Bicycling WOW Rides - - Wow Rides -

San­tu­ario del Ghisallo Ma­greglio, Italy

It’s a pil­grim­age to the chapel of the Madonna del Ghisallo, orig­i­nally known as the pa­troness of trav­ellers un­til 1949, when Pope Pius XII granted a lo­cal priest’s re­quest that she be called the pa­tron saint of cy­clists. At the shrine you’ll find old jer­seys from such leg­ends as Gino Bar­tali, Fausto Coppi, and Felice Gi­mondi, row upon row of por­traits, and rafters packed with rac­ing bi­cy­cles – in­clud­ing the one Fabio Casartelli was rid­ing the day he died in the 1995 Tour de France. The fork blades are cracked. It’ll give you chills just to stand there. Know Be­fore You Go

There are sev­eral routes to the chapel, but start/fin­ish in the town of Bel­la­gio for gor­geous views along Lake Como. Dif­fi­culty 4, for the above route, al­though harder ways are pos­si­ble. From Bel­la­gio, the round-trip is less than 30km, with an av­er­age grade of 5% and a few steep pitches (with grades of up to 14%).

– joe lind­sey

Fran­schhoek Pass, Western Cape, South Africa

Fran­schhoek Pass is one of the world’s most scenic rides. And you can climb up it and down the other side. It’s im­por­tant to get into a com­fort­able rhythm, be­cause you’ll be climb­ing un­til you


1 = You can bring the kids – and your grand­par­ents 10 = You’ll ques­tion your san­ity

think you can’t climb any­more – and there’s al­ways a bit more. When you get to the bot­tom you can turn around and climb the pass back to Fran­schhoek, which will be a very tough 50km ride, or you can turn it into a 100km ride by push­ing on to­wards Vil­liers­dorp, where you can smash a cof­fee be­fore re­turn­ing to Fran­schhoek. Once you’ve ticked that route, try the famed Four Passes, which from Stel­len­bosch is a clas­sic 2 000m-of-as­cent train­ing route fol­low­ing a 140km loop that in­cludes Som­er­set West, over Sir Lowry’s Pass, left through Grabouw, over Viljoen’s Pass, and Vil­liers­dorp; then over the Thee­wa­ter­skloof Dam bridge, left and over Fran­schhoek Pass, Pniel and Helshoogte.

Know Be­fore You Go Fran­schhoek Pass should be tack­led only if you’re fit – and al­though it’s not an ex­cep­tion­ally busy road, it is nar­row at times, which can make life nerve-wrack­ing if there’s an im­pa­tient truck driver on your tail.

Dif­fi­culty 7 (10, with an im­pa­tient truck driver on your tail) – j.a.

South Is­land New Zealand

You’ll hit nearly every mi­cro­cli­mate imag­in­able within a few weeks of rid­ing, in­clud­ing moun­tains, beach, desert, and glaciers. You might even get to high-five a pen­guin. Ex­pect lots of climb­ing on a mix of quiet roads and busier tourist ar­eas, with camp­site ocean views that make it all worth it. Know Be­fore You Go Pedallers’ Par­adise: The South Is­land by Nigel Rush­ton is a top-notch guide­book. Ad­ven­ture South NZ of­fers five- to nine-day sup­ported tours (R13 000 and up) of South Is­land seg­ments. Feel­ing more ad­ven­tur­ous? In­de­pen­dent Cy­cle Tours can ar­range a self-guided tour

of the rugged West Coast (R15 000 and up). Dif­fi­culty 7 – caitlin gid­dings

Haleakala Maui, Hawaii

You climb 3 055 me­tres from near the beach at Paia to the sum­mit of a vol­cano – on a smooth road with sweep­ing views of the Pa­cific Ocean and Hawai­ian Is­lands – at a moder­ate av­er­age grade of 5.3%, for 58km. Then you turn around and scream down­hill for an hour and a half, with­out ped­alling once. Know Be­fore You Go Bring warm clothes and layer up: Even when it’s 33 de­grees in Paia, tem­per­a­tures at the top can be be­low freez­ing. There’s a foun­tain at the ranger sta­tion 2 300 me­tres up that dis­penses fil­tered wa­ter and ac­com­mo­dates cy­cling bot­tles. You’ll need it. Dif­fi­culty 10

– louis maz­zante

Lost Lake Trail Se­ward, Alaska

Moose, glaciers, waterfalls, and mead­ows of wild­flow­ers cre­ate a colour­ful back­drop to sin­gle­track that in­ter­min­gles rip­ping smooth rib­bons of trail with twisty rocky, rooty bits. Know Be­fore You Go The 12km trail con­nects to the Prim­rose Trail near Lost Lake. Pack ex­tra of ev­ery­thing – cell phone ser­vice is iffy. There’s 550m of climb­ing in the first 10km. Dif­fi­culty 6 to 7

– se­lene yea­ger

Crested Butte, Colorado

It’s real sin­gle­track with nat­u­ral flow in one of the most beau­ti­ful places on earth, with moun­tains, trees, and wild­flow­ers stretched out in every di­rec­tion. Some of the trails are the same ones moun­tain-bike pi­o­neers rode in the ’70s. Know Be­fore

You Go The joke goes ‘There are three sea­sons in Crested Butte: July, Au­gust, and win­ter’, so plan your travel

ac­cord­ingly. (Western Spirit of­fers five-day Crested Butte Sin­gle­track trips in Au­gust for R19 000.) CB is at 2 700m and the rides as­cend from there, so take it easy un­til you ac­cli­mate. Dif­fi­culty 6 (ter­rain); 9 (el­e­va­tion)

– matt phillips

Ceder­berg, Western Cape, South Africa

Cy­cling is the per­fect way to ex­plore the rough and raw won­der of the Ceder­berg Moun­tains. Rid­ing varies, from open jeep track – sandy, in places – to rocky sin­gle­track, to loose gravel. But what is con­sis­tent is the plethora of awe­some, photo-wor­thy vis­tas from every di­rec­tion. It’s the per­fect place to rent a cot­tage with a group of mates and have a week­end MTB get­away!

There are many wellestab­lished routes – coun­try roads and trails – that take riders into the moun­tains; but what makes the Ceder­berg a ‘wow’ des­ti­na­tion is that there are also many se­cret MTB trails, wait­ing for you to dis­cover them.

Know Be­fore You Go Check out the Ceder­berg MTB map on iride Africa’s web­site (ird­eaf­rica.com) for a guide to trail net­works in the Ceder­berg. New trails are added all the time.

Dif­fi­culty 4 to 7 (depend­ing on which trail you choose)

– j.a.

Ky­oto, Ja­pan

This com­pact city of nearly

1.5 mil­lion is one of the most pre­served towns in Ja­pan, and its 1 600-plus tem­ples and 17 World Her­itage sites are easy to visit by bike. Cruise wide, flat paths along the

Kamo River for views of cherry and maple trees, herons and egrets, and 48 bridges, or wan­der nar­row back streets, where you might spot a minia­ture shrine – or even a beer vend­ing ma­chine. Go in late March or early April, when the cherry blos­soms bloom – their del­i­cate fra­grance

(and the fes­ti­vals held in their hon­our) are worth the time you’ll spend ma­noeu­vring through the crowds. Know Be­fore You Go Mo­torists drive on the left (yay!), but traf­fic can be heavy. There are few bike lanes, so most Ja­panese cy­clists ride on the pave­ment, which is tech­ni­cally off-lim­its to bikes (un­less spe­cially marked), but po­lice rarely en­force the law. Ky­oto Cy­cling Tour Project rents city bikes for about R125 a day and of­fers guided tours of the city in English. Dif­fi­culty 2 to 4

– emily fu­ria

Col du Tour­malet Hautes-pyrénées, France

When the 17.4km climb was in­tro­duced to the Tour de France in 1910, the first rider to the top, Oc­tave Lapize, had to walk part way, and is sup­posed to have cursed the or­ga­niz­ers: “As­sas­sins!” Mostly steady slopes of 4 to 7% as­cend past two big waterfalls, through four snow tun­nels, by rus­tic ham­lets and open fields, and be­side pre­cip­i­tous canyons to the ski re­sort of La Mongie, af­ter which steep hair­pins clut­tered by cows and sheep ca­reen to a crest that makes it seem as if you’re about to ride off the edge of the world. Know Be­fore You Go You want the east­ern ap­proach, start­ing from the town of Sainte-marie de Cam­pan. Also – sorry – it’s a grad­ual 12km climb from just about ev­ery­where to get to the base of the Tour­malet. Du­vine Cy­cling’s R60 000 Pyre­nees Jour­ney Bike Tour crosses the Tour­malet dur­ing trips in July, Au­gust, and Septem­ber. Dif­fi­culty 5 to 7

– bill strick­land

Whistler Moun­tain Bike Park

Bri­tish Columbia, Canada

From high-alpine de­scents through snow­fields and vol­canic de­bris to smooth cruises with zen-like flow to jump trails that will test (and im­prove) your skills, Whistler’s trails are more di­verse than any­where we’ve ever rid­den – or even heard about. Know Be­fore You Go Leave your bike at home. Many of Whistler’s bike shops demo the lat­est rides. Dif­fi­culty 3 to 10 – l.m.

Mid­lands Me­an­der, Kwazulu-natal, South Africa

This route takes you through coun­try­side with mighty waterfalls (such as the

Kark­loof Falls, and How­ick Falls), and sanc­tu­ar­ies such as Kam­berg Na­ture Re­serve and Am­ber Val­ley. You can fol­low the R103 from Est­court to How­ick, and a favourite road loop for lo­cals is from How­ick along Not­ting­ham Road to Rosetta and Mooi River and then back, a good 100km wellpunc­tu­ated by cof­fee shops. Know Be­fore You Go Road rid­ing in the Mid­lands can be dan­ger­ous, be­cause there’s not much shoul­der and roads are fre­quently used by large trucks. But the roads are quiet. Dif­fi­culty 5 – j.a.

Mau­voisin Dam Switzer­land

This is a real ad­ven­ture ride – about two-thirds dirt road, one-third rocky and some­times very steep and ex­posed hik­ing trails. There’s also more than 1 000m of climb­ing on the re­mote, 27-kilo­me­tre loop. Start cir­cum­nav­i­gat­ing the dam by rid­ing through sev­eral long tun­nels through rocky cliffs. Once you’re out, the scenery is an ex­plo­sion of colours: green grass on the moun­tain­side to your right, and bright pink, pur­ple, and yel­low wild­flow­ers wav­ing in the breeze.

You prob­a­bly won’t see another

soul out there. Know Be­fore You Go Don’t be fooled by the mileage and el­e­va­tion num­bers – this ride will take most of your day, be­cause of the long hike-abike sec­tions.

Dif­fi­culty 7 – glo­ria liu

Cha­pada Dia­mantina Na­tional Park Mu­cugê, Brazil

Con­stantly chang­ing ter­rain – from slick rock to lime­stone to red clay to dark, loamy earth – makes this one of the most mag­i­cal-look­ing places you’ll ever ride. Watch for wild horses and don­keys. Know Be­fore You Go Tour com­pany Terra Cha­pada runs seven-day moun­tain-bike trips through the park (R9 300 and up). The lo­ca­tion is home to Ca­choeira da Fu­maça, or ‘Smoke Falls’ – named be­cause the wind catches the fall­ing wa­ter be­fore it can com­plete the 112-storey drop, cre­at­ing a cloud of bil­low­ing mist. Dif­fi­culty 5 to 8 – s.y.

Swart­berg Pass, Prince Al­bert, Western Cape

The Swart­berg Pass is one of the planet’s most iconic grav­el­road climbs. You as­cend the 28km-long and 1 600m-high pass up sharp switch­backs, with spec­tac­u­lar views at every turn to the sum­mit.

It’s a re­lent­less climb, with gra­di­ents of 10% in places. Help­ing to take your mind off the climb are sign­posts doc­u­ment­ing his­tor­i­cal points of in­ter­est, such as

‘Die Stal­letjie’, ‘Wit­draai’, ‘Fon­tein­tjie’, ‘Skelm­draai’, and fi­nally ‘Die Top’. Know Be­fore You Go The Swart­berg Pass is a na­tional mon­u­ment, and a World Her­itage Site. Dif­fi­culty 10

– j.a.

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