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7 Beautiful Bike Rides

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beautiful bike rides, bicycle touring

(Image credit: The Denver Post Ride The Rockies.)

All across the country, people are biking miles and miles by day, camping by night and loving every minute. We've got the most beautiful long-distance bicycle tours right here, so dust off that bike and hit the road across some of the most beautiful countryside in America.

The bike rides in this list run from rugged mountains to live oak canopies to endless cornfields for your two-wheeled viewing pleasure. There's no racing here, so every skill level is welcome. That's not to say these rides will be easy, even a small hill will seem like a mountain after hundreds of miles in the saddle. But these courses are so beautiful that you won't mind the burning leg muscles.

And each ride listed here is fully-supported. That means support vehicles in case of emergencies, rest stops stocked with food and drinks, and camping or lodging after a long day of pedaling. Oh, and let's not forget micro-brews and massages on some rides.

Squeeze into some spandex and hit the road!

BRAG (Bicycle Ride Across Georgia)

beautiful bike rides, bicycle touring

(Image credit: BRAG)

BRAG is where the Southeast's serious riders go to cycle long stretches of the Georgia asphalt. For 34 years, BRAG has hosted a summer ride that spans hundreds of miles. This year's summer ride will be one of the most scenic. Starting with open farmland, touring through an eerie blackwater swamp, riding under live oak canopies and ending on Georgia's pristine coast, this ride showcases the best of the Peach State.

As with most bicycle tours, riders travel at their own pace along the 359-mile (579 kilometer) route. Each leg is about 50-60 miles (80-97 km), and riders camp each night in rural towns. A SAG (support and gear) wagon trails the ride in case of any emergencies. Riders' tents and other gear are also transported between campsites courtesy of BRAG.

Starting in middle Georgia, riders will cycle past watermelon patches and pecan groves and even the world's largest peanut monument. Riders then venture deeper into South Georgia, braving gnats that both buzz and bite. The Okefenokee Swamp and its famous gators await riders at the halfway point (there's an optional swamp tour in the afternoon). The ride ends in St. Marys, in the far southeast corner of the state. St. Mary's is the gateway to the Cumberland Island National Seashore, home to feral horses and some of the best beach camping one can find.

Bicycle Ride Across Georgia, June 2-8, 2013.
Website: http://www.brag.org/brag2.html

RAGBRAI (Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa)

beautiful bike rides, bicycle touring

(Image credit: The Des Moines Register.)

The name sounds funny at first, but RAGBRAI rolls off the tongue of any serious cyclist. This ride is basically a party on two wheels across the entire state of Iowa. Heading into its 41st year, this is the granddaddy of touring. RAGBRAI is the oldest, largest and longest bicycle touring event in the world.

RAGBRAI started in 1973 as a six-day ride across the state of Iowa by two Des Moines Register columnists who invited a few friends along. The RAGBRAI route averages 468 miles (753 km) and is not necessarily flat. Each year the ride begins somewhere along Iowa's western border on the Missouri River and ends along the eastern border on the Mississippi River.

RAGBRAI is limited to 8,500 week-long riders. This ride will certainly fill up.

Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI), July 21-27, 2013.
Website: http://ragbrai.com/

Ride the Rockies

beautiful bike rides, bicycle touring

(Image credit: The Denver Post Ride The Rockies.)

Climb Colorado's jagged Rocky Mountains, zoom down winding roads, repeat. This annual bicycle tour is one of the nation's most sought-after rides. More than 3,500 apply, but only a lucky 2,000 will get a spot in each year's ride.

Daily rides average 60-70 miles (97-112 km), occasionally topping 100 miles (160 km). Cyclists begin pedaling in the picturesque town of Telluride. From there they'll ascend Lizard Head (10,222 feet, or 3,115 m), Wolf Creek (10,850 feet, or 3,307 m) and Poncha Pass (9,019 feet, or 2,748 m). Then riders cross the Royal Gorge Bridge & Park, before crossing the finish line at Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs. Out of breath yet?

The Denver Post Ride the Rockies. June 8-15, 2013.
Website: http://ridetherockies.com/

Cycle Oregon

beautiful bike rides, bicycle touring

(Image credit: Maria Thi Mai/BLM Oregon)

Sure, Oregon is a beautiful state, but it's the perks that make this ride one of the best rides. Micro-brews, massages, acupuncture and great coffee are the icing on the cake for Cycle Oregon. The ride is part back-road riding and part two-wheeled tent revival. The Tent City where riders camp moves from town to town with 2,000 or more riders throughout 505 miles (812 km) of Oregon.

Every year there's a new route. This year's route shows off the beautiful diversity of Eastern Oregon: Strawberry Mountains and rocky canyons; deep forests and alpine prairies; wide-open vistas and mountainous horizons. Most of the ride is above 4,000 feet (1,219 m) in elevation, so you'll face days with climbing challenges and others that are built for speed.

Cycle Oregon Week Ride. Sept. 7-14, 2013.
Website: http://www.cycleoregon.com/

Cross Country Challenge

beautiful bike rides, bicycle touring

(Image credit: The Des Moines Register.)

Why stick to just one state when you can pedal across the country? This 52-day ride takes in 3,865 miles (6,220 km) of the United States. The ride starts in San Francisco and ends in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Along the way, riders cycle through some of the most beautiful and scenic places in America. Cyclists pass through the Sierras and the Rockies, cross the Arkansas, Missouri and Mississippi rivers, and visit historic national parks and monuments.

Each leg is up to 80 miles (128 km) per day. From sea to shining sea.

Cross Country Challenge
Website: http://americabybicycle.com/ccc-short

Ride and wine on the Pacific Coast

beautiful bike rides, bicycle touring

(Image credit: VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations)

Anyone can tour California's wine country on four wheels, but two wheels is the way to go. On the Wine Country and the Pacific Coast Ride, riders explore California's Central Coast and wine country, drinking in the scenery and touring its world-famous vineyards.

Coastal breezes and lapping surf greet riders during the tour. Evenings are spent in charming lodgings in the heart of Sonoma and Healdsburg. Along the way, riders drink in three of Central California's distinct wine growing regions.

This ride is 5-nights long, with each day's leg lasting up to 44 miles (70 km). Highlights include the Valley of the Moon, named by Native Americans, who first noticed that as the moon ascends in the evening sky, it appears to rise again and again over the peaks and glens of the Mayacamas mountain range. The ride also spans 10 miles (16 km) of the California coast, north of Bodega Bay to Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, where giant redwood trees greet the riders.

California Wine Country and the Pacific Coast Ride. Various dates.
Website: http://www.vbt.com/Tours/California

Leaf Peeper Pedalers

beautiful bike rides, bicycle touring

(Image credit: Sojourn Bicycling Vacations)

Tour across lightly traveled country roads that wind through picture book landscapes and small villages in one of the most beautiful states in the Union. On Sojourn Bicycling's Vermont tour, riders pass the ancient Green Mountains and the imposing high peaks of the Adirondacks.

From Burlington, cyclists follow country roads through centuries old farmland complete with classic barns and Vermont's signature Holstein cows. Cyclists sample delicious treats at a local chocolatier and cycle through several of Vermont's signature covered bridges. No camping on this tour; riders will lodge at historic inns along the route.

Average daily mileage is 24 miles (38 km) and ranges to 50 miles (80 km) or more on longer options during several days. This ride is available at various times throughout the year, but go in the fall, when New England's colorful leaves are on full display.

Sojourn Bicycling and Active Vacation's Vermont Bike Tour. Various dates.
Website: http://gosojourn.com/bicycle-tour-categories/vermont-bike-tours/

Brett Israel was a staff writer for Live Science with a focus on environmental issues. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from The University of Georgia, a master’s degree in journalism from New York University, and has studied doctorate-level biochemistry at Emory University.