5 Epic Cycle Tour Routes You Need To Ride
Cycle touring is an amazing way to travel through and truly experience a foreign country. It offers up an enormous amount of freedom and flexibility; if the weather or your mood change, you can adjust your route, campsite or daily travel distance. This ability to manoeuvre your itinerary pairs well with a slow pace of travel, enabling you to soak up the scenery and culture.
Here are 5 cycle tours that are guaranteed to deliver an epic adventure.
Image source: Vistnorway
The 'Rallarvegan' is an old railway road which played an integral part in the construction of the Oslo to Bergen railway route. The 80km section that most people cycle runs up across mountain highlands, alongside glaciers and through a national park before dropping down to fjords and sea-level meadows.
At times the gravel path can be steep and be a bit of a bumpy ride depending on how harsh the winter was. To avoid snow on higher elevated sections, it's recommended that you complete the trail between the end of June to the start of October..
You can get relatively cheap flights from the UK to either Oslo or Bergen and catch the train to Haugastøl, the start of the route and collection point for rental bikes. Some people complete the trail in one day, but the majority of cyclists spread it over two or three days, stopping to enjoy a hike up a glacier or a visit to one of the museums.
Along the way are opportunities to see mountain foxes, wild reindeer and plenty of relics from the railway construction. Regarding camping, there are a few restrictions on where you can stop which you should be aware of (the first 13km of the route is one), or you can stay in one of the local B&B's. At the end of the trail, you can drop off your rental bike and get the train back to one of the major cities for the reasonable price of about £30.
1200kms of coastline, rivers, fjords, glaciers and mountain valleys, this 3 -5 week tour is a highlight reel for Chile! The terrain makes for spectacular wild camping (which is legal) with every bend presenting new idyllic spots. As well as wild camping opportunities, the latter half of the route has an abundance of rivers - perfect for catching your tea.
Most of the path it is suited to beginners and intermediate cyclist with few cars on the roads and the gravel road surface and small sections of off-road are your only challenges. Traditionally the trail follows Route 7 all the way from Puerto Montt to O’Higgins on the Argentinian border. This north to south path has you travelling with the prevailing wind, something you will appreciate after a couple of days into the journey. The topography of the route lends itself to sudden downpours so wet weather gear is essential as well as the expected sun cream - a good quality tent designed for touring is a must too.
Great Eastern Drive
Image source: Steven Penton
Despite the name of this tour, it's an excellent route to cycle, with small, undulating roads that gently wind along the Tasmanian coast. Like most tours, you can ride it in sections, but if you want to thoroughly enjoy the 700km trail, we recommend setting aside two weeks.
A few extra days in hand means that you have the time to appreciate the coastal landscapes and white beaches, stop off for a walk through one the five national parks or even take a day trip to Maria Island National Park. After a day’s riding, you can relax in the warm antipodean climate and sample some of the fantastic seafood.
Accommodation on the tour can be semi-wild camping at designated spots along the route although you can't camp anywhere you want. Moreover, it is worth researching these more to see how they fit in with your itinerary. Otherwise, there is plenty of paid campsites along the way, or B&B's in the towns if you prefer a little more comfort.
Zagreb to Dubrovnik
This cycling tour is has a beautiful mix of terrain, combining mountain ascents, coastal stretches and island hopping. You start with the most strenuous part of the tour in the mountains surrounding Zagreb as you head west toward the coast and the Adriatic Sea. Upon arrival at Zadar, you receive a well-earned sea breeze and the deep azure blue water to cool off in.
The temperature in Croatia can reach 40 degrees C in mid-summer so we would recommend September when the weather is cooler, and the campsites/roads are quieter. Wild camping is illegal in Croatia due to the chance of wildfires; however, there are plenty of affordable campsites on the coastal section of the route.
You head south out of Zadar along the Adriatic coast on relatively flat roads before reaching Spilt and begin island hopping. There are three main islands you can get a ferry to and explore. Fresh seafood, local beers and a world-class sunset later and you're back on the mainland for the final stretch of the ride into Dubrovnik.
France / Andorra / Spain
The Trans Pyrenees certainly fits into the epic category of cycle touring routes, taking you from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. Starting out near the French/Spanish border town of San Sebastian you ascend some of the most famous Cols in the Pyrenees, accruing 21,000m of elevation gain (perhaps best timed to coincide with a Strava challenge?). These hills are home to many a tiny village - ideal for an quick break and an espresso amidst breathtaking mountains.
There are a few different versions of the tour, but most follow the same main roads including the iconic climbs. Sample French, Spanish and Andorran food and culture along with excellent wine at very reasonable prices. However this idyllic-sounding journey is not for the part-timer cyclist; you will need to climb anywhere from 1,000m to 2,000m and ride between 70km to 120km a day, depending on how many days you have for the trail.
About the Author:
Pete Fletcher - Outdoor Expert
Pete grew up hiking most of the trails in the Lake District before being introduced to skiing. A few decades later and you’re most likely to find him snowboarding, skateboarding or making a mean coffee.