Best Places to Experience by Bicycle
By: Mike Jerrard
Nothing allows a traveler more freedom than a bicycle. Renting a car involves a lot of stress which can include cost, insurance issues, driving on the opposite side of the road, etc. Walking is nice but severely limits how far and how much you can take in. Tours can be nice but many times do not offer the flexibility to stop at places tailored to your individual tastes but rather to a preset itinerary where you are also locked into a time frame.
Bicycles are a perfect way to see a destination when we travel as we can take things at our own pace while opening up many more opportunities to see life beyond the main city centers and its sights. The travel industry has begun to take notice and now companies are creating biking holidays as well as making it easier for those wishing to see the world via two wheels. Car rental companies have begun fitting portions of their fleet with bike rack, cruises especially throughout Europe offer bicycles at ports of call, and of course many times you can catch a bus out to further reaches where you can carry along your bike as well for when you arrive at your destination.
Cities worldwide are beginning to install incredible biking infrastructure making biking the world much more safe and enjoyable. Outside of the cities lie majestic landscapes rewarding heartier bikers with unforgettable experiences. Here are some incredible locations that die hard bikers will want to add to their bucket list or tempt the beginning biker to want to see the world in a new way.
Friendship Highway- Through Tibet & Nepal
With monasteries, yaks, and breathtaking scenery including Yamdrok Tso Lake and the mighty Everest, the Friendship Highway is for the serious biker. With hills that will leave you as breathless as the scenery, there is also truck traffic to contend with. The trip in full can span several weeks and one can split overnights via hotels and camping. An incredible experience that takes careful planning, fitness, and skill.
North Sea Cycle Route- Spanning 8 Northern European Countries
It is the longest signed intentional bike route spanning nearly 3,700 miles. Winding its way through 8 countries including England, Scotland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, and The Netherlands, it is definitely not a trip you can complete in a single journey. The best way to experience the route is taking it in sections, those that cater to the experiences you favor most. Expect difficult weather at times including a lot of wind. Accommodation can be sparse so planning is essential and although well signposted in many areas, it is best to always carry a map should you get off track. With changing landscapes and cultures it offers an incredible route to take a bite out of.
Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail or American River Trail – California
The JS Memorial Trail was literally made for biking. It offers 32 miles of vehicle free bike travel allowing for a safe and enjoyable ride just outside of Sacramento. Used by millions of people annually the well paved path takes in the beautiful wildlife rich scenery along the American River and includes bridges such as the Guy West Bridge which looks a mini Golden Gate Bridge. So escape the congested traffic of Los Angeles roads and see Sacramento by way of pedal power.
Otago Central Rail Trail- New Zealand
In the postcard landscape of New Zealand’s South Island you’ll find a 150km bike path you will share with walkers and horses. With little to no facilities between town stops, you need to be prepared with emergency supplies and food. A popular tourist ride however, the towns are set up nicely to accommodate bike travelers with mountain bikes available and travel luggage transportation services. You’ll be greeted by many pubs along the route offering a nice end to a day’s ride giving rise to the trail’s new nickname of the Otago Ale Trail. Fitness is highly recommended as fierce winds can have your legs burning after a long day.
Cape York Peninsula- Queensland Australia
Unspoiled wilderness at its best, biking Cape York offers adventure and beauty on a whole new level. Many use Cairns as a base for the Great Barrier Reef, but heading north to Australia’s northern tip offers pristine coastlines, ancient rainforests, mountains, savannas, and croc infested waters. It would take a truly adventurous biker to go from Cairns to the northern tip at 1600km but a beginner can can get a good taste by going Cairns to Port Douglas which is only 65km in length. One can also cut westward across the peninsula towards Karumba which bike tour companies offer and take around 2 weeks. This area offers one to literally see into the past via a 135 million year old rainforest, the oldest in the world. The biodiversity offered here is like no other. If you weren’t a lover of nature before, you will be after a visit to far north Queensland.
This is just a mere fraction of what the world offers in the way of incredible biking destinations but will hopefully encourage you to get out and see destinations in a new light. From pure adventure to relaxing cities strolls, biking can suit any traveler’s needs and abilities.