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 and sense of connectedness 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.
Adventure bike tour company Tour d’Afrique hosts rides and races through some of the most remote places on the planet. A a tour guide for the company I’ve been fortunate to participate in many of their tours. Here’s a list of some of my favorite place to ride.
The Pyramids at Giza
Our Cairo to Cape Town Bike tour starts every year at dawn from the shadow of the great pyramids. There has been so much written about them I won’t go into flowery detail here, sufficed to say they are pretty cool.
Why it is better on a Bike
They way the pyramids reveal themselves to you as you ride up to see them is unbeatable. We rode to 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.
Its about a 2km ride from the entrance gate to the Pyramids themselves. Feeling the cool morning air on your body and squinting into the sun as the it rises 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. It’s hard to explain but there is just certain emotion that old cities bring out in me.
Why it is Better on a Bike
The scale of old city streets are perfect for cycling since they were built before motorized transport existed. The cities are also laid out a the perfect distance for cafe stops and often you’ll find cycle paths that connect them and help you avoid the busier, modern roads.
Monument Valley, Utah
I descended into Monument Valley with 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.
I don’t imagine many people have visited Yusefeli, Turkey but if you get the chance I highly recommend it. Its a beautiful town the Corah river valley. The Corah river is one of the fastest flowing rivers in the world and has some great category 5 rapids.
Why it is better on a Bike
Because of the rocky and mountainous terrain the road to Yusefeli is narrow and twisting and hugs the hillside. The ride in follows the river and passes though small villages where you can imagine life has not changed much in quite a while. Driving the route in a car is actually quite stressful on the narrow roads but on bike it becomes and adventure and a challenge.
Anywhere with Friends
Sometimes even the most mundane of rides can be amazing when combined with right company. 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.
A bike tour is not only about the places you visit but about the people you encounter no matter where you are. Being on a bike eliminates the natural barriers that motorized transport creates. People are simply more open to you when they see the physical efforts you have made to make there by bike and in fact they are more interested in you than if you arrived in an air conditioned 4 by 4.
Paul McManus designs and guides cross continental bike tours for Tour d’Afrique Ltd. His next tour will be from Shanghai to Istanbul on the companies Silk Route Bike Tour. Find out more at: http://tourdafrique.com/tours/silkroute