Looking for a great European cycling trip that’s challenging and fun and beautiful—but, you know, won’t necessarily kill you like a supersteep-incline stage of the Tour?
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Good news: The Alps, home to the greatest cycling in the world, isn’t all just backbreaking climbs and wind-whistling descents. The destination has several spots that fit the bill, but Jim Johnson, president of BikeToursDirect, points to two: first, the moderate climb called Aare Cycle Route, in Switzerland, which begins by Lake Thun and passes through the capital, Bern, on its way to the picturesque Lake Constance.
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Second, for a chiller cruise, check out Tauern Bike Path, in Austria. “It’s a bicyclist’s dream come true,” he says. It has steady inclines combined with wind-at-your-back downhill stretches for recovery, all contained in a valley surrounded by peaks. The route begins in Krimml, at 3,400 feet in central Austria, and ends about 100 miles later in Salzburg. Don’t worry, you’ll roll through dozens of villages with plenty of pubs and inns where you can fit in some laid-back vacation between sessions in the saddle.