With spring just around the corner, it's hard not to fantasize about the days when the sun starts to dry the road, offering optimal conditions for hours of cycling. If you're serious about riding, no doubt you have a few go-to spots within an hour or two from home, if not right outside your doorstep. Of course, there are also times when you itch to travel farther afield for a little more adventure. Here, six fantastic travel destinations for cyclists, whether you're ready to pack up your bike and take it across the country—or perhaps across an ocean.
Superb Scenery: Villefranche-sur-Mer, France
This commune in the south of France is the perfect starting point for exploring the French Riviera by bike. There are several routes you can choose between Nice, which adjoins Villefranche, and Monaco roughly 20km away. As one might expect, the coastal routes are fairly heavy with traffic, but if you take the inland routes, you can ride all day without seeing a single car. And of course, there are the amazingly quaint French villages, which are great for family activities or a post-ride stroll. A must-visit on this trip is Èze, a small village on the cliffs above Monaco, where there are amazing walking paths, lovely cafes, and of course, great wine.
Unexpected Solitude: Malibu, California
You probably wouldn't think of Los Angeles as a cycling-friendly getaway, but you'd be surprised. Once you get into the mountains above Malibu, you can really disappear. And there's virtually no traffic up there—definitely not what one expects in L.A. It's a great place to train, because there's lots of climbing and the weather is great year-round. There are also many camping options in the area, and the kids will love the beaches. Plus, it's not too far from the hustle and bustle, in case you want to go out for incredible Mexican or super-fresh sushi after a long day of riding.
Country Roads: Greenville, South Carolina
I may be a little biased, because I live in Greenville, but it really does offer some of the best riding on the east coast. Plus, the area has plenty to offer for other outdoor sports as well, including some beautiful hiking trails. You can ride straight from downtown and be at Paris Mountain in 20 minutes and there are countless miles of country roads to choose from. On a single visit, you could easily go without riding the same road twice. Downtown is also home to tons of of bars and restaurants downtown—two of my favorites are the Sip rooftop wine bar and Soby's. And of course, you'll find plenty of nice places to rest your head, including Hotel Domestique.
A True Escape: Colombia
Colombia is still way off-the-beaten path for a lot of travelers, but it's truly a unique destination worth exploring—especially by bike. The people here are some of the nicest I've ever met, and if you know the right places and the right people, you can really have some great support along the roads. Cycling is the second largest sport in the country (behind football—as in soccer—of course), and the scenery is as varied as it is spectacular. Also, two words: The Andes. If you're after challenging climbs, this is the perfect spot.
Post-ride Relaxing: Blackberry Farm, Tennessee
Blackberry Farmresort reallly is in the middle of nowhere, so you can imagine the kind of traffic you'll find on the surrounding roads (read: little to none). The roads themselves are great: it's a fairly hilly area, and you can ride a nice climb from the resort up into the nearby state parks. Of all the cycling trips I've taken, Blackberry Farm offers the best place to unwind, thanks largely to their amazing spa. Who wouldn't want a massage after a long day of riding?
Cycling on the Side: Gargas, France
Provence is one of best places to ride if you're not really looking for a lot of climbing. The area features plenty of easy riding for all levels. In addition to being bike-friendly, Gargas offers plenty of indulgent activities for the whole family. Stroll around vineyards, eat world-class food, or have lunch by the pool at La Coqillad's bar.
George Hincapie is one of the most recognized professional cyclists in the world with numerous national championships and professional victories to his credit. He has traveled around the world devoting time to his passion for riding and has created a line of custom professional sportswear for cyclists, available at Hincapie.com. More recently, along with his brother Rich, the Hincapies opened Hotel Domestique in the Blue Ridge Mountain foothills, drawing inspiration from George's world travels.