Almaty- the biggest city in Kazakhstan - offers great opportunities for active tourists loving to be on the move, whether on foot or horseback, by bike or ski. We will try to figure out what there is in this place that makes more and more people (both residents and guests) prefer cycling to any other activity.
Almaty is experiencing a real bicycle-boom: cycling races are held in the city on a regular basis (like Tour of Almaty); new routes – quick rides and long tours, uphill and downhill - appear on the maps and on the slopes. Even the streets inside the city were transformed in favor cycling enthusiasts: bicycle lanes now exist along the main roads in any direction. The service is developing as well: there is a number of bike shops, which sell, rent and repair. Why is it so popular?
First, it is interesting. Unlike other parts of Kazakhstan (western, central), which mostly look desolate steppes and deserts, Almaty region represents a huge variety of landscapes, assembled compactly so that you'll never get boring when ride through. Tien Shan glaciers and highland lakes, dense forests and pictorial canyons: all these famous Almaty attractions can be reached in 1 day, provided you have a bike and desire to see that.
Second, it is easy. You’re going uphill with your mountain bike, or you’re planning some touring around – it became so comfortable. Besides “explosive” infrastructure development (city buses, which can take you and a bike to the trailhead; friendly rental and repair services), there is a good information supply. Info on the trails and GPS tracks around Almaty are shared by cycling fans in open sources like Bikemap, Mapmyride, Wikiloc etc. Local cycling communities contribute great to the promotion and information access, whether it is a publication of a free guide-book (like good one by VeloAlmaty) or a public call for Tour participation.
Third, it’s fun. It really is, if you take care on your safety. The roads connecting Almaty and surrounding settlements are mostly in good state, but traffic sometimes looks an “Asian chaos”. Much of drivers ignore safety rules, especially when left the city limits, so avoiding busy highways seems to be logical idea in terms of personal safety.