Bike Touring


Classic Bike Tours

A two-wheeled journey across the world’s most stunning landscapes offers a delightful, immersive experience unlike any other. This is the compelling allure of multi-day cycling expeditions – a perfect blend of nature, adventure, and camaraderie.”


Mountain bikers riding Yungas Road, the famous downhill trail “Road of death” in Bolivia. Mezzotint/Getty Images


By Adventure Desk/Freesolo

June 6, 2023

For the intrepid souls who feel the call of the open road, who find solace in the rhythm of spinning wheels and the wind in their face, cycling transcends the boundaries of mere transportation. It morphs into a vehicle of exploration and discovery, an intimate dance between the traveler and the landscape that can’t be replicated by any other means of conveyance. Whether climbing the switchbacks of a lofty mountain pass or leisurely cruising through bucolic countryside scenes, the cyclist engages with the environment in a manner that is both visceral and profoundly personal.

The joys of cycling extend beyond the physical exhilaration and the stunning vistas. It’s a journey that immerses you in the very rhythm of the landscapes you traverse, every pedal stroke taking you deeper into the heart of the regions you explore. You experience firsthand the tapestry of cultures, the changing rhythms of daily life, and the varying pace of different societies. You’re not merely an observer in this grand spectacle, but an active participant, your bicycle a passport to a richer, deeper understanding of the world around you.

Shared experiences form the backbone of these cycling adventures. The camaraderie that emerges amongst fellow cyclists—sharing the day’s highlights around a campfire, exchanging stories, and encouraging each other during challenging climbs—forges bonds that often outlast the journey itself. And the sense of accomplishment that comes from conquering a particularly challenging route or reaching a stunning viewpoint is magnified when shared with others who’ve experienced the same trials and triumphs.

In this exploration, we’ve curated a selection of some of the world’s most iconic multi-day guided cycling adventures. These routes traverse landscapes as diverse as they are stunning, from the tranquil vineyards of France and the historic routes of Italy, to the majestic mountains of the Canadian Rockies and the sun-soaked beaches of Australia. Each journey is unique, offering its own blend of physical challenges, breathtaking scenery, and cultural immersion. The shared thread amongst them all is the promise of an unforgettable adventure, where the thrill of the journey and the discovery of the destination are intertwined. These routes beckon the adventurous at heart, offering a journey that is as exhilarating as the landscape is beautiful.

The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route

Stretching from the raw beauty of Alberta, Canada, all the way to Antelope Wells in New Mexico, USA, the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route stands as a majestic tribute to the untamed wilderness of North America. Recognized as the longest off-pavement bike route in the world, this monumental route traverses approximately 2,745 miles of rugged terrain, capturing the very essence of what makes this region a dream destination for the intrepid cyclist.

Cyclists embarking on this adventurous route find themselves in the heart of a landscape filled with a captivating blend of towering mountain ranges, vast plains, and verdant forests. As they journey north to south, or vice versa, the changing scenery paints an extraordinary tapestry of nature’s grandeur. From the glacial peaks of the Canadian Rockies and the expansive plains of Wyoming, to the arid desert landscapes of New Mexico, each leg of the journey offers its unique challenges and visual rewards.

What sets the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route apart is not only its length and physical demands but the changing nature of its terrain. Cyclists can expect everything from rolling singletrack and dirt roads to more challenging rocky paths and steep mountain passes. This diversity makes it an excellent opportunity for experienced mountain bikers to test their mettle and adaptability.

En route, cyclists encounter an assortment of local historical landmarks that provide a deep sense of place and time. Whether it’s the old mining towns of Colorado or the historic forts and trading posts of New Mexico, these nuggets of history offer an intriguing backdrop to the journey. The opportunity to learn about the rich tapestry of indigenous and settler history makes the expedition an enriching blend of physical endeavor and intellectual curiosity.

The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route is more than just a cycling route; it’s an immersive journey into the heart of North America’s wilderness. Those who conquer it do not just test their physical limits but also engage deeply with the environment and history. It’s an expedition that offers not just unforgettable views and thrilling rides but indelible memories of an adventure that pushes boundaries and expands horizons.

Pros of Cycling the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route

Unparalleled Scenery: The Great Divide Route offers a vast range of stunning landscapes, from glacial peaks and expansive plains to arid deserts. These varying vistas provide a feast for the eyes and are often a highlight of the journey.

Physical Challenge: The varying terrain of the route, including steep mountain passes and rocky paths, provides an excellent challenge for experienced mountain bikers, testing endurance, skill, and adaptability.

Rich History: The route allows cyclists to immerse themselves in local history, with opportunities to visit historic mining towns, forts, and trading posts.

Wildlife Encounters: The diverse ecosystems of the route offer opportunities for wildlife sightings, from grazing deer in the plains to bird watching in the forests.


Cons of Cycling the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route

Physical Demands: The length of the route and its challenging terrains can be physically demanding, requiring a high level of fitness and cycling proficiency. It may not be suitable for beginners or those with health issues.

Lack of Amenities: Given the remote nature of parts of the route, there can be long stretches between towns and facilities. This requires careful planning and preparation for food, water, and potential bike repairs.

Weather Variations: Cyclists may experience a wide range of weather conditions due to the length of the route and altitude changes. This can range from extreme heat to cold temperatures, and even snow in the higher regions.

Potential Risks: The route can pose risks related to wildlife encounters, sudden weather changes, and isolated incidents of injury or mechanical failure. Proper preparation, safety precautions, and equipment are essential.

The Danube Cycle Path

Stretching from the rolling hills of Germany’s Black Forest to the vast expanses of the Black Sea, the Danube Cycle Path presents a cycling experience as diverse as Europe itself. Spanning an impressive 1,800 miles and traversing through ten countries, this picturesque route unfolds an engaging panorama of landscapes, cultures, and historical epochs. Catering to riders of all abilities with its primarily flat terrain, it’s no surprise that this path has earned the affection of families and leisure cyclists worldwide.
Riding along the Danube Cycle Path offers a perspective on Europe that’s both intimate and grand. Cyclists have the opportunity to experience first-hand the region’s rich tapestry of cultural heritage and natural beauty. Beginning in Germany’s Donaueschingen, nestled amidst the Black Forest’s mystical aura, riders embark on a journey that chronicles Europe’s historical and geographical diversity.

As the path meanders along the Danube River, it immerses cyclists in the captivating allure of historic towns like Regensburg and Vienna, each bearing a unique blend of architectural grandeur and charming streetscapes. The route guides cyclists through bustling metropolises, medieval fortresses, and serene villages, allowing for immersion in the local culture. Opportunities to sample local cuisines, from Germany’s hearty bratwurst to Austria’s delectable strudels, punctuate the journey, offering gastronomical delights that are as varied as the path itself.

In addition to its cultural highlights, the Danube Cycle Path traverses some of Europe’s most stunning landscapes. The path alternates between dense woodlands, verdant vineyards, and expansive wetlands, with the majestic Danube River as a constant companion. The river, Europe’s second-longest, serves as a lifeline to diverse ecosystems and lends a serene backdrop to the journey. From the Danube Bend’s panoramic vistas in Hungary to the sprawling Danube Delta’s wildlife in Romania, nature lovers will be in their element.

Moreover, the Danube Cycle Path’s well-signposted and mostly flat terrain makes it accessible to cyclists of varying experience levels. It’s an ideal choice for families and casual riders seeking to balance leisurely cycling with a rich cultural and natural exploration. Bike-friendly amenities, from comfortable lodgings to dedicated bike ferries, enhance the route’s appeal, ensuring a memorable journey for all.

In essence, the Danube Cycle Path offers an engaging and accessible exploration of Europe’s heartland. It invites cyclists on a multi-faceted journey that intertwines natural splendors, historical intrigue, and cultural immersion, making every mile an adventure to savor. Whether you’re a seasoned cyclist or a family seeking a leisurely expedition, the Danube Cycle Path promises a cycling experience unlike any other.

Pros of the Danube Cycle Path Adventure

Cultural Richness: The path takes you through ten countries, providing a diverse cultural experience and opportunities to explore historic towns and cities.

Scenic Beauty: The route offers an array of beautiful landscapes, from verdant vineyards and dense woodlands to panoramic river views.

Accessibility: The mostly flat terrain and well-signposted route make it accessible to riders of all abilities, including families and leisure cyclists.

Culinary Experiences: Traveling through different countries allows cyclists to sample a wide range of local cuisines.

Bike-friendly Amenities: The path is equipped with numerous cyclist-friendly amenities such as lodgings and bike ferries.


Cons of the Danube Cycle Path Adventure

Length: At approximately 1,800 miles, the path’s length might be daunting for some cyclists, especially those with limited time or physical constraints.

Weather: Weather conditions can vary significantly along the route, potentially affecting travel plans or making certain sections more difficult to navigate.

Preparation: Navigating through multiple countries requires careful planning, including understanding varying local customs and potentially needing different currencies.

Overcrowding: Given its popularity, certain sections of the path, especially around major cities, can become crowded during peak cycling season.

The Shimanami Kaido

The Shimanami Kaido, an exquisite bike route in Japan, serves as a bridge between the hustle and bustle of urban life and the timeless tranquillity of nature. Spanning approximately 70 kilometers, this biking journey connects the main island of Honshu to Shikoku, the country’s smallest of its four main islands, and in doing so, it creates an unbroken line between some of Japan’s most beautiful and inviting landscapes.

A ride along the Shimanami Kaido is like flipping through a beautifully illustrated travel journal. As you cycle along the dedicated biking path, you will pass over six small islands nestled within the calm, shimmering waters of the Seto Inland Sea. Each of these islands, like beads on a string, offers its unique charm and character, from the serene citrus groves of Setoda to the verdant hills of Oshima.

The route itself is a marvel of engineering, featuring a network of cyclist-friendly bridges that deliver panoramic ocean views that linger in the memory long after the journey ends. These bridges, which include the majestic Tatara and Kurushima-Kaikyo bridges, are masterpieces of architecture that blend seamlessly into the coastal scenery.

In addition to its stunning natural beauty, the Shimanami Kaido offers cyclists an immersive cultural experience. Fishing villages dotted along the route provide intimate insights into the traditional way of life in this region. There, you can watch the local fishermen at work, their boats bobbing gently on the water, and the air filled with the scent of the sea and fresh seafood.

A guided tour on the Shimanami Kaido route also offers cyclists the opportunity to enjoy the unparalleled hospitality of the Japanese people. You can visit local ryokans—traditional Japanese inns—for a restful night’s sleep on tatami mats and indulge in delicious regional cuisine, which often includes locally caught seafood and citrus fruits grown on the islands.

Moreover, guided tours provide not only logistical support, such as luggage transfer and bike maintenance, but also a wealth of local knowledge. Expert guides can help you uncover the area’s hidden gems, including local artisans, ancient temples, and quiet, secluded beaches.

In short, the Shimanami Kaido is more than a bike route—it is a journey into the heart of Japan’s natural beauty and cultural richness. Each turn in the road offers new sights, sounds, and experiences, making this one of the most engaging and rewarding cycling adventures in the world.

Pros of Cycling the Shimanami Kaido

Scenic Beauty: The Shimanami Kaido boasts stunning landscapes, with breathtaking ocean views, charming fishing villages, and serene citrus groves, providing a visually captivating experience.

Cultural Immersion: The route offers an immersive cultural experience, from traditional fishing practices to local culinary delights. Staying in traditional Japanese inns, or ryokans, adds to the cultural richness of the journey.

Accessibility: The route is well-maintained and cyclist-friendly, with clear signposting and dedicated bike paths. This makes it accessible to cyclists of all levels, including families and novice riders.


Cons of Cycling the Shimanami Kaido

Distance: At 70 kilometers, the Shimanami Kaido can be a challenge for those unaccustomed to long-distance cycling. However, with proper planning and pacing, it’s achievable for most riders.

Weather: Like any outdoor activity, the experience can be heavily influenced by the weather. Japan’s rainy season and summer heat can make the ride less comfortable.

Language Barrier: While the path is well-signposted, some travellers may find the language barrier challenging when interacting with locals off the beaten track.

Cost: Depending on the level of luxury one desires (such as high-end ryokans or premium dining experiences), the trip can become costly, especially when opting for guided tours. However, budget options are also available.

The Munda Biddi Trail, Australia

The Munda Biddi Trail in Western Australia is an adventurer’s dream, luring cyclists with its spectacular landscapes, enchanting wildlife, and rich cultural heritage. Traversing more than 1,000 kilometers from Mundaring to Albany, this extraordinary trail stands as one of the longest continuous off-road cycling tracks in the world. A journey along its path reveals the raw, unfiltered beauty of Australia’s Southwest.

The trail’s course is as diverse as it is extensive. It takes cyclists through ancient, whispering eucalyptus forests, past serene rivers reflecting the azure skies, and into quiet country towns, each with its own unique character. The rugged beauty of the trail stimulates the senses at every turn, making for a thrilling and unforgettable cycling experience.

A myriad of wildlife encounters await along the Munda Biddi Trail. Cyclists might spot kangaroos bounding through the underbrush or catch sight of a shy echidna rummaging in the soil. The hauntingly beautiful call of the kookaburra reverberates through the air, while colorful parrots and cockatoos add a splash of color to the scenery.

An expedition along the Munda Biddi Trail also provides a unique opportunity to connect with Australia’s rich Aboriginal heritage. The name ‘Munda Biddi’ itself means ‘path through the forest’ in the Noongar Aboriginal language. Cyclists can learn about the region’s indigenous history, from ancient rock art to traditional bush tucker, gaining a profound appreciation for the land’s original custodians.

Nights on the trail offer their own magic. With the absence of light pollution, the southern stars light up the sky, creating a stunning celestial display. Many riders opt for camping in the designated huts along the trail, falling asleep to the gentle sounds of the Australian bush and waking up to a symphony of bird calls.

Guided expeditions on the Munda Biddi Trail cater to a range of preferences and abilities, from challenging multi-day rides to more leisurely paced tours. These tours often include logistical support, local guides, and meals, allowing cyclists to fully immerse themselves in the journey without the worries of trip planning and navigation.

Whether you’re an experienced cyclist seeking a new challenge or an outdoor enthusiast eager to discover Australia’s unique flora and fauna, the Munda Biddi Trail offers a captivating adventure through the heart of Western Australia’s spectacular landscapes.

Pros of a Munda Biddi Trail Adventure

Diverse and Beautiful Landscapes: The trail offers a variety of environments, including ancient eucalyptus forests, untouched rivers, and quaint towns, making for an enchanting and ever-changing cycling experience.

Wildlife Encounters: The Munda Biddi Trail is a gateway to Australia’s unique wildlife. Cyclists may encounter kangaroos, echidnas, kookaburras, and various bird species, among others.

Cultural Insights: The journey provides an opportunity to learn about Australia’s rich Aboriginal heritage, adding a meaningful dimension to the adventure.

Star-gazing Opportunities: With little to no light pollution, cyclists can enjoy stunning views of the southern stars at night, providing a serene end to each day’s ride.


Cons of a Munda Biddi Trail Adventure

Physical Fitness Requirement: While the trail can be tackled at various difficulty levels, it still requires a reasonable level of physical fitness, especially for multi-day expeditions.

Potential for Extreme Weather: Western Australia can experience hot temperatures, especially in summer, which can make cycling challenging. It’s also possible to encounter rainy conditions.

Preparation Needed: For those not on a guided tour, a fair amount of planning and preparation is necessary, including route planning, equipment checks, and food and water supplies.

Wilderness Risks: As with any wilderness adventure, there are potential risks involved, such as getting lost, encounters with wildlife, and injuries from falls or other accidents.

Limited Amenities: While part of the charm, the remoteness of some trail sections means amenities are few and far between. This can be challenging for those who prefer readily accessible facilities and services.

La Route Verte in Quebec, Canada

Embarking on La Route Verte in Quebec, Canada, is like opening the pages of a beautiful, living atlas. Spanning more than 5,000 kilometers of carefully mapped bikeways, this route presents a comprehensive exploration of Quebec’s diverse landscapes and cultural richness, and a captivating journey into the heart of French-Canadian identity.

The journey begins within Quebec’s bustling urban centers, where cyclists can navigate through vibrant streets lined with historical architecture, colorful murals, and inviting cafés. Cities like Montreal, with its vibrant arts scene and legendary culinary delights, and Quebec City, with its UNESCO-designated historic district, provide intriguing introductions to the province’s unique blend of North American dynamism and European charm.

As you leave the city limits, La Route Verte unspools a panoramic showcase of Quebec’s diverse landscapes. Glide through verdant farmlands that flourish under the province’s long summer days, and along serene waterways that reflect the sky’s changing hues. Venture into the heart of dense forests that turn into a riot of reds, oranges, and yellows come fall, and feel the cool breeze of the St. Lawrence River as it widens on its journey to the sea.

The bikeway also meanders through a charming array of small towns and villages, each with its distinct personality and heritage. Places like the picturesque Charlevoix region, known for its artistic communities and local gastronomy, and the historic Eastern Townships, with its quaint Anglo-Saxon architecture and vineyards, offer delightful diversions and resting points.

Moreover, La Route Verte is not just about what you can see but also about what you can experience. The province’s joie de vivre is infectious. Whether it’s sampling the famous Quebecois poutine or the local craft beers, enjoying a friendly chat with the locals, or immersing yourself in a local festival, these cultural experiences add depth to the physical journey.

Guided expeditions on La Route Verte come with comprehensive support, including route planning, accommodation reservations, luggage transfers, and mechanical assistance, ensuring a seamless cycling adventure. For those who seek an immersive exploration of Quebec’s cultural and natural landscapes, La Route Verte provides a delightful, diverse, and truly memorable cycling experience.

Pros of Cycling La Route Verte

Diverse Landscapes: The route offers a wide variety of scenic landscapes, from vibrant cities and peaceful countryside to serene waterways and picturesque villages.

Cultural Immersion: The journey provides a comprehensive insight into Quebec’s rich cultural tapestry, including its culinary delights, friendly locals, and unique festivals.

Accessible for Various Skill Levels: The paths are well-maintained and suitable for cyclists of all levels, from novices to seasoned riders.

High Safety Standards: With over 5,000 kilometers of dedicated bikeways, cyclists can enjoy the landscapes without worrying too much about traffic.


Cons of Cycling La Route Verte

Length of the Route: Due to the extensive nature of the trail, it may require substantial time to fully explore, which might not be feasible for everyone.

Weather Conditions: Quebec’s weather can be unpredictable, with sudden rain showers or early winter snows sometimes affecting travel plans.

Language Barrier: Although many locals are bilingual, some areas are predominantly French-speaking, which could pose a challenge for non-French speakers.

Seasonal Accessibility: Some parts of the route may not be accessible or as enjoyable during the colder months.

Crowds: Some sections, especially near the cities and popular tourist spots, can be crowded during peak travel seasons, potentially affecting the serenity of the ride.

The Yungas Road, Bolivia

The Yungas Road, often referred to as “Death Road”, sits precariously carved into the Bolivian Andes. Stretching approximately 64 kilometers from the high-altitude city of La Paz to the town of Coroico in the verdant Yungas region, it is a path of contrasts – a journey from the chill of the high Andes to the heat of the Amazon Basin.

With narrow stretches that barely fit a vehicle, hair-raising precipices, and vertiginous drops of up to 800 meters, the Yungas Road provides adrenaline junkies an unparalleled experience of thrill and excitement. As you navigate the road’s numerous switchbacks and challenging terrain, you are treated to breathtaking vistas of lush rainforests and towering mountain peaks, each turn revealing a new spectacle of raw, untamed beauty.

Historically a treacherous road for motorists, it has found a new identity as an extreme biking destination. The notorious reputation of the route only adds to the allure for the adventure-seeking cyclist. As you hurtle down steep, winding paths and navigate tricky turns, your heart pounding and your senses fully engaged, you’ll understand why it’s an experience sought out by thrill-seekers worldwide.

While the ride is undeniably exhilarating, safety is a paramount concern during this journey. Guided tours on the Yungas Road are led by experienced professionals who prioritize the well-being of the participants. From comprehensive briefings and provision of high-quality safety equipment to regular check-points and support vehicles, every measure is taken to ensure riders can tackle the Death Road confidently and safely.

But this route offers more than just a rush of adrenaline. Cyclists will also have the opportunity to immerse themselves in Bolivia’s rich culture and history. Stops along the way allow for a breather and a chance to explore local communities nestled in the mountains. These interactions offer fascinating insights into the unique traditions and way of life in the Bolivian Andes, adding another dimension to the adventure.

In summary, a ride down Bolivia’s Death Road is a feast for the senses and a test of one’s mettle. It’s a journey of contrasts and surprises that offers a memorable blend of danger, beauty, culture, and raw adrenaline.

Pros of Cycling Yungas Road

Unforgettable Adrenaline Rush: The thrill of navigating the perilous descents and turns of the Death Road is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that adrenaline junkies crave.

Stunning Scenery: Despite its intimidating reputation, the Yungas Road is surrounded by breathtaking vistas of lush rainforests, towering mountain peaks, and deep valleys that offer an impressive visual spectacle.

Cultural Immersion: Stops along the route offer an opportunity to explore local communities and gain fascinating insights into the unique traditions and lifestyle in the Bolivian Andes.

Guided Tours: Tours are led by experienced professionals who prioritize safety, ensuring that riders are equipped to tackle the Death Road confidently.


Cons of Cycling Yungas Road

Safety Risks: While guided tours take every measure to ensure safety, the route’s dangerous conditions, with narrow paths and high cliffs, still present a risk.

Physical Demand: This adventure requires a good level of physical fitness and mental preparedness due to the challenging nature of the terrain and the potential stress from its dangerous reputation.

Not Suitable for Everyone: The extreme nature of this adventure makes it unsuitable for individuals with certain health conditions, a fear of heights, or a low tolerance for high-intensity activities.

Weather Dependent: The journey can be significantly more challenging and hazardous in adverse weather conditions, limiting when this adventure can be undertaken.

Ireland’s Ring of Kerry

Ireland’s Ring of Kerry, affectionately known as “The Kingdom” to locals, is a scenic cycling route that paints a picture of the country’s charm in broad, colorful strokes. Spanning a distance of 179 kilometers (111 miles), the circular route traces its way around the rugged Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry, South-Western Ireland. This journey is more than just a cycling route; it’s a voyage through time, a rich tapestry woven from captivating landscapes, a vibrant cultural heritage, and the warmth of Irish hospitality.

Your wheels will glide along undulating roads that ribbon through emerald green pastures, winding rivers, and dark peat bogs. Spectacular ocean vistas will captivate you at every turn as the Atlantic Ocean relentlessly shapes the dramatic coastline with its mighty swells. Here, the raw beauty of Ireland unveils itself with stark cliffs, golden sandy beaches, and azure seascapes punctuated by offshore islands.

The route is dotted with vibrant small towns and hamlets, each carrying its unique character. Towns like Kenmare, Killorglin, and Cahersiveen hum with the rhythm of Irish life, where the charm of the old world blends seamlessly with modern vibrancy. It’s in these towns where cyclists can rest their weary legs, sample local delicacies, and perhaps enjoy a pint of Guinness while listening to live traditional Irish music.

History enthusiasts will find plenty of reasons to dismount their bikes along the Ring of Kerry. Historical landmarks pepper the route, from Iron Age forts like Staigue Fort and the UNESCO World Heritage Site Skellig Michael, to stately homes like Muckross House nestled in the sublime Killarney National Park. Each landmark tells a tale, revealing a sliver of Ireland’s rich and complex past.

Cultural immersion is the thread that binds this journey together. Guided tours ensure this by going beyond the route itself. They offer experiences that bring cyclists face to face with Ireland’s unique cultural heritage. This might be in the form of a visit to a local pub where stories flow as freely as the beer, a chance to try your hand at traditional Irish dancing, or insights into the rich tapestry of Irish folklore, filled with tales of leprechauns, fairies, and legendary heroes.

In essence, the Ring of Kerry is an immersive cycling journey that serves as a gateway to the heart of Ireland. Whether you’re a seasoned cyclist or a leisurely rider, the memories you’ll create along this route will be as enduring as the ancient landscapes you’ll traverse. It’s a testament to the Emerald Isle’s ability to captivate, charm, and inspire all who venture along its paths.

Pros of Cycling the Ring of Kerry

Scenic Landscapes: The Ring of Kerry offers beautiful views of the Irish countryside, with its ocean vistas, rugged cliffs, and green pastures. The changing landscapes provide a visual feast for cyclists.

Cultural Immersion: The cycle route passes through several small towns and historic landmarks, allowing cyclists to immerse themselves in Irish culture, history, and folklore.

Suitable for Different Skill Levels: The route’s terrain is generally moderate, making it suitable for a range of cyclists, from the more seasoned to leisurely riders.

Guided Tours: Guided tours provide added value with expert route knowledge, support, and insight into local customs and traditions. They also often include planned stops at significant cultural sites.


Cons of Cycling the Ring of Kerry

Weather Conditions: Ireland’s weather can be unpredictable and may change rapidly. Rain can make the route slippery and potentially dangerous.

Tourist Traffic: The Ring of Kerry is a popular tourist route. During peak tourist season, cyclists may find the roads busy with tour buses and cars, which could detract from the experience.

Route Length: The entire route is 179 kilometers long. If cyclists are not accustomed to long-distance cycling, they may find the journey challenging.

Limited Services: While the route passes through small towns with amenities, there are stretches with few services. Cyclists need to be prepared and carry essentials like food, water, and repair kits.

The Route des Grandes Alpes

The Route des Grandes Alpes, nestled in the heart of France, represents the pinnacle of alpine cycling. Conceived in the early 20th century by the Touring Club de France, this remarkable route unfolds across the spine of the French Alps, stitching together an impressive array of high mountain passes from Lake Geneva’s pristine shores to the sun-drenched Mediterranean coastline.

The route’s allure lies in its captivating medley of thrilling ascents, electrifying descents, and the raw spectacle of alpine scenery. Over 700 kilometers, cyclists grapple with gradients that snake skyward, teasing out their stamina and determination. Yet, each grueling climb culminates in a summit vista that justifies every ounce of effort — vertiginous peaks draped in snow and ice, emerald valleys plunging beneath the clouds, and cerulean skies that seem infinite.

Then, the payoff. Cresting the summit, riders face heart-pounding descents that deliver a pure adrenaline rush. Sweeping down serpentine roads, they’re enveloped in the thrill of speed and the immersive beauty of the surrounding landscapes.

Throughout the journey, cyclists also discover charming alpine villages that dot the route, each a sanctuary offering warm hospitality, inviting cafes, and comfortable accommodations. These stops provide ample opportunity to rest and recharge, to sample delicious regional cuisine, and to experience the distinct culture and traditions of alpine France.

The Route des Grandes Alpes is a challenge, a thrill, and a feast for the senses, all in one. It’s a living testament to the golden age of cycle touring — a journey that encapsulates the romance, exhilaration, and spirit of adventure that cycling embodies. In the embrace of the French Alps, one finds not just a road, but a stage for personal triumph and unforgettable experiences.

Pros of Cycling The Route des Grandes Alpes

Spectacular Scenery: The Route des Grandes Alpes offers breathtaking alpine scenery, with stunning vistas at every turn.

Cultural Immersion: The route passes through charming alpine villages, providing opportunities to experience the local culture, cuisine, and traditions.

Sense of Achievement: The challenging climbs and exhilarating descents offer a true sense of accomplishment for cyclists, making it a bucket-list destination for many.

Well-Marked and Maintained Route: The route is well-marked, and there are ample facilities and accommodations along the way, enhancing the overall touring experience.


Cons of Cycling The Route des Grandes Alpes

Physically Challenging: The route involves some steep climbs and can be physically demanding, requiring a good level of fitness and endurance.

Weather Conditions: Weather in the mountains can be unpredictable and can change rapidly. Cyclists need to be prepared for various weather conditions.

Limited Cycling Season: Due to snow and cold weather, the route is typically only fully open from June to October.

Traffic: While less busy than many popular alpine roads, cyclists may still encounter traffic, particularly during the summer months.

The Friendship Highway

Unfolding like a panoramic scroll of natural splendor and cultural mystique, the Friendship Highway provides an unparalleled cycling adventure between Lhasa, the spiritual heart of Tibet, and Kathmandu, the vibrant capital of Nepal. Embraced by the majestic Himalayas, this route is a vibrant showcase of the region’s geographical and cultural wonders.

The journey begins in Lhasa, home to many of the region’s most iconic landmarks, including the Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple. From the city’s spiritual ambiance, the route heads out into the breathtaking landscapes of the Tibetan Plateau. The road often stretches toward the horizon, lined with prayer flags fluttering in the wind, yaks grazing in the vast plains, and isolated monasteries imbued with a sense of tranquility and timelessness.

As cyclists ascend the plateau, they encounter several high-altitude passes, such as the Gyatso La and the Lalung La. These challenging climbs reward with sweeping views of the world’s highest peaks, including Cho Oyu, Shishapangma, and the majestic Mount Everest. The sight of the Everest’s North Face from the Rongbuk Monastery is a mesmerizing spectacle, a landmark moment on this epic journey.

A particular highlight is the descent from the Thang La pass into the verdant valleys of Nepal. As cyclists leave the arid landscapes of Tibet, they enter lush terraces, rushing rivers, and lively Nepalese villages. The journey concludes in Kathmandu, a city where the ancient and the modern intertwine in a vibrant tapestry of sights, sounds, and colors.

Throughout this journey, guided tours play an invaluable role. They not only manage logistical aspects such as accommodation, food, and technical support but also ensure cyclists acclimate properly to the high altitude. Furthermore, knowledgeable guides provide insights into the unique culture, history, and traditions of the Tibetan and Nepalese peoples, enhancing the overall experience.

The Friendship Highway is more than a cycling route – it is a journey into some of the world’s most spectacular landscapes, a testing ground for physical endurance, and a window into the rich cultural heritage of Tibet and Nepal. A ride along this highway is truly an unforgettable adventure.

Pros of Cycling The Friendship Highway

Scenic beauty: The Friendship Highway offers stunning views of the Himalayas, including Mount Everest, providing a scenic feast like no other.

Cultural richness: The route offers insights into Tibetan and Nepalese culture, with visits to landmarks like Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple, and experiences of local life in the villages.

Personal achievement: Conquering the high-altitude passes can be a rewarding accomplishment, making this a memorable trip for avid cyclists.


Cons of Cycling The Friendship Highway

Physical challenges: The high-altitude passes and long distances can be demanding, requiring a good level of fitness and experience in long-distance cycling.

Altitude sickness: The risk of altitude sickness is significant due to the high elevations. However, guided tours will include measures to help cyclists acclimate properly.

Variable weather conditions: The weather in the Himalayas can change quickly and drastically, potentially making some parts of the journey challenging.

Basic accommodations: In some parts of the route, accommodation options may be basic, which might not appeal to everyone.

Otago Central Rail Trail

Enshrined within the heart of New Zealand’s South Island, the Otago Central Rail Trail stands as a poignant testament to the nation’s heritage, inviting cyclists into a world steeped in history and dressed in natural splendor. This old railway line, now a gently undulating bike trail, traces a path through the arresting beauty of Central Otago, offering a tranquil and accessible cycling experience.

Stretching over 150 kilometers, the trail offers a leisurely journey into New Zealand’s past, tracing a route through bygone gold mining towns like Clyde, Alexandra, and Middlemarch. These towns, each with their unique character, serve as perfect stopovers, providing intimate insights into the region’s gold rush history and a taste of warm Kiwi hospitality.

Cyclists journeying on this trail find themselves in the heart of a picturesque canvas. Central Otago’s distinct landscapes, characterized by rocky outcrops, rolling hills, wild rivers, deep gorges, and vast plains, create a diverse and mesmerizing backdrop for this cycling adventure. Depending on the season, the trail may be adorned with the pink blossoms of wild thyme, the autumnal hues of deciduous trees, the snow-dusted tips of nearby mountains, or the vibrant greens of lush summer pastures.

Moreover, the region’s unique geology is on full display, with cyclists riding over historic railway bridges and through hand-carved tunnels. Various information panels along the route provide fascinating details about the area’s geology and the challenges encountered during the railway’s construction in the late 19th century.

A multi-day trip on the Otago Central Rail Trail is not merely a cycling expedition; it’s a sensory journey that offers cyclists a chance to smell the fragrant wildflowers, listen to the rustling grasses, spot New Zealand’s unique birdlife, and feel the soft breeze against their skin.

The trail, largely car-free and with a gentle gradient, is perfect for all fitness levels and ages, including families. Along the route, cyclists can find a range of accommodation options, from charming bed-and-breakfast establishments to comfortable country hotels. Many of these places provide personalized services for cyclists, including luggage transfers and bike rentals.

For those who seek a deeper understanding of the area, guided tours are available. These tours often include local guides who share their intimate knowledge of the region’s history, culture, and geology, enriching the cycling adventure with enlightening anecdotes and captivating tales.

In essence, the Otago Central Rail Trail is a journey through time and space, presenting cyclists with an immersive experience of New Zealand’s charming past and its enchanting landscapes. It serves as a unique synthesis of the natural and cultural tapestry that the South Island has to offer. It’s a trail that is as much about the destination as it is about the journey, offering cyclists an unforgettable pedal-powered adventure.

Pros of cycling the Otago Central Rail Trail

Scenic Beauty: The trail offers stunning views of Central Otago’s unique landscapes, including rocky outcrops, rolling hills, wild rivers, and vast plains.

Historical Interest: Cyclists can learn about the region’s gold rush history and the challenges of constructing the railway line in the late 19th century.

Accessibility: The trail’s gentle gradient makes it suitable for all fitness levels and ages. It’s also largely car-free, adding to the safety and tranquility of the journey.

Cultural Experience: The trail passes through charming old mining towns, providing an opportunity to experience warm Kiwi hospitality and gain insights into local customs and traditions.

Cyclist-Friendly Amenities: Accommodations along the trail cater to cyclists, offering services like luggage transfers and bike rentals.


Cons of cycling the Otago Central Rail Trail

Weather Dependence: The weather in New Zealand can be unpredictable and change rapidly. Cyclists may need to prepare for a variety of conditions, even within a single day.

Limited Services: Although there are towns along the route, some sections of the trail are quite remote, meaning cyclists need to plan ahead for food, water, and possible repairs.

Physical Effort: Despite the trail’s gentle gradient, the distance can still be challenging for inexperienced cyclists or those not used to multi-day cycling trips.

Limited Wildlife: While the trail offers unique bird spotting opportunities, it doesn’t have the range of wildlife experiences that some other cycling trails in New Zealand offer.

Cultural Differences: Foreign travelers may encounter a learning curve understanding local customs and etiquette, especially in more remote areas.

When the rubber meets the road, there is a sense of freedom that only those atop a bicycle can truly comprehend. From the snow-capped peaks of the French Alps to the quiet serenity of New Zealand’s Otago Central Rail Trail, each turn of the pedal stitches together a narrative written in sweat, determination, and the sheer joy of discovery.

Embarking on these iconic cycling routes is more than just a journey—it’s a testament to the spirit of exploration and an unyielding desire to meet the world on its terms. Every path provides a unique canvas, reflecting the distinct character of its land, people, and history. From the sunlit splendor of the Ring of Kerry in Ireland to the high-altitude marvels of Tibet’s Friendship Highway, the act of cycling connects you to the soul of the land in a profoundly intimate way.

Guided expeditions become the bridge between the solitary rhythm of the ride and the shared joy of camaraderie. They do not merely ensure safety and take care of logistical concerns; they invite you into a space where stories, smiles, and life experiences are exchanged against the backdrop of mesmerizing landscapes. With the wind in your hair and the sun on your back, fellow cyclists become companions on this transformative journey, shaping and sharing each adventure’s rich tapestry of experiences.

The guides themselves, experienced cyclists and local experts, contribute significantly to these journeys. They provide a window into the heart of the regions, revealing hidden gems and untold stories that otherwise might be missed. They provide context to the majestic scenes unfolding before your eyes, transforming each ride into an immersive cultural, historical, and geographical exploration.

In the end, these cycling expeditions are more than the sum of their parts. They are not defined solely by the miles traversed or the sights beheld. Instead, they are about the transformation that occurs within the cyclist—the memories forged, the friendships made, and the lessons learned about the world and oneself. And perhaps that is the true allure of cycling: the chance to step out of your comfort zone, to see the world from a new perspective, and to discover that every journey’s end is, in reality, just the start of a new adventure.

So, we invite you, dear reader, to dust off that old helmet, pump those tires full, and gear up for the journey of a lifetime. The world is waiting to unfold before you, one pedal stroke at a time.

Freesolo staff writers collaboratively researched, wrote, and edited this article.  See more about this talented team at “About Us”.