While the go-to routes in our backyard that we’ve ridden countless times over the years will always hold a special place in our hearts, there’s something to be said for getting out and exploring new areas.
Whether this means squeezing in a bike ride on a weekend road trip getaway with the family, or hopping on a plane and traveling to a far-flung destination, there are must-ride routes all over the world that are worth checking out.
Obviously, traveling and riding during COVID-19 makes extensive exploring more challenging for everybody. (For the most up-to-date information on areas you may be traveling to, check resources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) regularly.)
But if you are getting out there at some point soon or are planning a trip in the future, it’s easier than ever to build a memorable route while traveling. Here we’ve listed a few apps and resources to take advantage of—from guided rides led by local cyclists, to apps with route suggestions and route building tools.
VeloGuide is one of those ideas we wish we had thought of ourselves. It’s essentially an app that takes all the guesswork and planning out of finding a route by connecting you with a local cyclist who acts as a personal tour guide—from setting up a route based on your ability level and interests, to connecting you with a bike rental. Their “VeloGuides” are available in more than 650 cities in 74 countries and include the likes of former pros Phil Gaimon, George Hincapie (who is also a cofounder), and Christian Vande Velde.
“Personally, I have ridden with many VeloGuides and my favorite part is just not having to think. I can look around, ask questions, enjoy the views, etc.” says VeloGuide CEO Joel Goralski. “Every VeloGuide likely has their own ‘routes’ that are really hard to find on a GPS app—could be jigs and jags here and there, a cool little gravel section, or an out-of-the-way climb and vista you would have missed on your own. On top of this, I always enjoy finding out about the best restaurants, coffee, and beer!”
Gone are the days when shampoo and little chocolates were the only complementary gifts provided by hotels. Westin Hotels & Resorts, already known for their fitness programs and amenities, has set a new standard by offering complementary bikes to hotel guests through their BikeWESTIN program. As of right now, it’s only offered at three of their properties: The Westin Peachtree Plaza Atlanta, The Westin Pune Koregaon Park, and The Westin Bayshore Vancouver. The bikes are available for two-hour blocks on a first come, first served basis.
Once you’ve rented a bike, the hotels have partnered with local bike guides to both lead rides and provide self-guided routes to safely see the city’s attractions and historic areas. While designed for a more leisurely pace, it’s a great way to get out and about and stretch the legs after a long flight.
If you’re nearby and not staying at the hotel, these bikes are also available to rent for a fee (both hourly and full-day). They rent e-bikes by the hour, too.
If you’d truly like to take a hands-off approach to planning a route and dealing with the logistics of traveling with a bike, one of Trek Travel’s guided trips is a solid option.
Their packages cover just about everything—from transportation and accommodations, to meals and sports nutrition. Each trip is supported by at least two guides from the area who not only know the route and all the scenic highlights, but know the community, the restaurants and all the cafes in between. These trips aren’t just for serious cyclists, although there’s plenty of options for dropping the hammer; they offer e-bike tours, camps and family-friendly trips all across the globe that include some iconic routes and climbs.
The kicker? The bikes are, you guessed it, Trek bicycles. You’ll be sized, outfitted with a Bontrager helmet and Garmin GPS computer, and given complementary water bottles. #Swag.
By this point we’re all more than familiar with Strava, but it’s good for more than just tracking your miles and going after your friends’ KOMs. Their updated Routes builder technology—available for subscribers, but you can try it out with a free trial—can help you find the best routes in any given area using the Strava app or website, based on the insights compiled from anonymized Strava activity data.
Let’s say you’re traveling to an area you’ve never been to before. You can use Routes to show roads and paths that are most ridden by other Strava users. Once you’ve found, created, or adapted a route that includes destinations you’d like to visit and the right elevation gain and mileage, you can save the route and either upload it to your bike computer for turn-by-turn directions, or you can print it out—we recommend both, in case your computer dies—to take with you.
Ride With GPS
You can certainly build your own route on Ride With GPS (similar to Strava’s Routes), but we found their Find a Route tool to be especially helpful when looking for a pre-planned route while traveling.
You’ll be prompted to search based on city or zip code, set how far you’re willing to travel to get to the starting point, and set a minimum and maximum for distance and elevation gain. Ride With GPS will then display results based on popularity, and many of the top routes in the area are complete with cue sheets and photos to give you a preview of what to expect while pedaling around. Ride With GPS also includes an Ambassador Directory, where you can connect with local experts, clubs and shops to find local-approved routes all around the world.
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