A Cyclist’s Paradise?

“Smooth, open roads. Stunning scenery. English road signs. An ingrained cycling culture. Stellar road safety.”

Do we have your attention yet?

I was lying in bed, flipping through a magazine when I paused over a two-page colour advertisement. Graphically, it was terrible – I had flipped past it at least three times previously. But once I stopped to read the copy I was dumbfounded. So much so that I had to read it out loud to Mary.

I have reproduced (without permission) selected sections below.

“Experience cyclists looking for a high-altitude challenge can find it on one of the three ... highways that traverse the Central Mountain Range … Experienced cyclists can ascend twice from opposite directions in a gruelling five-day tour … With slope gradients of up to 26%, only the fittest need apply ...

“For regular cycling enthusiasts, there are more manageable rides along coastal highways. With almost 1,200 km of coastline around bustling cities, sleep hamlets and gorgeous palm-line beaches, there are numerous ways in which to enjoy the seaside on two wheels …

“All along the way, cyclists enjoy remarkable road infrastructure. Many roads … have a dedicated lane to two-wheelers as well as a paved shoulder. But it is away from the main roads – where thousands of kilometers of paths have been built – that families truly appreciate the wonders of cycling in … bike rentals are ubiquitous … it is easy for parents to find bikes with child seats …

“Above all, though, what makes … a true biker’s paradise is the country’s commitment to cycling – by the government which has invested heavily in the sport, and by the people, whose warm hospitality ensures that no matter where you are … a helping hand is always a tiny pedal away.”

As I say, I was dumbfounded. Does this make you want to head there and hit the road? What a great promotion for tourism, for fitness. What a statement about the economic value of a widespread cycling culture.

Any guesses as to where it is?

Here’s a hint: It’s not in Europe. It’s certainly not Canada, nor anywhere else in North America. You can rule out Africa. And Antarctica. There – that’s enough hints.

Okay, one more. The country is home to a major bicycle manufacturer (it says so in the ad). Okay, now that’s enough.

14 comments on “A Cyclist’s Paradise?”

  1. Patrick wrote:

    hmmm... my first guess: New Zealand (North Island South Island on reflection) and the bicycle manufacturer is Avanti. Not sure about the palms though.

  2. MJ Ray wrote:

    Can't be New Zealand. It has a mandatory helmet law and drivers expect cyclists to ride on the hard shoulder. I think it'll be a smaller island but I'm not sure which one.

  3. Chris wrote:

    I thought China, but I'm not sure about the palm trees – or the coast bit. Then I Googled bits of the text and I'm no wiser.

  4. Patrick wrote:

    It's the road signs thing and what it means exactly. In English maybe, but not actually English road signs? I'll try Jamaica for my guess number 2. Bicycle manufacturers in Jamaica? Can't find any LOL

  5. Kern wrote:

    New Zealand is a good guess, but it's about 5 time zones distant. So far Chris is closest ... he may even correct, depending on your political point of view ...

  6. MJ Ray wrote:

    I would say Republic of China aka Taiwan, but at least both Giant and Merida have been there since the seventies so I don't know!

  7. Kern wrote:

    Taiwan it is! Congratulations, MJ. (There is no need to arm wrestle Chris for the honours, since I am both judge and jury in this matter.)

    What really struck me about this ad was its tone, which goes well beyond the ordinary "come over for a great bike ride" theme. The idea of cycling in Asia has never been particularly attractive, but this ad would make me reconsider.

    Well done, Taiwan! But you need a better graphic artist.

    By the way, MJ, you write as if you have cycled in New Zealand. Do you have any observations about it?

  8. MJ Ray wrote:

    I've ridden in NZ but very little – one day mostly on back roads in the countryside from http://www.korohivineyard.co.nz/ but a bit on SH6 – and it was OK mainly because there was very little traffic. The towns and cities I visited appeared to have almost no cycle-friendly roads (from memory: Auckland, Rotorua, Palmerston North, Taupo, Levin, Wellington, Picton, Nelson, Renwick, Blenheim).

    It's a brilliant country in most ways, but cycling is even more marginalised there than in England. I hope things have improved since 2010 but http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cycling_in_New_Zealand doesn't fill me with hope that it's anything more than a few Sustrans-style leisure routes.

  9. Patrick wrote:

    One of my sons cycled here and there in New Zealand, on the south Island mostly. He enjoyed it I think, but he's pretty hardy. The roads were quiet on the way to the glacier. Maybe the scenery makes up for things.

  10. MJ Ray wrote:

    The scenery in New Zealand is spectacular, on both islands as far as I've seen. It's great for tourists but I don't think it would make up for the drawbacks of cycling there if I lived there.

    Thanks for the congratulations about Taiwan but it was really only the clanging clue about Chris's guess that led me there. I wonder which of Giant and Merida the Taiwan tourist board doesn't count? 😉

  11. Kern wrote:

    Interesting comments about New Zealand. We actually depart for there on Saturday (hence my interest in comments). I will let you know my own impressions in January (assuming we survive the drivers).

  12. MJ Ray wrote:

    Where will you be riding and will you be hiring bikes+hats there or do you have a way to transport an approved helmet that won't risk it being invisibly damaged on the way?

    Outside of the cities, most drivers seem fine as long as you move to the shoulder to let them past whenever possible. Of course, that means slower progress and a need for puncture-protected (=heavier/slower) tyres :(

  13. Patrick wrote:

    Christmas and New Year in the southern hemisphere eh? Very nice Kern. I did that about ten years ago in Australia—Christmas Day by myself on the beach, cooked my own dinner etc.

    My son spent 6 months working in New Zealand (south island) and loved it. Really gorgeous. Take plenty of spare tubes and have a nice holiday.

  14. Kern wrote:

    Thanks all. Own bike, own helmets (all well padded), puncture-proof tyres – all in ...

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