The primary joy of a bicycle is that, in its purest form, it’s little more than a highly efficient way of walking.
Just grab the bike, climb aboard and pedal swiftly to the shop, the bar or wherever.
Some cyclists, however, prefer their rides a bit more dramatic. Perhaps even scenic, remote and arduous.
Here are seven fantastic rides from around the world that take anything from a day to several months to complete (um, don’t forget the anti-chafe cream):
Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (North America)
Want big? This is big.
An off-road touring route from Canada’s Alberta all the way to New Mexico.
If the 4,400-kilometer (2,734 miles) length (as detailed on the Adventure Cycling website) isn’t enough to start palpitations, how about a combined 61,000 meters (you don’t even want to know what that is in feet) of climbing?
Yes, that’s right, almost seven times the height of Everest — from sea level, that is, not base camp.
It’s also often extremely remote, and thus largely the preserve of wiry, wind-burnished men and women on much-traveled mountain bikes towing trailers filled with anti-bear spray, titanium camping spoons and nuclear fusion nano-stoves.
It’s undeniably spectacular, taking in everything from woodland to mountains (did we forget to mention the Colorado Rockies?) and the wastelands of the Great Basin. Potential companions could include grizzlies, moose, mountain lions and eagles.
If that’s not enough to think about, weather conditions mean the trip is only really feasible from June to September, and even then flash rains can make sections impassably muddy for weeks at a time.