Top 10 Cycle Tours: (#7) Camino de Santiago

If your idea of a pilgrim is someone in a robe and sandals carrying a staff and a Jesus beard, think again. The modern pilgrim might just as easily be wearing Lycra and SPD shoes.

For centuries, Christian pilgrims have been shuffling across Spain, walking the Camino de Santiago towards the supposed remains of St James, Christendom’s first martyr, beneath the cathedral in the Galician city of Santiago de Compostela. In recent years, they’re being overtaken – literally and figuratively – by bikes, with statistics suggesting suggest that up to 20% of all Camino pilgrimages are now made by cyclists. I’ve been one of them, and it’s a ride so good I’ve lost all desire to ever walk the Camino. Continue reading

Top 10 Cycle Tours: (#8) Central Vietnam

Vietnam cycle1

A select few places in the world are synonymous with cycling. Vietnam is one of them. Think of this country and you might invariably picture a worker in a conical hat pedalling across rice levees, or girls in ao dan dress riding rigid old fixies to school.

The appeal of the place on a bike has spread across borders. Vietnam is one of the best-selling – if not the best-selling – cycling destinations for cycling tour operators in Australia. For many, bike travel in Vietnam is very much a when-in-Rome (or Hanoi) experience. Continue reading

Top 10 Cycle Tours: (#9) Luberon

Luberon1

This post has been a while coming, but then it’s a long ride from the last entry in this list – New Zealand – to the foothills of the French Alps…

I came to the Luberon pretty much by accident. Partway through a five-month cycle trip across Europe, I was riding from France’s Mediterranean coast, angling towards Burgundy. But as I was crawling north, the mistral was blasting south. This great bastard of a wind is one of the most maddening in Europe – some suggest it was the nuisance of the mistral that caused Vincent van Gogh to lop off his own ear. Fittingly, as I reached the foot of the Luberon, after days of being lashed by the mistral, I was almost in spitting distance of the asylum in Saint-Remy-de-Provence where van Gogh was incarcerated. Continue reading

Top 10 Cycle Tours: (#10) Otago Rail Trail

Last year I posted my top 10 mountain treks across the world. Now there’s a sequel – my favourite 10 cycle journeys.

Over the past 15 years I’ve toured long distances on four continents, from the highest roads in the world to long stretches at sea level, from open highways to some of the roughest tracks in existence. It’s taken me across tens of thousands of kilometres of roads and tracks, which also means there are millions of roads still out there. It is inevitably, then, a limited and biased list. But hey, ain’t they all. Continue reading

Friday Foto: Zugspitze, A Child’s View

Zugspitze

So much of my adventure focus in recent years has been about children. As my own two kids grow and form, I’ve tried to spark and encourage their inherent adventurous spirits. It’s a primary reason that I live where I live, in easy touch of mountains and water. Continue reading

Crocs, Yaks and Camels: The Joy of the Open Air

In a recent study, researchers at the University of Colorado found that camping has the ability to reset our body clocks. In dragging us away from the electric lights that so disrupt the natural order and cycle of daily life, camping isn’t just good for the soul, it also apparently recalibrates our sleep patterns. Continue reading

Cycling Manali to Leh, India

Between the Indian cities of Manali and Leh, a highway wriggles through the Himalayas. It travels for 500 kilometres, crossing five high passes, including some of the highest road passes in the world. It journeys from the monsoon-washed greenery of Himachal Pradesh to the high, stark desert of Ladakh, passing through terrain so gorgeously brutal that the road is usually open for just three or four months of the year. That time of year is now. Continue reading