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  • Writer's pictureKrista Tovell

10 of the best worldwide destinations for cycling

Whether it's a cycling holiday or a day spent cycling through a new country or region, traveling on two wheels provides an opportunity to travel off the beaten path and explore not only landscapes but monuments and historical sites. Below, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite cycling options locally, nationally, and internationally.

1) The options are endless in France

Home of the famed Tour de France, cycling in France is challenging, yet exhilarating. The Tour de France is a significant cultural event and goes back long before bicycles were invented and initially had nothing to do with bicycles. In fact, young artisans would travel around France to work with skilled masters in their fields to learn their craft. This process was known as the Tour de France.

Today, the tour is the world's biggest annual event and takes place over 23 days, its route changing every year. For the less competitive cyclist who is interested in a more leisurely pace, the climb through the Alps, through Provence, and the beaches of Normandy which are steeped in history are a great route to take to enjoy the country.

2) Morocco’s Draa Valley

Morocco's Draa Valley is home to Moroccos longest river, at 1000km, It was formed by the confluence of the Dades River and the Imini River. The Draa Valley is a long limestone desert that is full of fertile ground and grows some of the best fruits and dates in the world.

Cycling through Morocco’s Draa Valley on roads winding through palm groves, passing mud-brick villages and kasbahs, and friendly locals who may just offer up a date from one of the palm trees makes for a pleasant break from car travel en route to the Sahara Desert is a unique way to see the country.

3) Ontario’s Guelph to Goderich Rail Trail

Following the historical rail line, today the 127-kilometer route connects lakeside Goderich with urban Guelph, a rail line that ceased operation in the 1990s. From the rolling agricultural fields of Huron County to the Kissing Bridge trail near Kitchener, including the covered bridge in West Montrose, the trail is flat and perfect on two wheels or on foot. On route, we recommend sampling local food and wine including the Mennonite cuisine at Anna Mae’s in Millbank. Or time your visit to coincide with a day at the St. Jacob’s Farmers’ Market, a family favourite full of tasty treats and fine antique treasures.

4) Great Ocean Road, Australia

Cycling the Great Ocean Road of Australia is a great way to explore the Australian coastline. The route is 250 kilometers, endlessly beautiful, and filled with great eats along the way. Depending on your cycling and comfort level, you can take in the entire route over 10 days, or enjoy a smaller section broken up into a longer period of time.

Following the coastal Great Ocean Road from Torquay to Lorne is a fairly easy 2.5 hour (or 45km) ride where you enjoy a sweeping view of the beautiful coastline. Continuing on to Apollo Bay, which is another 48km, there are some great opportunities to venture off into some national parks and more rugged paths to enjoy the Australian wilderness and wildlife. On the remainder of the cycling journey, the way to Warrnambool allows you get to take in some amazing panoramic viewpoints along the rugged coastline including London Bridge, the Arch, the Grotto, the beautiful Bay of Islands, and the 12 Apostles peering out of the ocean.

5) Cycle through Turkey’s Cappadocia region

The Cappadocia region of Turkey is an interior region famous for its unique fairy chimneys and underground cities used to house populations during times of attack. The area hosted trade colonies throughout history and was one of the important junctions of the Silk Road. Cycling through the rolling hills of dramatic soft volcanic rock which have been shaped by erosion over the years into valleys, cones, towers, and caves, cycling the Cappadocia region provides an alternative way to take in the landscapes and the popular hot-air balloons that dot the skies in the morning.

6) Catalonia, Spain

The Catalonia region, in northeastern Spain, is known for the lively beach resorts of Costa Brava, the Pyrenees Mountains, and Barcelona, the capital of the country.

The Catalonia region is an ideal cycling vacation destination for cyclists of all abilities because it's easy to hire vehicles to transport your luggage from place to place allowing you a more leisurely and comfortable ride to take in the gorgeous landscape at your own pace. The cycling trails in Spain’s Catalonia province wind their way through medieval villages, passed restaurants serving up regional cuisine, and rolling verdant hills. For a different accommodation option, be sure to stay in converted farmhouses to relax between rides.

Your itineraries can be self-guided and self-paced or part of a guided tour group on an established itinerary. Depending on the time of year that you travel, the country has many different festivals taking place that you can enjoy along the way, most notable are the food festivals in Autumn. Who doesn't love a good food festival or two?

7) Cycle the Golden Triangle in Thailand

The Golden Triangle in Thailand is an area where the three countries of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar meet at the confluence of the Ruak and Mekong Rivers and often refers to the area that overlaps the mountains of the three countries. It's a very affordable, fun, and cyclist-friendly destination and worth a visit if you're looking for a cultural cycling holiday like no other. However, don't expect flat terrain and easy hillside rides, the mountains are not high, but the climbing is severe. Cycling the Golden Triangle can often take you up straight inclines with few switchbacks that are quite challenging.

Cycling from Chaing Mai to Chaing Rai in the north means cycling through idyllic countryside, fields of lush flowers and tea plantations, and ancient temples throughout the scenic country. To best enjoy your cycling adventure, be sure to stop to visit some of the colorful temples and interesting villages along the way. Even without being able to speak the language, the locals are all very welcoming. You'll also find that in most small towns, almost everyone bikes, so you will immediately have something in common with almost everyone.

8) Cycle around Netherlands.

There’s a famous saying that there are more bikes than people in the Netherlands. And flat landscapes make getting around this small European nation a pleasant ride. More than 36% of people own a bicycle and use it as their main form of transportation year-round. Roads that were originally built for cars have been rebuilt for bicycles to give cyclists priority in the town centres, parks, and public spaces.

Getting around in the Netherlands by bicycle is a leisurely and easy way to explore the country for anyone of any age. Plan a family vacation and explore Amsterdam on two wheels, hopping off to admire the canals or step inside the historical sites. Children are sure to admire the lush floral fields and windmills along the canals in the Kinderdijk before heading north to sample cheese in Gouda.

9) Join the crowds in Texas

The Hotter'N'Hell ride in Texas is 100 miles in 100 degree heat and is held annually in August. It attracts crowds in the tens of thousands for its 100-mile bike ride to Wichita Falls in Texas. As the name suggests, the temperatures while cycling can be “hotter’n hell” as they climb to 100’F.

This challenge started in 1982 to celebrate the Wichita Falls centennial. Some local riders proposed putting on a bicycle race which consisted of 100 miles in 100-degree heat to celebrate 100 years, coining the name Hotter’N Hell 100. Ever since cyclists from around the world have been making their way here to test their mental and physical strength as they ensure some of the driest and harshest heat conditions in the world.

This itinerary is one for the experienced cyclist and is a "ride of passage". If you're an adventure cyclist looking for a unique experience, this is one for the books not to be missed! Join them in August 2021 as they celebrate their 40th anniversary.

10) See Canada coast to coast on two wheels

The Trans Canada Trail, linking Canada’s three coasts, has starting points in both the easternmost tip of Newfoundland and Victoria Island and trails heading north from Edmonton through both the Northwest Territories and the Yukon Territory. Cycle a section, or be adventurous and travel the full route. When driving across Canada, I had the opportunity to speak with some bikers doing a coast-to-coast, and they said the adventure is a once-in-a-lifetime where you get to see some of the most unique and remote areas of Canada. It's an opportunity to see our own country from a road less traveled, at your own pace, and while challenging yourself to do something that not a lot of people have accomplished...I thought they were crazy, but looking back, I think it's an awesome adventure, and admire their determination and tenacity to reach their goals.

Regardless of how, when or where, you plan to explore, a travel advisor can help you with how to get the best route guides and maps and to plan your day-by-day itinerary. For more information about cycling and suggested itineraries, please contact Krista Tovell at Tovell Travel.

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