. The 8.6km trip down to Franceses took just 14:26. Then 1km of some hard 13.6% hills at 7:05 up to the main LP1 road. Caught up with Francisco Abreu who is also over 70 years old who I got to know last year and we kept up to the finish. 5 km of serpentines up to Gallegos pass with a climb of 7.3% and altitude difference of 376 m was closed this year and thanks for that just to follow the main road LP1. The speed went at 50 km/h through Barlovento and we caught up with some on the slopes towards the finish in Los Sauces which was passed in 4:03:12, 16.8 km/h, 1.857 hm and Francisco in 4:04:07 who held to fourth and fifth place respectively in M60+ where there were a total of 7 participants. No. 75 overall and drove in six on the road from Roque del Faro. Keith Hollywood won the class in 3:14:48 and Augusto Jesus Reyes was No. 2 in 3:48:38.
Travesia a Nado Isla De La Palma - 10 Juni 2023
Arriving Playa de Sta. Cruz de la Palma 09:55. Foto © Cándido Díaz Hernández
19 to 27ºC in the air and 22.8 in the ocean, partly cloudy. 9 km/h northwesterly wind. Got up at 6:00 am, check in from 07:00 and 08:00 swim from Playa Los Cancajos. Entered as No. 475 Senior M60+ along with 12 other gentlemen and 5 Senior F 60+ ladies so it was really crowded. 4 km from Playa los Cancajos to Playa de Santa Cruz de La Palma where 85 were registered. Arrival 09:55. Sergio M60+ swam 7 km from Playa de Puerto Trigo where 51 entered and won the class in 1:37:33. Tuulio Tolini also competed in the 7 km with a time of 1:34:08 and No. 7 in Veterano M(40-49) 1:20 on average in good co-current, while we had some counter as "normal".
4,133 m swimming in 1:53:51, 2:45/100 m or 2.2 km/h moving in calm seas with north-south ocean current. First 500 m 11:39 or 2:20/100 m. 1,500 m 41:51. 3 km 1:25:46. 4 km 1:45:58. Official time 1:55:11, Last Finisher and No. 13 in class. Only 6 who did not finish or attend. 14:10 Prize ceremony Real Nuevo Club Nautico in Santa Cruz with nice atmosphere. A good end to ten days "holiday" on La Palma. Dinner with Lasagna Vegetal at Insólito in the evening of course.
XXVI Travesía a Nado Playa La Arena 8 Juli 2023
Awards Ceremony. Adrian and I bite the medals.
No. 142 (M71) start 18:15 1,372 m swimming Playa La Arena to Playa de Santiago, slightly longer than planned 950 m. 40:31, 2:57/100 m, 2 km/h moving in slightly lappy seas. First 500 m 13:48 or 2:46/100 m. 1,000 m 30:25. Max pulse 124 resting 70. Official time 43:22am, Adrian Gutierrez Garcia (M74) won our M70-74 class in 30:30. It's faster in a wetsuit with NeoPren, but here everyone has to pose in only swimming trunks without it. A fun collection of all categories of swimmers, from kids to senior citizens.
San Sebastian Open Water 5 August 2023
Awards Ceremony. On the podium again surrounded by the organizers.
Saturday 21 to 28ºC in the air and 23.4 in the ocean, partly cloudy. 09:30 Fred.Olsen departs Los Cristianos with Charly and Patrick. 10:20 Fred.Olsen arrives at Playa de San Sebastian in La Gomera. It was blowing 30 km/h from the north, which was a lot more than in Los Cristianos. First 500 m 11:17 or 2:16/100 m 1,500 m 33:39. Then I was about at the turning bow and got heavy swimming back into the headwind and lost close to 7 minutes in wave motion on it. 3 km 1:23:45. The official time was 1:26:40 and won as the one and only in the M70-79 Veterano D class.
The first swimmer to return was Sara who won in 45:09>.Charly swam in 52:27 and finished No. 2 in Veterano A, Patrick 54:00 as No. 2 in Veterano C and Moreno at 56:37 as No. 5 in Veterano B. I was also beaten by an 80 year old in 1:10:35. Good level at any age despite some white waves. The 5 km was won in 1:19:10 and the 10 km in 2:38:39. 17:30 Fred.Olsen departs San Sebastian and a debriefing at Casa Playa upon arrival one hour after.