El Tour de Francia

La carrera ciclística más importante del planeta rueda en tierras galas.

FILE PHOTO: BMC Racing Team's Cadel Evans of Australia (L), wearing the leader's yellow jersey, celebrates on the Champs Elysees next to Andy Rihs, co-owner of the BMC team, after he won the 98th Tour de France cycling race in Paris July 24, 2011. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Evans of Australia celebrates on the Champs Elysees next to Rihs after he won the 98th Tour de France cycling race in Paris
FILE PHOTO: BMC Racing Team's Cadel Evans of Australia (L), wearing the leader's yellow jersey, celebrates on the Champs Elysees next to Andy Rihs, co-owner of the BMC team, after he won the 98th Tour de France cycling race in Paris July 24, 2011. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: BMC Racing Team's Cadel Evans of Australia (L), wearing the leader's yellow jersey, celebrates on the Champs Elysees next to Andy Rihs, co-owner of the BMC team, after he won the 98th Tour de France cycling race in Paris July 24, 2011. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Evans of Australia celebrates on the Champs Elysees next to Rihs after he won the 98th Tour de France cycling race in Paris
FILE PHOTO: BMC Racing Team's Cadel Evans of Australia (L), wearing the leader's yellow jersey, celebrates on the Champs Elysees next to Andy Rihs, co-owner of the BMC team, after he won the 98th Tour de France cycling race in Paris July 24, 2011. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: BMC Racing Team's Cadel Evans of Australia (L), wearing the leader's yellow jersey, celebrates on the Champs Elysees next to Andy Rihs, co-owner of the BMC team, after he won the 98th Tour de France cycling race in Paris July 24, 2011. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Evans of Australia celebrates on the Champs Elysees next to Rihs after he won the 98th Tour de France cycling race in Paris
FILE PHOTO: BMC Racing Team's Cadel Evans of Australia (L), wearing the leader's yellow jersey, celebrates on the Champs Elysees next to Andy Rihs, co-owner of the BMC team, after he won the 98th Tour de France cycling race in Paris July 24, 2011. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: BMC Racing Team's Cadel Evans of Australia (L), wearing the leader's yellow jersey, celebrates on the Champs Elysees next to Andy Rihs, co-owner of the BMC team, after he won the 98th Tour de France cycling race in Paris July 24, 2011. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Evans of Australia celebrates on the Champs Elysees next to Rihs after he won the 98th Tour de France cycling race in Paris
FILE PHOTO: BMC Racing Team's Cadel Evans of Australia (L), wearing the leader's yellow jersey, celebrates on the Champs Elysees next to Andy Rihs, co-owner of the BMC team, after he won the 98th Tour de France cycling race in Paris July 24, 2011. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo
Le soleil est de retour sur l'Hexagone. Petit tour de France des lieux ensoleillés... C'est l'un des plus beaux sites de Bretagne où l'on ne peut accéder que par bateau : l'Ile-aux-Moines (Morbihan), 17°C et son soleil radieux ce mardi. Pas assez chaud pour se baigner. Alors pour une famille rencontrée par France 3, c'est balade sur la plage. Mais ce n'est pas un problème. Après six longs mois d'hiver, la France retrouve ses lumières des beaux jours et les touristes leurs bonnes habitudes. Une bonne affaire À Paris bien sûr, mais aussi au Grau-du-Roi (Gard) où la température est montée à 25°C ce mardi. Presque estivale, l'occasion pour ces vacanciers de tester la piscine une première fois. À l'autre bout du pays, à Wimereux (Pas-de-Calais), il a fait 16°C ce mardi, et plus tôt beau. Une bonne affaire pour un restaurateur rencontré par France 3. Les réservations de dernières minutes tombent les unes après les autres.
Météo : l'été fait son grand retour sur l'ensemble du pays
Le soleil est de retour sur l'Hexagone. Petit tour de France des lieux ensoleillés... C'est l'un des plus beaux sites de Bretagne où l'on ne peut accéder que par bateau : l'Ile-aux-Moines (Morbihan), 17°C et son soleil radieux ce mardi. Pas assez chaud pour se baigner. Alors pour une famille rencontrée par France 3, c'est balade sur la plage. Mais ce n'est pas un problème. Après six longs mois d'hiver, la France retrouve ses lumières des beaux jours et les touristes leurs bonnes habitudes. Une bonne affaire À Paris bien sûr, mais aussi au Grau-du-Roi (Gard) où la température est montée à 25°C ce mardi. Presque estivale, l'occasion pour ces vacanciers de tester la piscine une première fois. À l'autre bout du pays, à Wimereux (Pas-de-Calais), il a fait 16°C ce mardi, et plus tôt beau. Une bonne affaire pour un restaurateur rencontré par France 3. Les réservations de dernières minutes tombent les unes après les autres.
Le soleil est de retour sur l'Hexagone. Petit tour de France des lieux ensoleillés... C'est l'un des plus beaux sites de Bretagne où l'on ne peut accéder que par bateau : l'Ile-aux-Moines (Morbihan), 17°C et son soleil radieux ce mardi. Pas assez chaud pour se baigner. Alors pour une famille rencontrée par France 3, c'est balade sur la plage. Mais ce n'est pas un problème. Après six longs mois d'hiver, la France retrouve ses lumières des beaux jours et les touristes leurs bonnes habitudes. Une bonne affaire À Paris bien sûr, mais aussi au Grau-du-Roi (Gard) où la température est montée à 25°C ce mardi. Presque estivale, l'occasion pour ces vacanciers de tester la piscine une première fois. À l'autre bout du pays, à Wimereux (Pas-de-Calais), il a fait 16°C ce mardi, et plus tôt beau. Une bonne affaire pour un restaurateur rencontré par France 3. Les réservations de dernières minutes tombent les unes après les autres.
Météo : l'été fait son grand retour sur l'ensemble du pays
Le soleil est de retour sur l'Hexagone. Petit tour de France des lieux ensoleillés... C'est l'un des plus beaux sites de Bretagne où l'on ne peut accéder que par bateau : l'Ile-aux-Moines (Morbihan), 17°C et son soleil radieux ce mardi. Pas assez chaud pour se baigner. Alors pour une famille rencontrée par France 3, c'est balade sur la plage. Mais ce n'est pas un problème. Après six longs mois d'hiver, la France retrouve ses lumières des beaux jours et les touristes leurs bonnes habitudes. Une bonne affaire À Paris bien sûr, mais aussi au Grau-du-Roi (Gard) où la température est montée à 25°C ce mardi. Presque estivale, l'occasion pour ces vacanciers de tester la piscine une première fois. À l'autre bout du pays, à Wimereux (Pas-de-Calais), il a fait 16°C ce mardi, et plus tôt beau. Une bonne affaire pour un restaurateur rencontré par France 3. Les réservations de dernières minutes tombent les unes après les autres.
Le soleil est de retour sur l'Hexagone. Petit tour de France des lieux ensoleillés... C'est l'un des plus beaux sites de Bretagne où l'on ne peut accéder que par bateau : l'Ile-aux-Moines (Morbihan), 17°C et son soleil radieux ce mardi. Pas assez chaud pour se baigner. Alors pour une famille rencontrée par France 3, c'est balade sur la plage. Mais ce n'est pas un problème. Après six longs mois d'hiver, la France retrouve ses lumières des beaux jours et les touristes leurs bonnes habitudes. Une bonne affaire À Paris bien sûr, mais aussi au Grau-du-Roi (Gard) où la température est montée à 25°C ce mardi. Presque estivale, l'occasion pour ces vacanciers de tester la piscine une première fois. À l'autre bout du pays, à Wimereux (Pas-de-Calais), il a fait 16°C ce mardi, et plus tôt beau. Une bonne affaire pour un restaurateur rencontré par France 3. Les réservations de dernières minutes tombent les unes après les autres.
Météo : l'été fait son grand retour sur l'ensemble du pays
Le soleil est de retour sur l'Hexagone. Petit tour de France des lieux ensoleillés... C'est l'un des plus beaux sites de Bretagne où l'on ne peut accéder que par bateau : l'Ile-aux-Moines (Morbihan), 17°C et son soleil radieux ce mardi. Pas assez chaud pour se baigner. Alors pour une famille rencontrée par France 3, c'est balade sur la plage. Mais ce n'est pas un problème. Après six longs mois d'hiver, la France retrouve ses lumières des beaux jours et les touristes leurs bonnes habitudes. Une bonne affaire À Paris bien sûr, mais aussi au Grau-du-Roi (Gard) où la température est montée à 25°C ce mardi. Presque estivale, l'occasion pour ces vacanciers de tester la piscine une première fois. À l'autre bout du pays, à Wimereux (Pas-de-Calais), il a fait 16°C ce mardi, et plus tôt beau. Une bonne affaire pour un restaurateur rencontré par France 3. Les réservations de dernières minutes tombent les unes après les autres.
FILE PHOTO - Cycling - The 104th Tour de France cycling race - The 189.5-km Stage 15 from Laissac-Severac l'Eglise to Le Puy-en-Velay, France - July 16, 2017 - Lotto NL-Jumbo rider George Bennett of New Zealand in action. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
FILE PHOTO - Cycling - The 104th Tour de France cycling race
FILE PHOTO - Cycling - The 104th Tour de France cycling race - The 189.5-km Stage 15 from Laissac-Severac l'Eglise to Le Puy-en-Velay, France - July 16, 2017 - Lotto NL-Jumbo rider George Bennett of New Zealand in action. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
FILE PHOTO - Cycling - The 104th Tour de France cycling race - The 189.5-km Stage 15 from Laissac-Severac l'Eglise to Le Puy-en-Velay, France - July 16, 2017 - Lotto NL-Jumbo rider George Bennett of New Zealand in action. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
FILE PHOTO - Cycling - The 104th Tour de France cycling race
FILE PHOTO - Cycling - The 104th Tour de France cycling race - The 189.5-km Stage 15 from Laissac-Severac l'Eglise to Le Puy-en-Velay, France - July 16, 2017 - Lotto NL-Jumbo rider George Bennett of New Zealand in action. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
Cycling - The 104th Tour de France cycling race - The 189.5-km Stage 15 from Laissac-Severac l'Eglise to Le Puy-en-Velay, France - July 16, 2017 - Lotto NL-Jumbo rider George Bennett of New Zealand in action. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
Cycling - The 104th Tour de France cycling race
Cycling - The 104th Tour de France cycling race - The 189.5-km Stage 15 from Laissac-Severac l'Eglise to Le Puy-en-Velay, France - July 16, 2017 - Lotto NL-Jumbo rider George Bennett of New Zealand in action. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
La plus haute tour de France va sortir de terre à La Défense
La plus haute tour de France va sortir de terre à La Défense
La plus haute tour de France va sortir de terre à La Défense
IMMOBILIER - La tour The Link, futur siège de Total sera construite dans le quartier Michelet à Puteaux. Elle pourra accueillir 10.000 personnes…
Paris: Total va construire la plus haute tour de France à La Défense
IMMOBILIER - La tour The Link, futur siège de Total sera construite dans le quartier Michelet à Puteaux. Elle pourra accueillir 10.000 personnes…
/ PCA Stream Philippe Chiambaretta
Le projet de plus haute tour de France décroche son feu vert
/ PCA Stream Philippe Chiambaretta
The son of Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong will join the Rice University football team this fall.
Lance Armstrong's son set to play football at Rice University
The son of Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong will join the Rice University football team this fall.
The son of Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong will join the Rice University football team this fall.
Lance Armstrong's son set to play football at Rice University
The son of Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong will join the Rice University football team this fall.
The son of Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong will join the Rice University football team this fall.
Lance Armstrong's son set to play football at Rice University
The son of Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong will join the Rice University football team this fall.
The son of Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong will join the Rice University football team this fall.
Lance Armstrong's son set to play football at Rice University
The son of Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong will join the Rice University football team this fall.
Chris Froome gewann 2017 die Tour de France
Rad: Lappartient will Entscheidung im Fall Froome vor der Tour
Chris Froome gewann 2017 die Tour de France
Der Präsident des Internationalen Radsport-Verbandes UCI, David Lappartient, hat in der Doping-Affäre um Chris Froome eine Entscheidung noch vor der Tour de France gefordert. "Ich glaube nicht, dass es vor dem Giro zu einer Entscheidung kommen wird, aber vor der Tour sollte es passieren. Die Affäre bringt alle, die Organisatoren, die UCI und die Fahrer in eine unhaltbare Situation", sagte Lappartient der französischen Zeitung L'Equipe .
Radsport: Froome-Affäre ist eine "unhaltbare Situation"
Der Präsident des Internationalen Radsport-Verbandes UCI, David Lappartient, hat in der Doping-Affäre um Chris Froome eine Entscheidung noch vor der Tour de France gefordert. "Ich glaube nicht, dass es vor dem Giro zu einer Entscheidung kommen wird, aber vor der Tour sollte es passieren. Die Affäre bringt alle, die Organisatoren, die UCI und die Fahrer in eine unhaltbare Situation", sagte Lappartient der französischen Zeitung L'Equipe .
Le Giro est de retour en direct et en exclusivité sur la chaine l'Équipe du 4 au 27 mai ! De Jérusalem à Rome, le Giro devient le premier grand Tour à s'élancer hors d'Europe. Vainqueur l'an dernier, Tom Dumoulin défendra son maillot rose face à Chris Froome qui tentera de réaliser un doublé Giro-Tour de France. Côté français on comptera évidemment sur Thibaut Pinot que l'on espère voir en tête dès les ascensions de l'Etna. Réagissez avec #lequipeGIRO pour cette magnifique édition 2018 !
CYCLISME - GIRO 2018 : bande-annonce
Le Giro est de retour en direct et en exclusivité sur la chaine l'Équipe du 4 au 27 mai ! De Jérusalem à Rome, le Giro devient le premier grand Tour à s'élancer hors d'Europe. Vainqueur l'an dernier, Tom Dumoulin défendra son maillot rose face à Chris Froome qui tentera de réaliser un doublé Giro-Tour de France. Côté français on comptera évidemment sur Thibaut Pinot que l'on espère voir en tête dès les ascensions de l'Etna. Réagissez avec #lequipeGIRO pour cette magnifique édition 2018 !
Le Giro est de retour en direct et en exclusivité sur la chaine l'Équipe du 4 au 27 mai ! De Jérusalem à Rome, le Giro devient le premier grand Tour à s'élancer hors d'Europe. Vainqueur l'an dernier, Tom Dumoulin défendra son maillot rose face à Chris Froome qui tentera de réaliser un doublé Giro-Tour de France. Côté français on comptera évidemment sur Thibaut Pinot que l'on espère voir en tête dès les ascensions de l'Etna. Réagissez avec #lequipeGIRO pour cette magnifique édition 2018 !
CYCLISME - GIRO 2018 : bande-annonce
Le Giro est de retour en direct et en exclusivité sur la chaine l'Équipe du 4 au 27 mai ! De Jérusalem à Rome, le Giro devient le premier grand Tour à s'élancer hors d'Europe. Vainqueur l'an dernier, Tom Dumoulin défendra son maillot rose face à Chris Froome qui tentera de réaliser un doublé Giro-Tour de France. Côté français on comptera évidemment sur Thibaut Pinot que l'on espère voir en tête dès les ascensions de l'Etna. Réagissez avec #lequipeGIRO pour cette magnifique édition 2018 !
Le Giro est de retour en direct et en exclusivité sur la chaine l'Équipe du 4 au 27 mai ! De Jérusalem à Rome, le Giro devient le premier grand Tour à s'élancer hors d'Europe. Vainqueur l'an dernier, Tom Dumoulin défendra son maillot rose face à Chris Froome qui tentera de réaliser un doublé Giro-Tour de France. Côté français on comptera évidemment sur Thibaut Pinot que l'on espère voir en tête dès les ascensions de l'Etna. Réagissez avec #lequipeGIRO pour cette magnifique édition 2018 !
CYCLISME - GIRO 2018 : bande-annonce
Le Giro est de retour en direct et en exclusivité sur la chaine l'Équipe du 4 au 27 mai ! De Jérusalem à Rome, le Giro devient le premier grand Tour à s'élancer hors d'Europe. Vainqueur l'an dernier, Tom Dumoulin défendra son maillot rose face à Chris Froome qui tentera de réaliser un doublé Giro-Tour de France. Côté français on comptera évidemment sur Thibaut Pinot que l'on espère voir en tête dès les ascensions de l'Etna. Réagissez avec #lequipeGIRO pour cette magnifique édition 2018 !
Le Giro est de retour en direct et en exclusivité sur la chaine l'Équipe du 4 au 27 mai ! De Jérusalem à Rome, le Giro devient le premier grand Tour à s'élancer hors d'Europe. Vainqueur l'an dernier, Tom Dumoulin défendra son maillot rose face à Chris Froome qui tentera de réaliser un doublé Giro-Tour de France. Côté français on comptera évidemment sur Thibaut Pinot que l'on espère voir en tête dès les ascensions de l'Etna. Réagissez avec #lequipeGIRO pour cette magnifique édition 2018 !
CYCLISME - GIRO 2018 : bande-annonce
Le Giro est de retour en direct et en exclusivité sur la chaine l'Équipe du 4 au 27 mai ! De Jérusalem à Rome, le Giro devient le premier grand Tour à s'élancer hors d'Europe. Vainqueur l'an dernier, Tom Dumoulin défendra son maillot rose face à Chris Froome qui tentera de réaliser un doublé Giro-Tour de France. Côté français on comptera évidemment sur Thibaut Pinot que l'on espère voir en tête dès les ascensions de l'Etna. Réagissez avec #lequipeGIRO pour cette magnifique édition 2018 !
Ammanis are bad drivers. In what appears to be an effort to outdo the British urban car user, who is never without a phone in one hand, residents of Jordan’s capital city tend to carry a minimum of two phones – so neither hand is unencumbered. Ammani drivers also turn without looking and consider the number of lanes painted on a given stretch of road to be more of a suggestion than a hard-and-fast law. Don’t get me started on their habit of driving on motorways at night without their lights on. So cycling in Jordan is a no-no, then? Not at all. But it’s wise to wait until you’re out of town before hopping on the saddle. Luckily there are companies like Cycling Jordan that can provide a vehicle support service for both one-off rides or extended multi-day trips. Their guides will carry your kit in a car or pickup truck, bring water and snacks along, and show you the best routes – all with a cheery smile and a genuine enthusiasm for showing off their country. Amman's roads aren't a place for cycling Credit: AMOS CHAPPLE/GETTY Downhill all the way Mountain biking from the outskirts of Amman to the Dead Sea is one of the country’s showpiece routes. Covering 60 kilometres (40 miles), the ride uses mostly quieter roads, riverside footpaths and car-width back-country gravel tracks, before a short unavoidable section of main road to finish. The fact that the ride is almost entirely downhill will be music to most ears – and is fairly unsurprising too, given that Amman sits at 700m above sea level and the finish point is around 300m below. Starting at the King Hussein Ben Talal Mosque, we quickly escaped the confines of the city on little-used back streets, before dropping down to follow the path of a small stream. We dismounted to splash through the water, and paused to help a lorry driver lift a gigantic spare tyre onto the roof of his truck, before our first scheduled stop, the ancient ruin of Qasr al-Abd. The site dates back to 200 BCE but has been subject to frequent demolition and renovation in the intervening two millennia. Qasr al-Abd Credit: GETTY From Qasr al-Abd, there’s no avoiding a seriously steep climb, referred to by some Ammani cyclists as “the atheist’s uphill”, because “no man can believe in God as they try to ride up this road”. It’s certainly a test – even with the extra small gears afforded by a mountain bike. From the top of this ridge, however, it really is all downhill to the Dead Sea. We coasted along gravel paths that evoked the famous strade bianche (white roads) of Tuscany, through the surprisingly green landscapes of northern Jordan, before crossing what seemed like an invisible border line into the dry and dusty terrain one usually associates with the Middle East. The Dead Sea Credit: GETTY We decided to hop into the truck when our route rejoined the road, opting to take the shortcut to our finale, lured mainly by the promise of a big lunch and some time by a swimming pool. Several hotels at the Dead Sea offer ‘lunch and lounge’ deals, ideal for hungry cyclists with weary legs. We make short work of the extensive buffet at the Holiday Inn, before retiring to sit by their pool for a couple of hours before sunset. Top 5 | Reasons to visit Jordan A heavenly valley Before flying out to the Middle East, I’d heard rumours that the road cycling scene in Jordan was limited to extreme early-morning club rides out of Amman (with groups setting off at 5am to avoid the worst of the manic rush hour). In fact, there’s a great deal on offer – you just won’t find it in the city centre. Engaging the services of Cycling Jordan once again, we headed south to Feynan on a Friday morning. With no traffic on the roads – almost the whole population of Jordan was at prayers – we made rapid progress down the shores of the Dead Sea, hopping onto the bikes at around 11am. From the start at Feynan we rolled along a flat desert road before climbing for a solid hour up a former military access road. The ascent of Jebel Proywe (‘jebel’ or ‘jabal’ means mountain) is much like a European alpine climb, with switchbacks, smooth tarmac and the gradual experience of a slowly changing terrain. As we climbed in altitude, the low, rolling dunes gave way to hard rocky outcrops, then vivid red sandstone cliff faces. The landscape near Feynan Credit: STOCK.ADOBE.COM/FABIO NODARI At the crest of the climb, the road dropped in and out of a series of small ravines, shooting up and down at severe gradients. As we grimaced through agonising hairpins we could smell the clutch on the support car as it laboured uphill behind us. Then at last, the true summit, and a gently undulating road over green hills that were all that lay ahead. A paradisiacal valley high above the holy land. By then it was well into Friday afternoon and families were gathered all over the place, enjoying post-prayer picnics in this impossibly verdant and peaceful place. Another five kilometres brought us to the entrance of Siq al-Barid, known colloquially as Little Petra. We clambered up the dry sandstone steps hewn out of the sandstone edifice more than two millennia ago, our small-scale mountaineering made all the more tricky by the slippery, flat soles of our cleated cycling shoes. Posing for photos at the end of an unquestionably unique cycle ride. From Siq al-Barid you can head by car back to Amman, or continue cycling on to the town of Wadi Musa (gateway to the main Petra site). There are great road climbs dotted around this more mountainous area of Jordan, easily discoverable if you have an expert guide – you could easily spend three or four days exploring with Wadi Musa as a base. No cycling is allowed inside the Petra site itself, however. The rock-hewn city of Petra Credit: GETTY Off the beaten tyre track Much like trying to climb up those slippery sandstone steps, cycling in Jordan is fiddly but fun, rarefied but infinitely rewarding. You won’t find yourself rolling into the hotel lobby after a day riding a series of popular training climbs made famous by Team Sky, before setting off on a crawl of bars and restaurants owned by one-time Tour de France stage winners. If you want to follow the tyre tracks of the pros, both current and past, then there are probably better places to go for a cycling holiday. If, though, your approach to travel leans more towards the adventurous – with a generous dash of problem-solving and logistical faffery thrown in – then Jordan is among the most exhilarating places you could go to cycle. After all, where’s the fun in doing what everyone else does? British Airways (ba.com) flies daily to Amman from London Heathrow. Day access to Dead Sea hotel pools costs from 45 JOD (£45) Five other offbeat cycling destinations By Adam Ruck 1. Madagascar This two-week tour of a fascinatingly different and biodiverse island includes 340 miles (548km) of cycling over nine days – more downhill than up as the title suggests – plus hiking in the national parks, a visit to a lemur reserve and two days of relaxation at a beach hotel on the Indian Ocean. A 17-day Madagascar cycling tour costs from £3,245 including flights, accommodation and most meals. Departures until October 2018. KE Adventure Travel (01768 773966; keadventure.com). Spot lemurs when you're not pedalling Credit: GETTY 2. The Baltic Explore the amber-rich Baltic coast and capital cities of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, as well as the mountainous dunes and beaches of the Curonian Spit and the Estonian island of Saaremaa. Easy cycling punctuated by minibus transfers. An 11-day The Baltics tour costs from £1,129 (€1,290) including accommodation, breakfast and internal transfers, but not bike or e-bike hire or flights. Departures between July and September. Baltic Bike Travel (0037 046 300 144; bbtravel.lt). Brave the Baltic Credit: Rasmus Jurkatam 3. Sri Lanka Wildlife is a highlight of this two-week adventure – leopards, elephants, crocs, and whale watching – but there is much more to it than that: Buddha’s tooth temple, tea plantations, hot curries and everywhere a smiling welcome. The cycling (24 miles a day) is graded moderate, but includes some climbs and may be quite taxing in the heat. A 14-day Sri Lanka tour costs from £2,129 including flights, accommodation, some meals and bike hire. Departures until November 2018. Explore (01252 883963; explore.co.uk). Explore Sri Lankan temples Credit: viii - Fotolia 4. Morocco A classic winter mountain bike holiday combining the colourful tumult of Marrakech with exciting rides in the Atlas Mountains and the spectacular Dades Valley, as far as Zagora on the edge of the Sahara. Five days of cycling (average 37 miles a day), on tarmac and dirt; requires fitness and some mountain bike experience. A seven-day Ride the Kasbah tour costs £695 including accommodation and all meals but not flights or bike hire. Departures from November to April. KE Adventure Travel (01768 773966; keadventure.com). Tackle the Atlas Mountains Credit: ALAMY 5. Myanmar A nine-day stint of “comfortably paced” cycling is only part of a two-week voyage of discovery, including the Bagan plain and its 2,000-plus temples, Mandalay, a boat trip on Lake Inle and old British hill stations. A 17-day Cultural Cycling tour of Myanmar costs £2,945 including accommodation, all meals (except in Yangon), internal transfers and bike hire; international flights not included; departures in November and February. Mountain Kingdoms (01453 844400; mountainkingdoms.com).
Is this the most surprising cycling destination on Earth?
Ammanis are bad drivers. In what appears to be an effort to outdo the British urban car user, who is never without a phone in one hand, residents of Jordan’s capital city tend to carry a minimum of two phones – so neither hand is unencumbered. Ammani drivers also turn without looking and consider the number of lanes painted on a given stretch of road to be more of a suggestion than a hard-and-fast law. Don’t get me started on their habit of driving on motorways at night without their lights on. So cycling in Jordan is a no-no, then? Not at all. But it’s wise to wait until you’re out of town before hopping on the saddle. Luckily there are companies like Cycling Jordan that can provide a vehicle support service for both one-off rides or extended multi-day trips. Their guides will carry your kit in a car or pickup truck, bring water and snacks along, and show you the best routes – all with a cheery smile and a genuine enthusiasm for showing off their country. Amman's roads aren't a place for cycling Credit: AMOS CHAPPLE/GETTY Downhill all the way Mountain biking from the outskirts of Amman to the Dead Sea is one of the country’s showpiece routes. Covering 60 kilometres (40 miles), the ride uses mostly quieter roads, riverside footpaths and car-width back-country gravel tracks, before a short unavoidable section of main road to finish. The fact that the ride is almost entirely downhill will be music to most ears – and is fairly unsurprising too, given that Amman sits at 700m above sea level and the finish point is around 300m below. Starting at the King Hussein Ben Talal Mosque, we quickly escaped the confines of the city on little-used back streets, before dropping down to follow the path of a small stream. We dismounted to splash through the water, and paused to help a lorry driver lift a gigantic spare tyre onto the roof of his truck, before our first scheduled stop, the ancient ruin of Qasr al-Abd. The site dates back to 200 BCE but has been subject to frequent demolition and renovation in the intervening two millennia. Qasr al-Abd Credit: GETTY From Qasr al-Abd, there’s no avoiding a seriously steep climb, referred to by some Ammani cyclists as “the atheist’s uphill”, because “no man can believe in God as they try to ride up this road”. It’s certainly a test – even with the extra small gears afforded by a mountain bike. From the top of this ridge, however, it really is all downhill to the Dead Sea. We coasted along gravel paths that evoked the famous strade bianche (white roads) of Tuscany, through the surprisingly green landscapes of northern Jordan, before crossing what seemed like an invisible border line into the dry and dusty terrain one usually associates with the Middle East. The Dead Sea Credit: GETTY We decided to hop into the truck when our route rejoined the road, opting to take the shortcut to our finale, lured mainly by the promise of a big lunch and some time by a swimming pool. Several hotels at the Dead Sea offer ‘lunch and lounge’ deals, ideal for hungry cyclists with weary legs. We make short work of the extensive buffet at the Holiday Inn, before retiring to sit by their pool for a couple of hours before sunset. Top 5 | Reasons to visit Jordan A heavenly valley Before flying out to the Middle East, I’d heard rumours that the road cycling scene in Jordan was limited to extreme early-morning club rides out of Amman (with groups setting off at 5am to avoid the worst of the manic rush hour). In fact, there’s a great deal on offer – you just won’t find it in the city centre. Engaging the services of Cycling Jordan once again, we headed south to Feynan on a Friday morning. With no traffic on the roads – almost the whole population of Jordan was at prayers – we made rapid progress down the shores of the Dead Sea, hopping onto the bikes at around 11am. From the start at Feynan we rolled along a flat desert road before climbing for a solid hour up a former military access road. The ascent of Jebel Proywe (‘jebel’ or ‘jabal’ means mountain) is much like a European alpine climb, with switchbacks, smooth tarmac and the gradual experience of a slowly changing terrain. As we climbed in altitude, the low, rolling dunes gave way to hard rocky outcrops, then vivid red sandstone cliff faces. The landscape near Feynan Credit: STOCK.ADOBE.COM/FABIO NODARI At the crest of the climb, the road dropped in and out of a series of small ravines, shooting up and down at severe gradients. As we grimaced through agonising hairpins we could smell the clutch on the support car as it laboured uphill behind us. Then at last, the true summit, and a gently undulating road over green hills that were all that lay ahead. A paradisiacal valley high above the holy land. By then it was well into Friday afternoon and families were gathered all over the place, enjoying post-prayer picnics in this impossibly verdant and peaceful place. Another five kilometres brought us to the entrance of Siq al-Barid, known colloquially as Little Petra. We clambered up the dry sandstone steps hewn out of the sandstone edifice more than two millennia ago, our small-scale mountaineering made all the more tricky by the slippery, flat soles of our cleated cycling shoes. Posing for photos at the end of an unquestionably unique cycle ride. From Siq al-Barid you can head by car back to Amman, or continue cycling on to the town of Wadi Musa (gateway to the main Petra site). There are great road climbs dotted around this more mountainous area of Jordan, easily discoverable if you have an expert guide – you could easily spend three or four days exploring with Wadi Musa as a base. No cycling is allowed inside the Petra site itself, however. The rock-hewn city of Petra Credit: GETTY Off the beaten tyre track Much like trying to climb up those slippery sandstone steps, cycling in Jordan is fiddly but fun, rarefied but infinitely rewarding. You won’t find yourself rolling into the hotel lobby after a day riding a series of popular training climbs made famous by Team Sky, before setting off on a crawl of bars and restaurants owned by one-time Tour de France stage winners. If you want to follow the tyre tracks of the pros, both current and past, then there are probably better places to go for a cycling holiday. If, though, your approach to travel leans more towards the adventurous – with a generous dash of problem-solving and logistical faffery thrown in – then Jordan is among the most exhilarating places you could go to cycle. After all, where’s the fun in doing what everyone else does? British Airways (ba.com) flies daily to Amman from London Heathrow. Day access to Dead Sea hotel pools costs from 45 JOD (£45) Five other offbeat cycling destinations By Adam Ruck 1. Madagascar This two-week tour of a fascinatingly different and biodiverse island includes 340 miles (548km) of cycling over nine days – more downhill than up as the title suggests – plus hiking in the national parks, a visit to a lemur reserve and two days of relaxation at a beach hotel on the Indian Ocean. A 17-day Madagascar cycling tour costs from £3,245 including flights, accommodation and most meals. Departures until October 2018. KE Adventure Travel (01768 773966; keadventure.com). Spot lemurs when you're not pedalling Credit: GETTY 2. The Baltic Explore the amber-rich Baltic coast and capital cities of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, as well as the mountainous dunes and beaches of the Curonian Spit and the Estonian island of Saaremaa. Easy cycling punctuated by minibus transfers. An 11-day The Baltics tour costs from £1,129 (€1,290) including accommodation, breakfast and internal transfers, but not bike or e-bike hire or flights. Departures between July and September. Baltic Bike Travel (0037 046 300 144; bbtravel.lt). Brave the Baltic Credit: Rasmus Jurkatam 3. Sri Lanka Wildlife is a highlight of this two-week adventure – leopards, elephants, crocs, and whale watching – but there is much more to it than that: Buddha’s tooth temple, tea plantations, hot curries and everywhere a smiling welcome. The cycling (24 miles a day) is graded moderate, but includes some climbs and may be quite taxing in the heat. A 14-day Sri Lanka tour costs from £2,129 including flights, accommodation, some meals and bike hire. Departures until November 2018. Explore (01252 883963; explore.co.uk). Explore Sri Lankan temples Credit: viii - Fotolia 4. Morocco A classic winter mountain bike holiday combining the colourful tumult of Marrakech with exciting rides in the Atlas Mountains and the spectacular Dades Valley, as far as Zagora on the edge of the Sahara. Five days of cycling (average 37 miles a day), on tarmac and dirt; requires fitness and some mountain bike experience. A seven-day Ride the Kasbah tour costs £695 including accommodation and all meals but not flights or bike hire. Departures from November to April. KE Adventure Travel (01768 773966; keadventure.com). Tackle the Atlas Mountains Credit: ALAMY 5. Myanmar A nine-day stint of “comfortably paced” cycling is only part of a two-week voyage of discovery, including the Bagan plain and its 2,000-plus temples, Mandalay, a boat trip on Lake Inle and old British hill stations. A 17-day Cultural Cycling tour of Myanmar costs £2,945 including accommodation, all meals (except in Yangon), internal transfers and bike hire; international flights not included; departures in November and February. Mountain Kingdoms (01453 844400; mountainkingdoms.com).
Ammanis are bad drivers. In what appears to be an effort to outdo the British urban car user, who is never without a phone in one hand, residents of Jordan’s capital city tend to carry a minimum of two phones – so neither hand is unencumbered. Ammani drivers also turn without looking and consider the number of lanes painted on a given stretch of road to be more of a suggestion than a hard-and-fast law. Don’t get me started on their habit of driving on motorways at night without their lights on. So cycling in Jordan is a no-no, then? Not at all. But it’s wise to wait until you’re out of town before hopping on the saddle. Luckily there are companies like Cycling Jordan that can provide a vehicle support service for both one-off rides or extended multi-day trips. Their guides will carry your kit in a car or pickup truck, bring water and snacks along, and show you the best routes – all with a cheery smile and a genuine enthusiasm for showing off their country. Amman's roads aren't a place for cycling Credit: AMOS CHAPPLE/GETTY Downhill all the way Mountain biking from the outskirts of Amman to the Dead Sea is one of the country’s showpiece routes. Covering 60 kilometres (40 miles), the ride uses mostly quieter roads, riverside footpaths and car-width back-country gravel tracks, before a short unavoidable section of main road to finish. The fact that the ride is almost entirely downhill will be music to most ears – and is fairly unsurprising too, given that Amman sits at 700m above sea level and the finish point is around 300m below. Starting at the King Hussein Ben Talal Mosque, we quickly escaped the confines of the city on little-used back streets, before dropping down to follow the path of a small stream. We dismounted to splash through the water, and paused to help a lorry driver lift a gigantic spare tyre onto the roof of his truck, before our first scheduled stop, the ancient ruin of Qasr al-Abd. The site dates back to 200 BCE but has been subject to frequent demolition and renovation in the intervening two millennia. Qasr al-Abd Credit: GETTY From Qasr al-Abd, there’s no avoiding a seriously steep climb, referred to by some Ammani cyclists as “the atheist’s uphill”, because “no man can believe in God as they try to ride up this road”. It’s certainly a test – even with the extra small gears afforded by a mountain bike. From the top of this ridge, however, it really is all downhill to the Dead Sea. We coasted along gravel paths that evoked the famous strade bianche (white roads) of Tuscany, through the surprisingly green landscapes of northern Jordan, before crossing what seemed like an invisible border line into the dry and dusty terrain one usually associates with the Middle East. The Dead Sea Credit: GETTY We decided to hop into the truck when our route rejoined the road, opting to take the shortcut to our finale, lured mainly by the promise of a big lunch and some time by a swimming pool. Several hotels at the Dead Sea offer ‘lunch and lounge’ deals, ideal for hungry cyclists with weary legs. We make short work of the extensive buffet at the Holiday Inn, before retiring to sit by their pool for a couple of hours before sunset. Top 5 | Reasons to visit Jordan A heavenly valley Before flying out to the Middle East, I’d heard rumours that the road cycling scene in Jordan was limited to extreme early-morning club rides out of Amman (with groups setting off at 5am to avoid the worst of the manic rush hour). In fact, there’s a great deal on offer – you just won’t find it in the city centre. Engaging the services of Cycling Jordan once again, we headed south to Feynan on a Friday morning. With no traffic on the roads – almost the whole population of Jordan was at prayers – we made rapid progress down the shores of the Dead Sea, hopping onto the bikes at around 11am. From the start at Feynan we rolled along a flat desert road before climbing for a solid hour up a former military access road. The ascent of Jebel Proywe (‘jebel’ or ‘jabal’ means mountain) is much like a European alpine climb, with switchbacks, smooth tarmac and the gradual experience of a slowly changing terrain. As we climbed in altitude, the low, rolling dunes gave way to hard rocky outcrops, then vivid red sandstone cliff faces. The landscape near Feynan Credit: STOCK.ADOBE.COM/FABIO NODARI At the crest of the climb, the road dropped in and out of a series of small ravines, shooting up and down at severe gradients. As we grimaced through agonising hairpins we could smell the clutch on the support car as it laboured uphill behind us. Then at last, the true summit, and a gently undulating road over green hills that were all that lay ahead. A paradisiacal valley high above the holy land. By then it was well into Friday afternoon and families were gathered all over the place, enjoying post-prayer picnics in this impossibly verdant and peaceful place. Another five kilometres brought us to the entrance of Siq al-Barid, known colloquially as Little Petra. We clambered up the dry sandstone steps hewn out of the sandstone edifice more than two millennia ago, our small-scale mountaineering made all the more tricky by the slippery, flat soles of our cleated cycling shoes. Posing for photos at the end of an unquestionably unique cycle ride. From Siq al-Barid you can head by car back to Amman, or continue cycling on to the town of Wadi Musa (gateway to the main Petra site). There are great road climbs dotted around this more mountainous area of Jordan, easily discoverable if you have an expert guide – you could easily spend three or four days exploring with Wadi Musa as a base. No cycling is allowed inside the Petra site itself, however. The rock-hewn city of Petra Credit: GETTY Off the beaten tyre track Much like trying to climb up those slippery sandstone steps, cycling in Jordan is fiddly but fun, rarefied but infinitely rewarding. You won’t find yourself rolling into the hotel lobby after a day riding a series of popular training climbs made famous by Team Sky, before setting off on a crawl of bars and restaurants owned by one-time Tour de France stage winners. If you want to follow the tyre tracks of the pros, both current and past, then there are probably better places to go for a cycling holiday. If, though, your approach to travel leans more towards the adventurous – with a generous dash of problem-solving and logistical faffery thrown in – then Jordan is among the most exhilarating places you could go to cycle. After all, where’s the fun in doing what everyone else does? British Airways (ba.com) flies daily to Amman from London Heathrow. Day access to Dead Sea hotel pools costs from 45 JOD (£45) Five other offbeat cycling destinations By Adam Ruck 1. Madagascar This two-week tour of a fascinatingly different and biodiverse island includes 340 miles (548km) of cycling over nine days – more downhill than up as the title suggests – plus hiking in the national parks, a visit to a lemur reserve and two days of relaxation at a beach hotel on the Indian Ocean. A 17-day Madagascar cycling tour costs from £3,245 including flights, accommodation and most meals. Departures until October 2018. KE Adventure Travel (01768 773966; keadventure.com). Spot lemurs when you're not pedalling Credit: GETTY 2. The Baltic Explore the amber-rich Baltic coast and capital cities of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, as well as the mountainous dunes and beaches of the Curonian Spit and the Estonian island of Saaremaa. Easy cycling punctuated by minibus transfers. An 11-day The Baltics tour costs from £1,129 (€1,290) including accommodation, breakfast and internal transfers, but not bike or e-bike hire or flights. Departures between July and September. Baltic Bike Travel (0037 046 300 144; bbtravel.lt). Brave the Baltic Credit: Rasmus Jurkatam 3. Sri Lanka Wildlife is a highlight of this two-week adventure – leopards, elephants, crocs, and whale watching – but there is much more to it than that: Buddha’s tooth temple, tea plantations, hot curries and everywhere a smiling welcome. The cycling (24 miles a day) is graded moderate, but includes some climbs and may be quite taxing in the heat. A 14-day Sri Lanka tour costs from £2,129 including flights, accommodation, some meals and bike hire. Departures until November 2018. Explore (01252 883963; explore.co.uk). Explore Sri Lankan temples Credit: viii - Fotolia 4. Morocco A classic winter mountain bike holiday combining the colourful tumult of Marrakech with exciting rides in the Atlas Mountains and the spectacular Dades Valley, as far as Zagora on the edge of the Sahara. Five days of cycling (average 37 miles a day), on tarmac and dirt; requires fitness and some mountain bike experience. A seven-day Ride the Kasbah tour costs £695 including accommodation and all meals but not flights or bike hire. Departures from November to April. KE Adventure Travel (01768 773966; keadventure.com). Tackle the Atlas Mountains Credit: ALAMY 5. Myanmar A nine-day stint of “comfortably paced” cycling is only part of a two-week voyage of discovery, including the Bagan plain and its 2,000-plus temples, Mandalay, a boat trip on Lake Inle and old British hill stations. A 17-day Cultural Cycling tour of Myanmar costs £2,945 including accommodation, all meals (except in Yangon), internal transfers and bike hire; international flights not included; departures in November and February. Mountain Kingdoms (01453 844400; mountainkingdoms.com).
Is this the most surprising cycling destination on Earth?
Ammanis are bad drivers. In what appears to be an effort to outdo the British urban car user, who is never without a phone in one hand, residents of Jordan’s capital city tend to carry a minimum of two phones – so neither hand is unencumbered. Ammani drivers also turn without looking and consider the number of lanes painted on a given stretch of road to be more of a suggestion than a hard-and-fast law. Don’t get me started on their habit of driving on motorways at night without their lights on. So cycling in Jordan is a no-no, then? Not at all. But it’s wise to wait until you’re out of town before hopping on the saddle. Luckily there are companies like Cycling Jordan that can provide a vehicle support service for both one-off rides or extended multi-day trips. Their guides will carry your kit in a car or pickup truck, bring water and snacks along, and show you the best routes – all with a cheery smile and a genuine enthusiasm for showing off their country. Amman's roads aren't a place for cycling Credit: AMOS CHAPPLE/GETTY Downhill all the way Mountain biking from the outskirts of Amman to the Dead Sea is one of the country’s showpiece routes. Covering 60 kilometres (40 miles), the ride uses mostly quieter roads, riverside footpaths and car-width back-country gravel tracks, before a short unavoidable section of main road to finish. The fact that the ride is almost entirely downhill will be music to most ears – and is fairly unsurprising too, given that Amman sits at 700m above sea level and the finish point is around 300m below. Starting at the King Hussein Ben Talal Mosque, we quickly escaped the confines of the city on little-used back streets, before dropping down to follow the path of a small stream. We dismounted to splash through the water, and paused to help a lorry driver lift a gigantic spare tyre onto the roof of his truck, before our first scheduled stop, the ancient ruin of Qasr al-Abd. The site dates back to 200 BCE but has been subject to frequent demolition and renovation in the intervening two millennia. Qasr al-Abd Credit: GETTY From Qasr al-Abd, there’s no avoiding a seriously steep climb, referred to by some Ammani cyclists as “the atheist’s uphill”, because “no man can believe in God as they try to ride up this road”. It’s certainly a test – even with the extra small gears afforded by a mountain bike. From the top of this ridge, however, it really is all downhill to the Dead Sea. We coasted along gravel paths that evoked the famous strade bianche (white roads) of Tuscany, through the surprisingly green landscapes of northern Jordan, before crossing what seemed like an invisible border line into the dry and dusty terrain one usually associates with the Middle East. The Dead Sea Credit: GETTY We decided to hop into the truck when our route rejoined the road, opting to take the shortcut to our finale, lured mainly by the promise of a big lunch and some time by a swimming pool. Several hotels at the Dead Sea offer ‘lunch and lounge’ deals, ideal for hungry cyclists with weary legs. We make short work of the extensive buffet at the Holiday Inn, before retiring to sit by their pool for a couple of hours before sunset. Top 5 | Reasons to visit Jordan A heavenly valley Before flying out to the Middle East, I’d heard rumours that the road cycling scene in Jordan was limited to extreme early-morning club rides out of Amman (with groups setting off at 5am to avoid the worst of the manic rush hour). In fact, there’s a great deal on offer – you just won’t find it in the city centre. Engaging the services of Cycling Jordan once again, we headed south to Feynan on a Friday morning. With no traffic on the roads – almost the whole population of Jordan was at prayers – we made rapid progress down the shores of the Dead Sea, hopping onto the bikes at around 11am. From the start at Feynan we rolled along a flat desert road before climbing for a solid hour up a former military access road. The ascent of Jebel Proywe (‘jebel’ or ‘jabal’ means mountain) is much like a European alpine climb, with switchbacks, smooth tarmac and the gradual experience of a slowly changing terrain. As we climbed in altitude, the low, rolling dunes gave way to hard rocky outcrops, then vivid red sandstone cliff faces. The landscape near Feynan Credit: STOCK.ADOBE.COM/FABIO NODARI At the crest of the climb, the road dropped in and out of a series of small ravines, shooting up and down at severe gradients. As we grimaced through agonising hairpins we could smell the clutch on the support car as it laboured uphill behind us. Then at last, the true summit, and a gently undulating road over green hills that were all that lay ahead. A paradisiacal valley high above the holy land. By then it was well into Friday afternoon and families were gathered all over the place, enjoying post-prayer picnics in this impossibly verdant and peaceful place. Another five kilometres brought us to the entrance of Siq al-Barid, known colloquially as Little Petra. We clambered up the dry sandstone steps hewn out of the sandstone edifice more than two millennia ago, our small-scale mountaineering made all the more tricky by the slippery, flat soles of our cleated cycling shoes. Posing for photos at the end of an unquestionably unique cycle ride. From Siq al-Barid you can head by car back to Amman, or continue cycling on to the town of Wadi Musa (gateway to the main Petra site). There are great road climbs dotted around this more mountainous area of Jordan, easily discoverable if you have an expert guide – you could easily spend three or four days exploring with Wadi Musa as a base. No cycling is allowed inside the Petra site itself, however. The rock-hewn city of Petra Credit: GETTY Off the beaten tyre track Much like trying to climb up those slippery sandstone steps, cycling in Jordan is fiddly but fun, rarefied but infinitely rewarding. You won’t find yourself rolling into the hotel lobby after a day riding a series of popular training climbs made famous by Team Sky, before setting off on a crawl of bars and restaurants owned by one-time Tour de France stage winners. If you want to follow the tyre tracks of the pros, both current and past, then there are probably better places to go for a cycling holiday. If, though, your approach to travel leans more towards the adventurous – with a generous dash of problem-solving and logistical faffery thrown in – then Jordan is among the most exhilarating places you could go to cycle. After all, where’s the fun in doing what everyone else does? British Airways (ba.com) flies daily to Amman from London Heathrow. Day access to Dead Sea hotel pools costs from 45 JOD (£45) Five other offbeat cycling destinations By Adam Ruck 1. Madagascar This two-week tour of a fascinatingly different and biodiverse island includes 340 miles (548km) of cycling over nine days – more downhill than up as the title suggests – plus hiking in the national parks, a visit to a lemur reserve and two days of relaxation at a beach hotel on the Indian Ocean. A 17-day Madagascar cycling tour costs from £3,245 including flights, accommodation and most meals. Departures until October 2018. KE Adventure Travel (01768 773966; keadventure.com). Spot lemurs when you're not pedalling Credit: GETTY 2. The Baltic Explore the amber-rich Baltic coast and capital cities of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, as well as the mountainous dunes and beaches of the Curonian Spit and the Estonian island of Saaremaa. Easy cycling punctuated by minibus transfers. An 11-day The Baltics tour costs from £1,129 (€1,290) including accommodation, breakfast and internal transfers, but not bike or e-bike hire or flights. Departures between July and September. Baltic Bike Travel (0037 046 300 144; bbtravel.lt). Brave the Baltic Credit: Rasmus Jurkatam 3. Sri Lanka Wildlife is a highlight of this two-week adventure – leopards, elephants, crocs, and whale watching – but there is much more to it than that: Buddha’s tooth temple, tea plantations, hot curries and everywhere a smiling welcome. The cycling (24 miles a day) is graded moderate, but includes some climbs and may be quite taxing in the heat. A 14-day Sri Lanka tour costs from £2,129 including flights, accommodation, some meals and bike hire. Departures until November 2018. Explore (01252 883963; explore.co.uk). Explore Sri Lankan temples Credit: viii - Fotolia 4. Morocco A classic winter mountain bike holiday combining the colourful tumult of Marrakech with exciting rides in the Atlas Mountains and the spectacular Dades Valley, as far as Zagora on the edge of the Sahara. Five days of cycling (average 37 miles a day), on tarmac and dirt; requires fitness and some mountain bike experience. A seven-day Ride the Kasbah tour costs £695 including accommodation and all meals but not flights or bike hire. Departures from November to April. KE Adventure Travel (01768 773966; keadventure.com). Tackle the Atlas Mountains Credit: ALAMY 5. Myanmar A nine-day stint of “comfortably paced” cycling is only part of a two-week voyage of discovery, including the Bagan plain and its 2,000-plus temples, Mandalay, a boat trip on Lake Inle and old British hill stations. A 17-day Cultural Cycling tour of Myanmar costs £2,945 including accommodation, all meals (except in Yangon), internal transfers and bike hire; international flights not included; departures in November and February. Mountain Kingdoms (01453 844400; mountainkingdoms.com).
Ammanis are bad drivers. In what appears to be an effort to outdo the British urban car user, who is never without a phone in one hand, residents of Jordan’s capital city tend to carry a minimum of two phones – so neither hand is unencumbered. Ammani drivers also turn without looking and consider the number of lanes painted on a given stretch of road to be more of a suggestion than a hard-and-fast law. Don’t get me started on their habit of driving on motorways at night without their lights on. So cycling in Jordan is a no-no, then? Not at all. But it’s wise to wait until you’re out of town before hopping on the saddle. Luckily there are companies like Cycling Jordan that can provide a vehicle support service for both one-off rides or extended multi-day trips. Their guides will carry your kit in a car or pickup truck, bring water and snacks along, and show you the best routes – all with a cheery smile and a genuine enthusiasm for showing off their country. Amman's roads aren't a place for cycling Credit: AMOS CHAPPLE/GETTY Downhill all the way Mountain biking from the outskirts of Amman to the Dead Sea is one of the country’s showpiece routes. Covering 60 kilometres (40 miles), the ride uses mostly quieter roads, riverside footpaths and car-width back-country gravel tracks, before a short unavoidable section of main road to finish. The fact that the ride is almost entirely downhill will be music to most ears – and is fairly unsurprising too, given that Amman sits at 700m above sea level and the finish point is around 300m below. Starting at the King Hussein Ben Talal Mosque, we quickly escaped the confines of the city on little-used back streets, before dropping down to follow the path of a small stream. We dismounted to splash through the water, and paused to help a lorry driver lift a gigantic spare tyre onto the roof of his truck, before our first scheduled stop, the ancient ruin of Qasr al-Abd. The site dates back to 200 BCE but has been subject to frequent demolition and renovation in the intervening two millennia. Qasr al-Abd Credit: GETTY From Qasr al-Abd, there’s no avoiding a seriously steep climb, referred to by some Ammani cyclists as “the atheist’s uphill”, because “no man can believe in God as they try to ride up this road”. It’s certainly a test – even with the extra small gears afforded by a mountain bike. From the top of this ridge, however, it really is all downhill to the Dead Sea. We coasted along gravel paths that evoked the famous strade bianche (white roads) of Tuscany, through the surprisingly green landscapes of northern Jordan, before crossing what seemed like an invisible border line into the dry and dusty terrain one usually associates with the Middle East. The Dead Sea Credit: GETTY We decided to hop into the truck when our route rejoined the road, opting to take the shortcut to our finale, lured mainly by the promise of a big lunch and some time by a swimming pool. Several hotels at the Dead Sea offer ‘lunch and lounge’ deals, ideal for hungry cyclists with weary legs. We make short work of the extensive buffet at the Holiday Inn, before retiring to sit by their pool for a couple of hours before sunset. Top 5 | Reasons to visit Jordan A heavenly valley Before flying out to the Middle East, I’d heard rumours that the road cycling scene in Jordan was limited to extreme early-morning club rides out of Amman (with groups setting off at 5am to avoid the worst of the manic rush hour). In fact, there’s a great deal on offer – you just won’t find it in the city centre. Engaging the services of Cycling Jordan once again, we headed south to Feynan on a Friday morning. With no traffic on the roads – almost the whole population of Jordan was at prayers – we made rapid progress down the shores of the Dead Sea, hopping onto the bikes at around 11am. From the start at Feynan we rolled along a flat desert road before climbing for a solid hour up a former military access road. The ascent of Jebel Proywe (‘jebel’ or ‘jabal’ means mountain) is much like a European alpine climb, with switchbacks, smooth tarmac and the gradual experience of a slowly changing terrain. As we climbed in altitude, the low, rolling dunes gave way to hard rocky outcrops, then vivid red sandstone cliff faces. The landscape near Feynan Credit: STOCK.ADOBE.COM/FABIO NODARI At the crest of the climb, the road dropped in and out of a series of small ravines, shooting up and down at severe gradients. As we grimaced through agonising hairpins we could smell the clutch on the support car as it laboured uphill behind us. Then at last, the true summit, and a gently undulating road over green hills that were all that lay ahead. A paradisiacal valley high above the holy land. By then it was well into Friday afternoon and families were gathered all over the place, enjoying post-prayer picnics in this impossibly verdant and peaceful place. Another five kilometres brought us to the entrance of Siq al-Barid, known colloquially as Little Petra. We clambered up the dry sandstone steps hewn out of the sandstone edifice more than two millennia ago, our small-scale mountaineering made all the more tricky by the slippery, flat soles of our cleated cycling shoes. Posing for photos at the end of an unquestionably unique cycle ride. From Siq al-Barid you can head by car back to Amman, or continue cycling on to the town of Wadi Musa (gateway to the main Petra site). There are great road climbs dotted around this more mountainous area of Jordan, easily discoverable if you have an expert guide – you could easily spend three or four days exploring with Wadi Musa as a base. No cycling is allowed inside the Petra site itself, however. The rock-hewn city of Petra Credit: GETTY Off the beaten tyre track Much like trying to climb up those slippery sandstone steps, cycling in Jordan is fiddly but fun, rarefied but infinitely rewarding. You won’t find yourself rolling into the hotel lobby after a day riding a series of popular training climbs made famous by Team Sky, before setting off on a crawl of bars and restaurants owned by one-time Tour de France stage winners. If you want to follow the tyre tracks of the pros, both current and past, then there are probably better places to go for a cycling holiday. If, though, your approach to travel leans more towards the adventurous – with a generous dash of problem-solving and logistical faffery thrown in – then Jordan is among the most exhilarating places you could go to cycle. After all, where’s the fun in doing what everyone else does? British Airways (ba.com) flies daily to Amman from London Heathrow. Day access to Dead Sea hotel pools costs from 45 JOD (£45) Five other offbeat cycling destinations By Adam Ruck 1. Madagascar This two-week tour of a fascinatingly different and biodiverse island includes 340 miles (548km) of cycling over nine days – more downhill than up as the title suggests – plus hiking in the national parks, a visit to a lemur reserve and two days of relaxation at a beach hotel on the Indian Ocean. A 17-day Madagascar cycling tour costs from £3,245 including flights, accommodation and most meals. Departures until October 2018. KE Adventure Travel (01768 773966; keadventure.com). Spot lemurs when you're not pedalling Credit: GETTY 2. The Baltic Explore the amber-rich Baltic coast and capital cities of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, as well as the mountainous dunes and beaches of the Curonian Spit and the Estonian island of Saaremaa. Easy cycling punctuated by minibus transfers. An 11-day The Baltics tour costs from £1,129 (€1,290) including accommodation, breakfast and internal transfers, but not bike or e-bike hire or flights. Departures between July and September. Baltic Bike Travel (0037 046 300 144; bbtravel.lt). Brave the Baltic Credit: Rasmus Jurkatam 3. Sri Lanka Wildlife is a highlight of this two-week adventure – leopards, elephants, crocs, and whale watching – but there is much more to it than that: Buddha’s tooth temple, tea plantations, hot curries and everywhere a smiling welcome. The cycling (24 miles a day) is graded moderate, but includes some climbs and may be quite taxing in the heat. A 14-day Sri Lanka tour costs from £2,129 including flights, accommodation, some meals and bike hire. Departures until November 2018. Explore (01252 883963; explore.co.uk). Explore Sri Lankan temples Credit: viii - Fotolia 4. Morocco A classic winter mountain bike holiday combining the colourful tumult of Marrakech with exciting rides in the Atlas Mountains and the spectacular Dades Valley, as far as Zagora on the edge of the Sahara. Five days of cycling (average 37 miles a day), on tarmac and dirt; requires fitness and some mountain bike experience. A seven-day Ride the Kasbah tour costs £695 including accommodation and all meals but not flights or bike hire. Departures from November to April. KE Adventure Travel (01768 773966; keadventure.com). Tackle the Atlas Mountains Credit: ALAMY 5. Myanmar A nine-day stint of “comfortably paced” cycling is only part of a two-week voyage of discovery, including the Bagan plain and its 2,000-plus temples, Mandalay, a boat trip on Lake Inle and old British hill stations. A 17-day Cultural Cycling tour of Myanmar costs £2,945 including accommodation, all meals (except in Yangon), internal transfers and bike hire; international flights not included; departures in November and February. Mountain Kingdoms (01453 844400; mountainkingdoms.com).
Is this the most surprising cycling destination on Earth?
Ammanis are bad drivers. In what appears to be an effort to outdo the British urban car user, who is never without a phone in one hand, residents of Jordan’s capital city tend to carry a minimum of two phones – so neither hand is unencumbered. Ammani drivers also turn without looking and consider the number of lanes painted on a given stretch of road to be more of a suggestion than a hard-and-fast law. Don’t get me started on their habit of driving on motorways at night without their lights on. So cycling in Jordan is a no-no, then? Not at all. But it’s wise to wait until you’re out of town before hopping on the saddle. Luckily there are companies like Cycling Jordan that can provide a vehicle support service for both one-off rides or extended multi-day trips. Their guides will carry your kit in a car or pickup truck, bring water and snacks along, and show you the best routes – all with a cheery smile and a genuine enthusiasm for showing off their country. Amman's roads aren't a place for cycling Credit: AMOS CHAPPLE/GETTY Downhill all the way Mountain biking from the outskirts of Amman to the Dead Sea is one of the country’s showpiece routes. Covering 60 kilometres (40 miles), the ride uses mostly quieter roads, riverside footpaths and car-width back-country gravel tracks, before a short unavoidable section of main road to finish. The fact that the ride is almost entirely downhill will be music to most ears – and is fairly unsurprising too, given that Amman sits at 700m above sea level and the finish point is around 300m below. Starting at the King Hussein Ben Talal Mosque, we quickly escaped the confines of the city on little-used back streets, before dropping down to follow the path of a small stream. We dismounted to splash through the water, and paused to help a lorry driver lift a gigantic spare tyre onto the roof of his truck, before our first scheduled stop, the ancient ruin of Qasr al-Abd. The site dates back to 200 BCE but has been subject to frequent demolition and renovation in the intervening two millennia. Qasr al-Abd Credit: GETTY From Qasr al-Abd, there’s no avoiding a seriously steep climb, referred to by some Ammani cyclists as “the atheist’s uphill”, because “no man can believe in God as they try to ride up this road”. It’s certainly a test – even with the extra small gears afforded by a mountain bike. From the top of this ridge, however, it really is all downhill to the Dead Sea. We coasted along gravel paths that evoked the famous strade bianche (white roads) of Tuscany, through the surprisingly green landscapes of northern Jordan, before crossing what seemed like an invisible border line into the dry and dusty terrain one usually associates with the Middle East. The Dead Sea Credit: GETTY We decided to hop into the truck when our route rejoined the road, opting to take the shortcut to our finale, lured mainly by the promise of a big lunch and some time by a swimming pool. Several hotels at the Dead Sea offer ‘lunch and lounge’ deals, ideal for hungry cyclists with weary legs. We make short work of the extensive buffet at the Holiday Inn, before retiring to sit by their pool for a couple of hours before sunset. Top 5 | Reasons to visit Jordan A heavenly valley Before flying out to the Middle East, I’d heard rumours that the road cycling scene in Jordan was limited to extreme early-morning club rides out of Amman (with groups setting off at 5am to avoid the worst of the manic rush hour). In fact, there’s a great deal on offer – you just won’t find it in the city centre. Engaging the services of Cycling Jordan once again, we headed south to Feynan on a Friday morning. With no traffic on the roads – almost the whole population of Jordan was at prayers – we made rapid progress down the shores of the Dead Sea, hopping onto the bikes at around 11am. From the start at Feynan we rolled along a flat desert road before climbing for a solid hour up a former military access road. The ascent of Jebel Proywe (‘jebel’ or ‘jabal’ means mountain) is much like a European alpine climb, with switchbacks, smooth tarmac and the gradual experience of a slowly changing terrain. As we climbed in altitude, the low, rolling dunes gave way to hard rocky outcrops, then vivid red sandstone cliff faces. The landscape near Feynan Credit: STOCK.ADOBE.COM/FABIO NODARI At the crest of the climb, the road dropped in and out of a series of small ravines, shooting up and down at severe gradients. As we grimaced through agonising hairpins we could smell the clutch on the support car as it laboured uphill behind us. Then at last, the true summit, and a gently undulating road over green hills that were all that lay ahead. A paradisiacal valley high above the holy land. By then it was well into Friday afternoon and families were gathered all over the place, enjoying post-prayer picnics in this impossibly verdant and peaceful place. Another five kilometres brought us to the entrance of Siq al-Barid, known colloquially as Little Petra. We clambered up the dry sandstone steps hewn out of the sandstone edifice more than two millennia ago, our small-scale mountaineering made all the more tricky by the slippery, flat soles of our cleated cycling shoes. Posing for photos at the end of an unquestionably unique cycle ride. From Siq al-Barid you can head by car back to Amman, or continue cycling on to the town of Wadi Musa (gateway to the main Petra site). There are great road climbs dotted around this more mountainous area of Jordan, easily discoverable if you have an expert guide – you could easily spend three or four days exploring with Wadi Musa as a base. No cycling is allowed inside the Petra site itself, however. The rock-hewn city of Petra Credit: GETTY Off the beaten tyre track Much like trying to climb up those slippery sandstone steps, cycling in Jordan is fiddly but fun, rarefied but infinitely rewarding. You won’t find yourself rolling into the hotel lobby after a day riding a series of popular training climbs made famous by Team Sky, before setting off on a crawl of bars and restaurants owned by one-time Tour de France stage winners. If you want to follow the tyre tracks of the pros, both current and past, then there are probably better places to go for a cycling holiday. If, though, your approach to travel leans more towards the adventurous – with a generous dash of problem-solving and logistical faffery thrown in – then Jordan is among the most exhilarating places you could go to cycle. After all, where’s the fun in doing what everyone else does? British Airways (ba.com) flies daily to Amman from London Heathrow. Day access to Dead Sea hotel pools costs from 45 JOD (£45) Five other offbeat cycling destinations By Adam Ruck 1. Madagascar This two-week tour of a fascinatingly different and biodiverse island includes 340 miles (548km) of cycling over nine days – more downhill than up as the title suggests – plus hiking in the national parks, a visit to a lemur reserve and two days of relaxation at a beach hotel on the Indian Ocean. A 17-day Madagascar cycling tour costs from £3,245 including flights, accommodation and most meals. Departures until October 2018. KE Adventure Travel (01768 773966; keadventure.com). Spot lemurs when you're not pedalling Credit: GETTY 2. The Baltic Explore the amber-rich Baltic coast and capital cities of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, as well as the mountainous dunes and beaches of the Curonian Spit and the Estonian island of Saaremaa. Easy cycling punctuated by minibus transfers. An 11-day The Baltics tour costs from £1,129 (€1,290) including accommodation, breakfast and internal transfers, but not bike or e-bike hire or flights. Departures between July and September. Baltic Bike Travel (0037 046 300 144; bbtravel.lt). Brave the Baltic Credit: Rasmus Jurkatam 3. Sri Lanka Wildlife is a highlight of this two-week adventure – leopards, elephants, crocs, and whale watching – but there is much more to it than that: Buddha’s tooth temple, tea plantations, hot curries and everywhere a smiling welcome. The cycling (24 miles a day) is graded moderate, but includes some climbs and may be quite taxing in the heat. A 14-day Sri Lanka tour costs from £2,129 including flights, accommodation, some meals and bike hire. Departures until November 2018. Explore (01252 883963; explore.co.uk). Explore Sri Lankan temples Credit: viii - Fotolia 4. Morocco A classic winter mountain bike holiday combining the colourful tumult of Marrakech with exciting rides in the Atlas Mountains and the spectacular Dades Valley, as far as Zagora on the edge of the Sahara. Five days of cycling (average 37 miles a day), on tarmac and dirt; requires fitness and some mountain bike experience. A seven-day Ride the Kasbah tour costs £695 including accommodation and all meals but not flights or bike hire. Departures from November to April. KE Adventure Travel (01768 773966; keadventure.com). Tackle the Atlas Mountains Credit: ALAMY 5. Myanmar A nine-day stint of “comfortably paced” cycling is only part of a two-week voyage of discovery, including the Bagan plain and its 2,000-plus temples, Mandalay, a boat trip on Lake Inle and old British hill stations. A 17-day Cultural Cycling tour of Myanmar costs £2,945 including accommodation, all meals (except in Yangon), internal transfers and bike hire; international flights not included; departures in November and February. Mountain Kingdoms (01453 844400; mountainkingdoms.com).
Ammanis are bad drivers. In what appears to be an effort to outdo the British urban car user, who is never without a phone in one hand, residents of Jordan’s capital city tend to carry a minimum of two phones – so neither hand is unencumbered. Ammani drivers also turn without looking and consider the number of lanes painted on a given stretch of road to be more of a suggestion than a hard-and-fast law. Don’t get me started on their habit of driving on motorways at night without their lights on. So cycling in Jordan is a no-no, then? Not at all. But it’s wise to wait until you’re out of town before hopping on the saddle. Luckily there are companies like Cycling Jordan that can provide a vehicle support service for both one-off rides or extended multi-day trips. Their guides will carry your kit in a car or pickup truck, bring water and snacks along, and show you the best routes – all with a cheery smile and a genuine enthusiasm for showing off their country. Amman's roads aren't a place for cycling Credit: AMOS CHAPPLE/GETTY Downhill all the way Mountain biking from the outskirts of Amman to the Dead Sea is one of the country’s showpiece routes. Covering 60 kilometres (40 miles), the ride uses mostly quieter roads, riverside footpaths and car-width back-country gravel tracks, before a short unavoidable section of main road to finish. The fact that the ride is almost entirely downhill will be music to most ears – and is fairly unsurprising too, given that Amman sits at 700m above sea level and the finish point is around 300m below. Starting at the King Hussein Ben Talal Mosque, we quickly escaped the confines of the city on little-used back streets, before dropping down to follow the path of a small stream. We dismounted to splash through the water, and paused to help a lorry driver lift a gigantic spare tyre onto the roof of his truck, before our first scheduled stop, the ancient ruin of Qasr al-Abd. The site dates back to 200 BCE but has been subject to frequent demolition and renovation in the intervening two millennia. Qasr al-Abd Credit: GETTY From Qasr al-Abd, there’s no avoiding a seriously steep climb, referred to by some Ammani cyclists as “the atheist’s uphill”, because “no man can believe in God as they try to ride up this road”. It’s certainly a test – even with the extra small gears afforded by a mountain bike. From the top of this ridge, however, it really is all downhill to the Dead Sea. We coasted along gravel paths that evoked the famous strade bianche (white roads) of Tuscany, through the surprisingly green landscapes of northern Jordan, before crossing what seemed like an invisible border line into the dry and dusty terrain one usually associates with the Middle East. The Dead Sea Credit: GETTY We decided to hop into the truck when our route rejoined the road, opting to take the shortcut to our finale, lured mainly by the promise of a big lunch and some time by a swimming pool. Several hotels at the Dead Sea offer ‘lunch and lounge’ deals, ideal for hungry cyclists with weary legs. We make short work of the extensive buffet at the Holiday Inn, before retiring to sit by their pool for a couple of hours before sunset. Top 5 | Reasons to visit Jordan A heavenly valley Before flying out to the Middle East, I’d heard rumours that the road cycling scene in Jordan was limited to extreme early-morning club rides out of Amman (with groups setting off at 5am to avoid the worst of the manic rush hour). In fact, there’s a great deal on offer – you just won’t find it in the city centre. Engaging the services of Cycling Jordan once again, we headed south to Feynan on a Friday morning. With no traffic on the roads – almost the whole population of Jordan was at prayers – we made rapid progress down the shores of the Dead Sea, hopping onto the bikes at around 11am. From the start at Feynan we rolled along a flat desert road before climbing for a solid hour up a former military access road. The ascent of Jebel Proywe (‘jebel’ or ‘jabal’ means mountain) is much like a European alpine climb, with switchbacks, smooth tarmac and the gradual experience of a slowly changing terrain. As we climbed in altitude, the low, rolling dunes gave way to hard rocky outcrops, then vivid red sandstone cliff faces. The landscape near Feynan Credit: STOCK.ADOBE.COM/FABIO NODARI At the crest of the climb, the road dropped in and out of a series of small ravines, shooting up and down at severe gradients. As we grimaced through agonising hairpins we could smell the clutch on the support car as it laboured uphill behind us. Then at last, the true summit, and a gently undulating road over green hills that were all that lay ahead. A paradisiacal valley high above the holy land. By then it was well into Friday afternoon and families were gathered all over the place, enjoying post-prayer picnics in this impossibly verdant and peaceful place. Another five kilometres brought us to the entrance of Siq al-Barid, known colloquially as Little Petra. We clambered up the dry sandstone steps hewn out of the sandstone edifice more than two millennia ago, our small-scale mountaineering made all the more tricky by the slippery, flat soles of our cleated cycling shoes. Posing for photos at the end of an unquestionably unique cycle ride. From Siq al-Barid you can head by car back to Amman, or continue cycling on to the town of Wadi Musa (gateway to the main Petra site). There are great road climbs dotted around this more mountainous area of Jordan, easily discoverable if you have an expert guide – you could easily spend three or four days exploring with Wadi Musa as a base. No cycling is allowed inside the Petra site itself, however. The rock-hewn city of Petra Credit: GETTY Off the beaten tyre track Much like trying to climb up those slippery sandstone steps, cycling in Jordan is fiddly but fun, rarefied but infinitely rewarding. You won’t find yourself rolling into the hotel lobby after a day riding a series of popular training climbs made famous by Team Sky, before setting off on a crawl of bars and restaurants owned by one-time Tour de France stage winners. If you want to follow the tyre tracks of the pros, both current and past, then there are probably better places to go for a cycling holiday. If, though, your approach to travel leans more towards the adventurous – with a generous dash of problem-solving and logistical faffery thrown in – then Jordan is among the most exhilarating places you could go to cycle. After all, where’s the fun in doing what everyone else does? British Airways (ba.com) flies daily to Amman from London Heathrow. Day access to Dead Sea hotel pools costs from 45 JOD (£45) Five other offbeat cycling destinations By Adam Ruck 1. Madagascar This two-week tour of a fascinatingly different and biodiverse island includes 340 miles (548km) of cycling over nine days – more downhill than up as the title suggests – plus hiking in the national parks, a visit to a lemur reserve and two days of relaxation at a beach hotel on the Indian Ocean. A 17-day Madagascar cycling tour costs from £3,245 including flights, accommodation and most meals. Departures until October 2018. KE Adventure Travel (01768 773966; keadventure.com). Spot lemurs when you're not pedalling Credit: GETTY 2. The Baltic Explore the amber-rich Baltic coast and capital cities of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, as well as the mountainous dunes and beaches of the Curonian Spit and the Estonian island of Saaremaa. Easy cycling punctuated by minibus transfers. An 11-day The Baltics tour costs from £1,129 (€1,290) including accommodation, breakfast and internal transfers, but not bike or e-bike hire or flights. Departures between July and September. Baltic Bike Travel (0037 046 300 144; bbtravel.lt). Brave the Baltic Credit: Rasmus Jurkatam 3. Sri Lanka Wildlife is a highlight of this two-week adventure – leopards, elephants, crocs, and whale watching – but there is much more to it than that: Buddha’s tooth temple, tea plantations, hot curries and everywhere a smiling welcome. The cycling (24 miles a day) is graded moderate, but includes some climbs and may be quite taxing in the heat. A 14-day Sri Lanka tour costs from £2,129 including flights, accommodation, some meals and bike hire. Departures until November 2018. Explore (01252 883963; explore.co.uk). Explore Sri Lankan temples Credit: viii - Fotolia 4. Morocco A classic winter mountain bike holiday combining the colourful tumult of Marrakech with exciting rides in the Atlas Mountains and the spectacular Dades Valley, as far as Zagora on the edge of the Sahara. Five days of cycling (average 37 miles a day), on tarmac and dirt; requires fitness and some mountain bike experience. A seven-day Ride the Kasbah tour costs £695 including accommodation and all meals but not flights or bike hire. Departures from November to April. KE Adventure Travel (01768 773966; keadventure.com). Tackle the Atlas Mountains Credit: ALAMY 5. Myanmar A nine-day stint of “comfortably paced” cycling is only part of a two-week voyage of discovery, including the Bagan plain and its 2,000-plus temples, Mandalay, a boat trip on Lake Inle and old British hill stations. A 17-day Cultural Cycling tour of Myanmar costs £2,945 including accommodation, all meals (except in Yangon), internal transfers and bike hire; international flights not included; departures in November and February. Mountain Kingdoms (01453 844400; mountainkingdoms.com).
Is this the most surprising cycling destination on Earth?
Ammanis are bad drivers. In what appears to be an effort to outdo the British urban car user, who is never without a phone in one hand, residents of Jordan’s capital city tend to carry a minimum of two phones – so neither hand is unencumbered. Ammani drivers also turn without looking and consider the number of lanes painted on a given stretch of road to be more of a suggestion than a hard-and-fast law. Don’t get me started on their habit of driving on motorways at night without their lights on. So cycling in Jordan is a no-no, then? Not at all. But it’s wise to wait until you’re out of town before hopping on the saddle. Luckily there are companies like Cycling Jordan that can provide a vehicle support service for both one-off rides or extended multi-day trips. Their guides will carry your kit in a car or pickup truck, bring water and snacks along, and show you the best routes – all with a cheery smile and a genuine enthusiasm for showing off their country. Amman's roads aren't a place for cycling Credit: AMOS CHAPPLE/GETTY Downhill all the way Mountain biking from the outskirts of Amman to the Dead Sea is one of the country’s showpiece routes. Covering 60 kilometres (40 miles), the ride uses mostly quieter roads, riverside footpaths and car-width back-country gravel tracks, before a short unavoidable section of main road to finish. The fact that the ride is almost entirely downhill will be music to most ears – and is fairly unsurprising too, given that Amman sits at 700m above sea level and the finish point is around 300m below. Starting at the King Hussein Ben Talal Mosque, we quickly escaped the confines of the city on little-used back streets, before dropping down to follow the path of a small stream. We dismounted to splash through the water, and paused to help a lorry driver lift a gigantic spare tyre onto the roof of his truck, before our first scheduled stop, the ancient ruin of Qasr al-Abd. The site dates back to 200 BCE but has been subject to frequent demolition and renovation in the intervening two millennia. Qasr al-Abd Credit: GETTY From Qasr al-Abd, there’s no avoiding a seriously steep climb, referred to by some Ammani cyclists as “the atheist’s uphill”, because “no man can believe in God as they try to ride up this road”. It’s certainly a test – even with the extra small gears afforded by a mountain bike. From the top of this ridge, however, it really is all downhill to the Dead Sea. We coasted along gravel paths that evoked the famous strade bianche (white roads) of Tuscany, through the surprisingly green landscapes of northern Jordan, before crossing what seemed like an invisible border line into the dry and dusty terrain one usually associates with the Middle East. The Dead Sea Credit: GETTY We decided to hop into the truck when our route rejoined the road, opting to take the shortcut to our finale, lured mainly by the promise of a big lunch and some time by a swimming pool. Several hotels at the Dead Sea offer ‘lunch and lounge’ deals, ideal for hungry cyclists with weary legs. We make short work of the extensive buffet at the Holiday Inn, before retiring to sit by their pool for a couple of hours before sunset. Top 5 | Reasons to visit Jordan A heavenly valley Before flying out to the Middle East, I’d heard rumours that the road cycling scene in Jordan was limited to extreme early-morning club rides out of Amman (with groups setting off at 5am to avoid the worst of the manic rush hour). In fact, there’s a great deal on offer – you just won’t find it in the city centre. Engaging the services of Cycling Jordan once again, we headed south to Feynan on a Friday morning. With no traffic on the roads – almost the whole population of Jordan was at prayers – we made rapid progress down the shores of the Dead Sea, hopping onto the bikes at around 11am. From the start at Feynan we rolled along a flat desert road before climbing for a solid hour up a former military access road. The ascent of Jebel Proywe (‘jebel’ or ‘jabal’ means mountain) is much like a European alpine climb, with switchbacks, smooth tarmac and the gradual experience of a slowly changing terrain. As we climbed in altitude, the low, rolling dunes gave way to hard rocky outcrops, then vivid red sandstone cliff faces. The landscape near Feynan Credit: STOCK.ADOBE.COM/FABIO NODARI At the crest of the climb, the road dropped in and out of a series of small ravines, shooting up and down at severe gradients. As we grimaced through agonising hairpins we could smell the clutch on the support car as it laboured uphill behind us. Then at last, the true summit, and a gently undulating road over green hills that were all that lay ahead. A paradisiacal valley high above the holy land. By then it was well into Friday afternoon and families were gathered all over the place, enjoying post-prayer picnics in this impossibly verdant and peaceful place. Another five kilometres brought us to the entrance of Siq al-Barid, known colloquially as Little Petra. We clambered up the dry sandstone steps hewn out of the sandstone edifice more than two millennia ago, our small-scale mountaineering made all the more tricky by the slippery, flat soles of our cleated cycling shoes. Posing for photos at the end of an unquestionably unique cycle ride. From Siq al-Barid you can head by car back to Amman, or continue cycling on to the town of Wadi Musa (gateway to the main Petra site). There are great road climbs dotted around this more mountainous area of Jordan, easily discoverable if you have an expert guide – you could easily spend three or four days exploring with Wadi Musa as a base. No cycling is allowed inside the Petra site itself, however. The rock-hewn city of Petra Credit: GETTY Off the beaten tyre track Much like trying to climb up those slippery sandstone steps, cycling in Jordan is fiddly but fun, rarefied but infinitely rewarding. You won’t find yourself rolling into the hotel lobby after a day riding a series of popular training climbs made famous by Team Sky, before setting off on a crawl of bars and restaurants owned by one-time Tour de France stage winners. If you want to follow the tyre tracks of the pros, both current and past, then there are probably better places to go for a cycling holiday. If, though, your approach to travel leans more towards the adventurous – with a generous dash of problem-solving and logistical faffery thrown in – then Jordan is among the most exhilarating places you could go to cycle. After all, where’s the fun in doing what everyone else does? British Airways (ba.com) flies daily to Amman from London Heathrow. Day access to Dead Sea hotel pools costs from 45 JOD (£45) Five other offbeat cycling destinations By Adam Ruck 1. Madagascar This two-week tour of a fascinatingly different and biodiverse island includes 340 miles (548km) of cycling over nine days – more downhill than up as the title suggests – plus hiking in the national parks, a visit to a lemur reserve and two days of relaxation at a beach hotel on the Indian Ocean. A 17-day Madagascar cycling tour costs from £3,245 including flights, accommodation and most meals. Departures until October 2018. KE Adventure Travel (01768 773966; keadventure.com). Spot lemurs when you're not pedalling Credit: GETTY 2. The Baltic Explore the amber-rich Baltic coast and capital cities of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, as well as the mountainous dunes and beaches of the Curonian Spit and the Estonian island of Saaremaa. Easy cycling punctuated by minibus transfers. An 11-day The Baltics tour costs from £1,129 (€1,290) including accommodation, breakfast and internal transfers, but not bike or e-bike hire or flights. Departures between July and September. Baltic Bike Travel (0037 046 300 144; bbtravel.lt). Brave the Baltic Credit: Rasmus Jurkatam 3. Sri Lanka Wildlife is a highlight of this two-week adventure – leopards, elephants, crocs, and whale watching – but there is much more to it than that: Buddha’s tooth temple, tea plantations, hot curries and everywhere a smiling welcome. The cycling (24 miles a day) is graded moderate, but includes some climbs and may be quite taxing in the heat. A 14-day Sri Lanka tour costs from £2,129 including flights, accommodation, some meals and bike hire. Departures until November 2018. Explore (01252 883963; explore.co.uk). Explore Sri Lankan temples Credit: viii - Fotolia 4. Morocco A classic winter mountain bike holiday combining the colourful tumult of Marrakech with exciting rides in the Atlas Mountains and the spectacular Dades Valley, as far as Zagora on the edge of the Sahara. Five days of cycling (average 37 miles a day), on tarmac and dirt; requires fitness and some mountain bike experience. A seven-day Ride the Kasbah tour costs £695 including accommodation and all meals but not flights or bike hire. Departures from November to April. KE Adventure Travel (01768 773966; keadventure.com). Tackle the Atlas Mountains Credit: ALAMY 5. Myanmar A nine-day stint of “comfortably paced” cycling is only part of a two-week voyage of discovery, including the Bagan plain and its 2,000-plus temples, Mandalay, a boat trip on Lake Inle and old British hill stations. A 17-day Cultural Cycling tour of Myanmar costs £2,945 including accommodation, all meals (except in Yangon), internal transfers and bike hire; international flights not included; departures in November and February. Mountain Kingdoms (01453 844400; mountainkingdoms.com).
Ammanis are bad drivers. In what appears to be an effort to outdo the British urban car user, who is never without a phone in one hand, residents of Jordan’s capital city tend to carry a minimum of two phones – so neither hand is unencumbered. Ammani drivers also turn without looking and consider the number of lanes painted on a given stretch of road to be more of a suggestion than a hard-and-fast law. Don’t get me started on their habit of driving on motorways at night without their lights on. So cycling in Jordan is a no-no, then? Not at all. But it’s wise to wait until you’re out of town before hopping on the saddle. Luckily there are companies like Cycling Jordan that can provide a vehicle support service for both one-off rides or extended multi-day trips. Their guides will carry your kit in a car or pickup truck, bring water and snacks along, and show you the best routes – all with a cheery smile and a genuine enthusiasm for showing off their country. Amman's roads aren't a place for cycling Credit: AMOS CHAPPLE/GETTY Downhill all the way Mountain biking from the outskirts of Amman to the Dead Sea is one of the country’s showpiece routes. Covering 60 kilometres (40 miles), the ride uses mostly quieter roads, riverside footpaths and car-width back-country gravel tracks, before a short unavoidable section of main road to finish. The fact that the ride is almost entirely downhill will be music to most ears – and is fairly unsurprising too, given that Amman sits at 700m above sea level and the finish point is around 300m below. Starting at the King Hussein Ben Talal Mosque, we quickly escaped the confines of the city on little-used back streets, before dropping down to follow the path of a small stream. We dismounted to splash through the water, and paused to help a lorry driver lift a gigantic spare tyre onto the roof of his truck, before our first scheduled stop, the ancient ruin of Qasr al-Abd. The site dates back to 200 BCE but has been subject to frequent demolition and renovation in the intervening two millennia. Qasr al-Abd Credit: GETTY From Qasr al-Abd, there’s no avoiding a seriously steep climb, referred to by some Ammani cyclists as “the atheist’s uphill”, because “no man can believe in God as they try to ride up this road”. It’s certainly a test – even with the extra small gears afforded by a mountain bike. From the top of this ridge, however, it really is all downhill to the Dead Sea. We coasted along gravel paths that evoked the famous strade bianche (white roads) of Tuscany, through the surprisingly green landscapes of northern Jordan, before crossing what seemed like an invisible border line into the dry and dusty terrain one usually associates with the Middle East. The Dead Sea Credit: GETTY We decided to hop into the truck when our route rejoined the road, opting to take the shortcut to our finale, lured mainly by the promise of a big lunch and some time by a swimming pool. Several hotels at the Dead Sea offer ‘lunch and lounge’ deals, ideal for hungry cyclists with weary legs. We make short work of the extensive buffet at the Holiday Inn, before retiring to sit by their pool for a couple of hours before sunset. Top 5 | Reasons to visit Jordan A heavenly valley Before flying out to the Middle East, I’d heard rumours that the road cycling scene in Jordan was limited to extreme early-morning club rides out of Amman (with groups setting off at 5am to avoid the worst of the manic rush hour). In fact, there’s a great deal on offer – you just won’t find it in the city centre. Engaging the services of Cycling Jordan once again, we headed south to Feynan on a Friday morning. With no traffic on the roads – almost the whole population of Jordan was at prayers – we made rapid progress down the shores of the Dead Sea, hopping onto the bikes at around 11am. From the start at Feynan we rolled along a flat desert road before climbing for a solid hour up a former military access road. The ascent of Jebel Proywe (‘jebel’ or ‘jabal’ means mountain) is much like a European alpine climb, with switchbacks, smooth tarmac and the gradual experience of a slowly changing terrain. As we climbed in altitude, the low, rolling dunes gave way to hard rocky outcrops, then vivid red sandstone cliff faces. The landscape near Feynan Credit: STOCK.ADOBE.COM/FABIO NODARI At the crest of the climb, the road dropped in and out of a series of small ravines, shooting up and down at severe gradients. As we grimaced through agonising hairpins we could smell the clutch on the support car as it laboured uphill behind us. Then at last, the true summit, and a gently undulating road over green hills that were all that lay ahead. A paradisiacal valley high above the holy land. By then it was well into Friday afternoon and families were gathered all over the place, enjoying post-prayer picnics in this impossibly verdant and peaceful place. Another five kilometres brought us to the entrance of Siq al-Barid, known colloquially as Little Petra. We clambered up the dry sandstone steps hewn out of the sandstone edifice more than two millennia ago, our small-scale mountaineering made all the more tricky by the slippery, flat soles of our cleated cycling shoes. Posing for photos at the end of an unquestionably unique cycle ride. From Siq al-Barid you can head by car back to Amman, or continue cycling on to the town of Wadi Musa (gateway to the main Petra site). There are great road climbs dotted around this more mountainous area of Jordan, easily discoverable if you have an expert guide – you could easily spend three or four days exploring with Wadi Musa as a base. No cycling is allowed inside the Petra site itself, however. The rock-hewn city of Petra Credit: GETTY Off the beaten tyre track Much like trying to climb up those slippery sandstone steps, cycling in Jordan is fiddly but fun, rarefied but infinitely rewarding. You won’t find yourself rolling into the hotel lobby after a day riding a series of popular training climbs made famous by Team Sky, before setting off on a crawl of bars and restaurants owned by one-time Tour de France stage winners. If you want to follow the tyre tracks of the pros, both current and past, then there are probably better places to go for a cycling holiday. If, though, your approach to travel leans more towards the adventurous – with a generous dash of problem-solving and logistical faffery thrown in – then Jordan is among the most exhilarating places you could go to cycle. After all, where’s the fun in doing what everyone else does? British Airways (ba.com) flies daily to Amman from London Heathrow. Day access to Dead Sea hotel pools costs from 45 JOD (£45) Five other offbeat cycling destinations By Adam Ruck 1. Madagascar This two-week tour of a fascinatingly different and biodiverse island includes 340 miles (548km) of cycling over nine days – more downhill than up as the title suggests – plus hiking in the national parks, a visit to a lemur reserve and two days of relaxation at a beach hotel on the Indian Ocean. A 17-day Madagascar cycling tour costs from £3,245 including flights, accommodation and most meals. Departures until October 2018. KE Adventure Travel (01768 773966; keadventure.com). Spot lemurs when you're not pedalling Credit: GETTY 2. The Baltic Explore the amber-rich Baltic coast and capital cities of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, as well as the mountainous dunes and beaches of the Curonian Spit and the Estonian island of Saaremaa. Easy cycling punctuated by minibus transfers. An 11-day The Baltics tour costs from £1,129 (€1,290) including accommodation, breakfast and internal transfers, but not bike or e-bike hire or flights. Departures between July and September. Baltic Bike Travel (0037 046 300 144; bbtravel.lt). Brave the Baltic Credit: Rasmus Jurkatam 3. Sri Lanka Wildlife is a highlight of this two-week adventure – leopards, elephants, crocs, and whale watching – but there is much more to it than that: Buddha’s tooth temple, tea plantations, hot curries and everywhere a smiling welcome. The cycling (24 miles a day) is graded moderate, but includes some climbs and may be quite taxing in the heat. A 14-day Sri Lanka tour costs from £2,129 including flights, accommodation, some meals and bike hire. Departures until November 2018. Explore (01252 883963; explore.co.uk). Explore Sri Lankan temples Credit: viii - Fotolia 4. Morocco A classic winter mountain bike holiday combining the colourful tumult of Marrakech with exciting rides in the Atlas Mountains and the spectacular Dades Valley, as far as Zagora on the edge of the Sahara. Five days of cycling (average 37 miles a day), on tarmac and dirt; requires fitness and some mountain bike experience. A seven-day Ride the Kasbah tour costs £695 including accommodation and all meals but not flights or bike hire. Departures from November to April. KE Adventure Travel (01768 773966; keadventure.com). Tackle the Atlas Mountains Credit: ALAMY 5. Myanmar A nine-day stint of “comfortably paced” cycling is only part of a two-week voyage of discovery, including the Bagan plain and its 2,000-plus temples, Mandalay, a boat trip on Lake Inle and old British hill stations. A 17-day Cultural Cycling tour of Myanmar costs £2,945 including accommodation, all meals (except in Yangon), internal transfers and bike hire; international flights not included; departures in November and February. Mountain Kingdoms (01453 844400; mountainkingdoms.com).
Is this the most surprising cycling destination on Earth?
Ammanis are bad drivers. In what appears to be an effort to outdo the British urban car user, who is never without a phone in one hand, residents of Jordan’s capital city tend to carry a minimum of two phones – so neither hand is unencumbered. Ammani drivers also turn without looking and consider the number of lanes painted on a given stretch of road to be more of a suggestion than a hard-and-fast law. Don’t get me started on their habit of driving on motorways at night without their lights on. So cycling in Jordan is a no-no, then? Not at all. But it’s wise to wait until you’re out of town before hopping on the saddle. Luckily there are companies like Cycling Jordan that can provide a vehicle support service for both one-off rides or extended multi-day trips. Their guides will carry your kit in a car or pickup truck, bring water and snacks along, and show you the best routes – all with a cheery smile and a genuine enthusiasm for showing off their country. Amman's roads aren't a place for cycling Credit: AMOS CHAPPLE/GETTY Downhill all the way Mountain biking from the outskirts of Amman to the Dead Sea is one of the country’s showpiece routes. Covering 60 kilometres (40 miles), the ride uses mostly quieter roads, riverside footpaths and car-width back-country gravel tracks, before a short unavoidable section of main road to finish. The fact that the ride is almost entirely downhill will be music to most ears – and is fairly unsurprising too, given that Amman sits at 700m above sea level and the finish point is around 300m below. Starting at the King Hussein Ben Talal Mosque, we quickly escaped the confines of the city on little-used back streets, before dropping down to follow the path of a small stream. We dismounted to splash through the water, and paused to help a lorry driver lift a gigantic spare tyre onto the roof of his truck, before our first scheduled stop, the ancient ruin of Qasr al-Abd. The site dates back to 200 BCE but has been subject to frequent demolition and renovation in the intervening two millennia. Qasr al-Abd Credit: GETTY From Qasr al-Abd, there’s no avoiding a seriously steep climb, referred to by some Ammani cyclists as “the atheist’s uphill”, because “no man can believe in God as they try to ride up this road”. It’s certainly a test – even with the extra small gears afforded by a mountain bike. From the top of this ridge, however, it really is all downhill to the Dead Sea. We coasted along gravel paths that evoked the famous strade bianche (white roads) of Tuscany, through the surprisingly green landscapes of northern Jordan, before crossing what seemed like an invisible border line into the dry and dusty terrain one usually associates with the Middle East. The Dead Sea Credit: GETTY We decided to hop into the truck when our route rejoined the road, opting to take the shortcut to our finale, lured mainly by the promise of a big lunch and some time by a swimming pool. Several hotels at the Dead Sea offer ‘lunch and lounge’ deals, ideal for hungry cyclists with weary legs. We make short work of the extensive buffet at the Holiday Inn, before retiring to sit by their pool for a couple of hours before sunset. Top 5 | Reasons to visit Jordan A heavenly valley Before flying out to the Middle East, I’d heard rumours that the road cycling scene in Jordan was limited to extreme early-morning club rides out of Amman (with groups setting off at 5am to avoid the worst of the manic rush hour). In fact, there’s a great deal on offer – you just won’t find it in the city centre. Engaging the services of Cycling Jordan once again, we headed south to Feynan on a Friday morning. With no traffic on the roads – almost the whole population of Jordan was at prayers – we made rapid progress down the shores of the Dead Sea, hopping onto the bikes at around 11am. From the start at Feynan we rolled along a flat desert road before climbing for a solid hour up a former military access road. The ascent of Jebel Proywe (‘jebel’ or ‘jabal’ means mountain) is much like a European alpine climb, with switchbacks, smooth tarmac and the gradual experience of a slowly changing terrain. As we climbed in altitude, the low, rolling dunes gave way to hard rocky outcrops, then vivid red sandstone cliff faces. The landscape near Feynan Credit: STOCK.ADOBE.COM/FABIO NODARI At the crest of the climb, the road dropped in and out of a series of small ravines, shooting up and down at severe gradients. As we grimaced through agonising hairpins we could smell the clutch on the support car as it laboured uphill behind us. Then at last, the true summit, and a gently undulating road over green hills that were all that lay ahead. A paradisiacal valley high above the holy land. By then it was well into Friday afternoon and families were gathered all over the place, enjoying post-prayer picnics in this impossibly verdant and peaceful place. Another five kilometres brought us to the entrance of Siq al-Barid, known colloquially as Little Petra. We clambered up the dry sandstone steps hewn out of the sandstone edifice more than two millennia ago, our small-scale mountaineering made all the more tricky by the slippery, flat soles of our cleated cycling shoes. Posing for photos at the end of an unquestionably unique cycle ride. From Siq al-Barid you can head by car back to Amman, or continue cycling on to the town of Wadi Musa (gateway to the main Petra site). There are great road climbs dotted around this more mountainous area of Jordan, easily discoverable if you have an expert guide – you could easily spend three or four days exploring with Wadi Musa as a base. No cycling is allowed inside the Petra site itself, however. The rock-hewn city of Petra Credit: GETTY Off the beaten tyre track Much like trying to climb up those slippery sandstone steps, cycling in Jordan is fiddly but fun, rarefied but infinitely rewarding. You won’t find yourself rolling into the hotel lobby after a day riding a series of popular training climbs made famous by Team Sky, before setting off on a crawl of bars and restaurants owned by one-time Tour de France stage winners. If you want to follow the tyre tracks of the pros, both current and past, then there are probably better places to go for a cycling holiday. If, though, your approach to travel leans more towards the adventurous – with a generous dash of problem-solving and logistical faffery thrown in – then Jordan is among the most exhilarating places you could go to cycle. After all, where’s the fun in doing what everyone else does? British Airways (ba.com) flies daily to Amman from London Heathrow. Day access to Dead Sea hotel pools costs from 45 JOD (£45) Five other offbeat cycling destinations By Adam Ruck 1. Madagascar This two-week tour of a fascinatingly different and biodiverse island includes 340 miles (548km) of cycling over nine days – more downhill than up as the title suggests – plus hiking in the national parks, a visit to a lemur reserve and two days of relaxation at a beach hotel on the Indian Ocean. A 17-day Madagascar cycling tour costs from £3,245 including flights, accommodation and most meals. Departures until October 2018. KE Adventure Travel (01768 773966; keadventure.com). Spot lemurs when you're not pedalling Credit: GETTY 2. The Baltic Explore the amber-rich Baltic coast and capital cities of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, as well as the mountainous dunes and beaches of the Curonian Spit and the Estonian island of Saaremaa. Easy cycling punctuated by minibus transfers. An 11-day The Baltics tour costs from £1,129 (€1,290) including accommodation, breakfast and internal transfers, but not bike or e-bike hire or flights. Departures between July and September. Baltic Bike Travel (0037 046 300 144; bbtravel.lt). Brave the Baltic Credit: Rasmus Jurkatam 3. Sri Lanka Wildlife is a highlight of this two-week adventure – leopards, elephants, crocs, and whale watching – but there is much more to it than that: Buddha’s tooth temple, tea plantations, hot curries and everywhere a smiling welcome. The cycling (24 miles a day) is graded moderate, but includes some climbs and may be quite taxing in the heat. A 14-day Sri Lanka tour costs from £2,129 including flights, accommodation, some meals and bike hire. Departures until November 2018. Explore (01252 883963; explore.co.uk). Explore Sri Lankan temples Credit: viii - Fotolia 4. Morocco A classic winter mountain bike holiday combining the colourful tumult of Marrakech with exciting rides in the Atlas Mountains and the spectacular Dades Valley, as far as Zagora on the edge of the Sahara. Five days of cycling (average 37 miles a day), on tarmac and dirt; requires fitness and some mountain bike experience. A seven-day Ride the Kasbah tour costs £695 including accommodation and all meals but not flights or bike hire. Departures from November to April. KE Adventure Travel (01768 773966; keadventure.com). Tackle the Atlas Mountains Credit: ALAMY 5. Myanmar A nine-day stint of “comfortably paced” cycling is only part of a two-week voyage of discovery, including the Bagan plain and its 2,000-plus temples, Mandalay, a boat trip on Lake Inle and old British hill stations. A 17-day Cultural Cycling tour of Myanmar costs £2,945 including accommodation, all meals (except in Yangon), internal transfers and bike hire; international flights not included; departures in November and February. Mountain Kingdoms (01453 844400; mountainkingdoms.com).
Ammanis are bad drivers. In what appears to be an effort to outdo the British urban car user, who is never without a phone in one hand, residents of Jordan’s capital city tend to carry a minimum of two phones – so neither hand is unencumbered. Ammani drivers also turn without looking and consider the number of lanes painted on a given stretch of road to be more of a suggestion than a hard-and-fast law. Don’t get me started on their habit of driving on motorways at night without their lights on. So cycling in Jordan is a no-no, then? Not at all. But it’s wise to wait until you’re out of town before hopping on the saddle. Luckily there are companies like Cycling Jordan that can provide a vehicle support service for both one-off rides or extended multi-day trips. Their guides will carry your kit in a car or pickup truck, bring water and snacks along, and show you the best routes – all with a cheery smile and a genuine enthusiasm for showing off their country. Amman's roads aren't a place for cycling Credit: AMOS CHAPPLE/GETTY Downhill all the way Mountain biking from the outskirts of Amman to the Dead Sea is one of the country’s showpiece routes. Covering 60 kilometres (40 miles), the ride uses mostly quieter roads, riverside footpaths and car-width back-country gravel tracks, before a short unavoidable section of main road to finish. The fact that the ride is almost entirely downhill will be music to most ears – and is fairly unsurprising too, given that Amman sits at 700m above sea level and the finish point is around 300m below. Starting at the King Hussein Ben Talal Mosque, we quickly escaped the confines of the city on little-used back streets, before dropping down to follow the path of a small stream. We dismounted to splash through the water, and paused to help a lorry driver lift a gigantic spare tyre onto the roof of his truck, before our first scheduled stop, the ancient ruin of Qasr al-Abd. The site dates back to 200 BCE but has been subject to frequent demolition and renovation in the intervening two millennia. Qasr al-Abd Credit: GETTY From Qasr al-Abd, there’s no avoiding a seriously steep climb, referred to by some Ammani cyclists as “the atheist’s uphill”, because “no man can believe in God as they try to ride up this road”. It’s certainly a test – even with the extra small gears afforded by a mountain bike. From the top of this ridge, however, it really is all downhill to the Dead Sea. We coasted along gravel paths that evoked the famous strade bianche (white roads) of Tuscany, through the surprisingly green landscapes of northern Jordan, before crossing what seemed like an invisible border line into the dry and dusty terrain one usually associates with the Middle East. The Dead Sea Credit: GETTY We decided to hop into the truck when our route rejoined the road, opting to take the shortcut to our finale, lured mainly by the promise of a big lunch and some time by a swimming pool. Several hotels at the Dead Sea offer ‘lunch and lounge’ deals, ideal for hungry cyclists with weary legs. We make short work of the extensive buffet at the Holiday Inn, before retiring to sit by their pool for a couple of hours before sunset. Top 5 | Reasons to visit Jordan A heavenly valley Before flying out to the Middle East, I’d heard rumours that the road cycling scene in Jordan was limited to extreme early-morning club rides out of Amman (with groups setting off at 5am to avoid the worst of the manic rush hour). In fact, there’s a great deal on offer – you just won’t find it in the city centre. Engaging the services of Cycling Jordan once again, we headed south to Feynan on a Friday morning. With no traffic on the roads – almost the whole population of Jordan was at prayers – we made rapid progress down the shores of the Dead Sea, hopping onto the bikes at around 11am. From the start at Feynan we rolled along a flat desert road before climbing for a solid hour up a former military access road. The ascent of Jebel Proywe (‘jebel’ or ‘jabal’ means mountain) is much like a European alpine climb, with switchbacks, smooth tarmac and the gradual experience of a slowly changing terrain. As we climbed in altitude, the low, rolling dunes gave way to hard rocky outcrops, then vivid red sandstone cliff faces. The landscape near Feynan Credit: STOCK.ADOBE.COM/FABIO NODARI At the crest of the climb, the road dropped in and out of a series of small ravines, shooting up and down at severe gradients. As we grimaced through agonising hairpins we could smell the clutch on the support car as it laboured uphill behind us. Then at last, the true summit, and a gently undulating road over green hills that were all that lay ahead. A paradisiacal valley high above the holy land. By then it was well into Friday afternoon and families were gathered all over the place, enjoying post-prayer picnics in this impossibly verdant and peaceful place. Another five kilometres brought us to the entrance of Siq al-Barid, known colloquially as Little Petra. We clambered up the dry sandstone steps hewn out of the sandstone edifice more than two millennia ago, our small-scale mountaineering made all the more tricky by the slippery, flat soles of our cleated cycling shoes. Posing for photos at the end of an unquestionably unique cycle ride. From Siq al-Barid you can head by car back to Amman, or continue cycling on to the town of Wadi Musa (gateway to the main Petra site). There are great road climbs dotted around this more mountainous area of Jordan, easily discoverable if you have an expert guide – you could easily spend three or four days exploring with Wadi Musa as a base. No cycling is allowed inside the Petra site itself, however. The rock-hewn city of Petra Credit: GETTY Off the beaten tyre track Much like trying to climb up those slippery sandstone steps, cycling in Jordan is fiddly but fun, rarefied but infinitely rewarding. You won’t find yourself rolling into the hotel lobby after a day riding a series of popular training climbs made famous by Team Sky, before setting off on a crawl of bars and restaurants owned by one-time Tour de France stage winners. If you want to follow the tyre tracks of the pros, both current and past, then there are probably better places to go for a cycling holiday. If, though, your approach to travel leans more towards the adventurous – with a generous dash of problem-solving and logistical faffery thrown in – then Jordan is among the most exhilarating places you could go to cycle. After all, where’s the fun in doing what everyone else does? British Airways (ba.com) flies daily to Amman from London Heathrow. Day access to Dead Sea hotel pools costs from 45 JOD (£45) Five other offbeat cycling destinations By Adam Ruck 1. Madagascar This two-week tour of a fascinatingly different and biodiverse island includes 340 miles (548km) of cycling over nine days – more downhill than up as the title suggests – plus hiking in the national parks, a visit to a lemur reserve and two days of relaxation at a beach hotel on the Indian Ocean. A 17-day Madagascar cycling tour costs from £3,245 including flights, accommodation and most meals. Departures until October 2018. KE Adventure Travel (01768 773966; keadventure.com). Spot lemurs when you're not pedalling Credit: GETTY 2. The Baltic Explore the amber-rich Baltic coast and capital cities of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, as well as the mountainous dunes and beaches of the Curonian Spit and the Estonian island of Saaremaa. Easy cycling punctuated by minibus transfers. An 11-day The Baltics tour costs from £1,129 (€1,290) including accommodation, breakfast and internal transfers, but not bike or e-bike hire or flights. Departures between July and September. Baltic Bike Travel (0037 046 300 144; bbtravel.lt). Brave the Baltic Credit: Rasmus Jurkatam 3. Sri Lanka Wildlife is a highlight of this two-week adventure – leopards, elephants, crocs, and whale watching – but there is much more to it than that: Buddha’s tooth temple, tea plantations, hot curries and everywhere a smiling welcome. The cycling (24 miles a day) is graded moderate, but includes some climbs and may be quite taxing in the heat. A 14-day Sri Lanka tour costs from £2,129 including flights, accommodation, some meals and bike hire. Departures until November 2018. Explore (01252 883963; explore.co.uk). Explore Sri Lankan temples Credit: viii - Fotolia 4. Morocco A classic winter mountain bike holiday combining the colourful tumult of Marrakech with exciting rides in the Atlas Mountains and the spectacular Dades Valley, as far as Zagora on the edge of the Sahara. Five days of cycling (average 37 miles a day), on tarmac and dirt; requires fitness and some mountain bike experience. A seven-day Ride the Kasbah tour costs £695 including accommodation and all meals but not flights or bike hire. Departures from November to April. KE Adventure Travel (01768 773966; keadventure.com). Tackle the Atlas Mountains Credit: ALAMY 5. Myanmar A nine-day stint of “comfortably paced” cycling is only part of a two-week voyage of discovery, including the Bagan plain and its 2,000-plus temples, Mandalay, a boat trip on Lake Inle and old British hill stations. A 17-day Cultural Cycling tour of Myanmar costs £2,945 including accommodation, all meals (except in Yangon), internal transfers and bike hire; international flights not included; departures in November and February. Mountain Kingdoms (01453 844400; mountainkingdoms.com).
Is this the most surprising cycling destination on Earth?
Ammanis are bad drivers. In what appears to be an effort to outdo the British urban car user, who is never without a phone in one hand, residents of Jordan’s capital city tend to carry a minimum of two phones – so neither hand is unencumbered. Ammani drivers also turn without looking and consider the number of lanes painted on a given stretch of road to be more of a suggestion than a hard-and-fast law. Don’t get me started on their habit of driving on motorways at night without their lights on. So cycling in Jordan is a no-no, then? Not at all. But it’s wise to wait until you’re out of town before hopping on the saddle. Luckily there are companies like Cycling Jordan that can provide a vehicle support service for both one-off rides or extended multi-day trips. Their guides will carry your kit in a car or pickup truck, bring water and snacks along, and show you the best routes – all with a cheery smile and a genuine enthusiasm for showing off their country. Amman's roads aren't a place for cycling Credit: AMOS CHAPPLE/GETTY Downhill all the way Mountain biking from the outskirts of Amman to the Dead Sea is one of the country’s showpiece routes. Covering 60 kilometres (40 miles), the ride uses mostly quieter roads, riverside footpaths and car-width back-country gravel tracks, before a short unavoidable section of main road to finish. The fact that the ride is almost entirely downhill will be music to most ears – and is fairly unsurprising too, given that Amman sits at 700m above sea level and the finish point is around 300m below. Starting at the King Hussein Ben Talal Mosque, we quickly escaped the confines of the city on little-used back streets, before dropping down to follow the path of a small stream. We dismounted to splash through the water, and paused to help a lorry driver lift a gigantic spare tyre onto the roof of his truck, before our first scheduled stop, the ancient ruin of Qasr al-Abd. The site dates back to 200 BCE but has been subject to frequent demolition and renovation in the intervening two millennia. Qasr al-Abd Credit: GETTY From Qasr al-Abd, there’s no avoiding a seriously steep climb, referred to by some Ammani cyclists as “the atheist’s uphill”, because “no man can believe in God as they try to ride up this road”. It’s certainly a test – even with the extra small gears afforded by a mountain bike. From the top of this ridge, however, it really is all downhill to the Dead Sea. We coasted along gravel paths that evoked the famous strade bianche (white roads) of Tuscany, through the surprisingly green landscapes of northern Jordan, before crossing what seemed like an invisible border line into the dry and dusty terrain one usually associates with the Middle East. The Dead Sea Credit: GETTY We decided to hop into the truck when our route rejoined the road, opting to take the shortcut to our finale, lured mainly by the promise of a big lunch and some time by a swimming pool. Several hotels at the Dead Sea offer ‘lunch and lounge’ deals, ideal for hungry cyclists with weary legs. We make short work of the extensive buffet at the Holiday Inn, before retiring to sit by their pool for a couple of hours before sunset. Top 5 | Reasons to visit Jordan A heavenly valley Before flying out to the Middle East, I’d heard rumours that the road cycling scene in Jordan was limited to extreme early-morning club rides out of Amman (with groups setting off at 5am to avoid the worst of the manic rush hour). In fact, there’s a great deal on offer – you just won’t find it in the city centre. Engaging the services of Cycling Jordan once again, we headed south to Feynan on a Friday morning. With no traffic on the roads – almost the whole population of Jordan was at prayers – we made rapid progress down the shores of the Dead Sea, hopping onto the bikes at around 11am. From the start at Feynan we rolled along a flat desert road before climbing for a solid hour up a former military access road. The ascent of Jebel Proywe (‘jebel’ or ‘jabal’ means mountain) is much like a European alpine climb, with switchbacks, smooth tarmac and the gradual experience of a slowly changing terrain. As we climbed in altitude, the low, rolling dunes gave way to hard rocky outcrops, then vivid red sandstone cliff faces. The landscape near Feynan Credit: STOCK.ADOBE.COM/FABIO NODARI At the crest of the climb, the road dropped in and out of a series of small ravines, shooting up and down at severe gradients. As we grimaced through agonising hairpins we could smell the clutch on the support car as it laboured uphill behind us. Then at last, the true summit, and a gently undulating road over green hills that were all that lay ahead. A paradisiacal valley high above the holy land. By then it was well into Friday afternoon and families were gathered all over the place, enjoying post-prayer picnics in this impossibly verdant and peaceful place. Another five kilometres brought us to the entrance of Siq al-Barid, known colloquially as Little Petra. We clambered up the dry sandstone steps hewn out of the sandstone edifice more than two millennia ago, our small-scale mountaineering made all the more tricky by the slippery, flat soles of our cleated cycling shoes. Posing for photos at the end of an unquestionably unique cycle ride. From Siq al-Barid you can head by car back to Amman, or continue cycling on to the town of Wadi Musa (gateway to the main Petra site). There are great road climbs dotted around this more mountainous area of Jordan, easily discoverable if you have an expert guide – you could easily spend three or four days exploring with Wadi Musa as a base. No cycling is allowed inside the Petra site itself, however. The rock-hewn city of Petra Credit: GETTY Off the beaten tyre track Much like trying to climb up those slippery sandstone steps, cycling in Jordan is fiddly but fun, rarefied but infinitely rewarding. You won’t find yourself rolling into the hotel lobby after a day riding a series of popular training climbs made famous by Team Sky, before setting off on a crawl of bars and restaurants owned by one-time Tour de France stage winners. If you want to follow the tyre tracks of the pros, both current and past, then there are probably better places to go for a cycling holiday. If, though, your approach to travel leans more towards the adventurous – with a generous dash of problem-solving and logistical faffery thrown in – then Jordan is among the most exhilarating places you could go to cycle. After all, where’s the fun in doing what everyone else does? British Airways (ba.com) flies daily to Amman from London Heathrow. Day access to Dead Sea hotel pools costs from 45 JOD (£45) Five other offbeat cycling destinations By Adam Ruck 1. Madagascar This two-week tour of a fascinatingly different and biodiverse island includes 340 miles (548km) of cycling over nine days – more downhill than up as the title suggests – plus hiking in the national parks, a visit to a lemur reserve and two days of relaxation at a beach hotel on the Indian Ocean. A 17-day Madagascar cycling tour costs from £3,245 including flights, accommodation and most meals. Departures until October 2018. KE Adventure Travel (01768 773966; keadventure.com). Spot lemurs when you're not pedalling Credit: GETTY 2. The Baltic Explore the amber-rich Baltic coast and capital cities of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, as well as the mountainous dunes and beaches of the Curonian Spit and the Estonian island of Saaremaa. Easy cycling punctuated by minibus transfers. An 11-day The Baltics tour costs from £1,129 (€1,290) including accommodation, breakfast and internal transfers, but not bike or e-bike hire or flights. Departures between July and September. Baltic Bike Travel (0037 046 300 144; bbtravel.lt). Brave the Baltic Credit: Rasmus Jurkatam 3. Sri Lanka Wildlife is a highlight of this two-week adventure – leopards, elephants, crocs, and whale watching – but there is much more to it than that: Buddha’s tooth temple, tea plantations, hot curries and everywhere a smiling welcome. The cycling (24 miles a day) is graded moderate, but includes some climbs and may be quite taxing in the heat. A 14-day Sri Lanka tour costs from £2,129 including flights, accommodation, some meals and bike hire. Departures until November 2018. Explore (01252 883963; explore.co.uk). Explore Sri Lankan temples Credit: viii - Fotolia 4. Morocco A classic winter mountain bike holiday combining the colourful tumult of Marrakech with exciting rides in the Atlas Mountains and the spectacular Dades Valley, as far as Zagora on the edge of the Sahara. Five days of cycling (average 37 miles a day), on tarmac and dirt; requires fitness and some mountain bike experience. A seven-day Ride the Kasbah tour costs £695 including accommodation and all meals but not flights or bike hire. Departures from November to April. KE Adventure Travel (01768 773966; keadventure.com). Tackle the Atlas Mountains Credit: ALAMY 5. Myanmar A nine-day stint of “comfortably paced” cycling is only part of a two-week voyage of discovery, including the Bagan plain and its 2,000-plus temples, Mandalay, a boat trip on Lake Inle and old British hill stations. A 17-day Cultural Cycling tour of Myanmar costs £2,945 including accommodation, all meals (except in Yangon), internal transfers and bike hire; international flights not included; departures in November and February. Mountain Kingdoms (01453 844400; mountainkingdoms.com).
Ammanis are bad drivers. In what appears to be an effort to outdo the British urban car user, who is never without a phone in one hand, residents of Jordan’s capital city tend to carry a minimum of two phones – so neither hand is unencumbered. Ammani drivers also turn without looking and consider the number of lanes painted on a given stretch of road to be more of a suggestion than a hard-and-fast law. Don’t get me started on their habit of driving on motorways at night without their lights on. So cycling in Jordan is a no-no, then? Not at all. But it’s wise to wait until you’re out of town before hopping on the saddle. Luckily there are companies like Cycling Jordan that can provide a vehicle support service for both one-off rides or extended multi-day trips. Their guides will carry your kit in a car or pickup truck, bring water and snacks along, and show you the best routes – all with a cheery smile and a genuine enthusiasm for showing off their country. Amman's roads aren't a place for cycling Credit: AMOS CHAPPLE/GETTY Downhill all the way Mountain biking from the outskirts of Amman to the Dead Sea is one of the country’s showpiece routes. Covering 60 kilometres (40 miles), the ride uses mostly quieter roads, riverside footpaths and car-width back-country gravel tracks, before a short unavoidable section of main road to finish. The fact that the ride is almost entirely downhill will be music to most ears – and is fairly unsurprising too, given that Amman sits at 700m above sea level and the finish point is around 300m below. Starting at the King Hussein Ben Talal Mosque, we quickly escaped the confines of the city on little-used back streets, before dropping down to follow the path of a small stream. We dismounted to splash through the water, and paused to help a lorry driver lift a gigantic spare tyre onto the roof of his truck, before our first scheduled stop, the ancient ruin of Qasr al-Abd. The site dates back to 200 BCE but has been subject to frequent demolition and renovation in the intervening two millennia. Qasr al-Abd Credit: GETTY From Qasr al-Abd, there’s no avoiding a seriously steep climb, referred to by some Ammani cyclists as “the atheist’s uphill”, because “no man can believe in God as they try to ride up this road”. It’s certainly a test – even with the extra small gears afforded by a mountain bike. From the top of this ridge, however, it really is all downhill to the Dead Sea. We coasted along gravel paths that evoked the famous strade bianche (white roads) of Tuscany, through the surprisingly green landscapes of northern Jordan, before crossing what seemed like an invisible border line into the dry and dusty terrain one usually associates with the Middle East. The Dead Sea Credit: GETTY We decided to hop into the truck when our route rejoined the road, opting to take the shortcut to our finale, lured mainly by the promise of a big lunch and some time by a swimming pool. Several hotels at the Dead Sea offer ‘lunch and lounge’ deals, ideal for hungry cyclists with weary legs. We make short work of the extensive buffet at the Holiday Inn, before retiring to sit by their pool for a couple of hours before sunset. Top 5 | Reasons to visit Jordan A heavenly valley Before flying out to the Middle East, I’d heard rumours that the road cycling scene in Jordan was limited to extreme early-morning club rides out of Amman (with groups setting off at 5am to avoid the worst of the manic rush hour). In fact, there’s a great deal on offer – you just won’t find it in the city centre. Engaging the services of Cycling Jordan once again, we headed south to Feynan on a Friday morning. With no traffic on the roads – almost the whole population of Jordan was at prayers – we made rapid progress down the shores of the Dead Sea, hopping onto the bikes at around 11am. From the start at Feynan we rolled along a flat desert road before climbing for a solid hour up a former military access road. The ascent of Jebel Proywe (‘jebel’ or ‘jabal’ means mountain) is much like a European alpine climb, with switchbacks, smooth tarmac and the gradual experience of a slowly changing terrain. As we climbed in altitude, the low, rolling dunes gave way to hard rocky outcrops, then vivid red sandstone cliff faces. The landscape near Feynan Credit: STOCK.ADOBE.COM/FABIO NODARI At the crest of the climb, the road dropped in and out of a series of small ravines, shooting up and down at severe gradients. As we grimaced through agonising hairpins we could smell the clutch on the support car as it laboured uphill behind us. Then at last, the true summit, and a gently undulating road over green hills that were all that lay ahead. A paradisiacal valley high above the holy land. By then it was well into Friday afternoon and families were gathered all over the place, enjoying post-prayer picnics in this impossibly verdant and peaceful place. Another five kilometres brought us to the entrance of Siq al-Barid, known colloquially as Little Petra. We clambered up the dry sandstone steps hewn out of the sandstone edifice more than two millennia ago, our small-scale mountaineering made all the more tricky by the slippery, flat soles of our cleated cycling shoes. Posing for photos at the end of an unquestionably unique cycle ride. From Siq al-Barid you can head by car back to Amman, or continue cycling on to the town of Wadi Musa (gateway to the main Petra site). There are great road climbs dotted around this more mountainous area of Jordan, easily discoverable if you have an expert guide – you could easily spend three or four days exploring with Wadi Musa as a base. No cycling is allowed inside the Petra site itself, however. The rock-hewn city of Petra Credit: GETTY Off the beaten tyre track Much like trying to climb up those slippery sandstone steps, cycling in Jordan is fiddly but fun, rarefied but infinitely rewarding. You won’t find yourself rolling into the hotel lobby after a day riding a series of popular training climbs made famous by Team Sky, before setting off on a crawl of bars and restaurants owned by one-time Tour de France stage winners. If you want to follow the tyre tracks of the pros, both current and past, then there are probably better places to go for a cycling holiday. If, though, your approach to travel leans more towards the adventurous – with a generous dash of problem-solving and logistical faffery thrown in – then Jordan is among the most exhilarating places you could go to cycle. After all, where’s the fun in doing what everyone else does? British Airways (ba.com) flies daily to Amman from London Heathrow. Day access to Dead Sea hotel pools costs from 45 JOD (£45) Five other offbeat cycling destinations By Adam Ruck 1. Madagascar This two-week tour of a fascinatingly different and biodiverse island includes 340 miles (548km) of cycling over nine days – more downhill than up as the title suggests – plus hiking in the national parks, a visit to a lemur reserve and two days of relaxation at a beach hotel on the Indian Ocean. A 17-day Madagascar cycling tour costs from £3,245 including flights, accommodation and most meals. Departures until October 2018. KE Adventure Travel (01768 773966; keadventure.com). Spot lemurs when you're not pedalling Credit: GETTY 2. The Baltic Explore the amber-rich Baltic coast and capital cities of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, as well as the mountainous dunes and beaches of the Curonian Spit and the Estonian island of Saaremaa. Easy cycling punctuated by minibus transfers. An 11-day The Baltics tour costs from £1,129 (€1,290) including accommodation, breakfast and internal transfers, but not bike or e-bike hire or flights. Departures between July and September. Baltic Bike Travel (0037 046 300 144; bbtravel.lt). Brave the Baltic Credit: Rasmus Jurkatam 3. Sri Lanka Wildlife is a highlight of this two-week adventure – leopards, elephants, crocs, and whale watching – but there is much more to it than that: Buddha’s tooth temple, tea plantations, hot curries and everywhere a smiling welcome. The cycling (24 miles a day) is graded moderate, but includes some climbs and may be quite taxing in the heat. A 14-day Sri Lanka tour costs from £2,129 including flights, accommodation, some meals and bike hire. Departures until November 2018. Explore (01252 883963; explore.co.uk). Explore Sri Lankan temples Credit: viii - Fotolia 4. Morocco A classic winter mountain bike holiday combining the colourful tumult of Marrakech with exciting rides in the Atlas Mountains and the spectacular Dades Valley, as far as Zagora on the edge of the Sahara. Five days of cycling (average 37 miles a day), on tarmac and dirt; requires fitness and some mountain bike experience. A seven-day Ride the Kasbah tour costs £695 including accommodation and all meals but not flights or bike hire. Departures from November to April. KE Adventure Travel (01768 773966; keadventure.com). Tackle the Atlas Mountains Credit: ALAMY 5. Myanmar A nine-day stint of “comfortably paced” cycling is only part of a two-week voyage of discovery, including the Bagan plain and its 2,000-plus temples, Mandalay, a boat trip on Lake Inle and old British hill stations. A 17-day Cultural Cycling tour of Myanmar costs £2,945 including accommodation, all meals (except in Yangon), internal transfers and bike hire; international flights not included; departures in November and February. Mountain Kingdoms (01453 844400; mountainkingdoms.com).
Is this the most surprising cycling destination on Earth?
Ammanis are bad drivers. In what appears to be an effort to outdo the British urban car user, who is never without a phone in one hand, residents of Jordan’s capital city tend to carry a minimum of two phones – so neither hand is unencumbered. Ammani drivers also turn without looking and consider the number of lanes painted on a given stretch of road to be more of a suggestion than a hard-and-fast law. Don’t get me started on their habit of driving on motorways at night without their lights on. So cycling in Jordan is a no-no, then? Not at all. But it’s wise to wait until you’re out of town before hopping on the saddle. Luckily there are companies like Cycling Jordan that can provide a vehicle support service for both one-off rides or extended multi-day trips. Their guides will carry your kit in a car or pickup truck, bring water and snacks along, and show you the best routes – all with a cheery smile and a genuine enthusiasm for showing off their country. Amman's roads aren't a place for cycling Credit: AMOS CHAPPLE/GETTY Downhill all the way Mountain biking from the outskirts of Amman to the Dead Sea is one of the country’s showpiece routes. Covering 60 kilometres (40 miles), the ride uses mostly quieter roads, riverside footpaths and car-width back-country gravel tracks, before a short unavoidable section of main road to finish. The fact that the ride is almost entirely downhill will be music to most ears – and is fairly unsurprising too, given that Amman sits at 700m above sea level and the finish point is around 300m below. Starting at the King Hussein Ben Talal Mosque, we quickly escaped the confines of the city on little-used back streets, before dropping down to follow the path of a small stream. We dismounted to splash through the water, and paused to help a lorry driver lift a gigantic spare tyre onto the roof of his truck, before our first scheduled stop, the ancient ruin of Qasr al-Abd. The site dates back to 200 BCE but has been subject to frequent demolition and renovation in the intervening two millennia. Qasr al-Abd Credit: GETTY From Qasr al-Abd, there’s no avoiding a seriously steep climb, referred to by some Ammani cyclists as “the atheist’s uphill”, because “no man can believe in God as they try to ride up this road”. It’s certainly a test – even with the extra small gears afforded by a mountain bike. From the top of this ridge, however, it really is all downhill to the Dead Sea. We coasted along gravel paths that evoked the famous strade bianche (white roads) of Tuscany, through the surprisingly green landscapes of northern Jordan, before crossing what seemed like an invisible border line into the dry and dusty terrain one usually associates with the Middle East. The Dead Sea Credit: GETTY We decided to hop into the truck when our route rejoined the road, opting to take the shortcut to our finale, lured mainly by the promise of a big lunch and some time by a swimming pool. Several hotels at the Dead Sea offer ‘lunch and lounge’ deals, ideal for hungry cyclists with weary legs. We make short work of the extensive buffet at the Holiday Inn, before retiring to sit by their pool for a couple of hours before sunset. Top 5 | Reasons to visit Jordan A heavenly valley Before flying out to the Middle East, I’d heard rumours that the road cycling scene in Jordan was limited to extreme early-morning club rides out of Amman (with groups setting off at 5am to avoid the worst of the manic rush hour). In fact, there’s a great deal on offer – you just won’t find it in the city centre. Engaging the services of Cycling Jordan once again, we headed south to Feynan on a Friday morning. With no traffic on the roads – almost the whole population of Jordan was at prayers – we made rapid progress down the shores of the Dead Sea, hopping onto the bikes at around 11am. From the start at Feynan we rolled along a flat desert road before climbing for a solid hour up a former military access road. The ascent of Jebel Proywe (‘jebel’ or ‘jabal’ means mountain) is much like a European alpine climb, with switchbacks, smooth tarmac and the gradual experience of a slowly changing terrain. As we climbed in altitude, the low, rolling dunes gave way to hard rocky outcrops, then vivid red sandstone cliff faces. The landscape near Feynan Credit: STOCK.ADOBE.COM/FABIO NODARI At the crest of the climb, the road dropped in and out of a series of small ravines, shooting up and down at severe gradients. As we grimaced through agonising hairpins we could smell the clutch on the support car as it laboured uphill behind us. Then at last, the true summit, and a gently undulating road over green hills that were all that lay ahead. A paradisiacal valley high above the holy land. By then it was well into Friday afternoon and families were gathered all over the place, enjoying post-prayer picnics in this impossibly verdant and peaceful place. Another five kilometres brought us to the entrance of Siq al-Barid, known colloquially as Little Petra. We clambered up the dry sandstone steps hewn out of the sandstone edifice more than two millennia ago, our small-scale mountaineering made all the more tricky by the slippery, flat soles of our cleated cycling shoes. Posing for photos at the end of an unquestionably unique cycle ride. From Siq al-Barid you can head by car back to Amman, or continue cycling on to the town of Wadi Musa (gateway to the main Petra site). There are great road climbs dotted around this more mountainous area of Jordan, easily discoverable if you have an expert guide – you could easily spend three or four days exploring with Wadi Musa as a base. No cycling is allowed inside the Petra site itself, however. The rock-hewn city of Petra Credit: GETTY Off the beaten tyre track Much like trying to climb up those slippery sandstone steps, cycling in Jordan is fiddly but fun, rarefied but infinitely rewarding. You won’t find yourself rolling into the hotel lobby after a day riding a series of popular training climbs made famous by Team Sky, before setting off on a crawl of bars and restaurants owned by one-time Tour de France stage winners. If you want to follow the tyre tracks of the pros, both current and past, then there are probably better places to go for a cycling holiday. If, though, your approach to travel leans more towards the adventurous – with a generous dash of problem-solving and logistical faffery thrown in – then Jordan is among the most exhilarating places you could go to cycle. After all, where’s the fun in doing what everyone else does? British Airways (ba.com) flies daily to Amman from London Heathrow. Day access to Dead Sea hotel pools costs from 45 JOD (£45) Five other offbeat cycling destinations By Adam Ruck 1. Madagascar This two-week tour of a fascinatingly different and biodiverse island includes 340 miles (548km) of cycling over nine days – more downhill than up as the title suggests – plus hiking in the national parks, a visit to a lemur reserve and two days of relaxation at a beach hotel on the Indian Ocean. A 17-day Madagascar cycling tour costs from £3,245 including flights, accommodation and most meals. Departures until October 2018. KE Adventure Travel (01768 773966; keadventure.com). Spot lemurs when you're not pedalling Credit: GETTY 2. The Baltic Explore the amber-rich Baltic coast and capital cities of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, as well as the mountainous dunes and beaches of the Curonian Spit and the Estonian island of Saaremaa. Easy cycling punctuated by minibus transfers. An 11-day The Baltics tour costs from £1,129 (€1,290) including accommodation, breakfast and internal transfers, but not bike or e-bike hire or flights. Departures between July and September. Baltic Bike Travel (0037 046 300 144; bbtravel.lt). Brave the Baltic Credit: Rasmus Jurkatam 3. Sri Lanka Wildlife is a highlight of this two-week adventure – leopards, elephants, crocs, and whale watching – but there is much more to it than that: Buddha’s tooth temple, tea plantations, hot curries and everywhere a smiling welcome. The cycling (24 miles a day) is graded moderate, but includes some climbs and may be quite taxing in the heat. A 14-day Sri Lanka tour costs from £2,129 including flights, accommodation, some meals and bike hire. Departures until November 2018. Explore (01252 883963; explore.co.uk). Explore Sri Lankan temples Credit: viii - Fotolia 4. Morocco A classic winter mountain bike holiday combining the colourful tumult of Marrakech with exciting rides in the Atlas Mountains and the spectacular Dades Valley, as far as Zagora on the edge of the Sahara. Five days of cycling (average 37 miles a day), on tarmac and dirt; requires fitness and some mountain bike experience. A seven-day Ride the Kasbah tour costs £695 including accommodation and all meals but not flights or bike hire. Departures from November to April. KE Adventure Travel (01768 773966; keadventure.com). Tackle the Atlas Mountains Credit: ALAMY 5. Myanmar A nine-day stint of “comfortably paced” cycling is only part of a two-week voyage of discovery, including the Bagan plain and its 2,000-plus temples, Mandalay, a boat trip on Lake Inle and old British hill stations. A 17-day Cultural Cycling tour of Myanmar costs £2,945 including accommodation, all meals (except in Yangon), internal transfers and bike hire; international flights not included; departures in November and February. Mountain Kingdoms (01453 844400; mountainkingdoms.com).
Ammanis are bad drivers. In what appears to be an effort to outdo the British urban car user, who is never without a phone in one hand, residents of Jordan’s capital city tend to carry a minimum of two phones – so neither hand is unencumbered. Ammani drivers also turn without looking and consider the number of lanes painted on a given stretch of road to be more of a suggestion than a hard-and-fast law. Don’t get me started on their habit of driving on motorways at night without their lights on. So cycling in Jordan is a no-no, then? Not at all. But it’s wise to wait until you’re out of town before hopping on the saddle. Luckily there are companies like Cycling Jordan that can provide a vehicle support service for both one-off rides or extended multi-day trips. Their guides will carry your kit in a car or pickup truck, bring water and snacks along, and show you the best routes – all with a cheery smile and a genuine enthusiasm for showing off their country. Amman's roads aren't a place for cycling Credit: AMOS CHAPPLE/GETTY Downhill all the way Mountain biking from the outskirts of Amman to the Dead Sea is one of the country’s showpiece routes. Covering 60 kilometres (40 miles), the ride uses mostly quieter roads, riverside footpaths and car-width back-country gravel tracks, before a short unavoidable section of main road to finish. The fact that the ride is almost entirely downhill will be music to most ears – and is fairly unsurprising too, given that Amman sits at 700m above sea level and the finish point is around 300m below. Starting at the King Hussein Ben Talal Mosque, we quickly escaped the confines of the city on little-used back streets, before dropping down to follow the path of a small stream. We dismounted to splash through the water, and paused to help a lorry driver lift a gigantic spare tyre onto the roof of his truck, before our first scheduled stop, the ancient ruin of Qasr al-Abd. The site dates back to 200 BCE but has been subject to frequent demolition and renovation in the intervening two millennia. Qasr al-Abd Credit: GETTY From Qasr al-Abd, there’s no avoiding a seriously steep climb, referred to by some Ammani cyclists as “the atheist’s uphill”, because “no man can believe in God as they try to ride up this road”. It’s certainly a test – even with the extra small gears afforded by a mountain bike. From the top of this ridge, however, it really is all downhill to the Dead Sea. We coasted along gravel paths that evoked the famous strade bianche (white roads) of Tuscany, through the surprisingly green landscapes of northern Jordan, before crossing what seemed like an invisible border line into the dry and dusty terrain one usually associates with the Middle East. The Dead Sea Credit: GETTY We decided to hop into the truck when our route rejoined the road, opting to take the shortcut to our finale, lured mainly by the promise of a big lunch and some time by a swimming pool. Several hotels at the Dead Sea offer ‘lunch and lounge’ deals, ideal for hungry cyclists with weary legs. We make short work of the extensive buffet at the Holiday Inn, before retiring to sit by their pool for a couple of hours before sunset. Top 5 | Reasons to visit Jordan A heavenly valley Before flying out to the Middle East, I’d heard rumours that the road cycling scene in Jordan was limited to extreme early-morning club rides out of Amman (with groups setting off at 5am to avoid the worst of the manic rush hour). In fact, there’s a great deal on offer – you just won’t find it in the city centre. Engaging the services of Cycling Jordan once again, we headed south to Feynan on a Friday morning. With no traffic on the roads – almost the whole population of Jordan was at prayers – we made rapid progress down the shores of the Dead Sea, hopping onto the bikes at around 11am. From the start at Feynan we rolled along a flat desert road before climbing for a solid hour up a former military access road. The ascent of Jebel Proywe (‘jebel’ or ‘jabal’ means mountain) is much like a European alpine climb, with switchbacks, smooth tarmac and the gradual experience of a slowly changing terrain. As we climbed in altitude, the low, rolling dunes gave way to hard rocky outcrops, then vivid red sandstone cliff faces. The landscape near Feynan Credit: STOCK.ADOBE.COM/FABIO NODARI At the crest of the climb, the road dropped in and out of a series of small ravines, shooting up and down at severe gradients. As we grimaced through agonising hairpins we could smell the clutch on the support car as it laboured uphill behind us. Then at last, the true summit, and a gently undulating road over green hills that were all that lay ahead. A paradisiacal valley high above the holy land. By then it was well into Friday afternoon and families were gathered all over the place, enjoying post-prayer picnics in this impossibly verdant and peaceful place. Another five kilometres brought us to the entrance of Siq al-Barid, known colloquially as Little Petra. We clambered up the dry sandstone steps hewn out of the sandstone edifice more than two millennia ago, our small-scale mountaineering made all the more tricky by the slippery, flat soles of our cleated cycling shoes. Posing for photos at the end of an unquestionably unique cycle ride. From Siq al-Barid you can head by car back to Amman, or continue cycling on to the town of Wadi Musa (gateway to the main Petra site). There are great road climbs dotted around this more mountainous area of Jordan, easily discoverable if you have an expert guide – you could easily spend three or four days exploring with Wadi Musa as a base. No cycling is allowed inside the Petra site itself, however. The rock-hewn city of Petra Credit: GETTY Off the beaten tyre track Much like trying to climb up those slippery sandstone steps, cycling in Jordan is fiddly but fun, rarefied but infinitely rewarding. You won’t find yourself rolling into the hotel lobby after a day riding a series of popular training climbs made famous by Team Sky, before setting off on a crawl of bars and restaurants owned by one-time Tour de France stage winners. If you want to follow the tyre tracks of the pros, both current and past, then there are probably better places to go for a cycling holiday. If, though, your approach to travel leans more towards the adventurous – with a generous dash of problem-solving and logistical faffery thrown in – then Jordan is among the most exhilarating places you could go to cycle. After all, where’s the fun in doing what everyone else does? British Airways (ba.com) flies daily to Amman from London Heathrow. Day access to Dead Sea hotel pools costs from 45 JOD (£45) Five other offbeat cycling destinations By Adam Ruck 1. Madagascar This two-week tour of a fascinatingly different and biodiverse island includes 340 miles (548km) of cycling over nine days – more downhill than up as the title suggests – plus hiking in the national parks, a visit to a lemur reserve and two days of relaxation at a beach hotel on the Indian Ocean. A 17-day Madagascar cycling tour costs from £3,245 including flights, accommodation and most meals. Departures until October 2018. KE Adventure Travel (01768 773966; keadventure.com). Spot lemurs when you're not pedalling Credit: GETTY 2. The Baltic Explore the amber-rich Baltic coast and capital cities of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, as well as the mountainous dunes and beaches of the Curonian Spit and the Estonian island of Saaremaa. Easy cycling punctuated by minibus transfers. An 11-day The Baltics tour costs from £1,129 (€1,290) including accommodation, breakfast and internal transfers, but not bike or e-bike hire or flights. Departures between July and September. Baltic Bike Travel (0037 046 300 144; bbtravel.lt). Brave the Baltic Credit: Rasmus Jurkatam 3. Sri Lanka Wildlife is a highlight of this two-week adventure – leopards, elephants, crocs, and whale watching – but there is much more to it than that: Buddha’s tooth temple, tea plantations, hot curries and everywhere a smiling welcome. The cycling (24 miles a day) is graded moderate, but includes some climbs and may be quite taxing in the heat. A 14-day Sri Lanka tour costs from £2,129 including flights, accommodation, some meals and bike hire. Departures until November 2018. Explore (01252 883963; explore.co.uk). Explore Sri Lankan temples Credit: viii - Fotolia 4. Morocco A classic winter mountain bike holiday combining the colourful tumult of Marrakech with exciting rides in the Atlas Mountains and the spectacular Dades Valley, as far as Zagora on the edge of the Sahara. Five days of cycling (average 37 miles a day), on tarmac and dirt; requires fitness and some mountain bike experience. A seven-day Ride the Kasbah tour costs £695 including accommodation and all meals but not flights or bike hire. Departures from November to April. KE Adventure Travel (01768 773966; keadventure.com). Tackle the Atlas Mountains Credit: ALAMY 5. Myanmar A nine-day stint of “comfortably paced” cycling is only part of a two-week voyage of discovery, including the Bagan plain and its 2,000-plus temples, Mandalay, a boat trip on Lake Inle and old British hill stations. A 17-day Cultural Cycling tour of Myanmar costs £2,945 including accommodation, all meals (except in Yangon), internal transfers and bike hire; international flights not included; departures in November and February. Mountain Kingdoms (01453 844400; mountainkingdoms.com).
Is this the most surprising cycling destination on Earth?
Ammanis are bad drivers. In what appears to be an effort to outdo the British urban car user, who is never without a phone in one hand, residents of Jordan’s capital city tend to carry a minimum of two phones – so neither hand is unencumbered. Ammani drivers also turn without looking and consider the number of lanes painted on a given stretch of road to be more of a suggestion than a hard-and-fast law. Don’t get me started on their habit of driving on motorways at night without their lights on. So cycling in Jordan is a no-no, then? Not at all. But it’s wise to wait until you’re out of town before hopping on the saddle. Luckily there are companies like Cycling Jordan that can provide a vehicle support service for both one-off rides or extended multi-day trips. Their guides will carry your kit in a car or pickup truck, bring water and snacks along, and show you the best routes – all with a cheery smile and a genuine enthusiasm for showing off their country. Amman's roads aren't a place for cycling Credit: AMOS CHAPPLE/GETTY Downhill all the way Mountain biking from the outskirts of Amman to the Dead Sea is one of the country’s showpiece routes. Covering 60 kilometres (40 miles), the ride uses mostly quieter roads, riverside footpaths and car-width back-country gravel tracks, before a short unavoidable section of main road to finish. The fact that the ride is almost entirely downhill will be music to most ears – and is fairly unsurprising too, given that Amman sits at 700m above sea level and the finish point is around 300m below. Starting at the King Hussein Ben Talal Mosque, we quickly escaped the confines of the city on little-used back streets, before dropping down to follow the path of a small stream. We dismounted to splash through the water, and paused to help a lorry driver lift a gigantic spare tyre onto the roof of his truck, before our first scheduled stop, the ancient ruin of Qasr al-Abd. The site dates back to 200 BCE but has been subject to frequent demolition and renovation in the intervening two millennia. Qasr al-Abd Credit: GETTY From Qasr al-Abd, there’s no avoiding a seriously steep climb, referred to by some Ammani cyclists as “the atheist’s uphill”, because “no man can believe in God as they try to ride up this road”. It’s certainly a test – even with the extra small gears afforded by a mountain bike. From the top of this ridge, however, it really is all downhill to the Dead Sea. We coasted along gravel paths that evoked the famous strade bianche (white roads) of Tuscany, through the surprisingly green landscapes of northern Jordan, before crossing what seemed like an invisible border line into the dry and dusty terrain one usually associates with the Middle East. The Dead Sea Credit: GETTY We decided to hop into the truck when our route rejoined the road, opting to take the shortcut to our finale, lured mainly by the promise of a big lunch and some time by a swimming pool. Several hotels at the Dead Sea offer ‘lunch and lounge’ deals, ideal for hungry cyclists with weary legs. We make short work of the extensive buffet at the Holiday Inn, before retiring to sit by their pool for a couple of hours before sunset. Top 5 | Reasons to visit Jordan A heavenly valley Before flying out to the Middle East, I’d heard rumours that the road cycling scene in Jordan was limited to extreme early-morning club rides out of Amman (with groups setting off at 5am to avoid the worst of the manic rush hour). In fact, there’s a great deal on offer – you just won’t find it in the city centre. Engaging the services of Cycling Jordan once again, we headed south to Feynan on a Friday morning. With no traffic on the roads – almost the whole population of Jordan was at prayers – we made rapid progress down the shores of the Dead Sea, hopping onto the bikes at around 11am. From the start at Feynan we rolled along a flat desert road before climbing for a solid hour up a former military access road. The ascent of Jebel Proywe (‘jebel’ or ‘jabal’ means mountain) is much like a European alpine climb, with switchbacks, smooth tarmac and the gradual experience of a slowly changing terrain. As we climbed in altitude, the low, rolling dunes gave way to hard rocky outcrops, then vivid red sandstone cliff faces. The landscape near Feynan Credit: STOCK.ADOBE.COM/FABIO NODARI At the crest of the climb, the road dropped in and out of a series of small ravines, shooting up and down at severe gradients. As we grimaced through agonising hairpins we could smell the clutch on the support car as it laboured uphill behind us. Then at last, the true summit, and a gently undulating road over green hills that were all that lay ahead. A paradisiacal valley high above the holy land. By then it was well into Friday afternoon and families were gathered all over the place, enjoying post-prayer picnics in this impossibly verdant and peaceful place. Another five kilometres brought us to the entrance of Siq al-Barid, known colloquially as Little Petra. We clambered up the dry sandstone steps hewn out of the sandstone edifice more than two millennia ago, our small-scale mountaineering made all the more tricky by the slippery, flat soles of our cleated cycling shoes. Posing for photos at the end of an unquestionably unique cycle ride. From Siq al-Barid you can head by car back to Amman, or continue cycling on to the town of Wadi Musa (gateway to the main Petra site). There are great road climbs dotted around this more mountainous area of Jordan, easily discoverable if you have an expert guide – you could easily spend three or four days exploring with Wadi Musa as a base. No cycling is allowed inside the Petra site itself, however. The rock-hewn city of Petra Credit: GETTY Off the beaten tyre track Much like trying to climb up those slippery sandstone steps, cycling in Jordan is fiddly but fun, rarefied but infinitely rewarding. You won’t find yourself rolling into the hotel lobby after a day riding a series of popular training climbs made famous by Team Sky, before setting off on a crawl of bars and restaurants owned by one-time Tour de France stage winners. If you want to follow the tyre tracks of the pros, both current and past, then there are probably better places to go for a cycling holiday. If, though, your approach to travel leans more towards the adventurous – with a generous dash of problem-solving and logistical faffery thrown in – then Jordan is among the most exhilarating places you could go to cycle. After all, where’s the fun in doing what everyone else does? British Airways (ba.com) flies daily to Amman from London Heathrow. Day access to Dead Sea hotel pools costs from 45 JOD (£45) Five other offbeat cycling destinations By Adam Ruck 1. Madagascar This two-week tour of a fascinatingly different and biodiverse island includes 340 miles (548km) of cycling over nine days – more downhill than up as the title suggests – plus hiking in the national parks, a visit to a lemur reserve and two days of relaxation at a beach hotel on the Indian Ocean. A 17-day Madagascar cycling tour costs from £3,245 including flights, accommodation and most meals. Departures until October 2018. KE Adventure Travel (01768 773966; keadventure.com). Spot lemurs when you're not pedalling Credit: GETTY 2. The Baltic Explore the amber-rich Baltic coast and capital cities of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, as well as the mountainous dunes and beaches of the Curonian Spit and the Estonian island of Saaremaa. Easy cycling punctuated by minibus transfers. An 11-day The Baltics tour costs from £1,129 (€1,290) including accommodation, breakfast and internal transfers, but not bike or e-bike hire or flights. Departures between July and September. Baltic Bike Travel (0037 046 300 144; bbtravel.lt). Brave the Baltic Credit: Rasmus Jurkatam 3. Sri Lanka Wildlife is a highlight of this two-week adventure – leopards, elephants, crocs, and whale watching – but there is much more to it than that: Buddha’s tooth temple, tea plantations, hot curries and everywhere a smiling welcome. The cycling (24 miles a day) is graded moderate, but includes some climbs and may be quite taxing in the heat. A 14-day Sri Lanka tour costs from £2,129 including flights, accommodation, some meals and bike hire. Departures until November 2018. Explore (01252 883963; explore.co.uk). Explore Sri Lankan temples Credit: viii - Fotolia 4. Morocco A classic winter mountain bike holiday combining the colourful tumult of Marrakech with exciting rides in the Atlas Mountains and the spectacular Dades Valley, as far as Zagora on the edge of the Sahara. Five days of cycling (average 37 miles a day), on tarmac and dirt; requires fitness and some mountain bike experience. A seven-day Ride the Kasbah tour costs £695 including accommodation and all meals but not flights or bike hire. Departures from November to April. KE Adventure Travel (01768 773966; keadventure.com). Tackle the Atlas Mountains Credit: ALAMY 5. Myanmar A nine-day stint of “comfortably paced” cycling is only part of a two-week voyage of discovery, including the Bagan plain and its 2,000-plus temples, Mandalay, a boat trip on Lake Inle and old British hill stations. A 17-day Cultural Cycling tour of Myanmar costs £2,945 including accommodation, all meals (except in Yangon), internal transfers and bike hire; international flights not included; departures in November and February. Mountain Kingdoms (01453 844400; mountainkingdoms.com).
Ammanis are bad drivers. In what appears to be an effort to outdo the British urban car user, who is never without a phone in one hand, residents of Jordan’s capital city tend to carry a minimum of two phones – so neither hand is unencumbered. Ammani drivers also turn without looking and consider the number of lanes painted on a given stretch of road to be more of a suggestion than a hard-and-fast law. Don’t get me started on their habit of driving on motorways at night without their lights on. So cycling in Jordan is a no-no, then? Not at all. But it’s wise to wait until you’re out of town before hopping on the saddle. Luckily there are companies like Cycling Jordan that can provide a vehicle support service for both one-off rides or extended multi-day trips. Their guides will carry your kit in a car or pickup truck, bring water and snacks along, and show you the best routes – all with a cheery smile and a genuine enthusiasm for showing off their country. Amman's roads aren't a place for cycling Credit: AMOS CHAPPLE/GETTY Downhill all the way Mountain biking from the outskirts of Amman to the Dead Sea is one of the country’s showpiece routes. Covering 60 kilometres (40 miles), the ride uses mostly quieter roads, riverside footpaths and car-width back-country gravel tracks, before a short unavoidable section of main road to finish. The fact that the ride is almost entirely downhill will be music to most ears – and is fairly unsurprising too, given that Amman sits at 700m above sea level and the finish point is around 300m below. Starting at the King Hussein Ben Talal Mosque, we quickly escaped the confines of the city on little-used back streets, before dropping down to follow the path of a small stream. We dismounted to splash through the water, and paused to help a lorry driver lift a gigantic spare tyre onto the roof of his truck, before our first scheduled stop, the ancient ruin of Qasr al-Abd. The site dates back to 200 BCE but has been subject to frequent demolition and renovation in the intervening two millennia. Qasr al-Abd Credit: GETTY From Qasr al-Abd, there’s no avoiding a seriously steep climb, referred to by some Ammani cyclists as “the atheist’s uphill”, because “no man can believe in God as they try to ride up this road”. It’s certainly a test – even with the extra small gears afforded by a mountain bike. From the top of this ridge, however, it really is all downhill to the Dead Sea. We coasted along gravel paths that evoked the famous strade bianche (white roads) of Tuscany, through the surprisingly green landscapes of northern Jordan, before crossing what seemed like an invisible border line into the dry and dusty terrain one usually associates with the Middle East. The Dead Sea Credit: GETTY We decided to hop into the truck when our route rejoined the road, opting to take the shortcut to our finale, lured mainly by the promise of a big lunch and some time by a swimming pool. Several hotels at the Dead Sea offer ‘lunch and lounge’ deals, ideal for hungry cyclists with weary legs. We make short work of the extensive buffet at the Holiday Inn, before retiring to sit by their pool for a couple of hours before sunset. Top 5 | Reasons to visit Jordan A heavenly valley Before flying out to the Middle East, I’d heard rumours that the road cycling scene in Jordan was limited to extreme early-morning club rides out of Amman (with groups setting off at 5am to avoid the worst of the manic rush hour). In fact, there’s a great deal on offer – you just won’t find it in the city centre. Engaging the services of Cycling Jordan once again, we headed south to Feynan on a Friday morning. With no traffic on the roads – almost the whole population of Jordan was at prayers – we made rapid progress down the shores of the Dead Sea, hopping onto the bikes at around 11am. From the start at Feynan we rolled along a flat desert road before climbing for a solid hour up a former military access road. The ascent of Jebel Proywe (‘jebel’ or ‘jabal’ means mountain) is much like a European alpine climb, with switchbacks, smooth tarmac and the gradual experience of a slowly changing terrain. As we climbed in altitude, the low, rolling dunes gave way to hard rocky outcrops, then vivid red sandstone cliff faces. The landscape near Feynan Credit: STOCK.ADOBE.COM/FABIO NODARI At the crest of the climb, the road dropped in and out of a series of small ravines, shooting up and down at severe gradients. As we grimaced through agonising hairpins we could smell the clutch on the support car as it laboured uphill behind us. Then at last, the true summit, and a gently undulating road over green hills that were all that lay ahead. A paradisiacal valley high above the holy land. By then it was well into Friday afternoon and families were gathered all over the place, enjoying post-prayer picnics in this impossibly verdant and peaceful place. Another five kilometres brought us to the entrance of Siq al-Barid, known colloquially as Little Petra. We clambered up the dry sandstone steps hewn out of the sandstone edifice more than two millennia ago, our small-scale mountaineering made all the more tricky by the slippery, flat soles of our cleated cycling shoes. Posing for photos at the end of an unquestionably unique cycle ride. From Siq al-Barid you can head by car back to Amman, or continue cycling on to the town of Wadi Musa (gateway to the main Petra site). There are great road climbs dotted around this more mountainous area of Jordan, easily discoverable if you have an expert guide – you could easily spend three or four days exploring with Wadi Musa as a base. No cycling is allowed inside the Petra site itself, however. The rock-hewn city of Petra Credit: GETTY Off the beaten tyre track Much like trying to climb up those slippery sandstone steps, cycling in Jordan is fiddly but fun, rarefied but infinitely rewarding. You won’t find yourself rolling into the hotel lobby after a day riding a series of popular training climbs made famous by Team Sky, before setting off on a crawl of bars and restaurants owned by one-time Tour de France stage winners. If you want to follow the tyre tracks of the pros, both current and past, then there are probably better places to go for a cycling holiday. If, though, your approach to travel leans more towards the adventurous – with a generous dash of problem-solving and logistical faffery thrown in – then Jordan is among the most exhilarating places you could go to cycle. After all, where’s the fun in doing what everyone else does? British Airways (ba.com) flies daily to Amman from London Heathrow. Day access to Dead Sea hotel pools costs from 45 JOD (£45) Five other offbeat cycling destinations By Adam Ruck 1. Madagascar This two-week tour of a fascinatingly different and biodiverse island includes 340 miles (548km) of cycling over nine days – more downhill than up as the title suggests – plus hiking in the national parks, a visit to a lemur reserve and two days of relaxation at a beach hotel on the Indian Ocean. A 17-day Madagascar cycling tour costs from £3,245 including flights, accommodation and most meals. Departures until October 2018. KE Adventure Travel (01768 773966; keadventure.com). Spot lemurs when you're not pedalling Credit: GETTY 2. The Baltic Explore the amber-rich Baltic coast and capital cities of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, as well as the mountainous dunes and beaches of the Curonian Spit and the Estonian island of Saaremaa. Easy cycling punctuated by minibus transfers. An 11-day The Baltics tour costs from £1,129 (€1,290) including accommodation, breakfast and internal transfers, but not bike or e-bike hire or flights. Departures between July and September. Baltic Bike Travel (0037 046 300 144; bbtravel.lt). Brave the Baltic Credit: Rasmus Jurkatam 3. Sri Lanka Wildlife is a highlight of this two-week adventure – leopards, elephants, crocs, and whale watching – but there is much more to it than that: Buddha’s tooth temple, tea plantations, hot curries and everywhere a smiling welcome. The cycling (24 miles a day) is graded moderate, but includes some climbs and may be quite taxing in the heat. A 14-day Sri Lanka tour costs from £2,129 including flights, accommodation, some meals and bike hire. Departures until November 2018. Explore (01252 883963; explore.co.uk). Explore Sri Lankan temples Credit: viii - Fotolia 4. Morocco A classic winter mountain bike holiday combining the colourful tumult of Marrakech with exciting rides in the Atlas Mountains and the spectacular Dades Valley, as far as Zagora on the edge of the Sahara. Five days of cycling (average 37 miles a day), on tarmac and dirt; requires fitness and some mountain bike experience. A seven-day Ride the Kasbah tour costs £695 including accommodation and all meals but not flights or bike hire. Departures from November to April. KE Adventure Travel (01768 773966; keadventure.com). Tackle the Atlas Mountains Credit: ALAMY 5. Myanmar A nine-day stint of “comfortably paced” cycling is only part of a two-week voyage of discovery, including the Bagan plain and its 2,000-plus temples, Mandalay, a boat trip on Lake Inle and old British hill stations. A 17-day Cultural Cycling tour of Myanmar costs £2,945 including accommodation, all meals (except in Yangon), internal transfers and bike hire; international flights not included; departures in November and February. Mountain Kingdoms (01453 844400; mountainkingdoms.com).
Is this the most surprising cycling destination on Earth?
Ammanis are bad drivers. In what appears to be an effort to outdo the British urban car user, who is never without a phone in one hand, residents of Jordan’s capital city tend to carry a minimum of two phones – so neither hand is unencumbered. Ammani drivers also turn without looking and consider the number of lanes painted on a given stretch of road to be more of a suggestion than a hard-and-fast law. Don’t get me started on their habit of driving on motorways at night without their lights on. So cycling in Jordan is a no-no, then? Not at all. But it’s wise to wait until you’re out of town before hopping on the saddle. Luckily there are companies like Cycling Jordan that can provide a vehicle support service for both one-off rides or extended multi-day trips. Their guides will carry your kit in a car or pickup truck, bring water and snacks along, and show you the best routes – all with a cheery smile and a genuine enthusiasm for showing off their country. Amman's roads aren't a place for cycling Credit: AMOS CHAPPLE/GETTY Downhill all the way Mountain biking from the outskirts of Amman to the Dead Sea is one of the country’s showpiece routes. Covering 60 kilometres (40 miles), the ride uses mostly quieter roads, riverside footpaths and car-width back-country gravel tracks, before a short unavoidable section of main road to finish. The fact that the ride is almost entirely downhill will be music to most ears – and is fairly unsurprising too, given that Amman sits at 700m above sea level and the finish point is around 300m below. Starting at the King Hussein Ben Talal Mosque, we quickly escaped the confines of the city on little-used back streets, before dropping down to follow the path of a small stream. We dismounted to splash through the water, and paused to help a lorry driver lift a gigantic spare tyre onto the roof of his truck, before our first scheduled stop, the ancient ruin of Qasr al-Abd. The site dates back to 200 BCE but has been subject to frequent demolition and renovation in the intervening two millennia. Qasr al-Abd Credit: GETTY From Qasr al-Abd, there’s no avoiding a seriously steep climb, referred to by some Ammani cyclists as “the atheist’s uphill”, because “no man can believe in God as they try to ride up this road”. It’s certainly a test – even with the extra small gears afforded by a mountain bike. From the top of this ridge, however, it really is all downhill to the Dead Sea. We coasted along gravel paths that evoked the famous strade bianche (white roads) of Tuscany, through the surprisingly green landscapes of northern Jordan, before crossing what seemed like an invisible border line into the dry and dusty terrain one usually associates with the Middle East. The Dead Sea Credit: GETTY We decided to hop into the truck when our route rejoined the road, opting to take the shortcut to our finale, lured mainly by the promise of a big lunch and some time by a swimming pool. Several hotels at the Dead Sea offer ‘lunch and lounge’ deals, ideal for hungry cyclists with weary legs. We make short work of the extensive buffet at the Holiday Inn, before retiring to sit by their pool for a couple of hours before sunset. Top 5 | Reasons to visit Jordan A heavenly valley Before flying out to the Middle East, I’d heard rumours that the road cycling scene in Jordan was limited to extreme early-morning club rides out of Amman (with groups setting off at 5am to avoid the worst of the manic rush hour). In fact, there’s a great deal on offer – you just won’t find it in the city centre. Engaging the services of Cycling Jordan once again, we headed south to Feynan on a Friday morning. With no traffic on the roads – almost the whole population of Jordan was at prayers – we made rapid progress down the shores of the Dead Sea, hopping onto the bikes at around 11am. From the start at Feynan we rolled along a flat desert road before climbing for a solid hour up a former military access road. The ascent of Jebel Proywe (‘jebel’ or ‘jabal’ means mountain) is much like a European alpine climb, with switchbacks, smooth tarmac and the gradual experience of a slowly changing terrain. As we climbed in altitude, the low, rolling dunes gave way to hard rocky outcrops, then vivid red sandstone cliff faces. The landscape near Feynan Credit: STOCK.ADOBE.COM/FABIO NODARI At the crest of the climb, the road dropped in and out of a series of small ravines, shooting up and down at severe gradients. As we grimaced through agonising hairpins we could smell the clutch on the support car as it laboured uphill behind us. Then at last, the true summit, and a gently undulating road over green hills that were all that lay ahead. A paradisiacal valley high above the holy land. By then it was well into Friday afternoon and families were gathered all over the place, enjoying post-prayer picnics in this impossibly verdant and peaceful place. Another five kilometres brought us to the entrance of Siq al-Barid, known colloquially as Little Petra. We clambered up the dry sandstone steps hewn out of the sandstone edifice more than two millennia ago, our small-scale mountaineering made all the more tricky by the slippery, flat soles of our cleated cycling shoes. Posing for photos at the end of an unquestionably unique cycle ride. From Siq al-Barid you can head by car back to Amman, or continue cycling on to the town of Wadi Musa (gateway to the main Petra site). There are great road climbs dotted around this more mountainous area of Jordan, easily discoverable if you have an expert guide – you could easily spend three or four days exploring with Wadi Musa as a base. No cycling is allowed inside the Petra site itself, however. The rock-hewn city of Petra Credit: GETTY Off the beaten tyre track Much like trying to climb up those slippery sandstone steps, cycling in Jordan is fiddly but fun, rarefied but infinitely rewarding. You won’t find yourself rolling into the hotel lobby after a day riding a series of popular training climbs made famous by Team Sky, before setting off on a crawl of bars and restaurants owned by one-time Tour de France stage winners. If you want to follow the tyre tracks of the pros, both current and past, then there are probably better places to go for a cycling holiday. If, though, your approach to travel leans more towards the adventurous – with a generous dash of problem-solving and logistical faffery thrown in – then Jordan is among the most exhilarating places you could go to cycle. After all, where’s the fun in doing what everyone else does? British Airways (ba.com) flies daily to Amman from London Heathrow. Day access to Dead Sea hotel pools costs from 45 JOD (£45) Five other offbeat cycling destinations By Adam Ruck 1. Madagascar This two-week tour of a fascinatingly different and biodiverse island includes 340 miles (548km) of cycling over nine days – more downhill than up as the title suggests – plus hiking in the national parks, a visit to a lemur reserve and two days of relaxation at a beach hotel on the Indian Ocean. A 17-day Madagascar cycling tour costs from £3,245 including flights, accommodation and most meals. Departures until October 2018. KE Adventure Travel (01768 773966; keadventure.com). Spot lemurs when you're not pedalling Credit: GETTY 2. The Baltic Explore the amber-rich Baltic coast and capital cities of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, as well as the mountainous dunes and beaches of the Curonian Spit and the Estonian island of Saaremaa. Easy cycling punctuated by minibus transfers. An 11-day The Baltics tour costs from £1,129 (€1,290) including accommodation, breakfast and internal transfers, but not bike or e-bike hire or flights. Departures between July and September. Baltic Bike Travel (0037 046 300 144; bbtravel.lt). Brave the Baltic Credit: Rasmus Jurkatam 3. Sri Lanka Wildlife is a highlight of this two-week adventure – leopards, elephants, crocs, and whale watching – but there is much more to it than that: Buddha’s tooth temple, tea plantations, hot curries and everywhere a smiling welcome. The cycling (24 miles a day) is graded moderate, but includes some climbs and may be quite taxing in the heat. A 14-day Sri Lanka tour costs from £2,129 including flights, accommodation, some meals and bike hire. Departures until November 2018. Explore (01252 883963; explore.co.uk). Explore Sri Lankan temples Credit: viii - Fotolia 4. Morocco A classic winter mountain bike holiday combining the colourful tumult of Marrakech with exciting rides in the Atlas Mountains and the spectacular Dades Valley, as far as Zagora on the edge of the Sahara. Five days of cycling (average 37 miles a day), on tarmac and dirt; requires fitness and some mountain bike experience. A seven-day Ride the Kasbah tour costs £695 including accommodation and all meals but not flights or bike hire. Departures from November to April. KE Adventure Travel (01768 773966; keadventure.com). Tackle the Atlas Mountains Credit: ALAMY 5. Myanmar A nine-day stint of “comfortably paced” cycling is only part of a two-week voyage of discovery, including the Bagan plain and its 2,000-plus temples, Mandalay, a boat trip on Lake Inle and old British hill stations. A 17-day Cultural Cycling tour of Myanmar costs £2,945 including accommodation, all meals (except in Yangon), internal transfers and bike hire; international flights not included; departures in November and February. Mountain Kingdoms (01453 844400; mountainkingdoms.com).
Ammanis are bad drivers. In what appears to be an effort to outdo the British urban car user, who is never without a phone in one hand, residents of Jordan’s capital city tend to carry a minimum of two phones – so neither hand is unencumbered. Ammani drivers also turn without looking and consider the number of lanes painted on a given stretch of road to be more of a suggestion than a hard-and-fast law. Don’t get me started on their habit of driving on motorways at night without their lights on. So cycling in Jordan is a no-no, then? Not at all. But it’s wise to wait until you’re out of town before hopping on the saddle. Luckily there are companies like Cycling Jordan that can provide a vehicle support service for both one-off rides or extended multi-day trips. Their guides will carry your kit in a car or pickup truck, bring water and snacks along, and show you the best routes – all with a cheery smile and a genuine enthusiasm for showing off their country. Amman's roads aren't a place for cycling Credit: AMOS CHAPPLE/GETTY Downhill all the way Mountain biking from the outskirts of Amman to the Dead Sea is one of the country’s showpiece routes. Covering 60 kilometres (40 miles), the ride uses mostly quieter roads, riverside footpaths and car-width back-country gravel tracks, before a short unavoidable section of main road to finish. The fact that the ride is almost entirely downhill will be music to most ears – and is fairly unsurprising too, given that Amman sits at 700m above sea level and the finish point is around 300m below. Starting at the King Hussein Ben Talal Mosque, we quickly escaped the confines of the city on little-used back streets, before dropping down to follow the path of a small stream. We dismounted to splash through the water, and paused to help a lorry driver lift a gigantic spare tyre onto the roof of his truck, before our first scheduled stop, the ancient ruin of Qasr al-Abd. The site dates back to 200 BCE but has been subject to frequent demolition and renovation in the intervening two millennia. Qasr al-Abd Credit: GETTY From Qasr al-Abd, there’s no avoiding a seriously steep climb, referred to by some Ammani cyclists as “the atheist’s uphill”, because “no man can believe in God as they try to ride up this road”. It’s certainly a test – even with the extra small gears afforded by a mountain bike. From the top of this ridge, however, it really is all downhill to the Dead Sea. We coasted along gravel paths that evoked the famous strade bianche (white roads) of Tuscany, through the surprisingly green landscapes of northern Jordan, before crossing what seemed like an invisible border line into the dry and dusty terrain one usually associates with the Middle East. The Dead Sea Credit: GETTY We decided to hop into the truck when our route rejoined the road, opting to take the shortcut to our finale, lured mainly by the promise of a big lunch and some time by a swimming pool. Several hotels at the Dead Sea offer ‘lunch and lounge’ deals, ideal for hungry cyclists with weary legs. We make short work of the extensive buffet at the Holiday Inn, before retiring to sit by their pool for a couple of hours before sunset. Top 5 | Reasons to visit Jordan A heavenly valley Before flying out to the Middle East, I’d heard rumours that the road cycling scene in Jordan was limited to extreme early-morning club rides out of Amman (with groups setting off at 5am to avoid the worst of the manic rush hour). In fact, there’s a great deal on offer – you just won’t find it in the city centre. Engaging the services of Cycling Jordan once again, we headed south to Feynan on a Friday morning. With no traffic on the roads – almost the whole population of Jordan was at prayers – we made rapid progress down the shores of the Dead Sea, hopping onto the bikes at around 11am. From the start at Feynan we rolled along a flat desert road before climbing for a solid hour up a former military access road. The ascent of Jebel Proywe (‘jebel’ or ‘jabal’ means mountain) is much like a European alpine climb, with switchbacks, smooth tarmac and the gradual experience of a slowly changing terrain. As we climbed in altitude, the low, rolling dunes gave way to hard rocky outcrops, then vivid red sandstone cliff faces. The landscape near Feynan Credit: STOCK.ADOBE.COM/FABIO NODARI At the crest of the climb, the road dropped in and out of a series of small ravines, shooting up and down at severe gradients. As we grimaced through agonising hairpins we could smell the clutch on the support car as it laboured uphill behind us. Then at last, the true summit, and a gently undulating road over green hills that were all that lay ahead. A paradisiacal valley high above the holy land. By then it was well into Friday afternoon and families were gathered all over the place, enjoying post-prayer picnics in this impossibly verdant and peaceful place. Another five kilometres brought us to the entrance of Siq al-Barid, known colloquially as Little Petra. We clambered up the dry sandstone steps hewn out of the sandstone edifice more than two millennia ago, our small-scale mountaineering made all the more tricky by the slippery, flat soles of our cleated cycling shoes. Posing for photos at the end of an unquestionably unique cycle ride. From Siq al-Barid you can head by car back to Amman, or continue cycling on to the town of Wadi Musa (gateway to the main Petra site). There are great road climbs dotted around this more mountainous area of Jordan, easily discoverable if you have an expert guide – you could easily spend three or four days exploring with Wadi Musa as a base. No cycling is allowed inside the Petra site itself, however. The rock-hewn city of Petra Credit: GETTY Off the beaten tyre track Much like trying to climb up those slippery sandstone steps, cycling in Jordan is fiddly but fun, rarefied but infinitely rewarding. You won’t find yourself rolling into the hotel lobby after a day riding a series of popular training climbs made famous by Team Sky, before setting off on a crawl of bars and restaurants owned by one-time Tour de France stage winners. If you want to follow the tyre tracks of the pros, both current and past, then there are probably better places to go for a cycling holiday. If, though, your approach to travel leans more towards the adventurous – with a generous dash of problem-solving and logistical faffery thrown in – then Jordan is among the most exhilarating places you could go to cycle. After all, where’s the fun in doing what everyone else does? British Airways (ba.com) flies daily to Amman from London Heathrow. Day access to Dead Sea hotel pools costs from 45 JOD (£45) Five other offbeat cycling destinations By Adam Ruck 1. Madagascar This two-week tour of a fascinatingly different and biodiverse island includes 340 miles (548km) of cycling over nine days – more downhill than up as the title suggests – plus hiking in the national parks, a visit to a lemur reserve and two days of relaxation at a beach hotel on the Indian Ocean. A 17-day Madagascar cycling tour costs from £3,245 including flights, accommodation and most meals. Departures until October 2018. KE Adventure Travel (01768 773966; keadventure.com). Spot lemurs when you're not pedalling Credit: GETTY 2. The Baltic Explore the amber-rich Baltic coast and capital cities of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, as well as the mountainous dunes and beaches of the Curonian Spit and the Estonian island of Saaremaa. Easy cycling punctuated by minibus transfers. An 11-day The Baltics tour costs from £1,129 (€1,290) including accommodation, breakfast and internal transfers, but not bike or e-bike hire or flights. Departures between July and September. Baltic Bike Travel (0037 046 300 144; bbtravel.lt). Brave the Baltic Credit: Rasmus Jurkatam 3. Sri Lanka Wildlife is a highlight of this two-week adventure – leopards, elephants, crocs, and whale watching – but there is much more to it than that: Buddha’s tooth temple, tea plantations, hot curries and everywhere a smiling welcome. The cycling (24 miles a day) is graded moderate, but includes some climbs and may be quite taxing in the heat. A 14-day Sri Lanka tour costs from £2,129 including flights, accommodation, some meals and bike hire. Departures until November 2018. Explore (01252 883963; explore.co.uk). Explore Sri Lankan temples Credit: viii - Fotolia 4. Morocco A classic winter mountain bike holiday combining the colourful tumult of Marrakech with exciting rides in the Atlas Mountains and the spectacular Dades Valley, as far as Zagora on the edge of the Sahara. Five days of cycling (average 37 miles a day), on tarmac and dirt; requires fitness and some mountain bike experience. A seven-day Ride the Kasbah tour costs £695 including accommodation and all meals but not flights or bike hire. Departures from November to April. KE Adventure Travel (01768 773966; keadventure.com). Tackle the Atlas Mountains Credit: ALAMY 5. Myanmar A nine-day stint of “comfortably paced” cycling is only part of a two-week voyage of discovery, including the Bagan plain and its 2,000-plus temples, Mandalay, a boat trip on Lake Inle and old British hill stations. A 17-day Cultural Cycling tour of Myanmar costs £2,945 including accommodation, all meals (except in Yangon), internal transfers and bike hire; international flights not included; departures in November and February. Mountain Kingdoms (01453 844400; mountainkingdoms.com).
Is this the most surprising cycling destination on Earth?
Ammanis are bad drivers. In what appears to be an effort to outdo the British urban car user, who is never without a phone in one hand, residents of Jordan’s capital city tend to carry a minimum of two phones – so neither hand is unencumbered. Ammani drivers also turn without looking and consider the number of lanes painted on a given stretch of road to be more of a suggestion than a hard-and-fast law. Don’t get me started on their habit of driving on motorways at night without their lights on. So cycling in Jordan is a no-no, then? Not at all. But it’s wise to wait until you’re out of town before hopping on the saddle. Luckily there are companies like Cycling Jordan that can provide a vehicle support service for both one-off rides or extended multi-day trips. Their guides will carry your kit in a car or pickup truck, bring water and snacks along, and show you the best routes – all with a cheery smile and a genuine enthusiasm for showing off their country. Amman's roads aren't a place for cycling Credit: AMOS CHAPPLE/GETTY Downhill all the way Mountain biking from the outskirts of Amman to the Dead Sea is one of the country’s showpiece routes. Covering 60 kilometres (40 miles), the ride uses mostly quieter roads, riverside footpaths and car-width back-country gravel tracks, before a short unavoidable section of main road to finish. The fact that the ride is almost entirely downhill will be music to most ears – and is fairly unsurprising too, given that Amman sits at 700m above sea level and the finish point is around 300m below. Starting at the King Hussein Ben Talal Mosque, we quickly escaped the confines of the city on little-used back streets, before dropping down to follow the path of a small stream. We dismounted to splash through the water, and paused to help a lorry driver lift a gigantic spare tyre onto the roof of his truck, before our first scheduled stop, the ancient ruin of Qasr al-Abd. The site dates back to 200 BCE but has been subject to frequent demolition and renovation in the intervening two millennia. Qasr al-Abd Credit: GETTY From Qasr al-Abd, there’s no avoiding a seriously steep climb, referred to by some Ammani cyclists as “the atheist’s uphill”, because “no man can believe in God as they try to ride up this road”. It’s certainly a test – even with the extra small gears afforded by a mountain bike. From the top of this ridge, however, it really is all downhill to the Dead Sea. We coasted along gravel paths that evoked the famous strade bianche (white roads) of Tuscany, through the surprisingly green landscapes of northern Jordan, before crossing what seemed like an invisible border line into the dry and dusty terrain one usually associates with the Middle East. The Dead Sea Credit: GETTY We decided to hop into the truck when our route rejoined the road, opting to take the shortcut to our finale, lured mainly by the promise of a big lunch and some time by a swimming pool. Several hotels at the Dead Sea offer ‘lunch and lounge’ deals, ideal for hungry cyclists with weary legs. We make short work of the extensive buffet at the Holiday Inn, before retiring to sit by their pool for a couple of hours before sunset. Top 5 | Reasons to visit Jordan A heavenly valley Before flying out to the Middle East, I’d heard rumours that the road cycling scene in Jordan was limited to extreme early-morning club rides out of Amman (with groups setting off at 5am to avoid the worst of the manic rush hour). In fact, there’s a great deal on offer – you just won’t find it in the city centre. Engaging the services of Cycling Jordan once again, we headed south to Feynan on a Friday morning. With no traffic on the roads – almost the whole population of Jordan was at prayers – we made rapid progress down the shores of the Dead Sea, hopping onto the bikes at around 11am. From the start at Feynan we rolled along a flat desert road before climbing for a solid hour up a former military access road. The ascent of Jebel Proywe (‘jebel’ or ‘jabal’ means mountain) is much like a European alpine climb, with switchbacks, smooth tarmac and the gradual experience of a slowly changing terrain. As we climbed in altitude, the low, rolling dunes gave way to hard rocky outcrops, then vivid red sandstone cliff faces. The landscape near Feynan Credit: STOCK.ADOBE.COM/FABIO NODARI At the crest of the climb, the road dropped in and out of a series of small ravines, shooting up and down at severe gradients. As we grimaced through agonising hairpins we could smell the clutch on the support car as it laboured uphill behind us. Then at last, the true summit, and a gently undulating road over green hills that were all that lay ahead. A paradisiacal valley high above the holy land. By then it was well into Friday afternoon and families were gathered all over the place, enjoying post-prayer picnics in this impossibly verdant and peaceful place. Another five kilometres brought us to the entrance of Siq al-Barid, known colloquially as Little Petra. We clambered up the dry sandstone steps hewn out of the sandstone edifice more than two millennia ago, our small-scale mountaineering made all the more tricky by the slippery, flat soles of our cleated cycling shoes. Posing for photos at the end of an unquestionably unique cycle ride. From Siq al-Barid you can head by car back to Amman, or continue cycling on to the town of Wadi Musa (gateway to the main Petra site). There are great road climbs dotted around this more mountainous area of Jordan, easily discoverable if you have an expert guide – you could easily spend three or four days exploring with Wadi Musa as a base. No cycling is allowed inside the Petra site itself, however. The rock-hewn city of Petra Credit: GETTY Off the beaten tyre track Much like trying to climb up those slippery sandstone steps, cycling in Jordan is fiddly but fun, rarefied but infinitely rewarding. You won’t find yourself rolling into the hotel lobby after a day riding a series of popular training climbs made famous by Team Sky, before setting off on a crawl of bars and restaurants owned by one-time Tour de France stage winners. If you want to follow the tyre tracks of the pros, both current and past, then there are probably better places to go for a cycling holiday. If, though, your approach to travel leans more towards the adventurous – with a generous dash of problem-solving and logistical faffery thrown in – then Jordan is among the most exhilarating places you could go to cycle. After all, where’s the fun in doing what everyone else does? British Airways (ba.com) flies daily to Amman from London Heathrow. Day access to Dead Sea hotel pools costs from 45 JOD (£45) Five other offbeat cycling destinations By Adam Ruck 1. Madagascar This two-week tour of a fascinatingly different and biodiverse island includes 340 miles (548km) of cycling over nine days – more downhill than up as the title suggests – plus hiking in the national parks, a visit to a lemur reserve and two days of relaxation at a beach hotel on the Indian Ocean. A 17-day Madagascar cycling tour costs from £3,245 including flights, accommodation and most meals. Departures until October 2018. KE Adventure Travel (01768 773966; keadventure.com). Spot lemurs when you're not pedalling Credit: GETTY 2. The Baltic Explore the amber-rich Baltic coast and capital cities of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, as well as the mountainous dunes and beaches of the Curonian Spit and the Estonian island of Saaremaa. Easy cycling punctuated by minibus transfers. An 11-day The Baltics tour costs from £1,129 (€1,290) including accommodation, breakfast and internal transfers, but not bike or e-bike hire or flights. Departures between July and September. Baltic Bike Travel (0037 046 300 144; bbtravel.lt). Brave the Baltic Credit: Rasmus Jurkatam 3. Sri Lanka Wildlife is a highlight of this two-week adventure – leopards, elephants, crocs, and whale watching – but there is much more to it than that: Buddha’s tooth temple, tea plantations, hot curries and everywhere a smiling welcome. The cycling (24 miles a day) is graded moderate, but includes some climbs and may be quite taxing in the heat. A 14-day Sri Lanka tour costs from £2,129 including flights, accommodation, some meals and bike hire. Departures until November 2018. Explore (01252 883963; explore.co.uk). Explore Sri Lankan temples Credit: viii - Fotolia 4. Morocco A classic winter mountain bike holiday combining the colourful tumult of Marrakech with exciting rides in the Atlas Mountains and the spectacular Dades Valley, as far as Zagora on the edge of the Sahara. Five days of cycling (average 37 miles a day), on tarmac and dirt; requires fitness and some mountain bike experience. A seven-day Ride the Kasbah tour costs £695 including accommodation and all meals but not flights or bike hire. Departures from November to April. KE Adventure Travel (01768 773966; keadventure.com). Tackle the Atlas Mountains Credit: ALAMY 5. Myanmar A nine-day stint of “comfortably paced” cycling is only part of a two-week voyage of discovery, including the Bagan plain and its 2,000-plus temples, Mandalay, a boat trip on Lake Inle and old British hill stations. A 17-day Cultural Cycling tour of Myanmar costs £2,945 including accommodation, all meals (except in Yangon), internal transfers and bike hire; international flights not included; departures in November and February. Mountain Kingdoms (01453 844400; mountainkingdoms.com).
Nacer Bouhanni n'est pas encore certain de disputer le Tour de France en juillet. Il devra gagner sa place, selon le manager de Cofidis.
Cyclisme - Cofidis - Cédric Vasseur : «Nacer Bouhanni a besoin de travailler»
Nacer Bouhanni n'est pas encore certain de disputer le Tour de France en juillet. Il devra gagner sa place, selon le manager de Cofidis.
FILE PHOTO: Cycling - Tour de France cycling race - Training ahead of the weekend's start - Coutances, France - 1/07/2016 - Tinkoff rider Peter Sagan of Slovakia during a training session - REUTERS/Juan Medina Picture Supplied by Action Images/File Photo
FILE PHOTOCycling - Tour de France cycling race - Training of Tinkoff rider Peter Sagan of Slovakia
FILE PHOTO: Cycling - Tour de France cycling race - Training ahead of the weekend's start - Coutances, France - 1/07/2016 - Tinkoff rider Peter Sagan of Slovakia during a training session - REUTERS/Juan Medina Picture Supplied by Action Images/File Photo
VIDEO CYLCISME - Le directeur du Tour de France, Christian Prudhomme, a réagi à la victoire de Peter Saga, sur Paris-Roubaix dimanche. «C'est une sorte de concrétisation pour lui, il avait envie de gagner la plus belle classique du monde».
Cyclisme - Paris-Roubaix : Prudhomme «Une concrétisation pour Sagan»
VIDEO CYLCISME - Le directeur du Tour de France, Christian Prudhomme, a réagi à la victoire de Peter Saga, sur Paris-Roubaix dimanche. «C'est une sorte de concrétisation pour lui, il avait envie de gagner la plus belle classique du monde».
VIDEO CYLCISME - Le directeur du Tour de France, Christian Prudhomme, a réagi à la victoire de Peter Saga, sur Paris-Roubaix dimanche. «C'est une sorte de concrétisation pour lui, il avait envie de gagner la plus belle classique du monde».
Cyclisme - Paris-Roubaix : Prudhomme «Une concrétisation pour Sagan»
VIDEO CYLCISME - Le directeur du Tour de France, Christian Prudhomme, a réagi à la victoire de Peter Saga, sur Paris-Roubaix dimanche. «C'est une sorte de concrétisation pour lui, il avait envie de gagner la plus belle classique du monde».
VIDEO CYLCISME - Le directeur du Tour de France, Christian Prudhomme, a réagi à la victoire de Peter Saga, sur Paris-Roubaix dimanche. «C'est une sorte de concrétisation pour lui, il avait envie de gagner la plus belle classique du monde».
Cyclisme - Paris-Roubaix : Prudhomme «Une concrétisation pour Sagan»
VIDEO CYLCISME - Le directeur du Tour de France, Christian Prudhomme, a réagi à la victoire de Peter Saga, sur Paris-Roubaix dimanche. «C'est une sorte de concrétisation pour lui, il avait envie de gagner la plus belle classique du monde».
VIDEO CYLCISME - Le directeur du Tour de France, Christian Prudhomme, a réagi à la victoire de Peter Saga, sur Paris-Roubaix dimanche. «C'est une sorte de concrétisation pour lui, il avait envie de gagner la plus belle classique du monde».
Cyclisme - Paris-Roubaix : Prudhomme «Une concrétisation pour Sagan»
VIDEO CYLCISME - Le directeur du Tour de France, Christian Prudhomme, a réagi à la victoire de Peter Saga, sur Paris-Roubaix dimanche. «C'est une sorte de concrétisation pour lui, il avait envie de gagner la plus belle classique du monde».
FILE PHOTO - Cycling - Tour de France cycling race - The 162.5 km (101 miles) Stage 11 from Carcassone to Montpellier, France - 13/07/2016 - Tinkoff team rider Peter Sagan of Slovakia wins on the finish line. REUTERS/Juan Medina Picture Supplied by Action Images
Cycling - Tour de France cycling race - The 162.5 km (100.97 miles) Stage 11 from Carcassone to Montpellier
FILE PHOTO - Cycling - Tour de France cycling race - The 162.5 km (101 miles) Stage 11 from Carcassone to Montpellier, France - 13/07/2016 - Tinkoff team rider Peter Sagan of Slovakia wins on the finish line. REUTERS/Juan Medina Picture Supplied by Action Images

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