Great bike rides can start anywhere, but sometimes it’s worth the extra travel to race to a backdrop of breathtaking coastal landscapes, glorious mountain peaks or rugged desert terrain. We’ve highlighted 13 bike events that we think are worth the trip in 2019 — including some old favorites.
Connect with a selection of the finest Northwest Arkansas singletrack, double track and paved segments at the Oz Trails Off-Road event. With 25-,35- and 50-mile routes plus daily festivities, riders of all levels can enjoy the beauty of the Ozark mountains and mingle with other mountain bike enthusiasts along the way. If you’re still not convinced, finishers receive a custom-designed mason jar filled with with locally produced pimento cheese.
If you’re up for tackling Colorado’s extreme, high-altitude terrain we highly suggest signing up for this one-of-a-kind MTB race. Starting at 10,152 feet and climbing to 12,424 feet, Leadville’s picturesque Rocky Mountain views will almost make you forget about the altitude effects. This out-and-back route takes place mostly on forest trails with the occasional stretch of mountain road.
Created in the spirit of the Belgian one-day cycling classics, the 2019 edition of this challenging race takes riders 136 miles up mountains, across dirt sections and over water crossings. The 12,000 feet of climbing is not for the faint of heart, but your strenuous effort is sure to earn you some delicious waffles and post-race libations. If this is your first gravel grinder, we recommend checking out the shorter 76-mile Belgian Wafer Ride.
Started in 2013 by renowned bike racer Rebecca Rusch, RPI is a long-haul gravel ride and outdoor festival held over Labor Day weekend. Named “one of the top five gravel events in the world” by Global Cycling Network, each day gives riders a chance to take on a grueling yet spectacular course through the central part of Idaho. To top it all off, RPI benefits four bike-focused nonprofits, including PeopleForBikes.
What better way to enjoy Vermont’s scenic autumn landscape than by mountain bike? Across 50 hilly miles, riders travel through spectacular fall foliage and gain a total of 8,900 vertical feet. Female participants may opt to race as a two-person bike relay, an alternative designed to encourage higher participation by women.
Ever dreamed of riding your bike alongside the stunning coastline of California or through the red rock cathedrals of Death Valley National Park? Climate Ride organizes charitable events across the world to raise awareness and support sustainability, active transportation and environmental causes. Choose from over 100 beneficiary organizations—including PeopleForBikes—whether you sign up for an organized event or take on an independent challenge any time throughout the year.
Launched in 2006 with just 34 registrants, the Dirty Kanza now welcomes over 2,000 gravel-grinding enthusiasts, thanks to the growing popularity of the sport. With routes ranging from 25 to 350 miles, this event offers entry-level riders a small taste of the gravel riding experience, while seasoned professionals can tackle a demanding endurance feat through the Flint Hills.
RAGBRAI, more formally known as the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, is the oldest, largest and longest recreational bicycle touring event in the world. This rolling celebration of the Hawkeye State brings participants from all over the US, as well as international racers. The course changes every year, but averages 468 miles. Expect to begin somewhere along Iowa’s western border on the Missouri River and pedal through the finish on the state’s eastern border on the Mississippi River.
This uniquely formatted race gives riders of all types the opportunity explore the stunning back country of Utah’s Tushar Mountains and Fishlake National Forest—all while accumulating over 10,000 feet of elevation gain. Featuring a 60/40 split of gravel-to-tarmac sectors, a cyclocross, gravel or mountain bike will get the job done. Though registration has closed for 2019, look out for transfer opportunities in April.
Named one of the best trips by Outside Magazine, the Farm to Fork Fondo series aims to highlight and support the relationship between bike riders, farmers and beautiful landscapes. Participants work up an appetite riding challenging courses through scenic farmland with timed segments, magnificent views and aid stations featuring locally-sourced treats. The 2019 series will visit New York, North Carolina, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Massachusetts and Kentucky.
Started in 1983 by two Utah cyclists, LoToJa was inspired by the difficulty of a one-day European classic bike race like Paris-Roubaix. The 200+ mile course takes riders over three mountain passes through Utah, Idaho and Wyoming and finishes as the base of the rugged Teton mountain range.
This 40-mile, car-free tour begins in Lower Manhattan, travels through the heart of Central Park, over the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and finishes in Staten Island. Look forward to musicians, performers and lots of cheering crowds scattered along the route, as well as a special finish line festival to celebrate your effort. Proceeds from the event help fund Bike New York’s free bicycle education programs.
If winter weather doesn’t keep you off your bike, grab your gloves and head to the Great Lakes State this November. This point-to-point mountain bike race consists primarily of dirt roads, two-tracks, abandoned railroad beds and the world-famous Vasa Nordic ski trail. Since 1990, Riders of all ages and experience levels have traveled to this race to enjoy the stunning terrain of the Pere Marquette State Forest.
Are we missing one of your favorite bike events? Be sure to share your must-do rides with us in the comments below or on social media.