10 Greatest Roads to Ride (including one in Cape Town), from a blogger we can believe…

Alistair Humphreys is my favourite ‘travel writer’: he’s one of those rare people who is not only an adventurer (he cycled 4 600 miles around in the world in four years, with no big sponsorships or fancy gear), but someone who writes beautifully. His two publications, Moods of Future Joys, and Thunder & Sunshine are not those ‘I did this and then I did that’ travelogues, but lyrical insights into the nature of travel, loneliness and what it means to be a traveller witnessing other people’s hardship.

And when he writes about The World’s 10 Greatest Roads to Ride, he knows what he’s talking about…

“I have spent over five years of my life on cycle journeys across five continents. Here is a list of some of the most spectacular, enjoyable segments I have ridden.
But there is so much world out there so please do let me know in the comments what I have missed and the delights that still await.

1. Chapman’s Peak Drive winds along the cliffs of the Atlantic Coast, at the tip of South Africa. The beautiful city of Cape Town and the stunning Cape Point are both nearby.

2. Highway 1, or California State Route 1, was the most beautiful section of coastline I rode up through the US. There must be loads more stunning routes for this British traveler to discover – let me know in the comments!

3. The Top of the World Highway is a mere 66 miles long, but this link between the Yukon and Alaska is gorgeous. Make sure you visit the tiny village of Chicken (so called, allegedly, because nobody could spell ptarmigan): the ceiling of the bar there is hung with the shredded remnants of women’s underwear blasted from the in-house cannon!

4. The Road of Bones runs through Russia’s far east. Its name comes from the thousands upon thousands of Gulag prisoners who died during its construction and whose remains were simply ploughed into the road. A sad, remote road which was brutally cold when I rode it in winter. Silent, vast landscapes stretch far away across the emptiness of Siberia.

5. The Karakoram Highway is one of the highest paved roads in the world, crossing one of the highest international border crossings along the way. Linking Pakistan and China, the road winds up through steep-sided valleys up into the majesty of the Karakoram mountains. Stunning, hardcore travel.

6. The Carretera Austral, or Southern Highway, was constructed in the era of General Pinochet to link the remote southern communities of Chile. Traveling the length of this gorgeous 800 mile gravel route requires three ferry journeys. Rivers, lakes, forests, fjords and tiny villages will keep your camera busy.

7. I rode the mountainous road from Macedonia to Albania in pouring rain. Despite that it still stays in my mind as a beautiful experience. Looking down from on high towards Lake Ohrid, camping in one of the numerous concrete bunkers that litter the Albanian landscape (they are relics of the Communist era there), and swooshing down through pretty pine forests.

8. The 88-Temple pilgrimage route on Shikoku Island, Japan, is memorable not only for the lovely coastal scenery and relaxed villages along its way. The 750 mile route was first completed, it is believed, by a Buddhist monk 1300 years ago. Pilgrims walking the route are easily recognizable by their conical hats and long walking staffs.

9. South America, and the Andes in particular, is full of hard-core, thrilling roads. One of my favourites is the mountain roller-coaster running from Cusco (the gateway to Machu Picchu) down towards the mysterious, fascinating Nazca Lines which are ancient geoglyphs of spiders, monkeys, hummingbirds and long lines scraped into the arid surface of the Nazca desert.

10. The 830 mile ring road, or Route 1, in Iceland circles the country. I love the idea of being able to pedal a lap of an entire country (especially a country as beautiful as Iceland) on one single road.”



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