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Beautiful Bike Rides Around Seven Big Cities

By Peter Koch
8/4/2014 10:08:00 AM

Have a long weekend and a trusty bike? Feeling inspired by "le Tour" starting July 5? Then it's time to make your two-wheeled escape from crowded tourist hubs with these beautiful urban rides.

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Ambient Images Inc. / Alamy

New York City

Many people think that, save for taxi-dodging bike messengers, cycling in New York is limited to the Central Park loop. But the Big Apple more than doubled its bike infrastructure in the past decade, to 400-plus miles. To get the big picture, ride Manhattan's 32-mile perimeter, 90 percent of which is accessible via dedicated, bike-friendly greenways. Pedal past the United Nations, the World Trade Center, and the Intrepid, knowing that world-class food and culture await you at every rest stop.

PYMCA / Contributor / getty images

London

Cycling is a great option for anyone looking to make the most of London's historic Thames River waterfront-in a single day, you can easily cover territory from Greenwich to Parliament and all of the usual suspects in between-but it's nice, for a break, to venture beyond the cobbled streets of the city. For that, the tranquil 99-mile Thames Valley Cycle Route heads west from Putney Bridge along the riverside through Windsor and on to Oxford. Hole up at Setters Barn, a well-appointed B&B in the South Oxfordshire countryside, and make a weekend of it.

Pedro Gerardo Photography / getty images

San Francisco

The fastest bike route out of hilly, densely packed San Francisco also happens to be the best way to appreciate its most iconic feat of engineering, the Golden Gate Bridge. From downtown, ride along the Embarcadero waterfront-past the Pier 39 sea lions, Fisherman's Wharf, and Telegraph Hill-to the Presidio and make your escape over Big Red itself via a dedicated bike path. Once on the wildly beautiful Marin Headlands, refuel in the tiny, artistic enclave of Sausalito before heading back. Or, if you're feeling strong, continue on eight miles to the hushed redwood groves of Muir Woods.

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