Handpicked cycling routes for an incredible, eco-friendly adventure.

Feel the wind through your hair as you ride along some of the world’s most exhilarating cycling routes in the new year. Whether looking for a peaceful ride to explore exciting cultural hot spots in California, or challenging yourself to a tough endurance race up a mountain in Japan, there are plenty of opportunities for every type of cyclist.

Cultural Cycling Routes 

Explore traditional villages with the Hida Satoyama cycling tour – Gifu Prefecture, Japan

 The Hida Satoyama Cycling Tour is a fantastic way to get off the tourist trail and experience the atmosphere of real rural Japan. In the Hida region of Gifu prefecture, rural life has remained relatively unchanged through the years, protected by the surrounding mountains. The 22km tour leads cyclists through rice paddies and traditional villages, with the knowledge of a local guide who introduces visitors to the customs, folk stories and traditions of rural Satoyama.

Hida satoyama cycling tour - credit JNTO - 1024 x 768

Hida Satoyama cycling tour. Photo: JNTO

Visit historic gold rush towns along the Iowa Hill Loop – Auburn, California

The 65-mile Iowa Hill Loop explores the beautiful foothills of the Sierras, in and around the city of Auburn. Cycling routes here offers an amazing diversity of scenic beauty, historical venues and safe roadways. There are many route options that vary in distance and landscape, from short gentle climbs to those that include challenges like the 1.8 mile climb to the old gold rush town of Iowa Hill. Cyclists can enjoy many historic towns and small communities along the way, such as Loomis, Foresthill and Dutch Flat.

American River; North Fork

American River, North Fork

End a mountain ride with wine – Santa Barbara, California

Santa Barbara has something for everyone when it comes to cycling routes, with road and mountain trails, hills and flats and plenty of post-ride recreation and relaxation spots. Located in the Santa Catalina Mountains, Romero Canyon is a 10-mile figure-eight loop which offers gorgeous views of California’s Channel Islands.

The route offers a varying degree of cycling difficulties and Santa Barbara Mountain Bike Trail volunteers have provided complimentary bike bells to avoid downhill collisions with fellow riders (and hikers). After an afternoon of riding, cyclists can relax in one of the town’s 28 wineries which make up the renowned Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail.

Mark Weber mountain biking the Romero Road Trail high above the Pacific Ocean and the city of Santa Barbara in the Santa Ynez Mountains in southern California

Mountain biking the Romero Road Trail high above the Pacific Ocean and the city of Santa Barbara in the Santa Ynez Mountains in southern California. Photo: Mark Weber

Spot wildlife along the Springwater Corridor – Portland, Oregon

Portland is home to over 350 miles of bike lanes and is known as one of the most bike friendly cities in the world. The major southeast segment of the 40-mile cycle loop – The Springwater Corridor – is a rails-to-trails project with excellent maintained surfaces. There are ample opportunities along the trail to enjoy picnics and see wildlife at parks with popular spots including the Eastbank Esplanade, Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge and Sellwood Riverfront Park.

Portland _springwater

Portland  – Springwater

Scenic Views 

Sea views – Huntington Beach, California 

If you’re looking for a laidback ride, one of the best ways to experience Huntington Beach is by cruising the 10-mile paved beach path. Cyclists can enjoy stunning ocean views to the west and sights of the famous Pacific Coast Highway to the east. Beach concessionaires renting and selling traditional, tandem and electric bicycles line the route, which also offers plenty of places to stop for a bite to eat and for picture perfect photo opportunities.

Huntington Beach california

Huntington Beach, California

Circumnavigate Big Blue – Lake Tahoe, California

 A 72-mile adventure awaits those who challenge themselves to cycle Lake Tahoe – aka Big Blue – the largest alpine lake in North America. Its clear waters surrounded by the High Sierra’s make for a stunning backdrop for the ride. The 17th Annual Tour De Tahoe – Bike Big Blue, which will take place in 2019 on September 8, circumnavigates the highways clockwise around Lake Tahoe in both Nevada and California. It includes a challenging 800-foot climb to a rest stop overlooking the beautiful Emerald Bay and a 1,000-foot climb to Spooner Junction.

Emerald Bay, Tahoe

Emerald Bay, Tahoe

Island hopping – Setouchi, Japan 

The Shimanami Kaido is a spectacular 60km road and bridge network which runs across the Seto Inland Sea and connects Japan’s mainland to its smallest island, Shikoku. The route begins in Onomichi in Hiroshima Prefecture and ends in Imabari in Ehime Prefecture, crossing six smaller islands on the way. The route offers plenty of scenic photo opportunities and traditional Japanese experiences, such as an overnight stay in a traditional ryokan guest house.

Setouchi - Shiminami kaido route - credit JNTO

Setouchi – Shiminami Kaido route. Photo: JNTO

For best views – Greater Palm Springs, California

 The Bump and Grind Trail in Palm Desert is popular with both hikers and bikers in the Coachella Valley. Covering 4 miles, the looped trails are ideal those wanting a moderate cycle, with some steep inclines, which finally turn into a long double track climb to the top of the mountain. Once at the highest vantage point of the trail, riders can relax and take in the scenic views of Greater Palm Springs, spanning as far as the eye can see.

Challenging Rides

Cycle to Washington, D.C. from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Western Pennsylvania has become one of the USA’s best examples of rails-to-trails conversion, with hundreds of miles of transformed rail trails, including the Great Allegheny Passage, which links Pittsburgh with Washington, D.C.

Pittsburgh - Great Allegheny Passage

Pittsburgh – Great Allegheny Passage

Starting at the iconic Point State Park – the meeting point of the city’s three rivers – the trail commemorates the historic routes of Pittsburgh’s booming industrial past, stretching 335 miles and offers a smooth surface for bikers, hikers and runners.

Visit Pittsburgh Bridge Bike

Pittsburgh. Photo: JP Diroll Photography

Explore Colorado’s vast terrain – Idaho Springs, Colorado

The Mount Evans byway is one of the most exhilarating cycling routes in Colorado. Beginning and ending in Idaho Springs, the 48-mile route runs through a variety of ecosystems, from forested glades to high-altitude tundra. At the top, views of the Rocky Mountains expand across the horizon and overlook massive, serrated peaks. The route takes around 2.5 hours to complete.

A resident herd of elk in Rocky Mountain National Park. wildlife tour

A resident herd of elk in Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo: Matt Inden

Cycle up Mt. Zao – Miyagi Prefecture, Japan 

Experience the seasons change in one day participating in The Zao Hill Climbing event, an 18.7km annual bike race which starts in the verdant greenery at the base of Mt. Zao and runs up to the snowy summit passing through high snow walls. The race starts at the Miyagi Zao Royal Hotel and finishes at the summit’s rest house, an elevation gain of 1,224m. Once at the top, riders are rewarded with some breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and Asahi Ridge Mountains.

Follow the path of the Amgen Tour in Sacramento, California

Starting in California’s capital, Sacramento, the Amgen Tour – taking place 12th – 18th May 2019 – will take riders on a mammoth 645-mile race through the state, covering roadways, highways and coastlines. Participants will begin by cycling across Tower Bridge, one of Sacramento’s most recognisable structures with a golden sheen to symbolise California’s Gold Rush past. The race will then continue through a variety of terrain to Lake Tahoe, Morro Bay and Ventura, ending in Pasadena. 

Sacramento - Amgen

Sacramento – Amgen

Dedicated Training Spots

Mammoth Bike Park – Mammoth Mountain, California

A destination popular with skiers and snowboarders during the winter, Mammoth Mountain also boasts one of the best bike parks in the USA. 80 miles of track is spread over the rugged terrain of the Eastern Sierra, providing different routes and trails for varying abilities. There are also a number of jumps, step-ups and pavers, so thrill-seekers can hone their skills in one of California’s most beautiful locations.

Whistler Mountain Bike Park – Whistler, Canada

The Whistler Mountain Bike Park is widely considered to be the top downhill bike park in the world, attracting riders from far and wide. The Bike Park offers over 100 lift-serviced trails with 80+ kilometres of trails, four skills centres designed for all abilities, a slope style course and a pumptrack. This past summer saw the opening of Creek Zone, offering adventure lovers new access to the bike park via the Creekside Gondola and 15 km of additional trail.

Epic Mountain Biking on the Whistler Bike Park's Top of the World Trail

Epic Mountain Biking on the Whistler Bike Park’s Top of the World Trail

Adventure awaits for bikers of every level along these amazing cycling routes.

Also Read: 

10 Best Cities To Explore on Bike

9 Incredible Bike Paths in North America You Won’t Want to Miss