Cycling can be an adventure. The next time you have a cycling itch you want to scratch, consider these 10 breathtaking bicycle routes.
It seems fitting that Europe would be the venue for one of the most extensive efforts to connect the whole continent through cycle routes.
The European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) is in the process of developing EuroVelo, or the European cycle network route, which hopes to literally go everywhere in the continent on two wheels by 2020.
One of these major routes is the EV1, the Atlantic Coast Route that stretches from Norway to Portugal. The part that takes you from Ilfracombe, England to Hendaye, France is a good place to start.
It is one of the most manageable sections and takes you through the gently rolling hills of Devon to the beaches of Britanny. The 1,000-mile journey can take up to three weeks, but you can always stop anywhere you want.
Longest off-road trail
In contrast to the paved journey of the EuroVelo, the Munda Biddi Trail in Australia boasts the longest off-road experience for any cycling enthusiast.
It is 600 miles of undeveloped trail, quite a feat considering how difficult it is to find any part of the world that has that long a stretch of unspoiled nature. The trail runs from Mundaring to Albany in yearlong cycling weather.
Any history buff would know about the Wars of the Roses, where there was a battle royal for, well, rights to royal succession between the Houses of York and Lancaster. The heraldic badge of the Yorks was a white rose, while the Lancasters sported a red one, hence the name.
The Way of the Roses route mapped out by the National Cycle Network (Route 69) will take you 170 miles from Morecambe to Bridlington, passing the counties of Lancashire and Yorkshire along the way.
It is a special route to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the National Cycle Network. While it is not really a war for control over the country, the ride is not a bed of roses, either. It is a challenging three-day ride over various terrains for the reasonably fit, so be ready for it.
Beware of pets
The 100-mile Otago Trail in New Zealand is interesting in itself because it follows the disused Otago Central Railway, particularly the track from Clyde to Middlemarch.
It runs through gold mining towns, gorges, and mountains. What makes it a little bit more interesting is the prospect of seeing the “Taieri Pet.” No, this is not some sort of animal run amuck, but a meteorological phenomenon known as a “lenticular billow cloud.”
This rare cloud formation forms over the Strath Taieri valley in the Rock and Pillars mountain range. A combination of forces can lead to the development of this cloud, and it is accompanied by powerful updrafts that can lift cyclists within range to somewhere not on the ground.
When you see one, get off your bike and the trail, and seek shelter where you can watch from a safe distance.
Avenue Verte is a joint effort between the UK and France to develop a safe cycling route between London and Paris via the Newhaven-Dieppe ferry.
It spans 250 miles of mostly developed paths and was formally launched at the 2012 London Olympic Games. However, it is still under development, and some areas on the English side are so bad an Olympic athlete would have a hard time getting through them with road bikes.
If you want to negotiate comfortably, a mountain bike would be the ticket.
The Pacific Coast Route is 1,854 miles of scenic cycling stretching from Vancouver in British Columbia to Imperial Beach in California.
This is the perfect opportunity to see the beautiful scenery of cliffs, forests, beaches, and lighthouses if you go through the whole thing, which you probably will not. However, an interesting part of this route is when it follows the Historic 101 in San Diego. Where the Historic 101 is now was the path followed by Juan Gaspar de Portola as he explored California in 1769.
It led to what used to be the El Camino Real or the King’s Highway that connected 21 missions in California. You might also want to gawk as you tool along the “Redwood Highway” and see Avenue of the Giants, a collection of the tallest trees in the world.
This the perfect opportunity to get those creative juices flowing and be inspired by nature.
Cycling is generally a safe undertaking, but not if you are on El Camino de la Muerte.
Built by Paraguayan prisoners in the 1930s during the Chaco War and dubbed “Death Road,” it is the 40-mile downhill ride from La Cumbre at about 15,000 feet high to Yolosa, which is at 3,600 feet.
No sweat if you are on a regular road. However, the one-lane road has no guardrails to keep you from plunging down at speed down a 2,000 -foot cliff, rain makes it slippery, and fog keeps you from seeing ahead any safe distance.
If you meet a vehicle coming up, you have to stop and hope you can both fit. Bolivian drivers normally drive on the right side of the road, but for the Death Road, drivers have to drive on the left so they can see just how close they are from dropping.
Exhilarating? Oh, yeah! Not for the faint-hearted, obviously.
The ride takes about 5 hours. That is if you make it down.
Largest war memorial
Australia is always an interesting place with its wildly swinging climates and weird animals, but just cycling along the Great Ocean Road is mile upon mile of history.
Stretching 160 miles from Torquay to Allansford, it is the world’s largest memorial to the World War I soldiers that built it to connect isolated coastal settlements. They started in 1919 and finished it in 1932.
Just getting to Easter Island, the most remote inhabited island in the world is an adventure in itself.
However, touring the cycling trails will give you a better experience of the ancient awesomeness of the Rapa Nui people that built the 887 giant stone monuments called “moai,” back when cranes were just birds.
Be sure to wait around for the sunset over Ahu Tahai, it is quite spectacular.
For a truly unique and literally breathtaking experience, head on over to Kashgar Highway in China to ride The Karakoram Highway cycle route.
It goes all the way to Pakistan via the Khunjerab Pass, at 4,693 meters elevation the highest paved border crossing in the world. You get a true bird’s eye view of the surrounding area and a glimpse of the 37-mile long Batura Glacier.
You wanted nature, you’ve got it!
The world is full of interesting and awesome experiences that most people miss. When you are riding a bicycle, you can’t help but slow down. Your life will be so much richer if you can see it from that perspective.