These are words spoken to me while cruising down a steep hill on Highway 1 in California, perfect weather and ocean and beach in view. I thought "he's right, this is fun!"
The whole stretch of coast was like that. A day of perfect touring conditions.
On a bike tour some shorter segments stand out for scenery, speed, or general good vibes. Every bike tourer has experienced a handful of these perfect highlights during longer bike tours.
While following a longer bike route, sometimes the towns, roads or even entire regions seem to blur together. It is the shorter highlights are what occupy space in our biking memories.
But when considering a long bike tour country-scale route plans are too granular, so some really great short segments get missed. When we look at the big picture on tour, we easily forget to incorporate these shorter highlights.
Where are these gems? Where do we find these perfect stretches of highway to incorporate into a longer bike tour?
I asked 9 bike tourers “What stretch of highway was a highlight of your tour?"
Here are the highlight rides they shared.
Monument Valley Utah - Jack Day jacksvelosafari.shutterfly.com
Why? Friggin gorgeous.
It is said that all western films, played end to end would outlast the time period itself. Many westerns feature snippets from this unmistakable stretch of highway, along the US163. Make time for highway 163 on your next Trans Am bike tour.
Icefield Parkway - Tim Melander
One of Canada’s beloved rides, the best of the Rocky Mountains. There’s lots of claiming and rewarding descents over the passes between these towns, and a reasonably wide shoulder to boot. Watch out for avalanche tunnels and Alberta drivers.
The Cabot-Trail in Nova-Scotia - Zsolt Pogany
Why: Because of the hills and the scenery.
It is hard to go wrong choosing Ana-gonish as a base to explore Cape Breton. It's one of the maritime’s best kept secrets, so get enthralled on your next tour. Bonus points if you get to Meat Cove!
a) Highway 1 North of San Francisco - Meng Mao mengs-blog.blogspot.ca
Why? PCH maybe 150mi north of SF that was so gorgeous, with the cliffsides overlooking the deep blue Pacific Ocean.
b ) Highway 1 Big Sur - Tyler Jamieson
I can a attest to the southern section of the 1, south of San Francisco, as being one of my favourite rides ever in life. This is actually the section where I first heard the phrase "highlight ride" by another bike tourer.
Hwy 12 in Utah - Dan Bono redandblackhorizons.wordpress.com
Why? For the alien-like scenery.
What can be said about a bike tour along highway 12 that hasn’t already been said in Loonie Toons roadrunner re-runs. Basically everything, so it’s time to get out and explore this choice desert scenery by bike.
India between Kanyakumari and Chennai - Jack van der Even
Why? riding northward somewhere between Kanyakumari and Chennai, because that's one of the all-time happiest days I've ever had. Beautiful scenery, tailwinds, I was blissfully alone, not even much traffic to speak of, everything was just amazing, especially since I'd been on the road for around 18 months and had no idea when I'd ever be home again.
Hakata Island, Japan - Katherine Walton www.instagram.com/katherineswalton
Why? The island chain that is connected by bridges and a bike path. It was lovely.
Japan is at the top of people’s list for bike tours lately. I’ve seen numerous blogs, reports and residents raving about the bike touring and bike packing culture in Japan. This trip seems especially perfect, a fusion of bike routes and islands.
Cordillera Blanca, Perú - Paul Van Peenen love2cycling.com
Why? It is simply amazing.
There is some scenery on a bike tour that will haunt your imagination for the rest of your life. The image of mountains and valleys are forever burned into the minds of those brave enough to ride through the Cordillera Blanca.
With infinite possible routes between a to b, and you have choices to make during a bike tour. Along the way we may stray form our initial path, or just start planning the next day's route the evening before.
But not all roads are created equal, and each will have something to offer. Profit by incorporating some highlight rides into your next bike tour. You’ll get to experience the unmissable scenery other bike tourers cannot forget.
Wander, guess, make mistakes and be spontaneous, but also be sure to consider some of the highlight rides taken by other bike tourers.
If you're expecting number 9 on the list, it's because 4 is a) and b). Want to see more? Click here to follow Tasis bikes by email for more tips on planning a bike tour.