Year on year a multitude of athletes prepare themselves for some of the worlds “hardest” races such as the Tour De France and Giro d’Italia but are these really the worlds hardest bicycle races? We are not arguing with the fact that they may feature as a few but what about those bike races you have never heard of? Are there any races tougher? Here is a list of six other races that you may not have heard of but will leave you questioning what is the most mentally and physically challenging cycling event in the world?.
- RACE ACROSS AMERICA
Few athletes attempt the race across America, its reputation as the world’s toughest race is certainly in contention. The 3000 mile coast to coast race is a whopping 1000 miles longer than the Tour De France and most athletes that attempt and complete this phenomenal race usually do it in half the time that the lovely cyclist of SKY team do the three week tour in. Each competitor is not required to stop and sleep and most competitors get on average two hours sleep a day. We recognise that they probably don’t climb anywhere near the same as some of Europe’s big races but they still manage to burn a whopping 180, 000 calories per rider. So unless your stomach is a machine in itself we don’t recommend you try this.
- LA RUTA – COSTA RICA
This is for all those adrenaline junkies who live MTB! Recognised as possibly the hardest MTB race in the world, it’s also pretty scary! This race attracts the very best endurance athletes and the course that transverses America’s Pacific to the Atlantic which famously took the Spanish 20 years to cover but these athletes does it in three days. Don’t let its 161 miles fool you into thinking you can grind this one out, though you start and finish at sea level the race covers five mountain ranges and climbs a total of 29,000 feet!. If you love cycling through beaches, jungle, mountains and volcanic ash we still don’t recommend it!
THE TOUR DIVIDE – AMERICA/CANADA
This is instantly recognised as the grand tour within the MTB community and BikeFreight staff has all agreed probably the hardest. Unlike a lot of other races what makes this one so tough is that it is self-supported throughout the 2745 mile race starting in Canada and ending in Americas New Mexico. Ridden on the famously forgotten passes of the Continental divide, riders will climb a total of a mind blowing 200,000 feet which makes my legs ache just thinking about it. The terrain is said to be some of the harshest know for any race and what makes it even more hard-core is that there is no entry fee or medal when you cross the line but simply your name goes into a record book that no one will ever see. We honestly believe surviving this would be the ultimate reward.
- THE IDITAROD INVERTATIONAL
Before we even explain to you what this race is all about, the only reason BikeFreight did not agree that this was by far the most insane and craziest cycling challenge was because you can walk, ski and bike and thought it was only fair to base it on cycling. However we do think that you would need a screw loose to even contemplate entering this event. Though Nowhere near the steepest or the longest at 1,110 miles but rather the conditions that makes this the most feared race known to man. The course starts in Anchorage, Alaska and finishes in Nome in the middle of the winter season, expect temperatures of -52 degrees below zero and next to no visibility. There is no set out course for the race and you are expected to navigate it yourself whilst trying to avoid losing limbs to hypothermia or possibly losing your life. Racers competing in this event average 3mph and only 42 people have ever finished it. We don’t think we need to talk you out of this one.
- CENT COLS CHALLENGE
If you have done this race or are going to then you are both stupid and very very lucky! As only 30 riders are selected each year to compete in this epic race that is purely based on climbing mountain passes. So unless your first name is Chris and your second Froome then we suggest you spend the eight hours a day for the next ten years on a watt bike on maximum incline and resistance to imagine the pain athletes go through to complete this. The course varies from Dolomites in Italy to the Pyrenees in France and involves climbing 100 passes in 10 days. Each day you will climb an average 5000 meters and is supposed to be one of the most scenic routes know but we believe that you will most probably be staring at the tarmac in agonising leg pain! Good luck to 30 idiots this year.
- CAPE EPIC – SOUTH AFRICA
Well the name says it all we suppose! South Africa’s toughest eight day race and is known as the Tour De France of MTB, taking place from the famous home of Table Mountain (Cape Town and finishes in Durbanville. The race is 460 miles and finds you climbing an average of 2000 meters a day, crossing some of the toughest landscape the western coast of South Africa can offer. A very scenic route but riders are warned of bush fire, floods and wildlife whilst trying to find unkept tracks along the trail. This is not only a physically demanding race but also mentally challenging and riders are warned to keep their wits about them.