A new year always welcomes the prospect of brand new adventures and a fresh start. Whether you want to get in shape, start a new hobby or just spend more time on yourself, the possibilities are endless and the future is promising.
For me, I can’t help but start thinking about where I’ll be visiting next and which places I’ll be taking my bike. Before I set out on the open road, here are my top 5 cycling adventures for this year:
Take the Ultimate Coastal Ride
When I think about U.S. Highway 101, I can’t help but conjure up iconic imagery of crashing waves, stunning cliff-side vistas and blue skies. A common choice for luxury car commercials, I’d say the beauty of this route is best experienced with the wind whipping through your hair.
Most commonly associated with California, avid adventure seekers can cycle the entire 1,540 miles from Vancouver to Mexico, hugging the West Coast the entire way. This route is challenging enough to give a seasoned cyclist an enjoyable ride, but has been conquered by many determined amateurs. Plus, you can enjoy different types of cycle touring – staying in hotels in any of the cities along the way, or opting for one of the more primitive camp sites reserved specifically for hikers and cyclists.
Get Your Kicks on a New Bicycle Route
While we are on the subject of iconic American highways, why not plan a cycling vacation on Route 66 in 2016? Spanning from Los Angeles to Chicago, Adventure Cycling Association announced last year that this historic road-tripping route is now officially a bicycle route, and they even provided us with maps and guides.
The official Route 66 bicycle trail is 2,485 miles long, and takes bike packers from flat, hot desert roads to challenging mountain passes as they trek across the United States. Research the conditions before you go, pack your camera and get ready for a very Americana-style adventure.
Hike, Bike and Climb in Yosemite
So maybe you love the idea of bicycle touring but couldn’t help but linger on the mileage of the last two routes. Fear not, you can enjoy bicycle touring in a smaller capacity – without missing out on any of the best views mother nature has to offer
Yosemite National Park is open to visitors year-round and boasts enough hiking, climbing, camping and biking to last a life time. This is the perfect cycling vacation for someone who wants to enjoy several adventure activities in the span of one trip. Take your bicycle out (or rent one there) on one of the paved bike trails one day and venture out into the backcountry the next to get closer to nature.
That’s not a word I just made up, I promise. It’s actually the longest and largest fully supported bicycle ride in the nation. And when they say largest, they mean it – literally thousands of people join the 7-day ride across Iowa for a social ride, frequent stops at home-town pubs and end-of-day campsites where new friendships are made around open fires.
The actual mileage and exact route changes from year to year, with the 2016 RAGBRAI route being announced later this month. The best part about this bicycle trip is that the ride is fully supported by a team of volunteers, with organized rest stops and support vans to haul equipment. This makes it so much easier to focus on pedaling past miles of golden cornfields and the good times that await!
A personal favorite that I don’t indulge in enough is exploring the area around your own city. You may have driven to the next town, but have you ever bicycled there?
Following a queue from British explorer, Alastair Humphreys, this idea of a ‘micro-adventure’ can pack huge fun into one weekend. Check your local area for nearby lakes, parks, beaches or small towns and set out for a day or two with some friends. This is a great chance to get your toes wet in the world of bicycle touring and/or try out some new gear without ever leaving the comforts of your own city.
So, what are you waiting for? Put some miles on your bike this year and go looking for some new adventures. Whether you decide to trek 10 or 10,000 miles from home, you’re bound to have a great time.
Which route do you want to try this year? Did I leave one out? Share in the comments below and let me know what cycling adventures you have planned for 2016!
First and last photos by Author, all others from iStock.com