There’s perhaps no better way to immerse yourself in a landscape than from atop a bicycle. Tick these experiences off your bucket list, one revolution of the pedal at a time.
Cruise the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail
Some bucket-list bike rides are about pushing yourself to the limits of your physical endurance. Biking the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail is more about gentle hills, relaxed paces and—you guessed it—drinking delicious wine.
The trail runs from Hawke’s Bay on the North Island to Marlborough on the South Island. You can bike the entire way if you’re ambitious, but if you’d just like a day of pedaling through a pastoral setting, Martinborough’s wineries are close together, making for a leisurely jaunt among rolling green pastures dotted with sheep.
Rent a bike from Green Jersey Cycle Tours, and then map a path. Choose from two-dozen wineries, which here are typically small, family-owned spots. Ata Rangi is worth a visit both for a sip of pinot noir and for the history—owner Clive Paton believed in the wine-producing potential of the area before anyone else did, a bet that’s paid off. Poppies Martinborough makes a lovely stop for a snack, with the personable husband-and-wife duo of Shayne and Poppy Hammond pouring their blends (Shayne manages the vines, Poppy makes the wines). Toast with a glass of pinot gris or sauvignon blanc over a platter of local produce.
Cycle from Cairo to Capetown
Truly get the flavor of an entire continent with Tour d’Afrique’s signature ride, starting in Egypt and ending in South Africa. Over four months, you’ll ride 7,500 miles through 10 countries. Along the way, take in the famous pyramids at Luxor, the soaring landscapes of Sudan, the lava rock road of Nairobi, the famous safari opportunities of Tanzania, the hardwood carvers of Malawi, the elephant-filled Botswana, and the tall sand dunes of Namibia before finishing in Cape Town in the shadow of Table Mountain.
A chef will come along, providing freshly made meals in camp every day. You’ll also get a tour jersey, a medal and a bike donated to a nongovernmental organization in your name.
The first group to make this trek in 2003 established the world record for fastest human-powered crossing of Africa. Tour d’Afrique will test you physically—94 days of riding with just 27 days of rest has a way of doing that—as well as mentally and emotionally, ultimately providing a cultural and athletic experience you’ll tell stories about for the rest of your days.
Pedal Past Machu Picchu
For an 11-day itinerary, it’d be tough to find a ride that had quite the mix of history and nature that Sacred Rides’ Cusco to the Amazon does. The mountain bike adventure starts in the vibrant city of Cusco, where you’ll head uphill to the Inca site of Saqsayhuaman for panoramic views of the city below. Next stop: Sacred Valley, filled with important Inca agricultural sites and salt mines. Visiting Machu Picchu is optional in theory, but in reality, it’s a must-do—no matter how many times you’ve seen it in photographs, nothing compares to experiencing this UNESCO World Heritage Site in person.
From there, you’ll head to the jungle. Through a mix of biking and hiking, you’ll descend deeper into the Amazon, uncovering its many delights. Go in search of Peru’s national bird, the Andean cock-of-the-rock, known for its brilliant orange feathers and fan-shaped crest. And, try to spot a tapir, which looks something like a cross between a pig, a hippopotamus and an anteater.
Along the way, you’ll stop at Manú National Park, notable for having some of the greatest biodiversity in the world. Peru’s largest national park, it includes 15,000 species of plants, 1,000 species of birds, 20,000-plus species of flora, 1,307 species of butterflies, just to name a few impressive stats.