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Where is the best place in the world to be a roadie?

majormantramajormantra Posts: 2,094
edited April 2012 in Tour & expedition
This is a question I've been mulling. I've been trying to think of the criteria for roadie heaven. Off the top of my head:

-Good climate - hot and cold is not necessarily bad, but persistent rain or constant howling winds are.
-Interesting terrain - preferably including mountains but with the option of flat rides along valleys etc.
-Good quality roads - especially in terms of surface maintenance.
-Sympathetic drivers - countries where cycling is popular tend to be better in this respect.

Note that the UK fails on +/- 3 of these. :roll:

Obvious places that spring to mind are the south of France, parts of Spain, Italy. From spending some time there Switzerland can be pretty good too although the Swiss diet seems less optimal for cyclists. :)

Any less obvious ones? Where would you choose given ample resources?
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  • ddraverddraver Posts: 20,382
    South of France for me. Spain and Italy have too many crazy drivers. They might repect whilst they re passing you at 100mph an inch from your elbow but it doesnt make much difference

    Netherlands/Belgium fail on the first unfortunatly...
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  • NapoleonDNapoleonD Posts: 18,632
    Majorca has to be pretty high on the list but I'd have to go with South East France.
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  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    ddraver wrote:
    South of France for me. Spain and Italy have too many crazy drivers. They might repect whilst they re passing you at 100mph an inch from your elbow but it doesnt make much difference

    I've cycled in all three countries and never noticed any significant difference between drivers. My estimate, based on living and cyclin in Italy for the last couple of years, would be that at least 90 percent give sufficient space for cyclists - and I can count on the fingers of one hand the times when a motorist has passed too close for comfort.
  • roryboyroryboy Posts: 44
    Pretty much enjoy the stuff Scotland can throw at me, mountains, wind ,rain, sleet, snow,potholes you would need a ladder to climb back out of !! but in good weather cycling round the quiet back roads of the western highlands is hard to beat. Other than that, then Majorca for me as its my second home
  • dodgydodgy Posts: 2,890
    For me it would be the French Alps, specifically around Les Gets area. Yep, I know you can't ride all year round due to snow, but I reckon if you lived there that 4 months out a year skiing would revitalise you for the summer.

    What a life that must be.
  • Jay dubbleUJay dubbleU Posts: 3,197
    Has to be Italy - not just interesting roads but culturally geared to cycling - where else do you get events like L'Eroica ?
  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    edited March 2012
    This is a question I've been mulling. I've been trying to think of the criteria for roadie heaven. Off the top of my head:

    -Good climate - hot and cold is not necessarily bad, but persistent rain or constant howling winds are.
    -Interesting terrain - preferably including mountains but with the option of flat rides along valleys etc.
    -Good quality roads - especially in terms of surface maintenance.
    -Sympathetic drivers - countries where cycling is popular tend to be better in this respect.

    Note that the UK fails on +/- 3 of these. :roll:

    Actually I think the UK passes on 3 out of four of those.

    Interesting terrain - yes lots of it although admittedly very few mountains.

    Sympathetic drivers. Yes - although, as in every country, you get the minority of @rses. (I know UK cyclists love to think that they are a persecuted minority - but that doesn't mean we are).

    Good quality roads. Yes - at least anywhere where the utility companies aren't regularly digging up the roads. Ok in rarely-used country lanes you get a build up of surface grit and censored because these roads aren't swept very often (or ever?) but I supect this has more to do with British cyclists liking a good old moan.

    Climate - OK 'variable' or 'unpredictable' are probably the kindest things you can say. However, if you've ever had to contend with temperatures hitting 30 at 8 in the morning and over 35 at 10 am (OK I know there's someone out there saying 'oh if only') you'll know that there's such thing as too much of a good thing. And if you want to see a real rainstorm, as opposed to a bit of drizzle, then come to the Mediterranean.
  • majormantramajormantra Posts: 2,094
    Where do you live? In and around Edinburgh the roads are a minefield of rim-eating potholes and I witness aggressive driving all the time. The temperatures aren't bad around here but it rains a fair bit and it is very, very windy a good deal of the time.
  • random manrandom man Posts: 1,514
    According to Alastair Humphreys, who spent 4 years riding over 40,000 miles around the world, "Europe has everything for the traveller: landscapes, history, cities, food..... all squashed nice and tight together".
    "If any European country was dropped into any other continent it would instantly become a dream travel destination".

    Maybe not the same as roadie heaven but given the riding he's done, I'm not going to argue with him. Bosnians are the most reckless drivers in the world, though.
  • HebdenBikerHebdenBiker Posts: 787
    I think West Yorkshire has its charms. Wind and rain - yes - but that's all part of the character of the place, and the cycling experience :D
  • lemon63lemon63 Posts: 253
    South Wales, excellent cycling terrain. Obviously not quite Alps or Pyrenees but the we have some great routes around Usk, Abergavenny, Monmouth etc plus the Brecon Beacon & Black mountains just up the road.
    8)
  • kozzokozzo Posts: 182
    Belgium anyway...
    Immediately you have "semi-God" status as a biker.
    With full respect of almost all drivers.
    Greettings from Bastogne
  • flashman469flashman469 Posts: 102
    Jotunheimen region of Norway - phenomenal scenery and hardly any cars. Superb!
  • thegreatdividethegreatdivide Posts: 5,085
    Portland/Oregon. Never been but it looks like bike heaven.
  • turnstyleturnstyle Posts: 63
    Just came back from a few days riding in Majorca. It's like i was hit by an Addison Lee taxi and sent to biking heaven. If there's anything better than there, i'd like to know about it.
  • craigentycraigenty Posts: 960
    Provence. Obviously 8)
  • bigjimbigjim Posts: 780
    Mallorca for me, never rode anywhere better up to now. Drivers in the South of France are pretty aggressive. Won't get out of the car and face you up though. German/Austrian roads are a dream but out of town the drivers pass too close and fast. Czech Republic drivers are just unskilled, but really nice as they almost kill you. Americans just don't see the point of cycling or walking, but great scenery and roads. All IMO of course. :)
  • klepklep Posts: 158
    Nothing beats Mallorca!
  • The North Pennines (Northumberland, Durham & Cumbria) - challenging routes and quiet roads
  • HoopdriverHoopdriver Posts: 2,023
    andymiller wrote:
    This is a question I've been mulling. I've been trying to think of the criteria for roadie heaven. Off the top of my head:

    -Good climate - hot and cold is not necessarily bad, but persistent rain or constant howling winds are.
    -Interesting terrain - preferably including mountains but with the option of flat rides along valleys etc.
    -Good quality roads - especially in terms of surface maintenance.
    -Sympathetic drivers - countries where cycling is popular tend to be better in this respect.

    Note that the UK fails on +/- 3 of these. :roll:

    Actually I think the UK passes on 3 out of four of those.

    Interesting terrain - yes lots of it although admittedly very few mountains.

    Sympathetic drivers. Yes - although, as in every country, you get the minority of @rses. (I know UK cyclists love to think that they are a persecuted minority - but that doesn't mean we are).

    Good quality roads. Yes - at least anywhere where the utility companies aren't regularly digging up the roads. Ok in rarely-used country lanes you get a build up of surface grit and censored because these roads aren't swept very often (or ever?) but I supect this has more to do with British cyclists liking a good old moan.

    Climate - OK 'variable' or 'unpredictable' are probably the kindest things you can say. However, if you've ever had to contend with temperatures hitting 30 at 8 in the morning and over 35 at 10 am (OK I know there's someone out there saying 'oh if only') you'll know that there's such thing as too much of a good thing. And if you want to see a real rainstorm, as opposed to a bit of drizzle, then come to the Mediterranean.

    I agree - except my reference point for too much heat is Australia.

    Britain is a pretty nice place to ride...
  • term1teterm1te Posts: 1,462
    French or Italian alps would have to be up there, but actually I prefer the Swiss Jura. Great roads and views, big enough hills, a drinkable water fountain in every village, hot in the summer and cold in the winter like it should be, relatively considerate drivers. The rocks are mostly limestone, so no flints and the widest cycle lanes I know of. Guess where I'm riding tomorrow :D
  • New Zealand. End of.
    'I started with nothing and still have most of it left.'
  • Southwest France, in the Pyrenees. Great roads, epic Cols close together and the flats when you want them. Only a couple of weeks when I couldn't ride somewhere around here.
    Tim and Di Warren
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    Lezignan, Hautes Pyrenees
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  • canamdadcanamdad Posts: 188
    I've just returned to Canada (Ottawa area) after 5 years living and cycling in the UK. I know that it's fashionable for a lot of Brits to overlook the cycling in their own country- too many cars, bad roads, bad weather and on and on but, come on, you really are lucky to have the opportunity to ride in a beautiful place on some of the most picturesque lanes anywhere in world! Oh yeah, I heard people lament that in "the old days" they could ride the A4 from London to Bristol and never get passed by more than 4 cars all the way. Anytime you're on vacation in a new place (Majorca et al), of course, it's exciting, it's different. Many years ago I was touring in the Pyrenees and had just climbed a col and got talking to a French woman who was at the top. I told her how incredible this cycling was and how lucky she was to live around here. She told me to go to Ireland if I really wanted some good cycling!
  • majormantramajormantra Posts: 2,094
    I do take the point. When the cycling is good in Scotland, it can be absolutely fantastic. It's just that the percentage of good days is that much lower here than in some places! And the quality of roads around here is fairly pitiful.
  • HoopdriverHoopdriver Posts: 2,023
    New Zealand. End of.

    End of what? End of New Zealand? Surely not the end of the discussion - not with New Zealand's narrow roads and fast, highly aggressive drivers...
  • Yeah... I drove from Queenstown on south isalnd down to the 'fjord' region, drove all morning and saw just 3 other cars. I can live with that. North Island has a beautiful climate, south is dramatic, no crowds, no nowt, whata gorgeous place.
    'I started with nothing and still have most of it left.'
  • Norway is my favorite. Good roads, drivers are careful as distances are too long to hurry. Landscape is amazing, and better in the far north. Great climbs and strong winds to battle. Interesting weather. And the Norwegians like sport like no other people. Be prepared for a lot of cheering and cycling talk.

    Walter
  • When I was touring in Norway I was really impressed by the drivers, of the fairly small number that I encountered they were all very courteous and left me loads of space. Might be different in the big towns and cities as in most countries though.

    However I have to admit that after 6 months riding in Australia one of my fondest memories on a bike was the first ride I did back in the Scottish Highlands around Torridon. Incredible scenery, beautiful roads and decent drivers.

    Currently living in the SE of England and I'm not a fan, even the lanes round here seem busy and there are an awful lot of censored drivers, some of the worst I've come across. Road surface and weather are both pretty good though, so I guess you win some, you loose some.
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  • El ReyEl Rey Posts: 83
    I love Italy but after one trip to the South of France I fear I can no longer be faithful. France.
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