Top 10 places to cycle around the world
Thursday 22, July 2010
From hip, bike-friendly cities to the unspoiled countryside, destinations all over the world make enchanting routes for you and your two-wheeled companion. If the Tour de France has you itching to pedal, check out our picks for fascinating places to bike all over the world.
Amsterdam, the Netherlands
In most of the Netherlands, but in Amsterdam specifically, bike is king. Road rules revolve not around pedestrians or cars, but the two-wheeled superiors who rock their own lanes, lights and laws. Get caught without a bell or a light, and you’ll be fined, but helmets are optional. Seeing the city on bike also allows you to soar through neighbourhoods, stop at museums, tulip-gaze and even take off for the Dutch countryside all in the span of an afternoon. Bonus: it’s totally flat.
Boulder, Colorado USA
If Colorado is the place for outdoor recreation, then Boulder is its mecca. Just 35 miles north-west of Denver, Boulder is home to Estes Park, the eastern gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, where altitude, natural geography and peaceful views top the reasons to hop on your bike and check it out. Another gem, Chautauqua Park overlooks Boulder and makes for the perfect route to the Flatirons. Its well-marked trails are not only clear and exciting, but home to many cultural events during the summer.
One of the most visually striking regions in the entire country, Cappadocia is known especially for its 'moonscapes', which have evolved through erosion. The natural process has left caves, hills and folds in its scenic volcanic rock that beckon aesthetic cyclists from all over the world. Ride through Sognali, one of the earliest settlements, or come during the International Cappadocia Bicycle Festival.
The French Alps
Advanced bikers enjoy the French Alps for its challenging climbs rather than its peaks. The diverse alpine background of Grenoble offers stunning views of snow-capped peaks, glaciers, green fields and lakes, while mountain passes like Alp-d’Huez, Col du Galibier and Col de l’Izoard give way to Nice and the Riviera – the perfect way to end your tour.
Just north of Barcelona, Girona attracts cyclists for its challenging training terrain right outside the city. Lance Armstrong calls it home while he trains in the winter, and with the Pyrenees Mountains and cobalt blue waters of the Mediterranean all within a quick ride, who can blame him? Costa Brava offers steep cliffs and coves that provide beautiful seaside views for a cyclist’s paradise.
New England, USA
New England’s rich natural areas make for quaint and deep voyages. In the Berkshires, cyclists find smooth cycling roads, historical museums, valleys and mountains that offer unique challenges. Riding up Lenox Mountain gives panoramic views of Stockbridge Bowl and Monument Mountain. For a shorter course, try the ten-mile ride up Mount Greylock or the Ashuwilticock Rail Trail.
Both tourists and veterans adore Piedmont. This Italian gem boasts valleys and hillsides as well as vineyards like Barolo, Barbaresco and Barbera. Ride by ancient villages and castles and be stunned by the unique location between the Alps and the Italian Riviera. If cuisine and cycling could go hand-in-hand, it would happen right here.
Wellington, New Zealand
New Zealand unsurprisingly makes the list for adventurous cyclist. Its unbeatable scenery, welcoming energy and wide variety of terrain make for ideal backdrops and exciting rides. In Wellington, ride up to the Makara Peak, which is the most popular mountain bike track in the country, thanks to local track-building efforts. An average of 100,000 bikers a year flock to the top for breath-taking views of the South Island - not to mention the gratifying ride through both forestry and coastline.
A biker's haven by nature, Portland welcomes two-wheeled enthusiasts of all levels. Bike lanes and boulevards are set up specifically for these eco-friendly folks - and riding here will lend you a mix of quirky urban character and deep green landscape. Ride through the city for a glimpse of authentic Pacific Northwest culture, or head outside and bike the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge to the Carson Hot Springs.
Stylish and environmentally minded all at once, Denmark's capital loves its dedicated bike lanes and free rentals, and more than a third of its lucky locals - who don't mind cycling in suits or even heels - use bikes as their primary mode of transportation. For a little piece of biking history, be sure to check out the city's first car-free zone (and cyclist paradise), Strøget, which was established in 1962.
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