The Tarifa Kiting & Cycling Blog
As Another Hard Day at the Office moved its office from the moutains of Serre Chevalier to Tarifa for five weeks I was sort of been inspired to take up a regular blog whilst we were there Tarifa for five weeks, not least because of a few incidents when we first arrived, as ever as they say a picture paints a thousand words etc etc
Here in Tarifa it's our last day, wind was light yesterday, but filled in very late in the day.
The big tides have been forming lagoons near the river mouths providing a super flat spot for freestylers
Tuesday after a 80km ride with the Tarifa Grupeta guys I had a good few hours rest and then went down to beach mid afternoon and had a very pleasant 12m TwinTip session, actually maybe has reinvigorated me to enjoy 12m conditions, actually had me almost looking forward to more of the same!
It's our last week, and Monday did a big 120km bike ride making the most of the calm conditions, but on the return leg winds increased and I had a tail wind for 50% of the return leg then crossing over a hill it changed to a head wind getting progressively stronger as I neared Tarifa, later on people were out making the most of the breeze but it did quickly ease.
This morning again it's calm and I'm out with the local chain gang, and we're hoping that a Poniente will kick in for our return, and forecast has 10-12m kite weather mid to late afternoon, and more of the same Poniente winds for the rest of the week.
Over the weekend Tarifa is a bit of a destination for the Spanish.
The Old Town on Saturday night was crazy busy, and just as we were leaving circa 22:30 some bars were only just opening up!
And then with little wind on Sunday the beaches were the busiest I've seen them, and afterwards not once piece of litter could be seen, compare that to the South Coast!
Saturday when the wind filled in was pretty busy down at Lances North, good news is that where we are people are still kiting even though the schools have decamped down to Lances.
Friday after resting after a really hard cycle ride with the local Grupeta Tarifa (they don't need mountains here the head wind does the same job), I opted for an 8 just as the wind eased!
It did come back but was more like 10m weather, which is probably the one kite that you really need here, and could have kited with the 12 till 20:30 as many do.
That was the last day kiting from our "house" as from today they zone the beaches and where we are is a no kiting area.
Thursday did think the wind was back to a gusty Levante, so I went back down to Valdevaqueros and at first thought it was only 12m weather but went for the 8m and wind was just that more cross shore and really constant, which made for one of the best sessions yet here, I must be getting on with the Devils Tack!
I'm gradually sussing out when and where is best and for what winds. It's quite staggering how the winds switch 180 degrees, though once it switches it tends to stay in that direction for two to three days.
It's quite complex to read and understand the WindGuru forecast, though it seems to be very accurate in getting the Levante and Poniente timings right.
For the Levante you get approximately what the modified wind says in the windguru forecast (3rd row), as the wind funnels through the Straits of Gibraltar.
For Poniente, (Westerly Wind) tad more complex and it's best to go by the 3km or 9km WRF tables.
And mid to late afternoon is better for the Levante at Valdevaqueros as the wind just comes round a few more degrees and is not as gusty as I found out yesterday, but that said it's far from constant!
Windsurfing is definetly alive and well down at Valdevaqueros where there are a number of centers, and windsurfers out yesterday were flying along on 4.5's.
Thursday June 13th
Two days ago was walking with the OH in Tarifa and on the way back to home spotted these local cyclists all having a post ride beer in a cafe by the side of the road.
I clocked a couple of S-Works amongst the bikes and the guys were all of a certain age, so had a brief chat using Google Translate, and they said there was another ride and meet at 10:00.
Turned up at the rendezvous and there were about 12 in total, including three Frenchies on a weeks kite holiday, who had met a couple of the guys the year previously in the bars/restos that they run who had various cycling paraphernalia hence a conversation was had and this year decent rental bikes were sourced and the Frenchies brought their shoes and kit.
We set off on the usual loop and pace was good though into a stiff breeze, then we ended up putting some additional kms into my usual ride and we had a bit of an echelon going into the crosswind and I was starting to become a tad concerned as to what the length of the ride would be when we turned off the main road, as it was somewhere I'd driven a few weeks back to check out another beach (Cape Trafalgar) when it was stupidly windy here.
After 10km we turned off again and stopped at a great Cafe, then it was the return leg, which I was looking more forward to as we'd have more of a tailwind.
One thing was becoming apparent whilst I was middle of the field on the long drags into the wind and nigh on off the back on the ascents, on the flats and slight descents I had power and was able to ride on the front most of the time.
I knew that there were two segments in the final 15km and thought with the chain gang effect I should beat my PBs, what actually happened was that I ended up pacing the group 90% of those 15km, a few did go to the front but they could not maintain the pace so back on the front I would go.
One Frenchie (15 or so years younger than me) who tore up the ascents leaving me way off the back and others interestingly could not go with my pace and would cling to my wheel.
When we arrived back in Tarifa we headed for the Cafe where I'd seen some of them the day previously and then the fun n'games started as everyone was on a bit of a high.
Post ride beers
Then the tapas came out
Along with more beers, poor old Frenchies did not quite know what hit them :lol:
Sunday put the 12m up just to see the wind ease so did some dry land self release practice, though still say that RRD V7 Global Bar does not flag the kite out enough?
Then yesterday bought some rope and set up a self launch / landing area away from where most launch and real close to one of our favourite beach bars, ironically called Demente.
Beauty is I can come back in land the kite and have a drinks break and chill before going back out. Trouble is in a couple of weeks or maybe even next week hordes arrive evidently, and there's various zoning of the beaches and I suspect I might not be able to use this spot?
It's a short walk from where we stay, so just grab the kite and board etc and mosey on down, though this only works when the wind is Poniente (blowing from the West).
Ironically weather has changed this morning, last couple of stays has been calm and overcast and then cleared and a 12m breeze kicks in, this morning already windy, and that will be becasue i'm cycling with some locals, hopefully back to 8m weather later then.
250m up the beach to the West there are loads of kites out of picture.
Sunday 12:15 The Spanish certainly like to make the most of their weekends and they flood out of the main cities and many head for this part of the coastline, so those lovely deserted coves and beach-bars midweek are mobbed at the weekend.
I've heard complaints of numpties on the water back in Worthing and Lancing and that's the case here if you kite near the school beaches, but as ever just hoof it upwind and get away from them all, but a few days ago wind was more onshore and were there problems or what as people did not realise what angle they should head off the beach on!
And like I've said, Tarifa claims to be the windsurfing Capital of Europe, and the image below is off the kite shops I walk past on the way to the supermarket, and those are just the new ones!
Whilst here was pretty calm, wind is meant to be Levante later, so was out with the road bike again.
What is quite staggering here is the number of kite schools and kite shops. The main drag just near us going out of Tarifa Town is like a Bond Street of kite shops and this is just a few of them!
As for the standard of kiting, have to say that what you see at Lancing and Goring etc is way above what you see here, though have some seem nifty strapless kiting and the shops are full of new style strapless boards.
Windsurfing is popular down at Valdevaqueros, and that's probably more to do with people renting gear down there. Many people fly into Malaga, and other airports and rent cars, or get the bus from Malaga to Tarifa.
Evidently, and we keep hearing this, it's just bonkers busy July to August. We leave here June 22nd I think and head back to the sanity of the French Mountains.
Friday 18:15 Some light rain overnight and very calm first thing, so out with the road bike again and another beasting.
Then long dog walk around the secluded coves & dunes at Punta Paloma.
I knew I should have called it a day but was tempted by a 12m kite session and that was not a good idea as the wind died.
Thursday 18:15 Today road bike ride over to the Roman City of Bolonia and the staggering dunes that are there.
Was 12m weather by the time I returned but I was well and truly shattered.
Good 8m session day before, Poniente (Starboard tack) and a constant wind, not at all gusty, just like Worthing in fact :)
Wednesday 11:10: Already enough for a session from the looks of things?
Here I'll do a 12m session in a couple of hours from the beach here in town as wind is now from the West and cleaner but not as strong.
Yesterday did a hard MTB ride along the coast and then inland to the highest point above Tarifa at 800m. Stunning views across the Straits to Africa.
Tuesday 09:15: Finally the Levante after blowing for six days has stopped and it was almost still overnight.
I'm out on a MTB exploring if my naviagtion all works the steepest summit (800m) above Tarifa and maybe by the time I get back down it will be 12m conditions.
Yesterday another good 8m session at Valdevaqueros.
Spotted this very old sign on what was once the outskirts of Tarifa
Monday 11:50 Who needs to be in Tarifa when the wind's have been as constant back home, should imagine that 25's will be on the cards for you this afternoon!
I'm going to take a look down at Valdevaqueros, seems windy here in Tarifa so hopefully 8m down there and not so manic winds.
Sunday 15:45 Just back from two crazy bonkers windy 6m sessions down at Valdevaqueros, where some of the gusts coming through were still huge, so you could say wind very up and down.
Windsurfers outnumbered the kites by around 5 to 1 wtith most sails around 3.4.
Many visiting kiters do not have small kites judging by the number standing around!
Wind for here is now forecast to ease completely, so planning on long MTB ride up into the mountains tomorrow.
Meanwhile this insane hangtime from last Thursday here is doing the rounds on Social Media check it out here.
And good to see you know what is happening from the looks of things and reading WhatsApp reports.
Saturday June 1st: Just maybe wind may have eased a little but still think maybe too much still. Speaking to people a couple of days of strong Levante can occur but five days is very rare. I've never known winds be so strong and last so long. You fear for tiles and things being ripped off roofs and where the wind eddies between buildings it comes at you and nearly takes you off your feet. We have to plan where we walk almost!
Yesterday we did indeed drive to Sotogrande and I had no idea that it was right next door to Valderrama.
The various roads barriers (no camper vans allowed) with security and gated houses and pristine grass and bushes gave way to a marina full of mega yachts.
There were a few kites out on the water and I had to go 12 and TwinTip as 8m and surfboard would not have been enough which was a real shame as there were some very nice waves and rolling swell.
Friday 31st May: Again crazy incessant wind here, was speaking to someone who said one or two days of this is normal, but not four or five in a row. The sea is a boiling cauldron out there.
This morning I'm heading North of Gibraltar to Soto Grande where hopefully I'll get a session.
And looks like the possibility of wind in Worthing again.
Meanwhile Team Fairies are scoring morning and afternoon 10m sessions in Dakhla.
Thursday 30th May 15:00
Still too strong a Levante here, yet wind in Worthing again.
So we've had to Google, when do inland wind turbines stop because it is too windy?
And the answer is around 55mph as that was the case when we drove to and from Los Caños de Meca today as like yesterday was just too windy here and I heard that it might be less windy there, and it was still bonkers windy, with only a handful of well experienced kiters out on 5m-6m's, and though I like my strong winds I've just not done enough kiting of late to chance going out in those conditions!
And unlike Nelson at Cape Trafalgar, just off Los Caños de Meca, I did not want today to be my last.
There were also the most windsurfers I've seen out in some great conditions, average sail size was around 3.2m
Tomorrow is meant to be more of the same, so think I'll be heading East towards Palmones as per Lewis's advice!
Wednesday 29th May
12:30 Levante really howling, could almost be too much, defo 6m weather I think, started blowing in the early hours with patio furniture skating around on the veranda. Will go down to the far end of the beach, Valdevaqueros in a hour or so.
Have signed up for the rescue service they operate here
And for the South Coast looks like wind is doing as per forecast and hopefully gusts in low to mid 20's for the afternoon.
Tuesday 28th May
Looks like a day off the water after a good Bank Holiday weekend helped by you know what! In fact a mate reported that Witterings yesterday (Monday) was very fickle down there.
Here in Tarifa it's another day off the water today and I've already been out on the road bike this morning.
Yesterday was a real beach day with people still on the beach at 20:30 as no wind, which was just as well as my daughters have been out and we did a Dune walk.
My 8m kite has been repaired just in time for hopefully the strong wind's that are forecast from tomorrow.
Levante was very offshore yesterday and caught a good few people out, but you have to question why people would go out in such conditions from the main beach in Town, it was the equivalent of going out in a gusty NE'Ly at Worthing.
Further down the coast the wind is cleaner but very light on the inside, and I was caught out on my 8 when the wind died but managd to get back in, also probably not helped by 12cms of stitching gone on one kite panel.
A mate of mine from La Grave managed to crack his rib after only 30secs on the water, luckily he's only here for four days
Already here in Tarifa the wind is blowing Levante again, and hopefully later will be abother 8m day, though being a weekend will be really busy so I'll probably kite at a beach where it's not as busy as wind is a tad light on the inside.
Team Fairies have decamped to Dakhla for the week and it's windy there too this morning.
In the pictures of the superstars above (the ones on left of picture), there were here for the Naish dealer conference, and one of the big things is the Wind Wing. Which does bring back some memories of the Wind Weapon we had at Sussex Windsurfing way back when none of us could get to grips with it.
This is really light and very easy to use (no harness required), and with the foil the board comes up really quick.
The video below was shot this week here in Tarifa at the conference.
I've managed to get out four times now on the 8 though maybe a ten would have been better but as I only have a 12 can't be bothered, though yesterday whilst I was on the 8 others were on 12's and 13's!
Kiting in the Levante (from the East) best to go down towards the Dunes at Valdevaqueros and it's crazily busy, so once launched I'll stonk up wind to get away from the hordes.
Earlier before I met Robbie I also bumped into the antithesis Robbie and Brian, South Coast local, young Tom Seager who has just signed to Naish and is starting out on his journey as a Pro.
Since then I've also met Sally and John from Shoreham, and an amusing conversation was had when I asked them where they're from in the UK and do they know of this site.
We're now on Tarifa time, getting back from the beach around 18:30 and not going out again untill 22:00 and then getting up a tad later than usual.
Today looks like wind is back to a Poniente(from the West) so might go out on the bike on a circuit I've done a couple of times and if I time it well I get a good tail wind back to Tarifa.
BEEN NIGH ON 25 YRS SINCE WE WERE LAST HERE IN TARIFA
We left Serre Chevalier Tuesday 14th May after one final ski tour the day before.
First leg of the road trip was two days in Leucate, though as ever wind did not show up.
Does ooze loads of potential though, however just about everywhere was closed as their season does not really start till the beginning of June and the French don't like to work too hard.
What was amazing were some of the windsurf shops, with many boards stacked up outside, really like the old days!
On the return leg if the road trip we'll stay there again as the kiting potential is massive, with a huge lagoon on one side and open sea on the other.
On the way down to Tarifa we stopped off in Valencia and Antequera.
Tarifa I'm glad to report has hardly changed, the nigh on 9km of coastline from the town to the Dunes is still pretty well the way it was the first time we stayed in the Huricane Hotel some 35 years ago.
The town itself has expanded a little but is still compact, there is now a very cool crowd, and not just all surf bums etc
There are so many shops, cafes and bars and it's obvious there are many non Spanish who have made it their home, in some ways quite similar to a ski station, though the difference being that they live here all year.
However the biggest change is.....
There's hardly any evidence of windsurfing!
When we were last here kiting did not exist and all the shops were windsurf orientated, I've hardly seen any shops with windsurf gear though sure they must exist.
I've been out on the water twice, and being a Sunday it was very busy with many Spanish having made the trip to Tarifa for the day, but I think I only saw one or two sails out on the water!
If you're a kiter and you've never been to Tarifa, it really is a "Must Do" as the bill boards say it is the KiteSurfing Mecca of Europe.
However be warned, July and August is crazily busy, and like I often say, dear old Costa Geriatrica (Worthing) is probably one of the best places to be in August!