Bike tourer’s Mecca - CycleBlaze

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Bike tourer’s Mecca

Keith Klein

Greg Garceau is planning a tour to what he calls the “Holy Land” for bike tourers. For Greg, that appears to be western Idaho. What is your holy land for touring, and why?

I’ll offer the following:

Iceland. The majesty of the scenery and the effort needed to get to the scenes by bike make this one of my ultimate tours.

The Carreterra Austral in Chile. I haven’t been, but all I’ve read and seen looks fabulous.

The Pamirs. Ditto above. Just wow.

For the less adventurous, or those in search of cultural contact and not physical challenges, I’d offer EuroVelo 6, Atlantic to the Black Sea. History, scenery, culture, and a new language every few hundred kilometers. As Leo Woodland has said, it’s not an adventure until you don’t speak the local language.

Or how about South East Asia? 

Your thoughts?

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3 weeks ago
Gregory GarceauTo Keith Klein

Thanks for the plug, Keith, but the "holy land" thing was kind of a joke.  On the other hand, maybe it wasn't a joke.  I find that my holy land is wherever I'm touring at the time -- even if that's someplace like Iowa.  But really, if I had to pick my number one holy land, it would probably be the Sonoran and Mojave Desert regions.  Everything in the desert is so unlike Minnesota.  I love the barren mountains and the Joshua trees & saguaros.  And no mosquitoes.  

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3 weeks ago
Wayne EstesTo Keith Klein

Greg and I both enjoy desert regions for the same reasons. Desert is exotic compared to my green home. Views are great because no trees obstruct the view. Rain and mosquitoes are rare. And most deserts are sparsely populated, with little traffic.

Omak Lake in the Colville Indian reservation.

I also like the Sonoran desert because of the unique cactus. Everybody should pedal through a forest of cactus at least once.

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
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3 weeks ago
Wayne EstesTo Keith Klein

In North America I think the most scenic paved highways are:

1. Icefields Parkway in Alberta.
2. California 1 on the Big Sur coast.
3. The red rocks route connecting national parks in southern Utah.

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3 weeks ago
Graham SmithTo Keith Klein

Keith I’ve actually cycle toured in the Holy Land (Israel) and the road traffic there was some of the most dangerous I’ve ever encountered. The Holy Land is a fascinating region but I’d not recommend it for on-seal cycle touring. Take a MTB and get off the main roads there. So I’ll re-interpret ‘Holy Land’ as ‘The Holy Grails of Cycle Touring’.

My elusive and probably now unobtainable goals for cycle touring are similar to what some others have mentioned. The Pamirs and The Carrertera Austral. I also have parts of Indonesia, such as Sulawesi, Mt Bromo and Lake Toba on my Cycle Touring Wishlist.  More realistic longer term goals are parts of North America.

And what will actually happen will be tours in South East Australia when the borders re-open. Currently we are only permitted to exercise outdoors for two hours per day within our immediate local area. So very short tours only nowadays. 

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3 weeks ago
Edward HitchcockTo Keith Klein

France.

  • Very varied scenery.  Lots of human history.
  • Many (very many) minor sealed roads with little traffic.
  • Cycling for leisure/sport culture.
  • Quite good cycling infrastructure.
  • Good train services, cycle friendly especially for shorter journeys.
  • Generally very respectful drivers (after 5 years living here I am constantly plesantly surprised.  Of course care is always needed).
  • Politeness.  Being polite to others is important, makes a nice atmosphere.
  • Temperate climate.
  • Good food and tourist facilities.
  • Good inexpensive medical services.
  • Some small challenge for those who do not already speak French.
  • Friendly people (but you need to start every conversation politely  in French, even if you only know 'Bonjour')
  • Easy access to other European countries.

I think I have found the cycle tourist's promised land.

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3 weeks ago
Keith KleinTo Wayne Estes

Hi Wayne,

Interesting choices. I love California 1 myself, but for me it lacks the exotic allure of other places. My French compatriots would probably love it for it’s exotic allure, though. And I know some cyclos that would put Utah at the top of their list. 

Greg and I both live/lived in Minnesota, although his part of the state has a lot more trees than where I lived. Unlike Greg, I like “view blockers” maybe because I like woodworking as a hobby. Green is my favorite color, too! And I’m not fond of hot weather, so I’ve never been attracted to deserts. But it’s all good. Thanks for the input.

Cheers,

Keith

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3 weeks ago
Keith KleinTo Edward Hitchcock

Hi Edward,

Well, of course I agree. One of the reasons (or rather most of the reasons) I moved to France twenty years ago. But after all that time our beloved  “ vasty fields” are no longer exotic. And opinions differ, of course. I for one welcome the diversity of places that folks go for cycling adventures. One thing I find refreshing is to hear of others experiences especially here in France. It’s always a pleasure to rediscover this country through other’s eyes.

Cheers,

Keith 

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3 weeks ago
Keith KleinTo Graham Smith

Hi Graham,

Well, just like digestive gas, this too shall pass! 
Interesting  places in Indonesia I’ve never heard of. I shall have to look for reports from folks who’ve been there.

And even though I’ve never been to Israel I have friends who have, and they concur with your assessment. I even know two Israeli bike touring guides, and all their tours are off road.

Cheers,

Keith 

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3 weeks ago
Jean-Marc StrydomTo Keith Klein

I'm not sure I could have a single "Holy Land" but if there were to be just one it would be the Carretera Austral and Patagonia in general.  We've done it twice and given the chance we will do it again.  The Carretera Austral is actually only a small part of the package.  Patagonia holds so many varied places in which to cycle in almost total freedom yet is sufficiently safe to be accessible to risk averse people.  

Close challengers for very different reasons would be Hokaido in Japan and much of SE Asia.

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2 weeks ago