Whether it is rugged hill climbing, or competitive road racing, there are cycle routes across the world to suit everyone. If you’re cycling anywhere it’s got to be one of these….
The Tour de France
The Tour de France is the most famous bicycle race in the world. Every year in July, it attracts teams of the world’s top cyclists. The Tour is a circuit of France and takes in some very challenging mountainous routes across the Alps, as well as flat terrains suitable for speed racing.
The length of the race varies from year to year as the route is altered, so of course you can’t cycle the exact route – and in fact we wouldn’t recommend the whole circuit unless you are an extremely keen cyclist and/or in particularly good shape! However, cycling a leg of it is an absolute must. We recommend the Alpe d’Huez section of the route – 13km long, 21 bends wide and 8% steep. With an average gradient of 8% over 13km it’s not one for the faint hearted but it’s certainly worth the climb for the views you get in reward, and besides it’ll only take you the morning so why not arrange for a picnic on top of the mountain before descending back in the afternoon. This world famous Alpine cycle route has become so popular that cycling holidays in the Alps have taken off in recent years, with those wanting to attempt the world famous inclines and experience the stunning scenery – not to mention the bread and cheese enjoyed atop the mountains!
National Highway 1, Vietnam
This iconic road stretches the length of Vietnam from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. It is 2300km long and is a popular destination for touring cyclists. During the Vietnam War, it was badly damaged and was the scene of bloody fighting. Now, the north and south are rejoined, and the highway is seen as a symbol of national unity. Many enchanting sights can be seen along the way; from thousands of limestone crags in the north, to the imperial city of Hue, and the tourist beaches of the south. It is famous for being an unforgettable cycling experience, and an ideal way of seeing Vietnam.
Whitehaven to Sunderland, England
This coast-to-coast cycle route stretches for 136 miles, from the Irish Sea at Whitehaven, to the North Sea at Sunderland. The trail passes through the Lake District, the Pennines and the Durham Dales. The route is normally followed from West to East to take advantage of the prevailing winds. It is a demanding ride with plenty of challenging hills, but one that can be easily completed in two or three days. There are plenty of recommended guesthouses along the way, as well as interesting sculptures; and the cycle path is well-marked. The coast-to-coast trail goes through some of England’s most rugged and remote landscapes, and is world-famous because of its beauty and tranquillity.
La Farola, Cuba
This fascinating route is only 9km but is incredibly dramatic; taking in jaw-dropping mountain vistas, lush jungle scenery, and vast oceanic panoramas that are suddenly exposed on every bend. La Farola is a famous highway that has 11 bridges spanning mountain gorges. The downhill route forms part of the highway from Santiago to Havana, which was built in 1960 by the Communist government. Today, the downhill section of La Farola forms the starting section of the “Vuelta Ciclista Cuba”, the Cuban equivalent of the “Tour de France”.
There are many interesting cycle routes to explore. Cycling is growing ever more popular, and with exciting and adventurous routes such as these, it is easy to see why.