The Best Cycling Routes Around The World - National Bike Week
It's National Bike Week (6th - 14th June 2020). Loving all things positive, as a result of Covid-19 cycling has become more and more popular! Cycling around your home towns and cities is a great way to explore, help reduce carbon emissions and great for the environment. Did you know that many cities now have rental bikes dotted about and available to rent? You might also like to find out more about your area's cycle to work scheme and initiatives. Here are the best cycling routes around the world, from a relaxing cycle while exploring the Tahitian Island - Moorea to some more serious cycling around South Lake Tahoe in California and more.
An Atmospheric Day Cycling In Killarney National Park, Ireland ©MDHarding
The Best Cycling Routes Around The World
There are some beautiful places to enjoy and explore around the world. Have you ever thought about cycling them?
Some of my favourites include laid back Keywest, Florida and rugged Alaska. The scenery and what you experience is totally different!
Let's join Cycling UK
Join in the fun this week with Cycling UK on the 7-day bike challenge, virtual events and prizes for the best photos. Get on your bike!
Cycling The Klondyke, Skagway, Alaska ©MDHarding
Les Gets opens its bike park following new Covid-19 guidelines
The mountain resort of Les Gets is located 1 hours’ drive from Geneva Airport in the northern French Alps. It’s linked with 12 other resorts in the Portes Du Soleil region, well known for its extensive bike park and hosting of regular World Cup mountain bike events, has opened. The open lift-serviced riding is available during the weekends only, until June 20, when it opens up full-time until September.
Many of the trails have been updated for this summer season and a brand new bike park has been built. Riders can travel in two’s on the chairlifts with two bikes attached – normal regulations. Social distancing measures are in place for all lift queues, with regular disinfection of lifts and communal areas.
Hydroalcoholic gels are available for customers to use and the most challenging trails are closed off, to help prevent possible accidents. There should be a ten-metre gap between mountain bikers on the trails and no sharing of individual equipment such as gloves, helmet or bicycles.
As well as a huge network of lift-serviced mountain bike trails that are renowned as world-class, the area is also a mecca for road cyclists with several mountain passes (cols) that are regularly included in The Tour de France itinerary.
Les Gets regularly hosts events on the UCI Mountain Biking World Cup tour, including round 3 during September 2020. In town, there’s a number of hotels ranging from 4* to 2* as well as numerous chalets and apartments. There’s a total of 40 restaurants, on and off the mountain. Operating lifts include: Chavannes Express chairlift (09h00-17h30) and Nauchets Express chairlift (09h00-17h30). There’s a total of 12 open trails available. The Mont-Chery Gondola and area will open during the main summer season. Lift passes are available here. Read more about cycling in Les Gets here.
Keywest, Florida, USA
Planning a trip to Key West, Florida? Join Lloyd's Tropical Bike Tour around the charming treelined residential areas, drink from a coconut and maybe eat a fresh mango. This bike tour is so much fun! It is one of my most memorable experiences from when I worked on board cruise ships and visited Keywest every other week.
Colorado’s best places to ride a bike
Cyclists across the globe widely recognise Colorado as a premier cycling destination, due to its alpine views, variety of terrain, soaring elevation and challenging altitude. High-Desert Biking in Eagle is situated less than an hour from Aspen, Eagle is a high-desert town, which means extended biking season and trails that are open until mid-December. Over 100 miles of single-track mountain biking trails and paved recreational trails are accessible. Riders can start on beginner trails like the Haymaker and then advance to the technical Mike’s Night Out and Pool Ice Rink Descent, which offers views to Red Canyon and New York Mountain.
© Black Diamond
Maroon Creek Road in Aspen
Few bike rides in the world can match the drama of Maroon Creek Road in Aspen consisting of an eight-mile road ride that offers cyclists views of the iconic Maroon Bells, two 14,000-foot peaks striped with snow year-round. The trek takes cyclists on a 22-mile round-trip through a moderately difficult ride with views. From September, the Aspen leaves dotted across the landscape turn a fiery gold as fall takes hold, enhancing the colourful views further.
Thanks to the diverse ecosystem in Salida, cyclists can ride the singletrack of the Monarch Crest Trail in Salida in the middle of winter or during the heat of summer. From the Monarch Crest trailhead at Monarch Pass, riders will encounter singletrack, doubletrack, fire road, smooth and packed trails, rocky and loose trails and great views of nature and wildlife at lofty altitudes. The 14-mile Monarch Crest Trail can be combined with a portion of the Continental Divide Trail, which then transitions into the Silver Creek Trail and Rainbow Trail, totalling over 30 miles.
© Mountain Bike Bill
Sea views At Huntington Beach, California
If you’re looking for a laidback ride, one of the best ways to experience Huntington Beach is by cruising the 10-mile paved beach path. Cyclists can enjoy stunning ocean views to the west and sights of the famous Pacific Coast Highway to the east. Beach concessionaires renting and selling traditional, tandem and electric bicycles line the route, which also offers plenty of places to stop for a bite to eat and for picture-perfect photo opportunities.
© Black Diamond
Cycle Seattle: Gas Works Park, Discovery Park, Ballard Locks, and Golden Gardens, Washington
Enjoy one of Seattle’s most scenic rides which takes you through three beautiful parks and across the Ballard Locks that control the entrance to Lake Washington from Puget Sound. Start on the Northside of Lake Washington at Gas Works Park, a city park built around the remains of an old gasification plant offering incredible views of the Space Needle. From here cycle across the Fremont Bridge and ride to Discovery Park to visit the Lighthouse. Continue taking a relaxing ride to the Ballard Locks where you will have to dismount and walk across. Finally, hop on the Burke-Gilman and ride North to Golden Gardens and take in sandy beaches and a beautiful view of the Sound and the Olympic Mountains.
© Black Diamond
The Back Bay Loop Trail, Newport Beach, California
The 10.5 mile Back Bay Loop Trail provides an exciting opportunity for outdoor enthusiasts to discover a magnificent regional trail experience at the Bay. The route is well-signed with scenic stops at places like Upper Castaways Park, the Big Canyon, Back Bay View Park and more. The Back Bay Loop Trail also links with the 22-mile Mountains to Sea trail which is a National Recreational Trail that runs from Upper Newport Bay through Irvine past Peters Canyon Reservoir and into the rugged mountains of Weir Canyon north of Irvine Regional Park. The Back Bay Loop Trail has multiple entry points, with opportunities for scenic stops and visits to local nature and educational facilities.
The Bump and Grind Trail - Greater Palm Springs, California
Found in Palm Desert, one of Greater Palm Springs nine cities, the Bump and Grind Trail covers four miles of mountainous terrain and ideal for those wanting a moderate cycle, with some steep inclines, that turn into a long double track climb to the top of the mountain. Once at the highest vantage point of the trail, riders can relax and take in the scenic views of the Coachella Valley which span as far as the eye can see.
Golden Triangle - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh is a cyclists paradise, with adventurous trails that spread for 335 miles across two states straight down to Washington, DC. The Great Allegheny Passage stretches for 150 miles into Pittsburgh, making use of old rail lines to create a trail for the true adventurers is 309 miles along the Great Allegheny Passage located on abandoned railroad beds and then joins the Canal Towpath in the heart of the C&O Canal National Park. It’s actually a combination of two scenic trails. The tour has been taking place for 11 years and aids visitors to explore Pittsburgh and the Great Allegheny Passage by bike.
Florida’s Paradise Coast, Florida
With flat pathways and miles of beachfront trails, exploring Florida’s Paradise Coast by bike is a relaxing and enjoyable experience. Bike through the stylish Naples and stop for a coffee in one of the many boutique cafes and continue into the Everglades for a glimpse back into the historic fishing community. An ideal place to stop after a day exploring on two wheels is Naples Pier to watch the sunset. For avid cyclists who want to explore a little further, the Paradise Coast Trail connects Naples, Ave Maria and Immokalee passing through Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Picayune Strand Forest and Collier Seminole State Park.
© Black Diamond
Cycle the California High Sierra with these three hotspots:
South Lake Tahoe - California / Nevada borders
Tahoe South’s legendary trails draw these daredevils from far and wide. From the heart-pounding downhill track of the Saxon Creek Trail (nickname: Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride) to the gorgeous Flume Trail there are rides for every technical level. For the truly ambitious, you can link trails and ride seven summits in one day.
The Flume Trail is a 22 mile Tahoe classic with breathtaking views over Lake Tahoe’s Eastern Shore. Named for the wooden flume which transported water and logs to Virginia City, Nevada during the Comstock silver mining boom of the mid-1800s, the Flume Trail has been labelled one of Western America’s Top 10 routes. The trail begins at Spooner Lake, ascends five miles to Marlette Lake, where the actual Flume Trail begins. A 4 1/2 mile long narrow single-track departs from the west end of the lake, following the ridge to the north nearly 2,000 feet above Lake Tahoe.
Tahoe South has been designated as a Bike Friendly Community, so bike paths for a social spin are plentiful and so are local bike shops staffed by experts that rent and sell quality bikes. The famed loop around Lake Tahoe is 72 miles of scenery: deep blue water, Douglas Fir groves, and breathtaking views of Emerald Bay. The road also passes quaint waterfront lodging and plenty of eateries to fuel the journey.
The best part about biking in South Lake Tahoe? Plunging your sweaty self into the lake after your ride. Easy beach access means you can go straight from the trails to the water. Trust us, you’ll need a rinse.
© Black Diamond
Mammoth Lakes, California
Your choice of terrain, sensational Sierra scenery and that famous California summer sunshine make an irresistible combination for mountain or road biking in Mammoth Lakes and Yosemite National Park. Test your suspension on the Inyo National Forest's vast network of trails and unpaved roads. There are so many different conditions and views to discover; in fact, you may even cross a couple of microclimates - we think that’s pretty cool! Road bikers have plenty of asphalt routes to choose from, whether pedalling around town, gearing down to puff up Minaret Road to the Mammoth Mountain Main Lodge and beyond to the breathtaking Minaret Vista or cruising the scenic stretches of US 395. Mammoth Lakes also has terrific bike events and rides for the single athlete or for the entire family.
Check out these incredible 360° videos of biking in Mammoth Lakes to get your adrenaline pumping!
© Black Diamond
Yosemite Mariposa, California
You’ll find great mountain biking trails in the foothills and National Forest lands surrounding Yosemite. It’s a great way to see more, get some fresh air and enjoy a fun activity outdoors. For example, check out Exchequer Mountain Bike Park for bike-only trails built and maintained especially for mountain bikers and overlooking the fresh clear waters of Lake McClure. Or take a ride through bike-friendly Stockton Creek Preserve just behind the town of Mariposa. In Yosemite Valley, bike rentals are available during the warmer months of the year. There are small bikes and trailers for children and tandem and hand crank bikes for the visually or physically impaired. With more than 12 miles of paved, mostly flat trails, riding a bicycle is a fun, easy way to see Yosemite Valley. The 12-mile loop usually takes an average of 2 hours to complete.
Cycle for views of San Francisco...or beer - Tri-Valley, California
The Mount Diablo Summit ride is one of the toughest cycling routes in the Tri-Valley. Cyclists from around the world come to climb this popular tourist destination. This 25-mile ride climbs over 3,500 ft. to the mountain’s summit, where you'll be greeted with panoramic views of the entire Bay Area. On clear days, you might even be able to spot Lassen Peak and Half Dome from hundreds of miles away. Or if a 'ride and reward' cycle is more your vibe, check out Tri-Valley's ice-cream or beer trails. Sample the local brews, grab your ‘passport’ and explore the Tri-Valley Beer Trail. Like a pub crawl through the region, collect stamps in each of the four cities to win a souvenir to take home. Start at Pleasanton, a city that became famous for its hops in the 1800s and home to the region’s oldest brewery, Main Street Brewery. Easily make your way through the region using ride-sharing apps, or the Blue Brew Bus, which offers guided tours throughout the Tri-Valley.
© Black Diamond
Explore California’s state capital - Sacramento
One of the best ways to see the beauty of the Sacramento region is by bike. More than 32 miles of paved bike trail along the scenic American River Parkway in Sacramento highlight the city's cycling amenities. Hop on the trail at many different points and ride along the American River, or rent a bike in Old Sacramento and take it for an urban spin - Sacramento has added multiple bike lanes in the past few years, including green-painted bicycling zones on Capitol Mall.
For those interested in a longer ride with some Gold Rush history, check out the American River Bike Trail (a.k.a. the Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail) which hugs the banks of the American River as it flows through riparian habitat preserved by the American River Parkway. The trail runs for 32 miles between Discovery Park in Old Sacramento and Folsom Lake's southwestern banks at Beal's Point. There are also plenty of places to stop to eat, rest or enjoy the scenery. Most of the trail is shaded and level, although the route does traverse some rolling terrain. Along the way, you'll pass through several parks and swimming areas, as well as through the suburban enclaves of Sacramento. Two beautiful, not-to-miss pedestrian bridges that cross the river along the route are the Guy West Bridge, a suspension bridge which links the trail to the California State University campus, and the Fair Oaks Bridge, a truss bridge built in the early 1900s.
© Black Diamond
Cycling the Shimanami kaido across the Seto Inland Sea
The Shimanami Kaido is a 60 km long toll road that connects Japan's main island of Honshu to the island of Shikoku, passing over six small islands in the Seto Inland Sea. The journey can be done in either direction, but we recommend starting in Onomichi, Hiroshima, on the main island of Honshu, with a night in Japan’s cycling hotel, Hotel Cycle, with bicycle racks in each room, tools and equipment on-site, they will even send and receive bikes posted to them for guests from all around the world. The journey from one side to the other can be done in one day, but for a true Japanese experience stop off at one or more of the islands along the way for a relaxing night in a traditional Japanese inn, or ‘ryokan’. A stay in a Ryokan is a cultural experience in themselves, with tatami mat floors, paper ‘shoji’ partitions and traditional, local produce used to cook dinner and breakfast.
© Black Diamond
Cycle the Olympic course
Only 90 minutes from Tokyo, Jogasaki Coast is a stunning stretch of coast on the eastern side of Japan’s Izu peninsula and is famous for its beautiful cliffs and views. Shizuoka will host the road cycling for Tokyo Olympic & Paralympic Games so visitors can team their work out with a slice of culture and experience part of the route with a backdrop of Mt. Fuji. Cycle around the region for spectacular views of Mt. Fuji. Endure the steep coastal roads of Izu Peninsula or take it easy riding through green tea plantations, plains, farms and rice fields.
© Black Diamond
Cycling the Tanesashi Coastline
For those looking to get out into the Great Outdoors, cycling the Tanesashi Coastline is a great way to experience northern Japan. Passing along coastal roads, through pine forests and little fishing villages, you will have the opportunity to stop off at secluded beauty spots along the way. Call into a local fish restaurant to refuel or enjoy one of the many shrines and temples as you make your way down the coastline of Hachinohe Prefecture. Bikes are available to rent from town for around £10 per day, making it an affordable option.
© Black Diamond
Exploring Moorea Island
Moorea island comes complete with a ring road around the exterior which makes for a perfect cycling route, winding passed pineapple plantations and overwater bungalows. Hidden beaches and hole-in-the-wall cafes make for a perfect excuse to stop and admire the scenery before continuing on your journey. Those looking to explore further can take to the inside island tracks which tackle steep inclines and dirt tracks for a more challenging ride. Head towards any of the numerous peaks and the views from the top will be well worth it as you gaze across the lagoon. Read more about the islands of Tahiti here.
© Black Diamond
A few years ago I got to experience a bike ride around the beautiful Killarney National Park filled with ancient woodland, waterfalls, views over the lakes and the medieval Muckross Abbey. We took a tour but you can also hire a bike and explore at your own pace. Such good fun!
Read more here about what not to miss when visiting Killarney.
Bikes getting adjusted before cycling Killarney National Park ©MDHarding
Did you know Scotland is a mecca for cycling? Can you believe I didn't, until a few years ago? There is something for all ages from cycling along the beautiful canals to competing in events such as Etape Royale. Discover more in For The Cycling Enthusiast.
Cycling Adventure Books
Not up for cycling yourself but love to read and enjoy a good adventure? Have you heard about the remarkable women Jennifer Tough & Dervla Murphy?
These two captivating souls and remarkable women are flying the flag high for women, solo adventurous travel and more, on their brave never been done before adventures around the world cycling, walking and running! This event at the Edinburgh International Book Festival was one of the best I have yet to encounter. The stories of near-death experiences, guns, and bears are enough to put some of us off from going beyond the norm of travel, but they put it down to almost like a walk in the park. It was extraordinary to hear of the feats that both of these charismatic women have gone through and that they are ready for the next challenging adventure. As both women said, there is no rhyme or substantial reason why they both do what they do, they just have an inbuilt innate drive.
Discover more about Jennifer’s challenging adventure as she circumnavigates the Baltic Sea in her first book – Keep The Sea to the Right and the past 40 years of adventures of Dervla Murphy, such as in her acclaimed book – Full Tilt: Ireland to India With a Bicycle.
Have you got a cycling adventure planned or have you already fulfilled that bucket list dream of cycling in a beautiful part of the world? I would love to hear about it. Get in touch with your photos and stories via email to - enquiries@MDHardingTravelPhotography.com
I hope you have enjoyed reading and inspired to get on yer bike.
Until next time, stay safe, well & happy.