Spending one year on a bicycle will naturally bring you to exceptionally high and low moments. Spend a year doing anything and you will find yourself looking back on those few moments where everything was just right.
Everyone has their favourite Bicycle Touring Routes, destinations and moments for their own reasons, so here’s a list of our Top 6 and why
1. Crossing the Iranian dessert – Khargushi Caravanserai
Cycling from the beauty of Isfahan city, to a forgotten caravanserai, and onwards to the desert city of Yazd. The Khargushi Caravanserai has been abandoned for hundreds of years and was one of many market places and rest points for traders along the ancient silk road. The building has been left to crumble. Faithful shepherds and wandering bicycle tourists now use the caravanserai. We had heard whispers and tales from other cyclists that had found this particular caravanserai. The Caravanserai has a slightly salty drinkable spring stemming from the center. With 10 liters each of water strapped to our bicycles, heading into the dessert, the thought of this spring gave us a little extra confidence as we departed.
We had 200km to travel to Yazd and we were unsure of the road surface. We began the dessert leg from the Ancient city of Varzaneh and were quickly upon plains of dessert with creased mountain ranges on the horizon.
It’s a strange thought to cycle away from civilization with just yourselves and your precious water. The sun beat down and the landscape turned to sand and stone. We arrived at the Caravanserai, as if we were traders along the silk path. No other place on the journey did I feel more overwhelmed with the history and stories that a building could hold. We pitched our tent and lit our stove as the wind hurled and whipped the sand. We took shelter under the arched domes, careful to check for potential falling bricks from crumbling roof above. I couldn’t help but to dig my heel into the sand, just maybe lie some forgotten treasure.
The mid-night toilet break was spooky, and the sky alit with stars. Distant howls from wolves sent shivers through us. We were alone and in awe of the destination our little bikes had taken us. Leaving the Caravanserai, we contemplated staying a second night, but the sight of the salty water well made our decision easier. After 30 km, we stumbled upon a remote mining town. From here we treated to the famous Iranian hospitality. We were given food and water and they insisted we stay the night at their homes. Not a word of English was spoken, but all the generosity and kindness from these people was given.
The onward leg to Yazd, drew the creased mountain ranges closer. The dessert began to fade and civilization gradually returned. The city of Yazd was a destination worthy of the endure. Built from mud and sand with stunningly ordained mosques splintering the city streets. Home to the roots of a proud yet suppressed Zoroastrian religion and nicknamed the “City of Windcatchers”.
We’ve said enough, Matts favourite moment yet.
Our Blog post of our Encounters in Iran!
Kms – 316
Difficulty – Moderate
2. Georgian Alpine lake Paravani
Sitting at over 2000 meters above sea level, the pristine water of Lake Paravani is a remarkable bicycle pilgrimage and worthy of our number 2 cycling destination.
We started our tour in Poti after crossing the black sea by ferry. The road to Lake Paravani from Batumi and over the Gordedzi pass has been our most challenging yet. As rain pelted down, we pushed our bicycles up the eroding track. Torrents of water cascaded down the path and quite soon we soaked through, cold and exhausted.
The famed Georgian hospitality took pity on us. Two brothers stopped roadside and insisted we visit them. We gladly accepted. We went on to meet their entire family, exchanged a few words and defiantly one to many Cha-Chas (Georgian alcohol, similar to Schnapps). The cold chill of mountain air was beginning to set in, so we left in search of a hopeful lakeside camp. A small Christian monk monastery on the edge of Lake Paravani was the destination we finally stumbled upon. After a hesitant invitation, they gave us bread, wine and soup. The rain cleared and we asked permission to pitch our tent lakeside. Our most tranquil camping spot of the tour to date. A sharp mountain range boarded the enormous Lake Paravani. We set our tent and marveled at our lakeside resort we had just pitched.
Moments like these are the reasons we all bicycle tour
Our Blog post of our Encounters in Georgia!
Kms – 429
Difficulty – Very Very difficult
Handy items – Goretex rainjacket and Merino thermal layers
3. Central Laos “The Loop”
Laos, a land of untouched pristine jungle. Where the Mekong is their way of life. Laos is a remarkable travel destination, where you can find pockets almost untouched by tourists. “The Loop”, a 200km circuit, is one of these untouched pockets. Landscapes of jagged mountains and dense jungle frame wide flat expanses of rice patties. The noise of jungle insects rings high and rain intermittently thunders down then clearing to a burning sun. “The Loop” is normally taken on by motorcycle, but any determined bicycle tourist will be incredibly rewarded for their efforts here.
Simply put, “The Loop” has been our moth breathtaking scenery of our adventure. Given enough time, you can wander off the trail and find some of the largest caves in all of Laos. There will be no guides or tourist rip offs here, you’re on your own.There is no doubt that in a few years, “The Loop” will have gained a deserving reputation of a travel “must”. For now, the path is a challenging, bicycle touring wonder and a beautiful chance to interact with locals The locals are still laughing at the funny white people that stop and stare at them, as they tend to their rice paddies.
Tip, we dont recommend cycling the stretch between Vieng Kham and Thakek, so we haven’t included it on our map, its just flat, busy highway
Our Blog post of our Encounters in Laos!
Kms – 243
Difficulty – Difficult, with some seriously sweaty, intense climbs!
Handy items – Extra large Water bottle cages
4. Croatian Islands
Island hopping the picturesque Croatian islands is not only undertaken by private sailing boat. You can do this by bicycle, its just a little sweatier. The undulating islands have been some of the most rewarding climbs of the tour. With Naturally, less traffic than mainland islands the road and views are all yours to soak up. Rest through the heat of the day and ride in the afternoon “golden hour” to see the Croatian islands in all their beauty.
The mountainous islands are no luxury bicycle ride. The climbs are steep and if you decide to ride in mid August, then the burning sun will have you dreaming of that afternoon swim. There is no relief alike dipping into the cool ocean waters of the Adriatic sea. As you float in the pristine blue waters and look back at the sun setting over the steep island terrain, you cant help to feel proiud of your efforts, deserving of your reward and excitement again for tomorrows challenge.
Our Blog post of our Encounters in Croatia!
Kms – 316
Difficulty – Moderate to Difficult. Steep climbs!
5. Switzerland Susten pass
We might have started in one of the most beautiful and well-designed countries for bicycle touring in the world, Switzerland. Yes, we know it comes at a price and wild camping is technically illegal but those incredible mountain passes dotted through Switzerland will astound you.
Starting from the Beautiful Lake Thun or even further back in the old quiet Capital of Switzerland, Bern, the views on your way to the Susten along Lake Thun and Lake Brienz are just breathtaking. After the lakes and picturesque villages, the mountains begin to loom, are you ready…maybe one more chocolate! After the lakeside luxury riding and on just our third day into our world tour the mighty Susten pass faced us. A long and slow 30 km struggle lay ahead. Our legs were not accustomed to our heavily, overloaded bicycles. We quickly learnt that the Bluetooth speakers and cast-iron pan had to be sent home.
The struggle, the sweat and almost tears were so quickly forgotten at the top. Our reward had arrived, a 30km downhill stretch that would dry our tears and fill you with a great sense of accomplishment. The goosebumps of the thrill of soaring downhill is sucked away by the sudden realization that an even higher Swiss mountain pass lay ahead. The Gotthard pass, enjoy!
After passing the Gotthard, you can now begin to dream of the cappuccinos and pizzas that await for you in the Italian part of Switzerland.
Our Blog post of our Encounters Switzerland!
Kms – 217 from Thun, 246km from Bern
Difficulty – Crazy mountain passes, but beautiful roads and a smooth gradient.
Handy items – Buff headwear, soak up that sweat before it gets in your eyes!
6. Dubai cycling track – camping
Sand dunes as far as the eye can see. A bicycle track weaving its way through hundreds of dunes without a car in sight. How does such a bicycle path exist?
The answer is simple, a rich man loves riding his bicycle. So, he built if for himself and the Dubai cycling club. A sheik from Dubai, decided this was to be his next side-project. So, on the next day, he created a cycling track. The perfectly paved track circuit is 50 kilometers long and has plans to extend. What made this track just that little bit more special is that you have hundreds of sand dunes to choose from to pitch your tent behind. Wild camping in the middle of the dessert after a days riding on a perfectly paved bicycle path, we know, it doesn’t make sense.
We know its not a typical bicycle touring route, but perhaps a bicycle trip or weekend getaway. We loved it, so thats why its on the list!
Our Blog post of our Encounters in the Emirates!
Kms – 50
Difficulty – Easy Easy, a little hot
Handy items – Dry Lubrication, you dont want whipping sand to stick to your chain and drivetrain. See here for more info as to why and maintenance care with Dry Vs Wet Lube
A top 6 list that will be forever updating and altered as we cycle on.
For us, it’s important to reflect on our memories, reflect on our successes and struggles we have overcome, it keeps us pedaling on.
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