If you love cycling, then you might want to go on holiday and try out some of the best cycling routes in the world. These routes are known for the challenges that they offer, as well as the pleasure that can be garnered from riding them. These routes are also becoming more accessible to riders, thanks to the recent boom in global cycle tourism. Why not use up your Annual Leave trying to take on one of these feats of cycling?
Land’s End to John O’Groats (LEJOG)
LEJOG is the biggest cycle challenge in the United Kingdom and is often performed as a ride to raise money for charity.
Land’s End is the South Westerly tip of England, whereas John O’Groats is the most Northerly tip of mainland Scotland. Riders must cover nearly 900 miles over the course of their trip. Most amateur riders should be able to do the route in 10 – 14 days; however the official record time for the trip is only 44 hours, 4 minutes and 20 seconds on a conventional bicycle. Although riders can do the route independently, many cycling tour providers will pre-book accommodation and offer full technical support for riders. There are also several annual mass participation events which cover the route.
Route des Grandes Alpes
The Route des Grandes Alpes is a tough but rewarding ride through secluded Alpine valleys and over tough mountain passes. Parts of the route are regularly used in competitive cycle races such as the Tour de France. In total, the Route des Grandes Alpes covers 425 miles and spans from Thonon-les-Bains in eastern France to Menton on the French Riviera.
Six Alpine passes over 2000m need to be navigated, so this is not a ride for those with low fitness levels. One of the toughest sections includes almost 30 miles of continuous uphill riding. On the other hand, the scenery on this route is very rewarding. Because it spans from the mountains to the French coastline, the route is able to offer a microcosm of life in France.
The Death Road, Bolivia
The Death Road frequently tops lists of the most dangerous roads in the world. The road itself is barely wide enough for a single vehicle and there are very few guard rails on the sides. The road winds down the sides of the mountains with hundreds of hairpin bends and drops of up to 600m on some stretches. It has become popular with downhill bikers, because riders are able to cover almost 40 miles of downhill riding with very few uphill sections.
Riders who are able to brave the Death Road are rewarded with fantastic sweeping views out across the Bolivian Amazon Rainforest.
The Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road is one of Australia’s most iconic journeys. It is a popular route for backpackers to take in their campervans, but if you prefer to feel the wind on your face as you travel then it can be enjoyed just as much on a bike. Stretching for 150 miles along the south-eastern coast of Australia, the route can easily be completed within a weekend. Those who wish to extend their cycling trip will also find a lot of off-road opportunities in the surrounding forests and coastline. Highlights of the ride include passing the famous Twelve Apostles rock stack formations.
The Pamir Highway, Tajikistan
This cycle route in Tajikistan is the definition of “off the beaten track”. There are very few fixed towns and shops along the route, so cyclists are forced to carry all of their supplies with them, including a tent and sleeping bag. On the rare occasions that riders do come into contact with other people, they will invariably be enthusiastic locals who are selling home-brewed teas and local delicacies. The highway itself reaches heights of up to 4500 metres, so cyclists must be prepared to deal with the effects of altitude.
The Great Divide Mountain Route
This route is one of the longest off-road rides in the world. It skirts along the border between Canada and the USA, crossing the border several times along the way. In addition to the spectacular scenery, there is also an eerie type of charm to the route. Much of the area was settled in during the gold rush and has now been completely deserted. Riders must pass through empty ghost towns, along disused railway tracks and past deserted mine entrances. It is easy to feel as though you are the only person on Earth whilst you are out riding the trail.
The Tulip Fields
For those who are looking for a ride which is less demanding but no less spectacular, the Tulip Fields of Holland are an excellent choice. The country is famous for its extensive flower fields, and this route will allow you to see exactly what is on offer. Starting in Leiden and following the Bloembollenroute will take riders on nearly 40 miles of pleasant roads through stunning flower fields.
The best time to do the route is late March to mid –May, when the tulips, crocuses, daffodils and hyacinths are all in bloom. There are plenty of bike rental companies in the area who are able to rent bikes for the day. Alternatively, great ferry and train connections to Holland from the United Kingdom make it really easy for people to travel to the area with their own bikes.