In the depth of winter, it’s easy to let the mind wander to warmer days of long outdoor rides close to home. The Canadian summer is still a ways away but that doesn’t mean you have to put off getting somewhere you can enjoy some warmer weather and get in some beautiful miles on the bike. To bridge the gap between the Canadian winter and spring, consider taking a bike trip to build some fitness and enjoy some stunning riding without frozen hands and toes. Here are seven cycling destinations that are perfect for a cycling getaway:

Group riding in Tucson. Photo: Oliver Evans

Tucson

One of the most popular destinations for Canadian elite and pro cyclists during the winter months is Tucson, Arizona. Mount Lemmon is one of the best training climbs in North American with a steady 5 per cent gradient rising to 2,795 m over 34 km. The riding isn’t limited to the challenging climb with popular group rides and an extremely solid network of bike infrastructure to get out of the city. The climate is desert so is predictably dry and usually pleasantly warm with an average in the mid-teens to low twenties during the winter. It’s 174 km southeast of Phoenix but has an airport so you can fly right into this popular winter cycling destination.

Portugal

For a more adventurous winter getaway, the Iberian peninsula can offer great riding. The undulating terrain, coastal views, cuisine, history and culture will make a cycling trip to Portugal an enriching experience on and off the bike. The southern part of Portugal is the warmest during the winter with the coast dotted with resorts. The weather can be a little chilly and damp during the winter but during the spring tourism is light and temperatures usually quite comfortable. There are direct flights from Canada to Lisbon.

Devils Courthouse Tunnel on the Blue Ridge Parkway

North Carolina

Drive south from the east coast of Canada and eventually, you will find the climate is no longer gripped in arctic cold and the Appalachian Mountains may have traces of snow but the roads are generally clear. While late winter and spring in North Carolina can be cold and damp, it’s a huge improvement from the conditions in Canada. If you are lucky, the weather will even be sunny and quite warm. Brevard or the Greenville area in South Carolina are both popular options for a cycling getaway for Canadians. With various cottages and lodging options, relatively easy accessibility by car and a warmer climate than most of Canada, North Carolina can be a perfect place to get in some early season kilometres on beautiful roads.

Colombia

Colombia

Colombia produces some of the finest climbers in pro cycling and the country has spectacular riding on offer. Mountain passes higher than anything in Europe, a warm and temperate climate, friendly people and a delicious selection of exotic fruits to fuel your riding make it a top destination. There are direct flights to Bogota and Medellin. Rigoberto Urah lives right outside of Medellin not too far from the airport and the riding in the department of Antioquia is really stunning. The entire route of the Tour Colombia in February takes place on the roads outside of Medellin and in close proximity to the airport so when you land for your cycling trip you don’t need to go far to start your riding.

Mallorca

If you feel inspired to do a training camp like the pros, there is perhaps no destination than Mallorca. While you will have to take a connecting flight through mainland Europe to make it to this incredible cycling destination, it’s well worth the travel. Mallorca has stunning roads, some very solid climbs, beautiful weather for winter or spring, and the tourism infrastructure to meet your every need for a comfortable trip.

The road the Canyonlands National Park

Utah

While you wouldn’t want to go to Utah mid-winter because the elevation means the state gets quite cold and in parts receives quite a bit of snow, spring is the perfect time to head to the beehive state. With cooler temperatures than mid-summer when it’s scorching hot, very little precipitation and some absolutely stunning roads one of the most sparsely populated American states has a lot of very solid road riding to offer. It also has stunning national parks to explore when you aren’t in the saddle. There are direct flights from Salt Lake City and if you go in spring you will want to head south instead of towards Park City where the ski season lasts until April. Utah has five stunning national parks and in spring the roads around these areas will be quiet.

Costa Rica

Central America has a warm tropical climate year around making it an attractive destination for a cycling getaway. The gravel roads in Costa Rica can be rugged but with a good off-road setup, you’ll be able to take advantage of everything on offer. Then, after riding you can hit the beach with a drink with a little umbrella in it. There are direct flights to Liberia in the North West of the country or San José in the centre and Limon on the east coast.

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