Adventure biker Kamran Ali (@KamranOnBike) lists his ten best cycling destinations
As a long-distance cyclist I have travelled over 50,000 km across 43 countries on four continents. My bicycle and I crossed mountain ranges, salt flats, deserts, jungles, and rivers. We experienced temperatures from -20°C to +50°C in snow, wind, and rain.
Having a robust drive system is crucial on a cycling expedition. That’s why I chose a Gates Carbon Drive belt system for the biggest adventure of my life. It’s lightweight, virtually noiseless, and requires zero maintenance. It withstood the worst conditions I encountered on the road and helped me achieve my dreams.
To all the cycling enthusiasts out there, here are some of my favorite places for adventure cycling. Unchain your passion and go explore.
My four-year journey from Argentina to Alaska started in Patagonia. I spent a few months cycling here. This region in Argentina and Chile has everything – mountains, glaciers, fjords, lakes, rivers, and grassland plains. It is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. It stole my heart. Apart from its beauty, I especially remember it for its strong headwinds.
Atacama Desert, Chile
I cycled 1600 km in the Atacama Desert in Chile. It is the driest desert on the planet. There are some regions in the Atacama where no rainfall has ever been recorded. It looks like Mars with its reddish and barren landscape. This region is one of the best places for stargazing and has many observatories. I cannot forget the experience of camping under a sky full of stars.
Ruta Laguna, Bolivia
Bolivia is a place where the adventure truly starts. My favorite place to cycle in Bolivia was the Ruta Laguna in the Altiplano at over 4,000 m. Its landscape is otherworldly with moon-like terrain, deep blue skies, and vibrant-colored lagoons with pink flamingos. The high altitude, strong wind, and long bumpy tracks with no signposts posed a big challenge for cycling. Temperatures at night dropped to -20ºC.
Cordillera Blanca, Peru
Peru is one of my favorite countries on the planet. My cycling itinerary in Peru took me through the Cordillera Blanca, part of the Andes, the world’s longest continental mountain range. Here, I reached the highest elevation of 4,903 meters on my bicycle!
Baja California Peninsula, Mexico
Baja California is a mountainous desert in Mexico. I cycled 1,500 km in the dry but beautiful desert decorated with cacti. The sunsets were magical, and the nights were full of stars. In Baja, I installed the signpost at 30-degree latitudes pointing to my hometown Layyah in Pakistan located 13,000 km away at the same latitude.
The West, US
Ever since my childhood, I had always associated the US with big sweeping vistas. Eventually, I got to cycle in Nevada, Arizona, and Utah. If you want to experience endless vistas and infinite skies, cycle the Grand Canyon National Park, the Monument Valley, and the Canyonlands National Park.
The Canadian Rockies, Canada
Banff and Jasper National Parks are some of the most scenic routes for cycling. Tall steep mountains line up on both sides of the road. You encounter lake after lake—some turquoise, some emerald—waterfalls, hanging glaciers, ice fields, wildlife, and unspoiled nature. During autumn, fall colors combined with snow turn it into a fairytale landscape.
Dempster Highway, Canada
The Dempster Highway passes through one of the world’s last wildest places. It is the only road in Canada that takes you past the Arctic Circle. The 900 km unpaved road crosses the tree line, continues to the tundra, and ends at the Arctic Ocean. For several hundreds of kilometers, a gravel road is the only sign of human intervention in the land mainly inhabited by bears, caribou, foxes, and other wild animals.
Dalton Highway, Alaska US
The 666 km long Dalton Highway in Alaska is one of the world’s northernmost highways. It goes past 300 km north of the Arctic Circle, coming within kilometers of the Arctic Ocean. The Dalton Highway is mostly gravel. It was the last road I took on my four-year bicycle trip from Argentina to Alaska. I finished my journey at the end of the Dalton Highway in Deadhorse.
Karakoram Highway, Pakistan
The Karakoram Highway in Pakistan is one of the highest paved roads and is sometimes referred to as the Eighth Wonder of the World. It was once part of the ancient Silk Route. The Khunjerab Pass, which is at 4693-m, is the highest paved international border crossing in the world that connects Pakistan with China. In 2015, I crossed this border on my bicycle journey from Germany to Pakistan. KKH takes you on an epic journey through the world’s second-highest mountain range, the Karakoram. On this route, you get to see 7,000 and 8,000-meter peaks, magnificent glaciers, and aqua blue lakes.
Do you love adventure cycling too? Do you love looking at majestic pictures like the ones in this article? If you do, head to www.unchainyouradventure.com for more pictures from some of the world’s foremost adventure bikers, and see why they love Gates Carbon Drive so much.