Travel the world by bike: 7 of the best books for international cycle trips

Travelling by bike is arguably one of the best ways to see the world.

You’re much more connected with your senses: smelling the bakery as you pass, feeling the breeze on your face and watching the waddle of some adorable dogs.

It’s all the better when you’re somewhere new, but where on earth (literally) do you go?

We’ve gathered a few travel books with some inspiration for your next cycle trip, near or far.

Epic Bike Rides of the World – Lonely Planet (Lonely Planet, 2016) – £17.49  

This Lonely Planet guide gives you the option of taking easier family-friendly routes right through to stonking greatadventures along lesser-known landscapes.

You’ve got an impressive 200 rides to choose from. Of course, there are trips in France, Spain and Italy, but you’ll also find routes in more unusual places – think Mongolia and Patagonia.

Each section has guidance on completing the routes and you’ll find first-hand cycling stories throughout the book.

Fifty Places to Bike Before you Die: Biking Experts Share the World’s Greatest Destinations – Chris Santella (Stewart, Tarbori and Chang, 2012) – £15.99  

Fifty Places to Bike takes you all over the globe. Pedal the Dalmation Coast in Croatia, Botswana’s Tour de Tuli, New Zealand’s South Island or for something more urban, you can zip through the city streets of New York.

It provides a good starting point – ideal for settling down on a Sunday afternoon to find some inspiration. Reviews say that the photographs are stunning, but there’s not so much detail about the routes themselves. If you find a ride you fancy, it’s wise to take a map with you.

That’s just as well – the book is a whopping 830g hardback with 234 pages. So while you’re on the road, it’s best to leave it at home.

Mountain High: Europe’s 50 Greatest Cycle Climbs – Daniel Friebe and Pete Goding (Quercus Publishing, 2011) – £25  

In Mountain High, author Daniel Friebe tells us why each mountain pass is worth the ride, looking at the amazing scenery and tales of previous cyclists who have braved these hills. And if you’re not convinced, 250 photographs by professional photographer, Pete Goding, might encourage you to get in the saddle (or out, if that’s how you prefer to climb).

These astronomical ascents include Tour de France icons such as Alpe d’Huez, Col du Galibier, Mont Ventoux, Col de l’Izoard and Col du Tourmalet; summits from the Giro d’Italia; Spain’s Alto de l’Angliru; and Austria’s Grossglockner.

Sections feature practical route info and advice on tackling each climb.

The duo has since released a follow-up, Mountain Higher (also £25), which features the Ötztal Glacier Road in Austria, the ‘secret’ side of the legendary Alpe d’Huez and more.

France en Velo: The Ultimate Cycle Journey Across France from Channel to Med: St. Malo to Nice – Hannah Reynolds and John Walsh (Wild Things Publishing, 2014) – £16.99

France en Velo will take you through 19 of France’s regional departementes, passing stunning gorges, tucked-away lanes and artisanal bakeries.

You can choose to ride one stage or dabble in one of the mini itineraries. If you have a bit more time to spare, you can travel the entire distance if you like.

There are ‘carefully designed’ maps and digital route information to see you through, unveiling some secrets of the regions along the way.

These rides can be enjoyed by serious roadies, casual cyclists, families or, frankly, anyone on two wheels.

Hellingen: A Road Cyclists Guide to Belgium’s Greatest Cycling Climbs – Simon Warren (Frances Lincoln Publishers Ltd, 2016) – £9.99

Another smasher from Simon Warren, Hellingen brings you more ‘essentials in vertical pain’, this time from Belgium.

Have a go at ascending the gruelling cobble climbs of the Tour de Flanders, taking on the Liege-Bastogne-Liege or finding another notorious Belgian hill.

This mini book is light enough to stow away in your bag and contains info about Belgium’s history along with helpful tips on how to nail each climb. Get ready to gurn!

Himalaya by Bike – Laura Stone (Trailblazer Guides, 2008) – £19.99

Himalaya by Bike is one for the more adventurous cycle tourist.

The guide covers the mountainous regions of Pakistan, China, Tibet, India, Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan.

Cycle along some of the highest roads in the world like the Friendship Highway between Tibet and Nepal, Manali to Leh inIndia and the Karakoram Highway between Pakistan and China.

Along with details of the routes, Laura has included levels of difficulty and road conditions. The Himalaya has mixed terrain from desert to snowline to tarmac to dirt road, so it useful to know in advance.

You’ll find sample itineraries for three weeks, six weeks, two months, three months and six months plus need-to-knows on health and safety, visas and cultural information.

Keep fed and watered en route with the help of hand-drawn maps and city guides of Lhasa, Kathmandu, Srinagar and Kasghar. 

City Cycling (various) – Rapha (Thames & Hudson, 2013) – £5 each, £12.50 for a bundle of three guides

If you fancy a more relaxed outing, consider one of the City Cycling guides from Rapha.

Take your pick from Amsterdam, Antwerp/Ghent, Barcelona, Berlin, Copenhagen, London, Milan and Paris. Each city’s book is designed by a local artist so have their own unique feel.

You’ll find locations, destinations and experiences for cyclists with additional maps and functional layouts to guide you around the cities. What’s more, the books are pocket-sized so you can stick one in your jersey and whip it out when your next hunger pang strikes.

What are your favourite travel cycle books? Let us know in the comments below.

Join 10,221 fellow cyclists who are subscribed to the London Cyclist newsletter

Sign up for our free newsletter to get...

  • Advice on the best cycling gear
  • A Friday roundup of all the latest London cycling news
  • Exclusive content not available on the blog

Subscribe today, and get exclusive access forever! (It's free)

*No spam, ever!

As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

One Response to Travel the world by bike: 7 of the best books for international cycle trips

  1. Will 08/03/2018 at 3:06 pm #

    I’m glad you guys have posted this because bike touring has been weighing on my mind for a while now! Will certainly take a look!

Leave a Reply