‘Not all those who wander are lost.’
J.R.R. Tolkien – The Fwllowship of the Ring
These top destinations for cyclists everywhere are just the ideal way to quiet the mad obsessions of pedals and adrenaline, at least for a while. Each of these routes has some specific je-ne-sais-quoi making them not only perfect places for cyclists, but proper destinations for great holidays: flavored wine, striking views, friendly locals or amazing abrupt roads that make you want to leave it all and just give it a never ending bike ride.
Sierra Nevada, Spain
It’s true, at 3394 meters Veleta is only the second highest mountain in Sierra Nevada, but anyone who’s been here would just recommend it without any moment of hesitation. What’s the most challenging for every cyclist looking up to such an imposing a mountaintop from its base is knowing that coordinated effort and determination will lead him on the edge of this natural mamoth, since the route’s possible, unlike on many other high European mountains. The ride’s not one of the world’s most dangerous or difficult per se, and it won’t take more than 6 hours at a steady pace, but it clearly is one of the most rewarding because of the stunning looks from up top and the very long, exciting over an hour long descent. Tip: If you don’t find this challenging enough, you can go hiking from the top of Veleta to Mulhacen. The track’s not easy at all, but it’s worth it because of the amazing panorama of the glacial lake at over 3 000 meters altitude. During the winter, this trip is not possible because of the severe wheather conditions, but towards the end of the springtime this mix of trekking and cycling makes a complete holiday out of your trip.
Needless to say, the country’s very popular for the amazingly daring and standing out cycling destinations and rutes, as is for the locals’ tradition of making a life style out of biking, rather than a national sport. But without doubt Cork and Galway are the best cycling routes that this country can offer, not just in terms of impressive landscapes changing once every pedal or because of the smooth, carefully arranged to feel perfectly straight, but for the awesome locals and their culturally open spirit as well. This is by far the best part of the country to ask for accomodation and not only be truy welcome, but also rewarded with the best beer and one of the tastiest European home made cuisine that is in the countryside. And if you’re just traveling for the raw, natural beauty of the wilderness, you certainly shouldn’t miss the limestone of the Burren on the west either, anyone who’s been here believes it’s a world apart, the roughest samples of Irish wildlife.
The greatest combination of steep pitches and false flats along with grave silence and very small chances of running into someone, unless it’s a popular national holiday time. And while this top doesn’t even include destinations like France (it just wouldn’t be fair to compare the haughty Pyrenees with any other European biking tour), what you’ll find in Yorkshire Dales is, however, unique. From the valley bottom to moor top silence and no sign of actual life is what you’ll find, yet in an irresistible form. But if what you’re looking for is a really challenging cycling route regardless the wheather and heavenly quiet ares, than you may want to try the Etape du Dales in May. This cyclosportive environment is England’s greatest mix of daring routes and magnificent landscapes.
But off-road cycling may interest you more than the British national spirit, which is why under no circumstance should you leave the United Kingdom without having tried South Downs. Not only won’t you find many European bikers to share with you some of their experiences here, but the chances are that most of the British you’ll talk to won’t have a clue about this genuinely aggressive destination. Any hardcore mountain biker will find the descend of this steep, sharp route a bliss, while it’s highly recommended not to try it if you’re not an expert. This small biking paradise is one of the purest adrenaline sources England has to offer its tourists. Tip: Don’t leave the place without visiting the British Heart Foundation, a great combination of friendly people and swimming contests.
Soary peaks and sandy coastline, the most suitable to take your friends biking, especially because there’s no time to stop your tour, as day and night are barely distinguishable, which can hel you make a nonstop marathon of the entire trip to Lotofen Islands. Pedaling all along the water, you’ll find that this natural company is as ravishing as uncommon, combining completely different landforms, as the water’s surrounded by a large plateau sprinkled with high, steep cliffs. This blisfully quiet, peaceful place is a lot more about relaxing than it is about challenging routes, but well worth it, taking into consideration the hospitable guesthouses and the amazing views. Tip: The national policy of transporting a bike by train is by delivering it 24 hours before the date on your ticket. As about accomodation, the most common way of doing it the Norwegian way is by sleeping in fishermen’s cabins. But it doesn’t look as bad as it sounds, they’re nicely painted, comfortable, very colorful and welcoming, although some of them are a thousand years old.
The most internationally appreciated German bike tour is, once again, not only about the cycling trail and road itself, but about the uniqueness of the place. It’s not recommended to a beginner because it really requires endurance, and being a closed circuit makes it impossible to quit before getting back to Munich, where the tour around the Bavarian Lakes starts. Otherwise, it’s pure heaven in a billion green nuances. The nature seems to have split all the imaginable shades of green between the turquoise shores, the bleu-vert waters and the China green forests. The descents are as precipitous as they’re smooth. Tip: After having finished the biking tour, take the cable car to Zugspsitze, for a nice ride to Germany’s highest altitude, from where you can admire the entire combination of green nuances you’ve separately seen during your journey.