5 Places Best Seen from the Seat of A Bicycle
Few modes of transportation connect you with the intimacy of your surroundings with such efficiency as a bicycle. Anyone who has ridden any significant distance can attest to the freedom you feel on a bike. Of course not all rides are created equal. Sometimes the location and circumstance of a ride can really transport you to different place and time. As a tour guide for long distance bike tour company Tour d’Afrique I’ve had the good fortune to ride through some amazing places. Here’s a list of some of my favorites.
The Pyramids at Giza
Our Cairo to Cape Town Bike tour starts every year at dawn from shadow of the great pyramids. There has been so much written about them I won’t go into detail here, sufficed to say they are pretty cool. I’ve ridden up to see the pyramids and I’ve driven one of our support vehilces. Riding is definitely better.
The way the pyramids reveal themselves to you as you ride up to see them is unbeatable. We rode to the pyramids from our hotel about 8 km away. We passed though the crowded and noisy streets of Giza and as we got closer to the pyramids we began to glimpse them through the spaces in between the buildings. They look like they belong on another planet.
It’s about a 2km ride from the entrance gate to the Pyramids themselves. Feeling the cool morning air and squinting into the sun as it rose over the Pyramid of Cheops really gives you the feeling of discovery and wonder.
The Small and Winding Roads and the Old Cites of Eastern Europe
There really is something special about old cities. Cities that had to be constructed in a way that allowed them to be easily defended from attack and were built with hard labor and the skill of true craftsmen. I love the feel of an old castle wall and riding through streets that were built before motorized traffic was even remotely possible.
In 2010 I rode from St. Petersburg to Venice on our Amber Route Bike Tour. The route is essentially a tour of old cities. Tallin, Riga, Vilnius, Krakow, Bratislava, Ljubljana and of course Venice were some of the highlights. Since the roads that pass though the old cities were not built for cars and truck the scale of them is just right for the bike. The small streets feel intimate and have the right amount of exotic flavor.
Everywhere you look is like a scene from a John Wayne Movie!
Monument Valley, Utah
I descended into Monument Valley with the wind at my back and AC/DC blaring in my headphones. We started the day at the Anasazi cliff dwellings at the Navajo Monument near Shonto, AZ and after 30 km of climbing is was down hill for 50 km to our camp in the valley.
A 50 km downhill ride with the wild west landscape spread out before you and the wind at your back, are you kidding me! How could it get any better.
One piece of advice I would give is make sure you’re riding in the right direction. Our route took us from west to east which provided mostly tail winds. The few riders I passed going in the opposite direction had a different opinion of the day then I did.
Looking Down into the Valley
The Black Sea Mountains
I enjoy climbing when I’m on the bike. I loved feeling of effort and the reward of reaching the top, not to mention the real pay off… the descent! The mountains along the Black Sea in Turkey provide plenty of challenging climbs combined with spectacular views.
The people of Turkey make the experience even more enjoyable – they are friendly and inviting through seemingly every village you cycle through.
Waiting to Cross into Azerbaijan, with a fat stack of freshly exchanged Azeri Manat
Anywhere with Friends
Sometimes even the most mundane of rides is can be amazing when combined with right company. One of things I look forward to the most after returning from a trip is riding with my friends and catching up. On a long bike tour you may start the tour with a group of strangers but after weeks and months of riding together great friendships evolve.