All over this great big world of ours, you’ll find paved roads just waiting to be christened with two skinny wheels. While there’s no shortage of great places to ride your bike, these places are more scenic, dramatic and otherwise covetable than others.
So if you’re going to hop on that saddle, do it somewhere special and head for one of the below routes. They cover a range of distances and represent seven of the best, most iconic cycling routes in the world.
1. ALPE D’HUEZ
Although this route is a mere 8.6 miles long, it’s a doozy — winding its way around 21 hairpin turns at an average grade of 8%. But it’s worth it. For one: the views. But even better: You might recognize this iconic ride as the make-it-or-break-it climb for many Tour de France hopefuls. It has been featured in dozens of races over the decades and again makes an appearance in the 2018 Tour. Ride it yourself or look for a sports travel company that recreates famous Tour legs, and fight your way uphill with other cycling enthusiasts.
2. VAIL PASS
East Vail, Colorado
Vail Pass is the 10,000-foot high road that cuts through the Rockies, joining Vail and Copper Mountain. Beside that road, you’ll find a paved bike path that’s popular among summer riders. Starting in East Vail, it climbs 8.7 miles before descending into Copper. Stop there to catch your breath, and then continue the journey, as the route connects to several other bike paths in the area.
3. SHIMANAMI KAIDO
This 37-mile toll road connects Japan’s main island to the island of Shikoku, and passes over six smaller islands along the way. So, yes, it’s quite scenic. Most impressive of all is the road’s friendliness, with bike and pedestrian lanes running the entire length. You can even rent bikes at multiple terminals, should you need one. And if you get hungry, hop off on one of those islands for a beer and some ramen.
4. GOING TO THE SUN ROAD
West Glacier, Montana
You’ll find this scenic 50-mile stretch of highway located within Glacier National Park. It’s a mixture of easy spinning and rolling hills, plus a tough climb up Logan Pass. But all around you are verdant fields, towering mountains and bighorn sheep to keep you company.
5. TOUR OF FLANDERS
Each year, the sport’s best professional cyclists congregate in Belgium for the Tour of Flanders, an exciting one-day, 147-mile race. But the day before … you can do it. The course opens to amateurs who’d like to ride the famed route, with options to tackle the full distance or opt for a shorter version. Either way, be prepared for “the hellingen,” a collection of steep, cobblestone hills that will rattle your bones.
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6. GREAT OCEAN ROAD
Ride along the sandy beaches and rugged coasts of Victoria, exploring the aptly-named Great Ocean Road. If you’re up for it, ride the entire 413-mile touring route that begins in Melbourne and ends in the fishing village of Port Fairy. Or change up your start and finish locations to shorten things up. Either way, you’ll pedal through seaside resort towns before heading inland for green pastures, native wildlife — try to spot a kangaroo — and volcanic craters.
7. BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY
The picturesque parkway runs from Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and, at 469 miles, it’s a popular drive for road trippers. But if you’ve got the time — and the endurance — it’s also a great trek on two wheels. Those making the entire journey should bring plenty of supplies, as there isn’t much support along the way. Otherwise, just find a starting point, and go out and back at whatever mileage you desire.