Hold on tight and get ready for the ride of your life…
1. Génolhac to Vallon Pont d’Arc, France
“Of the 500 miles I bikepacked across France this summer, from the English Channel to the Mediterranean, there’s one wild day of riding that’s stayed with me. Almost from the moment my husband and I rolled out from the small southern village of Génolhac, the 42-mile ride unfolded like a slow-moving flip book of France’s most beautiful vistas. Over the course of three hours, we pedaled through the charming towns of Bessèges and Barjac, glimpsed hilltop castles, and experienced a rare back-to-back stretch of lavender and sunflower fields.
After feeling the burn from a few long climbs, we reached the Ardèche Gorge, the largest natural canyon in Europe, which seemed less a tourist attraction than a hard-earned secret reserved for cyclists. We toasted our journey in a bar built inside a limestone cave and spent the rest of the afternoon swimming in the cool river under the naturally carved bridge of Pont-d’Arc.”
2. Teton Village to Jackson Hole, Wyoming
“On a recent family trip to Wyoming, we took advantage of the new-ish 56 miles of paved pathways that link the town of Jackson Hole to Teton Village and Grand Teton National Park. It’s about 15 miles from where we were staying in Teton Village to Jackson Hole.
We biked over the rushing whitewater of the Snake River and past moose-crossing alerts, all in the shadows of the Grand Teton mountain range. After refueling with acai bowls on a shady lawn in town, we biked the 15 miles back along the same snowbasin route. The surrounding scenery was truly stunning, but I also loved how flat, easy, and paved the ride was. It made it easy to really enjoy racking up the miles on a sunny day!”
3. Robinson Canyon, Carmel Valley, California
“Carmel-by-the-Sea is quickly becoming a must-see for cycling enthusiasts throughout the world. Home to the famous 17-Mile Drive, the picture-perfect Highway 1, and, of course, Big Sur, the area certainly has no shortage of epic drives and rides.
Of those, one hidden gem is the other-worldly Robinson Canyon in the Carmel Valley. The outback climb takes you through many microclimates, sweeping vistas, giant redwoods, and quiet country roads. The descent is equally exciting, too, with long gradual turns and a chance to open the pace. After finishing the ride, which is just under 60 miles, I had an incredible dinner and stay at L’Auberge Carmel, which was just as memorable as the ride itself.”
4. Danube Bike Path, Austria
“I recently spent seven days cycling by myself across Austria, along the Danube Bike Path. I rode about 30 miles per day from Passau, Germany, to Vienna, Austria, on a self-guided bike tour. I had luggage support, and all of my accommodations were taken care of through BikeTours.com, but I was completely on my own for the entire ride. And I discovered that the organized, self-guided bike tour was a perfect ride for solo female travelers.
There are designated bike paths most of the way, very little car traffic (some tractors here and there), plenty of delicious Austrian food and beer, vineyards, villages, kind and curious locals, and, if you hit it right, sunshine. It was 75 degrees and sunny every single day on my mid-April tour. The magnolias were in full bloom, tourist season was just around the corner, and local businesses were open and excited to welcome cyclists. I found plenty of restaurants and cafes with bike parking, and all of my hotels were right along the river as well, all offering secure overnight bike storage.
The route is mostly flat, as it follows the Danube River, so I chose a hybrid touring bike (and ended up with some calves of steel), but electric bikes (e-bikes) are also available. [A touring bike is a bike made specifically for bike tours that’s usually extra comfortable, and a hybrid bike is a blend of a road bike and a mountain bike that can usually tolerate a wider range of conditions—so a hybrid touring bike is all of those things.] I couldn’t have imagined just how enlightening this experience would be, and I highly recommend it to anyone from solo travelers to families. Cycling is a fabulous way to slow travel through beautiful, delicious Austria.”
5. The countryside outside Medellín, Colombia
“In the past couple of years, Colombia has been all over the ‘places to go now’ lists in major travel magazines all over the world. The country is in the midst of a huge tourism growth spurt, which is why I was excited to see it for the first time by bike. And I’m so happy I did, because my ride enabled me to see parts of Colombia I likely wouldn’t have seen otherwise—and made me fall in love with the country itself.
I rode with my friend and a local cycling company called Equipo Cycling, which paid for our trip in advance, since we were there to report on the adventure. Our guide met us early in the morning in Medellín, put our bikes on top of the car, and drove us an hour or so outside the city to the surrounding countryside, where we started our ascent. Not going to lie, it was definitely hard—especially considering Medellín’s at nearly 5,000 feet above sea level—but by the time we got to the top, the view was absolutely breathtaking. It was foggy and we were so high up that there were clouds below us, which made it seem like we were legit on top of the world. After we stopped for an obligatory photo shoot, we made our way back down the super green hills, cruising past lush coffee farms, gardens, and refreshing brooks. The descent was definitely a whole lot easier—and, perhaps best of all, it ended with cold Colombian beer in a super cute town called Santa Fe.”
6. Wasatch Over Wasatch Trail, Park City, Utah
“I recently visited Park City, Utah, for a mountain biking trip, which culminated in a 9-mile ride on the spectacular Wasatch Over Wasatch (aka “WOW”) trail. This single-track trail offered stunning views of the Wasatch Mountains and the Heber Valley as we rode through various landscapes, each beautiful in their own unique way. The ride starts out in Wasatch Mountain State Park, and climbs through an Aspen grove, then takes a sharp descent through rock switchbacks before continuing downhill through lush pine forests. As a beginner mountain biker, the terrain was fairly challenging for me, but thankfully the beauty of the ride helped distract me from my nerves! After the ride, we ended up alongside the Provo River, the perfect spot for sandwiches and a quick dip, and I soaked up the Utah sun, feeling lucky to be alive—in more ways than one!
7. River Road, Edgewater, New Jersey
“River Road is on the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge. It’s a somewhat secret spot that allows you to ride right next to two waterfalls and the Hudson River. It also has epic hill climbing, and the best part is that it’s less than a mile from Manhattan! I live in Jersey City and work in Manhattan, so I’ll do the ride—which is about 40 miles—on my way to work a couple times a month. It takes about two hours total.”
8. Tuscany, Italy
“While immersing yourself in the beauty of Tuscany in any fashion is a treat, cycling allows you to really feel the (slow) beat of the landscape. You can take a 13-mile bike tour with Cortona Wine Tours to explore Italy’s ‘Val d’Orcia,’ a UNESCO World Heritage Site famed for its rolling crop-filled landscape, medieval hilltop civilizations, and prized Vino Nobile di Montepulciano wine.
From the 16th-century San Biagio Church starting point, you’ll take a challenging up-and-downhill bike ride, through views of olive groves, wheat fields, and the dormant Monte Amiata volcano, all of which help distract your tired muscles. Plus, you can almost always see the fairytale architecture of Montepulciano, Monticchiello, Montefollonico, and Pienza, where you’ll stop for a break. At the end of the ride, you’ll savor the sights, literally, with a delicious meal at the farm-to-table Podere Il Casale.”
|Read on: 12 Beautiful Biking Destinations You’ll Want to Add to Your Bucket List | SELF|