It’s always more rewarding to explore a new destination without the confines of a motorised vehicle, and one of the easiest and best options is by bike. Most of us know how to ride one, and many destinations offer bike rental, along with safety equipment and accessories.
From the exhilaration of a steep downhill race to a gentle city tour, cycling burns calories, enables you to go off-road and takes you to more places more quickly than you would reach on foot.
Having recently collaborated with Expedia on an biking-related article for their newly launched Hotel Edit, it seemed as good a time as any to share some of my favourite locations around the world for mountain biking.
The largest of the Canary Islands, Tenerife is perhaps best known for its summer holiday resorts, but the island is working hard to reinvent itself as a Mecca for adventure sports. Scuba diving and surfing, as well as hiking and paddle boarding are gaining popularity, and year on year, more and more cyclists are using Tenerife’s undulating terrain as a training ground for big competitions.
Two of the most popular routes are the Valley of Masca and the climb from Las Teresitas to El Bailadero, both of which take in some interesting volcanic landscapes, as well as a picturesque coastline.
MAI CHAU, VIETNAM
Although Vietnam is more famous for its ridiculous number of motorbikes, there are plenty of great destinations for cycling and mountain biking too.
The relatively undiscovered Mai Chau Valley is an incredibly beautiful place that’s barely made a dent on the tourist map yet. Beginner cyclists can explore the rice paddies on the valley floor, while those more experienced can challenge themselves to steep winding roads through the mountains.
Hidden caves and small local villages add to the charm of Mai Chau, and accommodation ranges from simple homestays to a luxurious ecolodge.
DEATH ROAD, BOLIVIA
Death Road is one of the most exciting mountain bike routes you can do, and it’s well known among backpackers as a badge of honour.
Huge drop-away cliffs to one side of the narrow path make it quite a challenge for the mind, but physically it’s an option for almost anyone who can ride a bike.
Various companies operate from La Paz, taking vanloads of eager cyclists to an often icy starting point high in the mountains. From there it’s a speedy descent 64 km to jungle in the valley floor.
Norway has some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet, and appeals to all levels of cyclist. The small islands to the northwest of Bergen offer relatively flat terrain, the only uphill climbs being the frequent bridge approaches.
Further inland in Nordfjord, the landscape becomes much more dramatic, with mountains rising over 1000 m above sea level. The area around Loen is very popular with cyclists, but if you’re keen on a more varied adventure you can also go hiking, snowshoeing or skiing, take to the skies with a basejump or navigate high-altitude bridges on a via ferrata.
Norway’s hotels are well equipped for adventure enthusiasts and offer the comfort and facilities you’ll need after an adventure in the wilderness. As testament to the popularity of cycling in Norway, its second biggest city, Bergen, will be hosting the UCI Road World Championships in just a few days.
For ideas on where to go and where to stay on your next cycling vacation, check out Expedia’s hotels for mountain bikers.