It takes some moxie to suggest you know the very best places in the world to cycle, but Mark Beaumont is perhaps one of the few people on the planet who has the experience to back up that claim. Not only has he cycled in more than 60 countries over the past decade, he is currently 75 days into an attempt to pedal around the entire world in just 80 days.
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So we can all agree Beaumont knows more than a little about good spots to cycle, and he’s been kind enough to share his five favourites.
Norway’s West Coast
“If you go from Trondheim and head north up to the Arctic Circle you can go to the peninsula called the Lofoten Isles (pictured). It’s just staggering – you’ve got mountains that drop into the ocean and beautiful roads that follow the fjords.
“It’s pretty remote but if you go in the middle of summer there are 24 hours of daylight. You can get a cheap flight from Oslo and just ride your bike north and you’re in the middle of nowhere. It’s fairly remote so preparation is needed, but it’s some of the best scenery I’ve ever cycled through though so it’s well worth the effort.”
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Tierra Del Fuego
“If you travel south through Argentina you’ve got the Pampas which is about 2,000 miles of grasslands. It’s some of the most boring cycling in the world and it’s relentlessly windy, but you’re rewarded by getting down to the city of Ushuaia on the main island of Tierra del Fuego.
“You’ve got these glaciers that roll down into the ocean – it’s the only place in the world where glaciers come down to sea level. Ushuaia is called the end of the world for a reason – it’s where the boats leave to go to Antarctica – and it’s just the most beautiful place. There’s great cuisine as well, with king crab and local wines. Go in December and January.”
“A couple of years ago they launched the North Coast 500 route from Inverness to John o’ Groats. I was asked to ride the route and set a time on it – I rode the 520 miles in about 37 hours for a bit of a publicity stunt. It’s a punchy route, I wouldn’t necessarily try to do it nonstop, but it’s staggeringly beautiful.
“In the Western Isles, you’re looking over to Skye and the Outer Hebrides and all those islands, and you get to pick off all the iconic landmarks like John o’ Groats. They are some of the quietest roads in the UK, so they’re ideal for cycling. Time and time again, the Applecross Pass in Wester Ross has been voted as the UK’s best climb and you get to tick that off your list as well.”
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“Out of all the countries I’ve cycled through Iran was the place that was the most different from what I expected it to be. It’s one of the most welcoming, interesting and beautiful places. It’s got such a rich history. It’s
“OK, it’s a little bit tricky to get in – you need to get a letter of invitation and sort your visas out – but once you’re there the people are extraordinarily welcoming. It’s a place that’s worth seeing for yourself rather than relying on what you read in the press. I slept in mosques most nights – it’s like cycling across England and knowing you can sleep in any church in the country.
“I love it because it reset my expectations. It gets more deserted and arid as you go south but in the south-east near the border with Pakistan and Afghanistan it gets a bit more wild… though I wouldn’t recommend you cycle too close to those borders these days.
“Further north, you’ve got Tiran which is more mountainous. Then in the north-west it’s much more green and rolling and lush, but it’s still hot riding. It’s too hot to ride in the mid-summer.”
“One of my favourite rides as a teenager. I rode my bike the length of Italy from Sicily to Innsbruck, which basically meant riding the length of the Apennines.
“Lots of people ride Land’s End to John o’ Groats and I always say there are a lot more interesting 1,000-mile rides. It’s about 1,300 miles [2,090km] to ride the length of Italy.
“If you’re someone who likes their food, culture and adventure, Italy has got it all. Starting off riding around Mount Etna it’s all pretty hot, then you start climbing up through Tuscany and Monte Cassino and all these beautiful places. You finish with a beautiful climb over the Great St Bernard Pass into Austria. It’s a staggering country to do from toe to top.”
Wiggle.com is proud to support Mark Beaumont’s bid to cycle around the world in 80 days