Dec 20, 2011

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9 Magical bike rides to take before you die

Invented in the 19th century, the bike is the most popular vehicle on the planet. There are around one billion bicycles currently in use around the globe, outnumbering cars by 2-1. For some the bicycle is a necessary form of transport without which they would not be able to function. For others the velocipede is an exciting form of recreation used for leisure and pleasure. An excellent form of exercise and an ideal way to travel; you won’t find any finer trails to trek than these.

Bike

The ghost bike terrorised the wilderness.

Tractor bike

He knows how to get attention.

9. Alpe d’Huez, France

bike ride The alps France

In the Alps no one goes downhill.

One of the most famous cycle paths in the world, the Alpe d’Huez in France is the main mountain in the Tour De France. It has been a stage finish almost every year since 1976 and is a favourite on all Tour de France anniversary years. During the summer months, an average of 1000 riders a day ascend this mystical peak.

Bike race Tour De France

Cars are not welcomed here.

Over a 9 mile distance, there is a height difference of 3,670ft, taking you to the top of one of the most famous mountain ranges in the world. On the way down you’ll be treated to magnificent views of the Oisans Valley. So follow this route and take in all the highs and lows that the Alps have to offer.

8. Uyuni Salt Flats, Bolivia

Salar de Uyuni salt flats Bolivia

This is what the flats look like... really.

Salar de Uyuni is the world’s largest salt flat. It has an area 10,582 square kilometres. Located in the Potosí and Oruro departments of south-west Bolivia near the crest of the Andes, this area is elevated 3,656 meters above sea level. But don’t let its high altitude fool you. These salt flats live up to their name. They are very flat. In fact the entire area can easily be cycled across in a day.

Salt, Brine Lake

Not igloos

During your ride across the flats you will be treated to an alien landscape of salt-covered scenery and a brine lake, that due to its clarity is classed as one the largest mirrors on Earth.

7. Karakoram Highway, Pakistan to China

Karakoram Highway (KKH) Kashgar, Xinjiang Province, Western China, Islamabad in Pakistan.

Hard times ahead.

Referred to as the ‘Ninth Wonder of the World’, the Karakoram Highway (KKH) is one of the world’s great roads, beginning (or ending) in Kashgar, Xinjiang Province, Western China. The road runs for 1,200km to just north of Islamabad in Pakistan.

The Khunjerab Pass, Hunza valley, Goats

When faced with goats, sometimes walking is the best option.

Along the route you will cross the highest paved border-crossing in the world as well as the Khunjerab Pass, which is an incredible 4,693 meters above sea level. The scenery along the way is nothing less than stunning, from the soaring Karakoram mountains to the numerous tiny villages wedged in and along the Hunza valley. The road is only open during the summer months and some portions are rebuilt every year.

6. Jotunheimen National Park, Norway

Galdhøpiggen, Glittertind , Jotunheimen National Park

Watch out for giants.

Northern Europe’s two highest peaks, Galdhøpiggen at 2,469 metres and Glittertind at 2,465 metres, are both found within Norway’s largest national park, Jotunheimen. It is not an easy cycling route.

Jotunheimen, Train tunnel

Tunnel closed due to trolls.

In an area of 1,151 square kilometres over 250 of Jotunheimen’s peaks rise to over 1990 metres, meaning this route will punish even the most experienced rider. But should you wish to see reindeer, elk, deer, lynx and wolverines in their natural habitat and view crystal clear lakes teeming with trout, then the ‘Home of the Giants’ is the place for you.

5. Grand Teton National Park, US

Grand Teton National Park,

Whoa.

If you’re filled with a pioneering spirit, there is no better place to see the US as the Pilgrims must have, than in the Grand Teton National Park. The picture-perfect mountains of the Teton Range are the ideal accompaniment to the flawless beauty of the untouched lakes and forests of this great park.

Grand Teton National Park, Bicycle

This could be you!

310,000 acres of protected land are on offer for any tourist to see. Special provisions have been made for the cyclist, with over 100 miles of paved roads on offer, making Grand Teton an eye-catching and easy route for cycling.

4. Xian City Walls, China

Xian city walls, China

Don't fall off.

There is a very famous wall in China, one that some people think is pretty great. But if you want a more idyllic and achievable route along a wall in China, then the Xian city wall is a must. Standing 12 meters tall and 14 meters wide, the wall covers over 13 kilometres and surrounds the ancient city of Xian.

Circular park, . Xian City Walls, China, Bicycle

These are not large flowers. This woman is tiny.

Refurbished in 1983 by the Shaanxi Provincial Government, a circular park has been built along the high wall and its parallel-running deep moat. The park is furnished with numerous native trees and flowers giving the cyclist a beautiful scenic view from their lofty position.

3. Pulau Langkawi, Malaysia

Pulau Langkawi, Malaysia, white sand beach

Stop hiding in the bushes

30 km off the mainland coast of north-western Malaysia lies the magnificent and breath-taking island of Pulau Langkawi. 1 of 104 islands in the Langkawi archipelago, Pulau is the largest of these and Malaysia’s main tourist resort. It’s easy to see why, with white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters Pulau Langkawi is the definition of a tropical island paradise.

Pulau Langkawi, Malaysia, Bicycle

I do not recommend cycling on sand.

Until 1986 the island was considered to be cursed and so remained almost completely untouched. However, since then, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s exhaustive transformation programme has seen Pulau Langkawi transformed into one of the world’s top holiday destinations and an amazing place to cycle across.

2. Port Phillip Bay, Melbourne, Australia

Port Phillip Bay, Melbourne, Australia

You won't have to fight for space on the beach.

With 260 kilometres of coastline, Port Phillip bay in Melbourne, Australia is 35 times the size of Sydney Harbour and a great place to cycle. Sandy beaches stretch from Sorrento, on the Mornington Peninsula, to Queenscliffe, on the opposite side of the Bay. Bottlenose dolphins are a native to the bay and can be spotted by the keen-eyed cyclist en route.

Bayside Coastal Art Trail, St Kilda to Beaumaris, Australia

He is winning.

But if natural beauty isn’t for you, then you can always peruse the Bayside Coastal Art Trail, which runs from St Kilda to Beaumaris . This trail celebrates the lives and artwork of notable Australian artists who have painted the Bayside coast in past years. This is a pleasant and peaceful route for the leisurely cyclist.

1. Whitehaven to Sunderland, England

Whitehaven to Sunderland, England, cycle route

Expect a lot of views like this.

If you’ve ever wished to experience the picturesque views of the famous English countryside, then this is the cycle route for you. Travelling from Whitehaven in the county of Cumbria, across the entirety of the country (at its thinnest point), to Sunderland in the country of Tyne and Wear.

C2C, Cumbria, Northern Lake District, the Pennines

Expect a lot of roads like this

This route, known as the C2C (Sea to Sea) goes from the former coal-mining country of Cumbria, through the northern Lake District, before hitting the Pennines and going on through the Dales. At around 140 miles it is achievable in a single tiring day…

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