Where is the World’s Best Region for Bicycling?

People everywhere are rediscovering the childhood thrill of pedal power—as well as enjoying the connection that bicycling creates with the surrounding landscape.

Apr 14, 2010
Cyclists and others gather beneath the Pont du Gard, the 4th-century Roman aqueduct near the town of Uzès, France.
Cyclists and others gather beneath the Pont du Gard, the 4th-century Roman aqueduct near the town of Uzès, France.
Photography Duncan Christy

There is no better way to see a countryside than by bicycle. Walking’s good, sure, and will bring many of the same exterior pleasures. But you can cover much more terrain on a bike tour.

And it’s not a small pleasure that on a bike you can relive the giddy exhilaration of childhood by coasting downhill with brakes off and the wind buffeting your face. That on a bike, a good one, you can pump your legs like pistons and imagine for short distances that you are part of the peloton of the Tour de France. That on a bike you can simply coast on your momentum, achieving a forward progress for absolutely no apparent effort at all.

So where to ride and achieve this joie de vivre? I know what I like; how about you? Let’s swap some tales as if we were riding together for the first time.

Dordogne River Valley, France

I never forget tree-shaded roads in the Dordogne River Valley of France which track the river for long stretches. We’d ride swaddled in shade and shadow and then break out into plains where a 12th-century castle or fortified chateau would hover or even bristle above the river’s bend. We’d ride past goat cheese farms with their fermenting smells, past walnut and hazelnut orchards with their ancient mills nearby, past chapels and churches.

Tuscany

The Tuscan hills have always been the first defense of its towns since marauders and brigands had to march up them. You’ll have to pedal to reach the centre, and it’s a feat. And how good an Orangina will taste at a little café when you’re done! And how thrilling the scenery on a hot Italian day when the grapes are nearing the harvest, and you can see a Montepulciano from 20 kilometres away and know that you’ve got 19 clicks of pure pleasure and then one more of pure delicious agony.

Just remember: There’s no such thing as too low a gear!

Nantucket Island

Nantucket Island’s a different story, as flat as a calm sea. If you want to sweat, you’ve got to ride hard. And that’s a dumb play because the island’s only 14 miles wide, and if you ride hard, you’ll be to ’Sconset—as the locals call the eastern tip—before you know it. So slow down and enjoy this charming American retreat in all its Yankee idiosyncrasies. Hire a knobby-tired bike and bump around on cobblestones that have lain on the main street of Nantucket for two centuries. Ride out to Cisco Beach on a hot day in August and jump into the surf, and then quench your thirst with a Cisco ale, right at the brewery. Life can be this good if you do!

So now it’s your turn. Where are you going to tell me to try? Where is the world’s best region for bicycling?


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28 Comments about Where is the World’s Best Region for Bicycling?

  1. Matt says:

    The best cycling place is in France: Ile de Ré ! Simply beautiful watching the fast tide ebb’s and flood’s while riding the peacefull loop. http://www.ile-de-reve.fr/

  2. Maria says:

    Tuscany in Italy

  3. kevin says:

    I have ridden in almost every continent in the world. Many destinations have already been mentioned. However your location in Carmelo , Uruguay has excellent road riding right out of the hotel.. Reminded me of Tuscanny…

  4. Jane says:

    Ireland is fabulous – did a loop from Galway out towards Connemara, then over to the Aran Islands, back to mainland via Doolin, up to Ballyvaghn, down to Ennis and then back up to Athenry and finishing back in Galway. Not only are the people and the countryside great, you can rent Raleigh bikes the way you rent cars meaning you need not do a loop if you don’t want to. Would go back and cycle other areas there in a flash.

  5. Melanie says:

    Tossa de Mar, Girona, Spain, breathtaking… literally!

  6. Jasper says:

    French Alpes, of course!
    Alpe d´Huez is a legend, Galibier, Telegraph, Glandon, etc. The HC-Mountains of the Tour de France are the ultimate things for real cyclists.

  7. julian louey says:

    The Loire Valley
    Great fragrant sunflower fields, great fish, very very beautiful scenery,, wonderful chateaux, and……
    FLAT!!!!!

  8. Robyn says:

    Hokkaido Japan is great. The cycling in the Niseko area famous for snow in winter is a wonderful venue for cycling in summer/autumn.

  9. Henri Roy says:

    Mont Sainte-Anne are a, near Quebec city is great !
    Bike around the area to Baie Saint Paul, or to Quebec city then a cross the St Lawrence by ferrey to Levis back to old bridge to Quebec, by the river to Old Quebec and back to Mont Sainte-Anne. What a beautiful ride! Beats Europe !

  10. reneau says:

    I loved biking in Argentina.

  11. Aron Kurta says:

    I carried out a long distance cycle ride from Bristol to Budapest last year in August and I can highly recommend the Rhine cycle route. It is easy to follow, flat…good for family cycle holidays. Beautiful castles, vineyards along both sides of the river path.

  12. Gary Wigmore says:

    I would like to hear about bicycle trips in Asia or Japan

  13. John says:

    Two suggestions that are worlds apart from each other – Santa Barbara for the sheer beauty of it all, and the Netherlands for the sheer ease and fun of cycling in a country completely attuned to cycling as a way of life!

  14. Jean-Paul says:

    The best place to ride your bicycle is Vancouver, BC Canada. I am biased because I live there. My second best is cycling around l’ïle de Ré in France… simply beautiful watching the fast tide ebb’s and flood’s while riding the peacefull loop. http://www.iledere.com/

  15. wendy says:

    Zion & Bryce canyon, Utah. It can only be enjoyed at its fullest by cycling which gives you the ability to pull over every 50 m & take a photo of the stunning scenery.

  16. Jordi says:

    The bike trail following the Danube from its source at Donaueschingen (Germany) up to Budapest (Hungary) is simply the best.

  17. Sheryl says:

    Rajasthan, India! Where you learn the true meaning of “share the road” — with holy cows, water buffalo, camels, religious processions, and women in colorful saris carrying brass water pots on their heads stacked three high.

  18. Deja Hsu says:

    Beautiful Santa Barbara CA bike path along the ocean. You can find these gem stones on the beach which are made into sea stone necklaces: http://www.ling-ling-style.com

  19. sinikka malcolm says:

    If you like city bicycling, Helsinki is great endless bicycle paths , you can find them in the forest right in the city and also always right beside the sidewalks.

  20. Kathy Stein says:

    New Zealand! You can choose difficulty in the routes and still see most everything. We rode across the Canterbury plain and then through some beautiful mountain ranges, rainforests and next to the Tasman Sea. We finished in Queensland. It was pure heaven!

  21. Eliz. says:

    Gibb River Road – Kimberley, Australia. Rugged terrain, rugged roads, breath-taking scenery along the way to some of the most remote tour destinations in the world.

  22. Simon says:

    There is nothing as breathtaking as riding through the Dolomites. Base yourself in a little ski village like Canazei and experience some of the world’s most beautiful and challenging mountain passes.

  23. Teresa Malecki says:

    Has to be Blue Mountains National Park NSW Australia or Tasmania. Wonderful countryside, animals and great views! New Zealand South Island is great too for some challenges!

  24. Jeremy says:

    Across the Berkshire Downs and Cotswolds in the UK

  25. Dori Gilbert says:

    My favorite cycling destination is Provence. We rode on small bike trails and less-travelled roads. Visited the hill towns and stopped for market day in Sarlat. A very heavenly experience.

  26. eve in says:

    On Oahu Hawaii.We have bike paths and you can not beat the view-just beautiful.Ride along side of the gorgeous Pacific Ocean.
    Good for all levels of bikers!
    Have fun -we just love it!
    Aloha!

  27. Chris says:

    Moab, UT…… Slickrock trail is one of the biking destinations that should be on the bucket list.

  28. Sam says:

    around the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee; it like no other with its gentle farmland, rivers, rolling hills and mountain climbing options!

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