By Megan Taylor Morrison
The Active Times
You can often find Ron Van Dijk leading groups of travelers along bike paths in Germany, Austria, Italy and the Netherlands.
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As a cycling expert and the director of European operations for Austin-Lehman Adventures, he has spent years introducing people to his favorite rides. Here, Dijk shares his top 10 picks from Europe as well as the United States.
Route: Linz or Enns to Krems (80 miles)
Easy cycling along the wide river makes this an unforgettable experience. The stretch through the wine region Wachau, between Melk and Dürnstein (23 miles), is some of the most pleasant cycling you'll encounter anywhere in Europe. Be sure to visit the Baroque Abbey of Melk: It's a masterpiece!
Route: Gerlos Pass/Krimml to Salzburg (115 miles)
This could easily be the most scenic of all the routes listed here, with the snowcapped Grossglockner and many other mountains in sight. You'll enjoy lots of downhill and flat meadows (and a few uphills) as you descend from Gerlos Pass at 5,340 feet to Salzburg at 1,450 feet.
Route:The Mickelson Trail (110 miles)
The Mickelson Trail–South Dakota's first rail-to-trail project–follows the abandoned Burlington Northern line that took trains from Edgemont, South Dakota, up north to the Black Hills and gold mines of the Deadwood area. At approximately 110 miles, you'll see a lot of different country, ranging from unique granite rock formations to hay bale-dotted farmland. A few highlights are riding through blasted hard-rock tunnels and over 100 converted railroad bridges. Careful of the wild turkeys crossing the path!
San Juan Island offers a great 20-mile loop with a variety of places to stop along the way. San Juan routes are challenging but the views, history and wide-open space make it worth the work. The famous Pig War "Crisis" of 1859-1872 was on the island. Both the English Camp and American Camp are a must-see for history buffs. Lime Kiln Point State Park, a.k.a. Whale Watch Park, is a great spot to look for orcas in the open waters and learn about the history of the lime kilns and the nearby lighthouse. Lastly, a ride around the island wouldn't be complete without a stop off at Pelindaba Lavender Farm, where you will find some calming views (and wonderful scents) of rows of lavender.
Route: 20 miles around San Juan Island.
Route: The Going-to-the-Sun Road (50 miles)
Biking the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park is perhaps the most exhilarating and challenging way to see one of the United States' most precious natural gems. Winding around curves and pumping your legs as you crawl up the Continental Divide at Logan Pass will give you a new found appreciation of the only road that runs through the heart of the national park. When you reach the turning point, stare for miles around at the jaw-dropping views in all directions, take pride in knowing you conquered the pass, and smile when you know an epic downhill is waiting for you on the other side.
For the complete slideshow of the World's Top Bike Rides, go to TheActiveTimes.com.
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