Two hundred years ago, the German inventor Karl Drais created the velocipede, a wheeled wooden contraption regarded as the first bicycle. In tribute, try one of these six fantastic cycling routes…
ALPINE THRILLS IN AUSTRIA
BEST FOR: Beginners
LENGTH: Six miles
You don’t need to be a Tour de France contender to enjoy lovely scenery on a bike, although the undulating Hinterkaiser circuit in Austria (austria.info/uk/austriantrails) will give your lungs a workout.
You set out from the village of St Johann in Tirol, and cycle through the pastures and forests of the Kaiser Mountains. A great place to restore energy levels is the family-run Landcafe Hinterkaiser — order one of their legendary schnitzels and grab a seat on the terrace.
After refuelling, follow the road to the River Rettenbach, then continue along the Innsbrucker Strasse, which will lead you back to St Johann in Tirol.
LAP THE LAKE IN QUEBEC
BEST FOR: Intermediate cyclists
LENGTH: 159 miles
Prone to getting lost? You’ll love the Blueberry Route (greatcanadiantrails.com), most of which hugs the shore of Quebec’s Lac Saint-Jean. It’s paved and mostly flat.
You’ll cycle through quaint towns such as Saint-Felicien, and past blueberry farms — hence the route’s name. If you choose a shorter stretch, consider the 28-mile link between Saint-Felicien and Chambord.
This area has more opportunities for detours to sights like the Native Museum of Mashteuiatsh and the Val-Jalbert ghost town.
TUNNEL VISION IN SOMERSET
BEST FOR: Families
LENGTH: 13 miles
The Two Tunnels Greenway (twotunnels.org.uk) runs along a disused rail route, past some of Somerset’s finest villages.
Saddle up in Bath, before passing through the Devonshire Tunnel at Bloomfield — keep an eye out for the Sustrans Portrait Bench near the entrance, with its steel cut-outs of skeleton bob champion Amy Williams and soldier Harry Patch (the last surviving combat veteran of World War I).
You ride into darkness again in Combe Down Tunnel — but there’s LED lighting inside.
The next landmarks are Midford Castle (the former home of actor Nicolas Cage) and the Grade I-listed Dundas Aqueduct, which carries the Kennet and Avon Canal — and you — over the River Avon. From here, follow the towpath back to Bath.
World wonder: Bamberg, on the Main-Radweg cycle route, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
GO THE EXTRA MILE IN GERMANY
BEST FOR: Experienced cyclists
LENGTH: 373 miles
The Main-Radweg bike route (mainradweg.com) through the Franconia region of Germany starts in Bayreuth and finishes in the westerly city of Mainz.
It is well signposted, mostly flat, and there is plenty of bicycle-friendly accommodation along the way. One of the most exhilarating sections winds through the castle-filled Upper Main Valley and into the town of Bamberg — a delight listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
This is a great place to stop for a local beer. Bamberg has more than 50 breweries. Its speciality is rauchbier (smoked beer), made with flame-dried malt.
VINE TIMES IN AUSTRALIA
BEST FOR: Foodies
LENGTH: 25 miles
The easy-going Barossa Trail (barossa.com/visit/see-do/cycling) cuts through one of South Australia’s most fertile wine regions. It’s a well-maintained route, which is great news if you’re pulling a bike trailer — whether it’s filled with children or the bottles you can buy from wineries en route.
Spot kangaroos and echidnas in the Barossa Ranges, and consider a short detour to Rowland Flat, home of Jacob’s Creek wine, which offers picnics, tours and cookery classes.
If you need accommodation, stop in Nuriootpa, where you’ll find bike repair shops and cosy hotels such as the Vine Inn.
Green and pleasant land: The Barossa Valley of South Australia is perfect for a cycle tour
LOOP THE LOCH IN SCOTLAND
BEST FOR: Advanced cyclists
LENGTH: 21 miles
The Loch Eck Loop (lochlomond-trossachs.org), which takes in Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, is perfect if want to channel your inner Bradley Wiggins. The views of Jura and Islay are guaranteed to take your mind off burning limbs.
The trail, which starts and finishes at the Forestry Commission Scotland centre at Glenbranter, includes a seven-mile stretch along Loch Eck’s shore, and a challenging section through the forests above.