So, its all about the bike isn’t it? To be honest, no not really. my housemate has got a cracking bike but all he ever uses it for is scooting off to work every now and again and occasionally off to town (although the fear of it being nicked often out ways the desire to use it). So, no having a rock and roll bike is good but give me a vaguely half decent one and I would rather be in the best place to use it.
It is all about the location. The adventure. The scenery. And the buzz.
I am not telling you to hit the trails and take part in the in the world’s toughest mountain bike race from Canada all the way down to Mexico but at the very least have a crack at some of the slightly easier and less manic sections surely?!?
The route itself is actually the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route and starts in Banff, Canada going down the spine of the Rockies down to the border of Mexico. A total of 2745 miles- not one for the faint hearted at all. It’s not the extra 500 miles than the Tour de France that makes this so daunting its the prospect of waist deep snow in the mountains, ankle deep mud, below freezing temperatures at the highest points and over 100F in the desert in New Mexico.
The other unusual thing about this trip is that you have to carry everything with you. The trip is self-supported which means no cars, no mechanics and defintiely no masseurs at the end of each 100+ day. What’s more the prize money…well there isn’t any so you are doing this for love!
Rather than give you a blow by blow account of the route the best bet is to check it out yourself.
The route itself can be mixed and matched so if you don’t have a minimum of 17 days, 23 hours and 45 minutes (the winning time from 2009) or want to be one of the 27 non finishers out of 43 then you can jump in and out at any point. The other thing to bear in mind is that this is not a hardcore route. In fact 80% of the tour is on dirt or gravel with a further 10% on paved roads and a further 10% on trails.
If that is a bit too much for you then check out Laos.
The two week cycle trek under consideration is is designed 100% for families. Obviously the question you need to ask is do you want to take your kids away with you when you can have such fun and adventure without them? Well, yes of course you do! Everything is catered for and so you don’t need to carry anything with you. It’s not all go though as there are several days off. lots of swimming holes to enjoy and you can even have a day to ride an elephant- who needs Disney World?
The guys at Grasshopper Adventure can put all this together for you so be sure to have a look at their site.
If you want to stay loyal to these fair shores then there are plenty of options in England of course. The Lake district does sound a little basic doesn’t it? But what about flying around in the dark. At night. Would that float your boat? Cycle Active offer you a full day of activity and then let you head home to either rest in the pub or grab your lights and hit the routes again. Nice!
Just north of the border, and probably generally more expected, in Scotland can I suggest that we try somewhere a little different to the usual Fort Williams (although to be honest it is pretty spectacular there). Why not head to the remote Knoydart Peninsula for a change? The views of the mountains and sea lochs are truly breath taking plus you can have a wee dram in Scotland’s most far flung pub, The Forge. Not bad hey!
Keeping with the UK theme, albeit one that incorporates a little bit more…, the 6000km North Sea Cycle Route is defintiely not one for the faint hearted. It is apparently the longest cycle route in the world and is basically a loop down the west coast of Great Britain, hop on a ferry to Belgium then back up the other side through the Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Denmark where you then jump back onto a ferry and over to the Shetland Islands.
Although a long distance it might the North Sea route could be perceived to be a little mundane perhaps. How does 11,000m of vertical descent grab you instead then? France is a bit of an adrenaline junkie haven. It’s capital is perhaps deemed to be Chamonix. The Chamonix to Nice route has eight classic cols and winds it’s way around 565km of tarmac. It is not for the easily swayed or weak minded of you as it can be a gruesome but rewarding experience for the experienced cyclist.
Lastly it would only be proper for me to offer you something a little bit on the intense and crazy side. Head over to Costa Rica for one of the most savage races around. In 1561 the Spanish took about 20 years to tek across the mountains. The Ruta de los Conquistadores crosses from the Pacific to the Caribbean in about 4 days! The race tends to take place early November and is open to anyone with a bike, a keen sense of adventure and a little competence on a bike.
As with all of these things there is of course an element of risk attached. whether it be from traveling, damage to your kit or even yourself you should take out some travel cover so please have a look at this offering here.