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Beijing’s Best Bike Escapes

Longer bike rides near Beijing to get you on the road and out of town.


Autumn is the perfect time for hardcore road riders and mountain bikers to hit the trail, leave Beijing and get some seat time. Here are our picks for the best trails around Beijing to help you get your pedaling fix for fall.

Directions for the routes below are fairly basic, but Chinese characters are included for copying and pasting into a GPS or mapping app. So, hit the road and have fun! Don’t have a bike yet, or feel like it’s about time to trade the old steed in for a younger model? Then check out Beijing’s Best Bike Sources for suggestions.

Smooth and Easy

Hardcore road riders might say that this first route is just a warm up, but at around 25 kilometers from central Beijing, just getting to and from Tongzhou Canal Park (通州运河公园) is a commitment for the novice rider.

Located just beyond National Highway G103 in Beijing’s eastern suburbs, the Tongzhou Canal is flanked on both sides by smooth, car-free, paved foot and bike paths that run both directions away from Tonghu Da Lu (通胡大路). On the northeast side of the canal is a 5.5 kilometer long park area and green zone that makes for a nice break from the hustle and traffic of the city.

In total, when combined with the commute to and from the city center, this is a medium intensity 60 to 65 kilometer ride. And for the beginners, along the entire route there are bridges that crisscross the canal to make turning back when needed easy.

For a longer half-day ride, keep going south when you get to the bottom of the connected park area and ride until your heart is content along the edge of the canal to the bottom of Dayunhe Forrest Park (大运河森林公园) at Wuxing Lu (武兴路). Then either ride back to your starting point in Tongzhou Canal Forest Park to add about 18 kilometers to the route, or take the shortcut along G103 headed north to return to the city.

Trip With a View

Admittedly, the great view is at the end of this road route, and the majority of the ride is through the suburbs, but upon conquering Yangtaishan (阳台山) the vistas from the top are totally worth it: you’ll be looking down on the city to the southeast, and the mountains and lake to the west and north.

The Yangtaishan Natural Scenic Area(阳台山自然风景区)is not huge, but it provides a nice area to walk around and take in the scenery for an hour or so and have a break before making your way back to Beijing.

Most of this ride is pretty flat, but it’s the 4 kilometer climb to the top of the mountain that separates the committed riders from the non-committed. In all, from the Beijing’s city center to the top of the mountain this ride is around 48 kilometers one way on any route. First get to Beiqing Lu (北清路), then head west until the road dead-ends into Bei’anhe Lu (北安河路), where you will need to turn right and ride about 150 meters before turning left onto Yangtaishan Lu (阳台山路) which will lead you to the mountain park’s entrance.

Coming back down the mountain is nice long coasting ride, but stay on the lookout for pedestrians. In total, round trip this ride is about 100 kilometers and should be considered a full-day ride for all but the most experienced road-racing riders; especially when you take into account the opportunities for enjoying some nice scenery at the top along with taking time out for food, drink and rest breaks.

Get Dirty in the City

True off-road mountain biking for the day in Beijing is not as easy a prospect as it may sound, considering the city is surrounded by sparsely inhabited hills, mountains and gorges. Thankfully though, Fragrant Hills Park(香山公园)in northwest Beijing, has lots of dirt paths to get some gravel and mud under your tires. The terrain is not extreme, but it is a fun way to spend a few hours on the trails without the need to book a weekend or longer mountain bike excursion. City planners truly deserve some heartfelt thanks for this little gem of a nature park, so be respectful of the grounds and of others to make sure it stays open to mountain bikers.

Located just southeast of the Beijing Botanical Gardens, Fragrant Hills Park is just 1.5 kilometers outside the S50 West 5th Ring Road and about 26 kilometers from the city center. Making the entire trek on a heavy mountain bike might be tough, but hiring a van and driver is a quick and affordable way to get out to the park when splitting the cost between a few friends.

Join the Crowd

To get together with like-minded cyclists and do some group riding consider joining a club or showing up for some riding events hosted around Beijing. The Beijing Peloton is Beijing’s biggest road biking club and organizes rides year round to various destinations in the city. The club also has an annual mountain bike sojourn to Mongolia where they meet up with their sister club based in Ulaanbaatar.

The Beijing Mobsters are the city’s biggest mountain biking club and host rides every Saturday, as well as other outdoor sports opportunities periodically throughout the year.

Big Dirty Cycling is a loose group of riders who get together every Thursday night for a ride and social session, and welcome newcomers.

Serk Cycles hosts riding events in interesting locations for all skill levels and even invites non-cycling partners to hang out. Their events run from March through October and incorporate a bike ride, sightseeing, food and drinks and socializing for a set daily price.

As their name implies, Bicycle Kingdom Tours & Rentals offers lots of different city and mountain bike guided tours and even offers rental bikes, so that all you have to do is show up and pedal.

 

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