There aren't many good books about biking and there are even fewer that give you ideas about where to go with your bike. So I thought I'd share a couple of my favourite biking roads with you. If you're looking for historic towns, interesting churches, art galleries and all that crap, look elsewhere. But if you like winding roads with fine views, read on.
Ideally, a biking road should go from A to B, so these are not suggestions for afternoon round trips or places where you can pose with your bike after you've (ugh) cleaned it.
If you want to share your favourite roads with me, send me an e-mail.
Just over 100 km through a little-known part of Cantal. Lots of curves and fine views. If you have the choice, best done from south to north, since the urban sprawl just after Rodez is unattractive (though Leclerc has cheap petrol), while the approach to St Flour, like the town itself, is very pleasant.
On the Rodez by-pass (N88) at Onet-le-Chateau, follow Aurillac at the big roundabout. St Flour isn't indicated till you get to Espalion.
Best done in this direction. The first stretch is flat and relatively uninteresting, but hills soon start to appear appetizingly on the horizon. Just after El Cabaco, you come round a bend and the most amazing view opens out in front of you (there's a small lay-by to stop and salivate). You could take a side trip from here to the atmospheric old village of La Alberca, but probably you'll just want to go on riding through a fantastic series of curves and switchbacks with views that change all the time.
At the very end, instead of taking the motorway, make sure you continue into Bejar, where there are houses perched crazily on the edges of cliffs.
Start with a full tank.
The region of Tras-os-Montes in the north of Portugal is a little bit like Scotland: high rolling hills, moorland, thinly-populated. It probably rains a bit less than in Scotland, but it's not the Algarve.
The N103 is a marvellous road with sweeping bends and ever-changing views. Another great ride, though slightly less spectacular, is the N311 loop from Venda Nova to Boticas.
From Montorio al Vormano, the road starts to climb through a series of bends up to the high reaches of the Gran Sasso National park. After Ortolano, you can turn off right to do the circuit of the Lago di Campotosto. The road on the east side of the (artificial) lake consists almost entirely of fast curves; the one on the west side is narrower and slower but still fun. A few km further on, if you're not heading for L'Aquila, you can turn left onto the SP86, which also has great views, and head for Assergi, which is a good base for exploring the Gran Sasso.
Last revised: 22 Jul 2007.