In this Strava era, where you can track the most popular bike routes in cities around the world, it’s never been easier for an out-of-towner to feel like a native. And while a classic local ride might be a great intro to a destination’s landscape and culture, the most memorable cycling experiences often come when we take the road less traveled.
Seeking a backyard tour of some of the coolest bike-crazy towns, we reached out to shops and pro cyclists for their uniquely designed two-wheeled adventures. From scenic climbs on the outskirts of Tokyo to the best brunch ride in Boulder, these 12 epic routes — plus 12 great bike-friendly hotels — will inspire you to pack up your bike and get lost this summer.
Where to ride: A visit to Burlington isn’t complete without cruising three miles out onto the Causeway and across Lake Champlain to explore the islands (with a little help from the bike ferry). But if you want to go off brochure, do local Lindsay Westley’s 50-mile Baby Gap loop. Beginning 20 minutes outside of Burlington, park at the Old Round Church and prepare for an exhilarating three-hour jaunt with 3,681 feet of climbing. “Start at Sweet Simone's with a homemade bagel and a cup of locally roasted coffee,” says Westley. “Then climb south toward Hinesburg, where the roads out to Bristol are fast and mostly flat farmland, with plenty of great views toward the Adirondacks to the west." Refuel at Bristol Bakery & Cafe with an egg taco — you'll need the energy to get up over Baby Gap, which climbs 800 feet in less than four miles. If you're feeling super motivated, stay on Route 17 to climb another 2.5 miles up over App Gap, which shoots upward for 1,200 feet of climbing on a sustained 8 percent grade. Otherwise, turn left on Gore Road, passing through Huntington and returning to the church on a mostly downhill road. “Finish the day with a Hatchet Burger and a pint of Hill Farmstead at the Hatchet Tap & Table," says Westley.
Where to rest: If you had a Hotel Vermont in your hometown, it would be your go-to staycation. The hotel (summer rates from $239) regularly draws locals seeking inspired farm fresh fare at Hen of the Wood restaurant and weekly live concerts in the lobby. In addition to its fleet of complimentary Old Spokes Home bikes, it recently rolled out a bevvy of Budnitz Bicycles exclusively for guests.
Credit: Peter Glass / Alamy