Main Index     Pre-Tour      Post-Tour       Articles        Previous         Next       

My Favorite Roads
For Touring

The best places in the World are the ones with the fewest cars

I, of course, have utilized only a tiny fraction of the World's roadways during my touring life. While I certainly have seen my fair share of traffic-choked, pothole-laced thoroughfares, by now I have discovered enough of the World's first-class cycling roads that I am now able to put together a nice list of my favorites. To be sure, a poor road can turn an otherwise fine touring day into a tedious nightmare. These great roads, on the other hand, are so enjoyable that riding any of them can counteract the effects of weeks of poor conditions.

Admittedly, I have never been very keen on the concept of "Top          " lists, as tying to quantify numerous subjective factors seems like a pointless exercise. That is certainly true here, as there is very little difference in the quality of the experience provided by roads near the top of the list compared to those lower down. Indeed the highest ranked roads could be randomly scrambled in order and it would not make much of a difference. Nevertheless, I present my favorites here, in list form, as it was rather fun coming up with the selections. My criteria for inclusion were straightforward:

Here, then, are my selections. Hopefully I will be able to add to the List in the future.

My Top 30 List


The Summit of McKenzie Pass

Name: McKenzie Pass Scenic Byway
Designation: OR 242
Location: Deschutes County, Oregon, USA
From: Sisters To: McKenzie Bridge
Approximate Distance: 64 km
Years Toured: 01993 & 01995
Comment: This road tops the list for primarily sentimental reasons, as it was the final large pass on my first tour, and it is one of only a few selections on the list that I have ridden on more than one tour. In addition, it provides a pleasantly asymmetric climb/descent when traveling east to west, has a quaint lava-built volcano observatory at the summit, and long vehicles are prohibited from using the road.


The Coast Road on Timor

Name: Timor North Coast Road
Designation: None
Location: Timor Leste, North Coast
From: Dili To: Com
Approximate Distance: 248 km
Year Toured: 02005
Comment: This splendid coastal road passes through many different microclimates and types of terrain. The friendly towns and tiny villages along the way are also a big plus.


The beautiful Sierra Maestra Coast

Name: Sierra Maestra Coast Road
Designation: None
Location: Santaigo de Cuba, Cuba
From: Portillo To: Chivirico
Approximate Distance: 180 km
Year Toured: 02002
Comment: Another amazing coastal road. This one features magnificinet mountians on one side, the blue Caribbean on the other, and almost no traffic.


Morning at Sawite Summit

Name: Trans-Andes Highway
Designation: Ruta 3S/Ruta 26
Location: South-central Peru
From: Zurite To: Puquio
Approximate Distance: 613 km
Year Toured: 02007
Comment: One of the finest multi-day roads I have yet seen. A few high passes and deep canyons to cross.


Mount St. Hellens

Name: Mount St. Helens East Side
Designation: Forest Roads 25/99/90/23
Location: Skamania County, WA, USA
From: Randle To: Trout Lake
Approximate Distance: 150 km
Year Toured: 01995
Comment: Amazing sites in the devastated area. At the time, one short section of the route was gravel.


A small village in the central highlands

Name: Madagascar Highlands
Designation: R.N. 7
Location: South central Madagascar
From: Anjomakely To: Ranohira
Approximate Distance: 670 km
Year Toured: 02006
Comment: Everything about this route was to my liking. A few large towns to pass through.


Lake Titicaca

Name: Lake Titicaca Highway
Designation: Ruta 1N
Location: Northern Boliva
From: Batallas To: Copacabana
Approximate Distance: 100 km
Year Toured: 02007
Comment: Spectacular vistas of the sacred lake of the Incas.


The Sacred Valley

Name: Sacred Valley Highway
Designation: none
Location: Cuzco, Peru
From: Cuzco To: Ollantaytambo
Approximate Distance: 95 km
Year Toured: 02007
Comment: Amazing history and scenery.


The San Carlos Valley

Name: Pinar del Rio Valleys Route
Designation: Vinales Rd./Vinales-Guane Rd.
Location: Pinar del Rio, Cuba
From: San Vicente To: Guane
Approximate Distance: 115 km
Year Toured: 02002
Comment: Friendly people and beautiful tropical karst.


Verdant tropical foliage in northeastern Madagascar

Name: Vanilla Coast Route
Designation: R.N. 5a
Location: Northeastern Madagascar
From: Sambava To: Vohemar
Approximate Distance: 153 km
Year Toured: 02003
Comment: The only good road in that region of the country, but well worth the effort to get there.


Morning on the road to Lhuntse

Name: Eastern Bhutan
Designation: Bhutan Highway/Lhuntse Road
Location: Eastern Bhutan
From: Jakar To: Lhuntse (via Mongar)
Approximate Distance: 265 km
Year Toured: 02006
Comment: The entire road network in Bhutan is scenic and packed with culture, though parts are a little bumpy. The section east of Jakar was probably the best, and includes a 3,200-m descent. Mongar to Lhunste was a dead end, so was ridden twice.


Dropping into a gorge on the road to Wabag

Name: Wabag Road
Designation: none
Location: Enga Province, Papua New Guinea
From: Hagen Pass To: Wabag
Approximate Distance: 100 km
Year Toured: 02005
Comment: This scenic and culturally interesting road would rate higher, except for some sections with many potholes. A dead-end, so rode twice.


The highlands north of Quthing

Name: South Lesotho Highways
Designation: A2, A4
Location: Southern Lesotho
From: Mafeteng To: Qacha's Nek
Approximate Distance: 300 km
Year Toured: 02006
Comment: This surprisingly beautiful road had recently been upgraded for its entire length.


The scared lake of Yamdrok Yumtso and distant Himalayan peaks

Name: Yamdrok Yumtso Highway
Designation: Gyantse-Chutso Rd.
Location: Tibet
From: Naggarste To: Chutso
Approximate Distance: 60 km
Year Toured: 02006
Comment: This highway had recently been upgraded. Includes a 5,000-m pass.


Peaks between Potosi and Sucre

Name: Silver Highway of Bolivia
Designation: Highway 5
Location: Central Bolivia
From: Potosi To: Sucre
Approximate Distance: 158 km
Year Toured: 02007
Comment: Traffic was even lighter than normal, thanks to political tensions. Rode this route twice.


Going-to-the-Sun Road

Name: Going-to-the-Sun Road
Designation: Glacier Route 1
Location: Glacier National Park, Montana, USA
From: West Glacier To: St. Mary
Approximate Distance: 85 km
Year Toured: 02004
Comment: Annoying bike restrictions keep this beautiful route from ranking higher.


The Valley of the Makarora River

Name: Haast Pass Route
Designation: Highway 6
Location: South Island, New Zealand
From: Wanaka To: Fox Glacier
Approximate Distance: 270 km
Year Toured: 01999
Comment: New Zealand has many fine roads. This was probably the best of the ones I rode.


A small town on the Costa Verde

Name: Costa Verde Route
Designation: SP-55, BR-101
Location: Sao Paulo/Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
From: Bertigoa To: Angra dos Reis
Approximate Distance: 357 km
Year Toured: 02007
Comment: This road was surprisingly nice, considering it connects two of the World's great cities.


Avenue of the Giants

Name: Avenue of the Giants
Designation: CA 211/CA 254
Location: Humboldt County, California, USA
From: Phillipsville To: Honeydew
Approximate Distance: 50 km
Year Toured: 01993, 01996 & 02004
Comment: In places, the Big Trees make this a rather narrow road.


The Icefields Parkway

Name: Icefields Parkway
Designation: AB-93
Location: Banff & Jasper National Parks, Alberta, Canada
From: Lake Louise To: Jasper
Approximate Distance: 230 km
Year Toured: 02004
Comment: The heavy traffic of tour busses detracts only slightly from the impressive scenery.


Tierra del Fuego

Name: Bottom of the World Route
Designation: Ruta 3
Location: Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
From: Tolhuin To: Ushuaia
Approximate Distance: 115 km
Year Toured: 02007
Comment: More trucks than one might expect kept this route from ranking higher.


Baobabs in Malawi

Name: Malawi Lakeshore
Designation: M1
Location: Northern Malawi
From: Karonga To: Mzuzu
Approximate Distance: 250 km
Year Toured: 02006
Comment: Included a nice section along the beautiful Lake Malawi coast and a climb up the Kasitu Valley.


The Hoh Rainforest

Name: Upper Hoh Rd.
Designation: none
Location: Olympic National Park, WA, USA
From: US 101 Jct. To: Hoh Visitor Center
Approximate Distance: 30 km
Year Toured: 02004
Comment: The short length and dead-end nature of this road keep it ranked lower. Rode twice.


Cloudforest in Jujuy

Name: Jujuy Cloudforest
Designation: RA-9
Location: Salta, Argentina
From: Salta To: El Carmen
Approximate Distance: 60 km
Year Toured: 02007
Comment: This was, surprisingly, a quiet one-lane road.


Golden Gate Highlands National Park

Name: Golden Gate of South Africa
Designation: R712
Location: Free State, South Africa
From: Sterkfontein Dam To: Clarens
Approximate Distance: 80 km
Year Toured: 02006
Comment: Some nice, open scenery in Golden Gate Highlands National Park.


Mount Evans Summit

Name: Mount Evans Climb
Designation: Rd 103, Rd 5
Location: Clear Creek County, Colorado, USA
From: Idaho Springs To: Mount Evans Summit
Approximate Distance: 45 km
Year Toured: 02000
Comment: Highest bikeable road in the USA. Climbed and descended.


Ethiopian countryside

Name: Tana Hayk Route
Designation: Highway 3
Location: Gondar, Ethiopia
From: Gondar To: Bahir Dar
Approximate Distance: 175 km
Year Toured: 02006
Comment: Ethiopia has few good roads. This one had recently been upgraded. It's isolation keeps it ranked low.


Entering North America

Name: Oaxacan Frontier
Designation: MEX-135
Location: Oaxaca, Mexico
From: Cuitcatlan To: Teotitlan de Flores Magon
Approximate Distance: 53 km
Year Toured: 02008
Comment: This route crosses the vague border between the South and North American bioregions.


A rocky outcrop in Kakadu

Name: Ancient Kakadu
Designation: Hwy 21, Nourlangie Rd, Oenpelli Rd.
Location: Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory, Australia
From: Cooinda To: Border Store
Approximate Distance: 145 km
Year Toured: 02005
Comment: Exceptional ancient pictograph sites highlight this route.


Roadside Tree Ferns

Name: Tasman Highway
Designation: A3
Location: Northeastern Tasmania, Australia
From: St. Helen's To: Derby
Approximate Distance: 60 km
Year Toured: 02005
Comment: Gondwanan-style forests line this road.

Happy Cycling!

The Road Not Taken

~ Robert Lee Frost ~

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.