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Old 08-08-07, 06:36 PM   #1
dirtypete
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great/bad countires 4 biking?

so i'm from england, though i now live here in japan, out in the sticks. in england, much moreso than in japan, there's a healthy history of road biking, lots of clubs and events every week, though the roads tend to be pretty poor - potholes, bad surfaces, angry drivers! and of course no mountains to speak of.

here in japan, it's hard to find races (and to get in with the racer crowd, very secretive ninja-like society!), but the road surfaces, even up on a mountain in the middle of nowhere, are incredible, almost always beautifully paved, not a pothole in sight, and you're often biking up mountain-sides next to babbling brooks and waterfalls, lush forests and rice paddies - on top of that, the drivers are generally ok. perfect for cycling.

seriously, i recommend japan for anyone planning a far-out biking holiday.

i've biked in france, switzerland too on holidays, but anyone got any other recomms? anywhere to avoid? anyone biked through cambodia, india etc?
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Old 08-08-07, 08:40 PM   #2
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New Zealand.
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Old 08-08-07, 08:50 PM   #3
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i've biked in france, switzerland too on holidays, but anyone got any other recomms? anywhere to avoid? anyone biked through cambodia, india etc?
Haven't biked yet in Cambodia or India, but did bike in Thailand, Malaysia, & Sri Lanka, among others. Thailand was great, specifically northern Thailand in winter, when there's perfect cycling weather in that part of the country (the north is far enough from the equator that it actually cools down somewhat from Dec.-Feb.). I can honestly say that biking in Thailand was as easy as biking in Europe or North America, but a helluva lot cheaper. Nice people, great food, good roads. Malaysia (mainly east coast) was OK, though some days there was more traffic than I would have liked. Sri Lanka was a mixed bag. It was an absolutely fascinating and extremely rewarding place to visit--one of the very best. For cycling, however, it wasn't the best. One region had truly awful roads. Another region had decent roads but maniacal bus drivers (I, along with the many local cyclists, were routinely run off the road by buses passing in the other direction). Other parts were great. Note: I was there when the ceasefire was holding, although fighting has generally been restricted to a couple of isolated areas.

Some parts of the lake region of Chile & Argentina have stunning scenery, but there are a limited number of roads, esp. paved roads. Lots of cyclists have raved about southern Chile's Carretera Austral.

I could mention a few other places, but am curious to see what others have to say.
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Old 08-08-07, 10:34 PM   #4
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I going to vote Iceland as maybe the best/worst place to cycle. Beautiful, surreal countryside but terrible wind and very expensive. My wife and I are planning to tour Iceland next summer so my vote is based on hearsay.

New Zealand is fantastic.

Parts of California are great. Parts of California are terrible...
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Old 08-08-07, 10:39 PM   #5
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Parts of California are great. Parts of California are terrible...
So we're a country now?
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Old 08-08-07, 10:58 PM   #6
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Yay, New Zealand! I've never bike toured around NZ, but I was born there, and will be going back on the 24th of August to do precisely that (bike touring, not being born. If that makes any sense grammatically) for 9 months (working off and on along the way). However, everyone I've talked to has said that it's just an amazing place for touring--but that you REALLY appreciate those small gears by the end of the trip!!
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Old 08-09-07, 12:00 AM   #7
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Yay, New Zealand! I've never bike toured around NZ, but I was born there, and will be going back on the 24th of August to do precisely that (bike touring, not being born. If that makes any sense grammatically) for 9 months (working off and on along the way). However, everyone I've talked to has said that it's just an amazing place for touring--but that you REALLY appreciate those small gears by the end of the trip!!

oh you are PSYCHED!!! YAY for you!

and yeah, 22x34 for a low gear would be great. I had 26x32 and there was some walking required - the last half-km of Arthur Pass and the last 100 meters of Crown Ridge Road come to mind.
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Old 08-09-07, 12:06 AM   #8
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Though not a country, AVOID PENNSYLVANIA... for road biking anyway.

You can't go ten feet without having to dodge a patch... or a pothole... or a crack... or a dip... or a bump...

Smooth roads are a foreign concept and don't even get me started on the sidewalks... what sidewalks there ARE...

This state is so broke and corrupt, whatever work IS done on the roads, falls apart by the next summer anyway... and as the joke goes, there are four seasons in PA: 1. Almost winter 2. Winter 3. Still winter, and 4. Construction.

The drivers suck, too.
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Old 08-09-07, 12:11 AM   #9
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My top three are:
1) Tajikistan - awful roads, but no traffic. fantastic scenery and wonderful people.
2) Kyrgyzstan - as above but a bit more tourist infrastructure.
3) Chile/Argentina.

Bottom three
1) Serbia - too many rats
2) Germany - too expensive, far too tidy.
3) UK - too much traffic
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Old 08-09-07, 08:05 PM   #10
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oh you are PSYCHED!!! YAY for you!

and yeah, 22x34 for a low gear would be great. I had 26x32 and there was some walking required - the last half-km of Arthur Pass and the last 100 meters of Crown Ridge Road come to mind.
Yeah, the Crown Range pass to Wanaka is a workout. Beautiful views though. The Otago region was my favorite. The ride from Wanaka to Haast was beautiful. I could tour in NZ for a long, long time...
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Old 08-09-07, 08:07 PM   #11
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So we're a country now?
Yeah, didn't you hear? Arnold is our Predator, I mean presinator, I mean...
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Old 08-09-07, 10:33 PM   #12
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@Niknak
I have been looking at your blog for the last week or two, and it's very interesting--your packing list is very helpful as well. Thanks, and I'll keep you updated on my travels!
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Old 08-10-07, 05:34 AM   #13
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The USA is a very good country to tour by bicycle. Some states are better than others, but generally, the roads are good and wide and minimal traffic, you have alternative routes to escape traffic, beautiful scenery, reasonable prices, friendly people. I recommend USA bicycle touring for everybody including Americans who have not fully explored this country.

As you pointed out, Japan is very good. China is excellent. France is wonderful - very bike friendly.

One of the worst countries I have ever seen for bicycling is Italy. The roads are absolute death traps for bicyclists; ultra narrow roads, no shoulder, winding, and the drivers speed on these roads with no concern for what is ahead of them around the corner. Even walking in Italy is a white-knuckle experience. Yes, yes, Italy has good food, friendly people, nice sights - all true, but very bad for BICYCLE touring.
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Old 08-10-07, 06:05 AM   #14
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One of the worst countries I have ever seen for bicycling is Italy. The roads are absolute death traps for bicyclists; ultra narrow roads, no shoulder, winding, and the drivers speed on these roads with no concern for what is ahead of them around the corner. Even walking in Italy is a white-knuckle experience. Yes, yes, Italy has good food, friendly people, nice sights - all true, but very bad for BICYCLE touring.
I had a great time touring Tuscany/Umbria last year, and I'm going back to Sicily and Sardinia next year. roads were no narrower than the ones I found in France, drivers were courteous to cyclists, some roads had shoulders and some didn't. I would rather deal with drivers in Italy than with some of the idiots driving SUVs around here.
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Old 08-10-07, 06:56 AM   #15
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Patagonia, it isn't a country but, it is one amazing place to cycle.

The UK sucks totally, that's why we all go touring overseas.
Holland... you have to pedal all the time, its so flat
France is great for all the iconic climbs from the Tour De France, Ventoux, Alpe D'Huez etc ride the roads your heroes rode. Great countryside and excellent wine.
Spain is one of my favourites.

Australia and New Zealand I off there next month so I can tell you when I come back ( yipeeee on the road again)

george
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Old 08-10-07, 07:10 AM   #16
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niknak, i just looked at your journal, my route was extremely similar to yours. i'm sooo nostalgic now, i wanna go back!
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Old 08-10-07, 08:33 AM   #17
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Patagonia, it isn't a country but, it is one amazing place to cycle.

The UK sucks totally, that's why we all go touring overseas.
Holland... you have to pedal all the time, its so flat
France is great for all the iconic climbs from the Tour De France, Ventoux, Alpe D'Huez etc ride the roads your heroes rode. Great countryside and excellent wine.
Spain is one of my favourites.

Australia and New Zealand I off there next month so I can tell you when I come back ( yipeeee on the road again)

george
Where are you going in Australia? I'm biking down the East Coast starting in a couple weeks.
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Old 08-10-07, 01:29 PM   #18
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Cambodia: I've most ridden around the North West, Anlong Veng/Samroang/Pailin. The roads are horrible, unpaved and dirt. I've been on a couple paved roads from Poi Pet to Sisaphon and Sisaphon to Battambang. Sisapon to Poi Pet Sucked something awful, lots of pot holes lots of dust and fast traffic, maybe it seemed worse as I was expecting a paved road. Sisaphon to Batambang was fine.

But the thing with Cambodia, is that even though the roads may suck the people are just wonderful. With everthing that they have been through over the past 30 something years. It was just such a good experience that the bad roads only add ot the charm of the place. The food was good also, Thai food seems to get all the press but Cambodian is right up there in my opinion.
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Old 08-10-07, 09:55 PM   #19
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My top three are:
1) Tajikistan - awful roads, but no traffic. fantastic scenery and wonderful people.
2) Kyrgyzstan - as above but a bit more tourist infrastructure.
3) Chile/Argentina.
+1 Creamcrackered! I've ridden in Chile and Argentina too, I agree they are great. Actually I'm headed down there for a couple of weeks in November (their springtime). Those are two of my fav places anywhere! Uruguay is nice too, no mountain scenery but great rural countryside and coastline. Just hop the ferry boat from Buenos Aires to Colonia or Montevideo.

Your former USSR central asian listings, wow, I never would have guessed they would be good bicycle destinations. Sounds like fat tires / heavy duty bikes required? Now I'll have to visit Wikipedia and read up on those 2 places.
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Old 08-11-07, 01:09 AM   #20
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I'm curious as to how cycling in South America is. I'd really like to do Chile, Argentina, and Brazil but am wary because of the South America horror stories you hear (abductions, gestapos, and other goofy stuff I shouldn't be afraid of). In a dream world I'd like to ride through Mexico and all the way down even. Anyways, any good books or blogs you can recommend? I speak no Spanish/Portugese and I doubt my French would go any length there: are they still friendly if you're linguisticly oblivious?
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Old 08-12-07, 07:29 AM   #21
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I'm curious as to how cycling in South America is. I'd really like to do Chile, Argentina, and Brazil but am wary because of the South America horror stories you hear (abductions, gestapos, and other goofy stuff I shouldn't be afraid of). In a dream world I'd like to ride through Mexico and all the way down even. Anyways, any good books or blogs you can recommend? I speak no Spanish/Portugese and I doubt my French would go any length there: are they still friendly if you're linguisticly oblivious?
South America is a vast place with many different countries and levels of safety. Of ALL of the countries in the world I've visited, Chile felt like the single safest one. Now, if you want to ride your bike around Brazil's favelas or Cali, Colombia, that's a different matter. It's easy enough to do a little research to determine what's likely to be a good place for touring, as well as bad.

I've posted the following site previously, but it's still a useful site and they've enhanced it recently. It's a good place to find a list of the 25 countries that 2 people think are the best in the world for touring.
http://www.ridetheroad.com/web/world.aspx
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Old 08-12-07, 02:51 PM   #22
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This thread needs pics.
I like touring where I live.
Saskatchewan.
Wide open spaces with little traffic.




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Old 08-14-07, 03:07 AM   #23
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I'm curious as to how cycling in South America is. I'd really like to do Chile, Argentina, and Brazil but am wary because of the South America horror stories you hear (abductions, gestapos, and other goofy stuff I shouldn't be afraid of). In a dream world I'd like to ride through Mexico and all the way down even. Anyways, any good books or blogs you can recommend? I speak no Spanish/Portugese and I doubt my French would go any length there: are they still friendly if you're linguisticly oblivious?
Go there!! NOW
Well to Chile and Argentina at least
Friendly people,awesome scenery, crap roads, 2 out of 3 ain't bad
I arrived there knowing only a few words of Spanish, but it's amazing how fast you pick it up when you have too, a phrase book makes good reading at night.
There are so many young backpackers there that your french will come in useful, if only to have conversations in hostels, it worked that way for me.

there are lots of blogs and websites, too many to choose from.
Look on www.trentobike.org by country

I could recommend my own but modesty prevents that ( not)



A flooded Salt Flat



winding roads and mountain scenery



Torres del Paine , the reason I went to Patagonia in the first place
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Old 08-15-07, 06:32 AM   #24
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Touring Iceland

Interested in yr thoughts on time of year and whether you go right round the island? I am also wishing to tour Iceland with my wife next year. Last year I rode a month in Scotland and took the Outer Hebrides from end to end. It was so peaceful, remote, cheap, stunning scenery etc. This gave me the idea that Iceland would be even better. I did Scotland in April/May. In the beginning I had freezing rain & low temps, but no insects and in the end I had midges in late afternoon, which could really get into yr mouth & eyes, but beautiful weather. So it seems that the timing in Iceland might be even more critical?
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Old 08-15-07, 06:35 AM   #25
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Touring Iceland

Interested in yr thoughts on time of year and whether you go right round the island? I am also wishing to tour Iceland with my wife next year. Last year I rode a month in Scotland and took the Outer Hebrides from end to end. It was so peaceful, remote, cheap, stunning scenery etc. This gave me the idea that Iceland would be even better. I did Scotland in April/May. In the beginning I had freezing rain & low temps, but no insects and in the end I had midges in late afternoon, which could really get into yr mouth & eyes, but beautiful weather. So it seems that the timing in Iceland might be even more critical?
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