Travelling by bike can totally transform the way you see a country. Rather than rushing from A to B, head down in a book or fast asleep on a coach, you can actually take the time to admire your surroundings en route to your gap year travel destination and take in the sounds and smells.
Moreover, it’s incredibly rewarding and - once you get to wherever it is you’re heading - you’ll feel all the more appreciative of the place. It just wouldn’t be possible to list every epic bike route out there, but here's my attempt to scratch the surface with six of the best and most breathtaking. Enjoy!
Munda Biddi Trail in Western Australia
Munda Biddi, meaning “path through the forest” in the Nyoongar language, is a 600-mile long cycling trail that runs from Mundaring to Albany and is said to be the longest of its kind in the world. The trail passes through forests of eucalyptus and unspoiled bushland, where you’ll encounter wallabies, kangaroos and possums, as well as other wildlife that doesn’t exist elsewhere.
You don’t have to be a pro to tackle Munda Biddi, for there are sections that suit all abilities, and it’s easily accessible by car, meaning you can begin your journey wherever’s most convenient for you. Find out more by heading to the official website, mundabiddi.org.au.
North Sea Cycle Route
This 3,728-mile route traces the coastline of the North Sea, passing through the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Much of the North Sea Cycle Route goes along bike paths and small roads, making it a tranquil ride and therefore ideal for amateur cyclists.
You’ll get to explore a vast amount of scenery too, from mountains to beaches, to woods, and you’ll pass through quaint little villages and farmlands.
The best part is you don’t need to worry about finding your way back, as if you just continue cycling, you’ll eventually end up where you started. In addition, there are numerous ferry links that can take you back home.
Pacific Coast Route from Canada to Mexico
Starting in Vancouver and ending near the Mexican border, the Pacific Coast Route takes cyclists past landscapes that range from frozen mountains to hot Californian beaches. You’ll also get to experience crossing the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco as part of this 2,000-mile route.
I would advise taking your time, not only so that you’ll be able to appreciate the scenery, but also because that way you can fully embrace the laidback west coast way of life.
Carretera Austral in Chile
This gravelly route takes you from Puerto Montt in central Chile to Villa O’Higgins in northern Patagonia, involving a few ferry transfers along the way. Carretera Austral encompasses some of Chile’s most stunning terrain, including native forest, mountains, lakes and glaciers in a variety of national parks.
Make sure you pack a sturdy bike though, as it’s not the smoothest of journeys, but is still very much worth the effort. However, you should avoid going in Chile’s winter, as it can be closed by snow and rain, so save it for an end-of-the-year trip instead.
La Farola in Cuba
There is no better way of exploring Cuba than on two wheels, and the spectacular descent along the La Farola highway has to be one of the most exhilarating bike rides in the country.
The highway traverses Cuba’s mountainous eastern territory between Cajobabo, a small town along the Carribean coast and Barcoa, which borders the Atlantic Ocean. It was built by the revolutionary government and today, the first stage of the Vuelta Ciclista (Cuba’s version of the Tour de France) is run over this route.
Those with enough determination and stamina to complete La Farola will be treated to cacti-sprinkled desert, lush rainforest and views over the Sierra de Purial mountains – you can’t ask for much more than that!
Avenue Verte from London to Paris
Launched in 2012, Avenue Verte runs from the London Eye to Notre Dame Cathedral along a principally traffic-free route through villages, towns and beautiful countryside. It’s a challenging but rewarding journey, which enables cyclists to make the most of the extensive cycle network in England’s south and France’s north.
There are two options, the shorter western one being 247 miles and the eastern one being 287 miles, but it’s not just the distance that distinguishes these two routes; the western route takes you past more rural scenery, such as Epte Valley and Vexin Regional Nature Park, whereas on the eastern route, you’ll see more historic towns, such as Beauvais and Senlis.
Have you completed any of these cycle routes? We’d love to hear your stories! Alternatively, if you’ve cycled somewhere amazing and feel we ought to know about it, share your experiences in the comments box below.
on 26 / 05 / 2015