“Three bold 'Zagreb boys' decided to travel the world in a two-wheeler and thus promote the sport of our country”, the Zagreb press wrote in 1926 about the cycling feat of a Zagreb trio. It was long after cycling reached its peak, the time when there were three professional racetracks in Zagreb. However, in the meantime, cycling has increasingly crossed to roads and become part of the recreation of citizens, and then, in recent times, an interesting way of sightseeing in Zagreb and its surroundings.

Today, there is everything from relaxed cycling and enjoying the city's attractions, through riding the city's natural oases, to adrenaline parks for two wheels. The former is made possible by a network of marked bike paths throughout the city, whose lanes provide a safe and visible riding space on the pavement intended exclusively for cyclists. By city bike, which is ideal for riding around the city, you will easily visit some of the most beautiful locations in Zagreb, pass by the Croatian National Theater and the Mimara Museum, stop for a coffee on Cvjetni trg, and, say, drive to Maksimir Park.

If you prefer nature or looking for a break from exploring the city, the best thing to do is to join the people of Zagreb, who like to ride bikes around Lake Jarun (5.5–6.3 km) and Bundek (1.6 km), the Sava embankment and Maksimir Park. If, on the other hand, you are a fan of road riding and speed bikes, you can take a mountain ride to Sljeme (the top of Medvednica, only for the most skilled), from where there is a fantastic view of the city.

There is also a well-liked Zagreb–Samobor route (a popular picnic spot for the people of Zagreb) and the suburban Zaprešić and Zelina routes, where you will enjoy a ride through nature and villages of well-preserved traditional architecture. Speaking of Medvednica, its wooded slopes host a network of as many as nine circular well-marked bicycle routes of various lengths and complexities. The routes are marked and there are points of contact between them where you can switch from one to another. That way you can adjust the tour according to your own taste. Medvednica also offers the particularly attractive and challenging Enduro trail, a cycling link between Sljeme and Zagreb.

Photo credit: Darko Tomas / CROPIX

Traditional recreational and relaxing bicycle races are also a great opportunity to join the people of Zagreb for a full day on two wheels, which includes a variety of activities. In May, for example, the Zagreb Bicycle Race is held, on the route from Ban Jelačić Square to Prepuštovac, 20 kilometers away. In June, the Večernjak Cycling Race (Večernjakova biciklijada) takes place, one of the longest-running events in Zagreb, usually heading to Jarun or Bundek lakes. At these events, after the ride, you can play various games, enjoy the entertainment program, win great prizes and refresh yourself. If you are visiting Zagreb with children, they will also come into their own with the program for the youngest.

If you find yourself in Zagreb in September, you can participate in Gravelman. What exactly is this race? It depends on your mood. For some it can be a classic bycicle race, for others it is about pushing their own boundaries, and for those eager to race, there is a 100 kilometers long route that requires a lot of effort. In fact, 8–15 chasers follow the participants and try to enter the finish line first. If you are eager to prove yourself and race, you will start competing with the chasers and you will not allow yourself to be caught.

What about the three Zagreb fellows from the beginning of the text? Did they manage to travel the world on bicycles? Even if they didn’t, there must have been adventures and great stories to tell upon returning to Zagreb.