Winter is well and truly here, meaning that our rides can seem tougher than they did a few months ago. With cold air biting whenever it gets the opportunity, and the boredom of your usual route setting in, riding your bike can sometimes feel like more of a chore. This build-up of frustration can leave us longing for a little escapism and what better way to escape the everyday than to embark on a winter adventure?
There are so many great locations around the world that are waiting to be explored on two wheels, as well as some places closer to home that you may not have visited before. Today we will be taking a brief look at five of the best cycling destinations that you may have dreamt of on your winter rides.
The Amalfi Coast – Italy
I have to start this article with a destination that represents escapism like few others in the world can. The awe-inspiring Amalfi Coast is a place filled with Italian passion for culture and art, as well as being a great place to explore on your bike.
Starting from the gritty city of Naples you can head down the coast until you reach the remarkable town of Pompei. There an exploration of the historic ruins gives you a taste of what life was like around 2,000 years ago. It is also possible to take your bike most of the way up Mount Vesuvius, the volcano responsible for the destruction of the ancient civilization below. The climb itself can be a testing one and is often quite busy, so it may well be a good idea to take it on in the early hours of the morning to take advantage of the quieter roads.
After experiencing some of the more well-known things that the region has to offer, you could embark on a slow ride along the winding coastal roads that Italy is famous for, riding your way to the peak of the Sorrento peninsula or maybe taking a boat across to the idyllic island of Capri. Nestled between the luscious blue sea and the jagged rocks of the coast, it is hard not to fall in love with the Amalfi Coast.
Oh, and the coffee is pretty good too.
Ghent – Belgium
If a traditional European winter break is what you’re dreaming of while out on the bike, then there is no better destination than the stunning medieval city of Ghent in Belgium. The city is located in the north of the country and is arguably the jewel in the crown of the Flanders region, it is also famed for its cycling heritage and drinking culture.
Ghent is hailed for its architectural beauty which makes a visit to the city well worth it at any time of year, but it is the colder months that this amazing place transforms into a magical winter wonderland. Ghent is home to a fabulous array of Christmas markets that will keep you entertained when you are not off on your bike exploring the Flanders region.
With the region said to be ‘home to more bikes than people’ it is no surprise that there is still plenty going on when you visit Ghent in winter. The most famous end-of-season event that takes place is the Six Days of Ghent, which is raced on the legendary t’Kuipke velodrome in the city’s central park. This season’s event saw the ceremonial end of Iljo Keisse’ professional racing career.
If you are a fan of cyclocross, you can also use Ghent as the perfect staging post for visiting as many races as possible while out in Belgium. The range of boutique hotels and larger chains makes the city a relatively affordable place to visit all year round that will leave you craving the Belgian lifestyle even more.
As you’ll probably know by now, I always like to throw a suggestion into the mix that may surprise you and today this takes the form of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as a cycling destination. As I’m sure you’ve heard before, warmth is something that many of us crave during the winter and there is no better place to get this than in the desert!
While warmer weather is an important thing to many, cycling infrastructure is of course the main aspect to consider when it comes to going on a cycling holiday and the UAE is beginning to develop into a great place for cyclists to visit.
If you have ever tuned into the UAE Tour that takes place at the start of each WorldTour season, you may have noticed the range of dedicated cycling tracks that the nation has to offer. Now they may not be to everyone’s taste but for me they offer an alternative to the kind of riding one can experience in Europe for example.
There are currently ten of these tracks dotted around the UAE that are all completely free of both traffic and pedestrians, making them the ideal place to practice your time trialling and perhaps even get into a few sprints against the other riders on the course.
The next destination on our list may not be the first place that comes to mind in terms of escapism but is certainly somewhere that I have dreamed of while ploughing through the urban streets on my bike. One of the most stunning areas of natural beauty in the entire country, north Wales is a region filled with different challenges for riders of all inclinations.
If road cycling is your thing, then you will not want to pass up the chance to cruise along the Welsh coastline, seeing the sight and sounds of the seaside while riding in the refreshing coastal breeze. Starting your ride from the English border city of Chester allows you to explore the wonderful Roman history that surrounds the area including an ancient amphitheatre and complete Roman city walls before crossing into Wales.
Once on the move, the route is pretty simple, just follow the coastline as far as you want and head back once you’ve reached your destination. If you want a real challenge, you can ride all the way to Anglesey where the sea stretches out towards the Republic of Ireland. While on the road I would recommend a stop in the old seaside town of Prestatyn for a coffee and cake as you take in the amazing views of Snowdonia and the Irish sea from the promenade.
For MTB enthusiasts there are also plenty of brilliant trails around the region, including those found in Llanberis that will take you around the base of the legendary mount Snowdon, making for another collection of stellar views.
Patagonia – Argentina and Chile
The final destination I want to discuss today is one for the true adventurers that want to take their bike to a place that nobody else they know has. The Andean region of Patagonia may not be the cycling secret it once was, but it still represents a true voyage into the unknown for most European cyclists.
The region is famous for its mountains that have never really been raced upon by European professionals, meaning that they are the perfect place for you Strava hunters that want to take some segments that could stand for years.
Riding in Patagonia isn’t easy though, so you shouldn’t make the trip there unless you are a truly experienced bike handler. In the winter there can often be snowstorms and avalanches that make the roads somewhat dangerous. Depending on your point of view this may scare or excite you.
An interesting thing to note for any Welsh readers is that Patagonia is also home to a small colony of native Welsh speakers. A trip to the region known as Y Wladfa would surely be high on the list for anyone wanting to speak their first language while away in a far-off land.
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Perhaps this short piece has sparked your exploratory spirt and made you want to travel to one of these fantastic destinations this winter. If it has, make sure to take out cycle specific travel insurance before going anywhere to ensure that you are fully covered against any winter mishaps. Yellow Jersey’s comprehensive cycle travel insurance will cover emergency medical expenses, trip cancellation, trip curtailment and trip abandonment whilst riding abroad. If you want to cover your bicycle against damage whilst in the hands of the airline or whilst riding, Yellow Jersey offer a range of comprehensive bicycle insurance policies to cater for your needs. If you need some assistance, just give our friendly support staff a call on 0333 003 0046.