Cycling and Mountain Biking


Overview

Guide to cycling trips and travel by bicycle, including cycling trip holiday advice, long bicycle trip tips and where to cycle on holiday

Cycling is quite simply one the best ways to travel. Bike touring is green, it’s healthy, it’s slow enough to take in the country you’re passing through, yet fast enough to cover plenty of ground – whether you have a week or a year to spare.

 

Cycling is also open to all. Novices may not want to tackle a trail through the Nepalese Himalayas, but there are plenty of paths perfect for pedalling first-timers. From a gentle roll through the lavender fields of Provence, France, to the redwood-dotted route along coastal California, USA, to the miles of fine trails waymarked through England, Scotland and Wales, there is something for every beginner bicycler.

 

You don’t need to be super-fit to go cycle touring. If your aim is to pootle between wineries in the flat French countryside, you need to be physically active but not expert; if your plan is to cycle 100km a day across hilly Patagonia or the towering Canadian Rockies, you’ll want to do some serious training.

 

You don’t even need to know much about bikes. There are plenty of excellent tour operators offering supported cycling trips worldwide, from the rice paddies of China to the winelands of South Africa. They provide most of the equipment, bike maintenance and even a support vehicle that you can rest in if the cycling gets too much.

 

Of course you can plan your own cycling adventure – in this case you’ll want to know a bit about fixing bikes, and you’ll need to look into regulations about transporting your bike on planes and trains. You’ll also want to get some gear: cycle helmet, padded cycling shorts and a comfortable saddle are essentials.

 

But however long you cycle for, wherever in the world you chose to cycle, you’ll find touring by bike is an eye-opening experience. The freedom to stop where you chose and talk to local people as you explore, the fact that you’re not in a flashy sealed vehicle – these will open up interactions and situations that, in a car or plane, just wouldn’t be possible.

 

It’s time to get in the saddle.

Further Reading

Top 10 cycling trips

Some of the world's best places to explore by bike – whether you're a hill-loving athlete or a complete beginner

  1. Cuba – pedal past the tobacco fields, colonial towns and palm-swayed beaches of this Caribbean island; many locals travel by bike so this is the best way to strike up a conversation.
  2. China – where better to cycle than the land of the bicycle? Top picks include gentle pedals amid the karst outcrops of Yangshuo and the more challenging Beijing to Xi'an ride.
  3. Spain – the country’s Vias Verdes (green routes) are a network of disused railways turned into (mostly flat) cycle trails: follow them through quiet villages and thrilling tunnels.
  4. Loir Valley, France – gentle cycling, sunflower fields and vintage liquid refreshment, this is cycling at its most indulgent.
  5. Central Europe – hop on a bike here and you could tick off multiple countries in one trip; try a loop though Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary and Austria, doable in a week and offering a mix of cultures.
  6. New Zealand – near empty roads, stunning scenery and testing mountainous terrain; if hills sound too hard try vineyard trails around Napier or Marlborough instead.
  7. Malawi – all the locals seem to cycle (often four to a bike…), so a ride here gives real insight into this warm and wonderful African nation. Explore the forests and hillsides, or cycle along the shore of Lake Malawi.
  8. Karakoram Highway, Pakistan – a hair-raising ride past rainbow-coloured trucks, landslides and three mountain ranges: a breathtaking challenge along one of the planet's most iconic roads.
  9. Gulf Islands, British Columbia, Canada – cycle with eagles and artisans around Canada’s bohemian archipelago; take your bike on the ferry to maximise your exploring.
  10. Berlin, Germany – history in motion: cycle the 160km route following the foundations of the Berlin Wall, which has now been turned into a 21st century bike path.