Tuesday 29 May 2018 09:00
What better way to intimately connect with a destination than from the vantage point of a bicycle saddle? The relaxed pace allows you to become acutely aware of your surroundings: the scents, the sounds, the sights.
While the most popular cycling havens, such as Amsterdam, France’s Loire Valley, or Copenhagen, set the gold standard for being ultra bike-friendly, there are many less-recognised but equally bike-worthy parts of the world that merit exploring.
Here are six unusual locales for cyclists to get off the beaten track.
Located some 100 miles off the southeast coast of China, Taiwan is known more for its bubble tea cafes and Hello Kitty-themed trains than its bike culture. However, you’ll find bike rental shops near many cycle trails, and YouBike sharing stations scattered across the bustling capital city of Taipei, from where you can hire a set of wheels for less than £1 an hour.
Numerous scenic bike paths course through bucolic green spaces, both in Taipei and further afield. Don’t miss Sun Moon Lake, a magical spot set in the mountainous, foliage-cloaked terrain of central Taiwan.
The Xiangshang-Yuetan Bikeway, which mostly skirts the lakefront, is best pedalled in the early morning when mist still hangs over the calm waters and the air is alive with dragonflies. Panagoe offers multi-day bike tours of Taiwan, including around Sun Moon Lake.
Located off the east coast of continental Africa, Madagascar – the world’s fourth largest island – is full of the unusual and the dramatic. Biking is one of the best ways to spy Madagascar’s exotic wildlife, from brilliantly hued chameleons and oddly shaped baobab trees to adorable lemurs.
Bike shops are scarce and the tarmac can be potholed and gravel-strewn at times. But the country’s rough-around-the-edges quality presents precious opportunities for cyclists, including meeting gleeful schoolchildren unaccustomed to tourists, and descending deserted roads ringed by majestic granite peaks.
One of the most atmospheric rides is on a sun-dappled road dripping with foliage through the Ranomafana National Park, a majestic rainforest. Exodus Travels offers 13-day guided bike trips, while MBike Madagascar in Antananarivo rents out mountain bikes for £15 a day.