Why do we ride? There are many reasons, each as good as the others: exercise, the love of the outdoors, the social aspect, the physical challenge. But one of the undeniable reasons for wanting to cycle is our love of travelling and visiting new places.
The concept of the cycling bucket list has evolved from this. It's something practical - a to-do list of places you want to go to and conquer. But it's also something aspirational and escapist - having something to look forward to that might seem impossible. But maybe those goals aren't as unattainable as you think.
Even if you can't ride the actual routes, then the next best thing is to ride them virtually. ROUVY, the indoor cycling app, gives riders the chance to experience some of the best routes in the world. It makes it easier for people to ride the routes that perhaps they can only dream about.
ROUVY routes are recorded on high-quality video to be as close to reality as possible. Using a smart trainer, every ascent and descent is felt on your bike, your riding data is recorded and displayed to show how you are doing and, of course, you get to see the incredible views as you ride around the world - from alpine climbs to remote deserts to bustling cities.
But ROUVY is certainly not just about providing second-best alternatives to the real thing. Riding the routes on an indoor trainer can provide invaluable experience for pro-cyclists wanting to become familiar with a route before riding it in a race.
They can also serve as inspiration. Get a taste of it and you'll want more, maybe even motivate yourself to go there next summer. If you feel an endorphin rush and sense of achievement from conquering the Alpe d'Huez on your trainer at home, then what must the feeling be like in real life? Stirring our emotions, pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zone, going that extra mile, are also essential parts of the joy of cycling.
ROUVY's top 10 routes
Here then, is ROUVY's bucket list of essential routes around the world. Each has been chosen for a unique, specific reason to show the variety and beauty of routes out there and there is something for everyone. It's possible to ride all of them on ROUVY and it's easy to set up an account with a free 14-day trial so you can experience the full ROUVY effect for yourself.
Most famous - Alpe d'Huez, France
There are a few candidates for this title but we are going for Alpe d'Huez. With over 30 appearances in the Tour de France since 1952 and a regular mountaintop stage finish since 1976, it is the one climb that you simply have to do to get a true taste of all the suffering, the pain and the glory!
While not the most challenging climb in the Tour de France, Alpe d'Huez is usually the grand finale to a long and gruelling Alpine stage. Also, it's not just the final stretch that makes this route special - it's also the experience of carving your way up the mountain with its countdown of 21 hairpins.
Most spectacular - Sella Ronda, Italy
Close your eyes and imagine yourself in Italy, virtually cycling the Sella Ronda Loop in the breathtaking Dolomites and tackling the Compolongo, Pordoi, Sella and Gardena climbs. The bucket-list Sella Ronda loop is a hugely popular cycling destination in the Dolomites in South Tyrol and Trentino in northeastern Italy. Not only is the region a popular ski destination in the winter, but it's also the Mecca of avid cyclists who cycle the route from Spring to Autumn. With its snaking alpine roads, set against the backdrop of the majestic Dolomite massifs towering skywards above you, it's a truly breathtaking experience… in every sense of the word.
Most unique - Lake Biwa, Japan
Every year, for a 2-week window in Spring, the famous cherry blossoms of Japan open and treat the viewer to a riot of colour. Not everyone has the chance to experience it, but everyone who does won't forget it.
The Biwa-ichi cycle route (literally 'a loop around Lake Biwa') is a 200km route that curves around the hills and shores of one of Japan's largest lakes. The ROUVY Biwa-ichi route features a section of this ride and was filmed when the blossoms were out in their full glory, giving the riders a serene journey that is truly unique.
Most demanding: The Grossglockner in Austria
Why do we love climbing? Cycling is about travelling, about challenges, about understanding yourself better. Climbing perfectly encapsulates these three reasons. Nothing worth achieving is ever easy. A hard climb may bring pain and exhaustion but the feeling of satisfaction and triumph it offers when conquered makes it a small price to pay.
The Austrian Alps host some of Europe's most beautiful and famous climbs. And this monster climb in the fairytale setting on the Großglockner High Alpine Road in Austria is a stunner. It's a bucket list goal and a hugely challenging climbing adventure.
The route to the famous Edelweissspitze via the Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höheending ending over the cobbles in the final 1,5km makes it special on a unique but demanding and brutal climb over 50km. With eye-watering gradients up each climb, it will test the legs and mind to the very last pedal stroke. The views from the top are spectacular, and the emotional and physical experience makes the climb totally worth it.
Best urban ride - Paris
Urban rides are very different to rides through the country but they can be equally rewarding. It's a great way to sightsee and pick up the vibe of a city in a short time. Unfortunately urban riding in busy cities can be dangerous with unfamiliar road rules and aggressive traffic.
Urban touring on an indoor cycle may lack the experience of being there but it is safer and stress-free, and also means you can visit the world's capitals easily.
ROUVY has routes through the heart of many cities: London, Tokyo, Rio, Rome, Sydney, Las Vegas and Prague to name a few. But our favourite is Paris - the global centre for art, fashion, gastronomy and culture. The route head's along the banks of the River Seine, Notre Dame and then the Louvre Museum, famous for the Mona Lisa. Your journey continues past the Palais Royal and Place de la Concorde and finishes on the famous Champs-Élysées, where the grande finale of the Tour de France also concludes.
Best coastal route - Cape Point in South Africa
Coastal routes offer ideal cycling conditions. With the land to one side, the shimmering sea to the other and a fresh ocean breeze to cool you down, cycling often doesn't get any better than this. There were lots of candidates for the best coastal route but eventually we decided on the magnificent Cape Point in South Africa.
The journey starts at False Bay, outside the 200-year-old historic naval village of Simons Town and heads South along the peninsula with the Atlantic Ocean to your left. The gently undulating ride passes through the National Park reserve - home to many bird species, including African Penguins, zebra, and baboons. You'll probably spot some ostriches near the end!
Best desert route - Colorado River, Utah
Desert rides offer an alternative kind of challenge. It's just you, your bike and nature. The vistas are big, the skies are bright and there is a calm beauty that puts you in awe of the planet. With a sparse, harsh landscape devoid of much greenery or protection from the elements, cyclists are more exposed to nature - which can be a good and a bad thing. Staying hydrated is more important than ever.
The deserts of Utah are visually iconic and part of the American West mythology. It's no wonder as so many classic Westerns were filmed here.
This route lets you meander your way through Castle Valley and along the winding Colorado River in southeastern Grand County, Utah, the 6th largest river in the USA. The river leads you on a flat route with magnificent views of the La Sal Mountains, Red Rocks Towers, and Castle Rock Peak. The river contrasts sparse greenery and the rugged desert landscapes with its vibrant red rock pinnacles and sheer cliffs.
Best forest route - Avenue of the Giants, California
Woodland rides are at the other end of the spectrum to deserts. Surrounded on all sides by vegetation with just the occasional glimpse of the sky, the rider is transported to another green world that's peaceful and calming.
The road through the breathtaking Redwood pines of the Avenue of the Giants in Northern California's Humboldt Redwoods State Park is more magical than most. Here you can ride in awe through an other-worldly forest containing the towering Redwoods that are 2000 years old and the largest trees in the world, up to 85m high and 11m wide.
The forests are teeming with wildlife too, and you'll need to keep an eye out for young deer crossing the road right in front of you.
Most prestigious route - Paris-Roubaix
The Grand Tours might capture the headlines, but for those in the know, it is the legendary Monuments that offer some of the most challenging and respected races in the cycling calendar. The Monuments are steeped in racing folklore and date back to 1900 or even earlier.
Paris-Roubaix, or Hell of the North, (a.k.a. Queen of the Classics), is the third Monument of the cycling Spring Classics season in early April and is one of the toughest.
The course takes you on roads with numerous cobblestone sectors or pavé, varying in difficulty and length, as you make your way to Roubaix in the north of France, near the Belgium border.
You can experience a section of this course on ROUVY but without the relentless pain of the cobbles.
+ Bonus route - ROUVY's 'secret' favourite - Nusfjord to Haukland Beach, Norway
Sometimes, to discover a truly special route, you need to head off the beaten track and try something beyond the usual bucket list classics. For our 10th and final route on this list, we've chosen a wild card that is one of our favourites. But don't tell anyone else - we want to keep it a secret.
The Norwegian word Friluftsliv means love of the outdoors and it's a key part of Norwegian society - the harmonious balance of living your life with nature. Norwegian landscapes are very special - ancient, dramatic and magnificent. And this route is no exception.
The narrow winding road meanders through sheltered bays and coves, deep fjords surrounded by spectacular, rugged mountain scenery, dense forests, and deep valleys. In summer, when the sky is blue, the fjords take on a rich azure blue colour reflecting the sky and contrast against the jagged cliffs and deep green vegetation and forests, creating a masterpiece of a landscape unique to Norway.
Riding these 10 routes in real life would be an epic challenge and require a lot of hard work (and air miles!). But riding them on ROUVY would also be a huge achievement and bring hours of pleasure and satisfaction. You can appreciate them solo or connect online and ride with friends in different locations to enjoy the experience together - and that's another great aspect of indoor cycling.
We measure success by the goals we set ourselves.
ROUVY's goal is to make it easier for you to be able to experience these routes. Start your free 14 day trial then jump on your trainer, keep going and enjoy the ride.