10 Bike Races with Bizarre Traditions | PedalChef

Key Takeaways

  • Doughnuts can be more crucial than the stopwatch in certain bike races.
  • Some traditions transform bike races into social and cultural festivals.
  • Peculiar races offer a unique blend of challenge and whimsy for cyclists.

Ever stumbled upon a bike race where doughnuts count more than time?

It’s no joke!

Cycling enthusiasts around the world partake in races that are anything but your typical Tour de France.

Some of these events are so quirky, they could leave you scratching your head, wondering if it's a race or a circus on wheels!

Imagine racing naked through city streets or speeding downhill on children's bikes after dark.

Bike races can be about more than just speed; they’re cultural happenings with rituals ranging from the delicious to the downright odd.

When it comes to bike races with bizarre traditions, you're not just a spectator, you’re a part of the living, breathing folklore of the cycling world.

These events aren't just for hardcore cyclists; they draw communities together and celebrate the spirit of fun, challenge, and sometimes pure absurdity.

Together, let's gear up and coast through the world’s 10 most peculiar bike races that pedal well outside the box.



Tour de Donut (Illinois)

Ever thought a sweet tooth could help you in a bike race?

Welcome to the Tour de Donut in Staunton, Illinois, where your ability to munch donuts is just as important as pedaling fast!

Imagine a bike race that feels more like a carnival and less like a grueling competition.

That's the Tour de Donut for you.

This race is anything but ordinary.

Spanning 34 miles of rolling Illinois countryside, it includes two checkpoints where you're invited to gobble down donuts.

Yes, you heard that right!

Here’s the twist: for every donut you devour and keep down, they'll deduct 5 minutes from your race time.

How's that for a sweet incentive?

  • Distance: 34 miles
  • Donut Stops: 2
  • Deduction Per Donut: 5 minutes

Whether you're aiming for a personal best or simply want to enjoy the ride and the treats, this event is designed for all.

There's even a shorter, 12-mile course if you prefer a more casual experience, complete with its own donut stop.

Remember, while the confectionery consumption is not mandatory, it's a huge part of the fun.

The free T-shirt is a bonus if you register before the June 15 cut-off.

Late registrants get one too, but only while supplies last.

So, do you think you have the stomach, and the legs, for the Tour de Donut?

With a mix of competitive spirit and lighthearted fun, it's a race that celebrates both the joy of biking and the love of donuts.

Have a blast and who knows—you might just cycle your way to a 'hole' new record!

World Naked Bike Ride (Various Locations)

Ever felt like breaking free from the usual cycling attire and joining a bunch of carefree souls on bikes?

Well, the World Naked Bike Ride might just be your ticket to liberation.

Picture this: dozens, sometimes hundreds, of cyclists whizzing by with nothing but their birthday suits and maybe a helmet for safety's sake—talk about feeling the breeze on your skin!

This isn't just any race; it's a global phenomenon celebrating the human body, your right to cycle safely, and a shared vision for a greener world.

Each year, vibrant clusters of cyclists paint cities around the globe in the purest form of human expression—yep, that means naked!

Why ride au naturel, you ask?

It's all about visibility.

Not only does it turn heads, but it also shines a spotlight on the vulnerability of cyclists amidst the hustle and bustle of metal-on-metal traffic.

Cars and bikes need to coexist peacefully, and what better way to remind everyone than by parading in the buff?

Here's a quick rundown:

  • When? Annually, with dates varying by location.
  • Where? Global reach, with lots of U.S. cities participating.
  • Who? Anyone eager to promote cycling and body positivity.

Don't worry; it's all in good fun and for great causes.

Plus, the freedom of zipping through the streets with the wind on your skin is quite the exhilarating experience.

So why not dust off that bike, dare to bare, and join a ride that's as quirky as it is meaningful?

Remember, it's not just about stripping down; it's about standing up for a safer, more sustainable world on two wheels.

See you there?

Zoobomb (Portland, Oregon)

Ever wondered what it's like to hurtle down a hill on a pint-sized bike, with the wind whooshing past your ears?

Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of Zoobombing!

Every Sunday night in Portland, Oregon, an eclectic mix of thrill-seekers gathers for a ride that's anything but ordinary.

Here's the scoop on this quirky tradition:

  • When? Every Sunday night.
  • Where? The West Hills of Portland.
  • How? Riders take their mini-bikes on the MAX Light Rail to the Washington Park station near the Oregon Zoo.
  • The Ride: It all starts at the zoo's MAX stop and zooms down the surrounding hills.
  • The Bikes: We're talking about kiddy bikes, yes the tiny ones!
  • The Dress Code: Costumes aren't mandatory, but hey, they definitely add to the fun!

Zoobombing is a testament to Portland's offbeat culture.

Imagine a horde of costumed cyclists, pedaling furiously on bikes that might look more at home in a playground than darting through city streets.

It's a weekly adrenaline rush where the unconventional is king.

The tradition began back in 2002, and riders of all skill levels are welcome to join.

Just head to 'The People's Bike Library of Portland', affectionately known as 'the Pile', to pick a ride.

It's not uncommon to see a business suit paired with a neon tricycle, or a superhero cape fluttering behind a tiny two-wheeler.

Who needs a Sunday snooze when you can go Zoobombing?

Grab a helmet, pick your chariot, and bomb down those hills like there's no Monday morning!

Just remember, safety first—you're riding for the thrill, not the spill!

Urban Assault Ride (Various Locations)

Got a bike?

How about a buddy who's just as into zany challenges as you are?

Great, because the Urban Assault Ride may just be your next big weekend plan!

Picture this: a sprawling urban course peppered with checkpoints, each presenting a wild obstacle that'll test brains and brawn alike!

When and Where?

  • 06/26: Denver
  • 08/07: Minneapolis
  • 08/14: Des Moines

Do you relish the idea of flying through city streets on a two-wheeled steed, only to be greeted by quirky physical tests at every stage?

Think of scavenger hunts and adventure races having a bike-themed baby—that's the Urban Assault Ride for you.

Biking is just half the fun; each checkpoint brings its own little twist, from brain teasers to strength feats.

Are you ready to show off your moxie and muscle, and maybe discover hidden parts of your city?

Oh, and did I mention the rewards that await at the finish line?

Picture this: cold beer, live music, contests, and get this—a legendary prize raffle!

Why Sign Up?

  • 🚴 High-energy atmosphere
  • 🏆 Competitive but fun
  • 🍻 Fabulous after-party
  • 🎁 Prizes that make it all worthwhile

Teams of two take on this race, making it a perfect weekend escapade with your best cycling pal.

And it's not just about pedaling fast.

The real cherry on top is the sense of adventure and camaraderie you'll experience as you tackle each uniquely designed obstacle.

So, why not gather your courage, grab your helmet, and race through your city in the most exhilarating way possible?

Who knows, you might just cycle your way to legendary status — or at least enjoy trying!

Single Speed World Championship (Various Locations)

Ever showed up to a bike race thinking you might leave with more than just scrapes and glory?

How about a tattoo to commemorate your victory?

Welcome to the Single Speed World Championship, a global event that takes the "standard" out of racing and replaces it with sheer eccentricity.

What's the deal?

You've got one gear on your bike, and that's it!

The Single Speed World Championship is less about the whoosh of competing and more about the whoop of community.

Whether you're in it to sprint or to savor the atmosphere, you're in for a treat.

  • First Official Race: 1999
  • Original Attendance: About 260 people
  • The Vibe: Bike rally, fun-centric, and definitely not your typical race
  • Traditions: Costumes, camaraderie, and post-race parties
  • Warning: Winning might get you inked—refuse a commemorative tattoo at your own peril!

Picture this: a horde of cyclists, geared up in the wackiest outfits you can imagine—maybe even a cape or two—as they pedal furiously on their stripped-down steeds.

Locations change yearly, keeping the terrain as fresh as the faces.

But whether you're turning the cranks in Portland or another vibrant host city, expect a blend of serious racing with a huge focus on fun, festivity, and community spirit.

So, why not dig out that trusty single-speed from your shed?

Embrace the unconventional and join a race where lowering your standard (just in terms of bike gears, of course) is the quickest route to elevated excitement.

Remember: keep it simple, pedal hard, and maybe practice your surprised face for when you cross the finish line—just in case you’re the next champ staring down the business end of a tattoo gun!

Tour de Fat (Various Locations)

Ever felt like grabbing your bike, slipping into a wacky costume, and joining a parade?

Tour de Fat is just the place for you!

New Belgium Brewing throws this eccentric festival that's part bike race, part costume party.

Here's what you can expect:

  • Costumed Bike Parade: Imagine you and your friends cycling through the streets dressed in the zaniest outfits. It's not only accepted, it's encouraged!
  • Live Entertainment: From clowns and musicians to comedians and carnies, the main stage is alive with talent that'll keep you laughing and cheering.
  • Beer Galore: It wouldn't be a brewer's event without the beer, right? Sip on a refreshing New Belgium special while taking in the sights and sounds.

But hey, it's not just about fun and frolic:

  • Supporting a Cause: Feel great knowing that as you enjoy the festivities, you're helping fund local non-profits focused on biking advocacy and community support.

The best part?

You're celebrating cycling culture with a crowd as passionate about two wheels as you are.

Activities at Tour de Fat include:

  • "Slow Ride" Contest: Test your balance and control with the slowest race ever.
  • Art Bikes: Ever ridden a bike that's also a work of art? The Bike Pit awaits.
  • Dance Offs: Yes, shake a leg or whatever else you want because dancing is very much on the agenda.

And don't forget — while the Troll of Fremont might not be thrilled with the ruckus, the rest of the city sure seems to love it.

Ready to join the tradition and make some memories?

Grab your bike and let's go!

Gravel Worlds (Lincoln, Nebraska)

Ever fancied yourself a pirate on two wheels?

Say "Ahoy!" to Gravel Worlds in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Here, you're not just a rider; you're part of the Pirate Cycling League.

Eye patches are optional, but a gritty determination is mandatory to conquer the 150-miles of rolling gravel roads.

The Challenge:

  • Distance: 150 miles
  • Elevation: Over 10,000 ft of climbing
  • Terrain: Gravel farmlands of Southeastern Nebraska

This race isn't your typical weekend pedal.

It's a test of endurance, mettle, and navigation.

With a 30-hour time limit to complete the course, do you think you have what it takes?

Don't worry, the Land Ho 50k Ultra Marathon is also on deck if you're looking to stretch those sea legs further.

The Gravel Worlds embody a grassroots style.

That means no big corporate splash; it's cycling in its purest, most adventurous form.

Mark your calendars for August 23-24, 2024, and prepare to grind through summer weather, the relentless Nebraska hills, and the unyielding gravel that gives this race its name.

Quirky Traditions:

  • Pirate Cycling League
  • Nocturnal start for the 300-mile race
  • Grassroots atmosphere

Are you ready to hoist the sail on your gravel bike and embark on the greatest adventure of your life?

Remember, it's just you, your bike, and miles upon miles of grueling yet beautiful challenge.

Sharpen your swords and oil those chains, adventurers; Gravel Worlds await!

The Iceman Cometh Challenge (Michigan)

Have you ever thought about combining the thrill of mountain biking with the wild unpredictability of Michigan's November weather?

The Iceman Cometh Challenge is exactly what you're looking for.

Let's dive into the frosty details:

Imagine pedaling fast and hard over 30 miles of trails, all while the weather throws its icy tantrums at you.

It's not just a bike race; it's an adventure where every turn of the pedal tests your mettle against the chill.

And you’re not alone in this—over 5,000 mountain bikers share this adrenaline rush every year.


Did you feel the shiver just thinking about it?

This isn't your typical Sunday morning cycle.

Picture this: one minute you're slicing through a serene snowy forest, the next you're wrestling your bike through a surprise slush puddle.

The start line buzzes in Kalkaska, and the finish waits for you at Timber Ridge Resort in Traverse City, and trust me, the sense of accomplishment at the end is as warm as the challenge is cool.

But why do so many saddle up for the freeze?

It's the camaraderie, the festive atmosphere, and maybe the chance to say, "Yeah, I raced the Iceman." From youngsters wanting to prove their grit, to seasoned riders who've seen a few winters, this race has age divisions fitting everyone.

There's even a separate event for kids and shorter races for those not quite ready for the full 30 miles.

So, are you ready to join the legion of bikers who've left their tire tracks on this frosty course?

Lace up those winter boots, because the Iceman Cometh Challenge is calling your name!

Dirty Kanza (Kansas)

Have you ever heard of a bike race where coming in last is actually a tradition?

Let's talk about the Dirty Kanza.

It's a gravel grinder that's nothing short of epic - imagine pedaling your way across 200 miles of Kansas' Flint Hills.

Known today as Unbound Gravel, this isn't your leisurely Sunday ride; it's a true test of mettle and grit.

Why do riders flock to this event, you ask?

Well, apart from the killer bragging rights, there's a quirky tradition here that celebrates tenacity.

The last person to cross the finish line gets a special honor: the "Lantern Rouge." It's like a badge of courage showing you've got the stamina to push through to the very end – because sometimes, finishing is winning!

But don't let the "last place" trophy fool you; all levels of cyclists join the fray, from first-timers to elites.

And with every push of the pedal, every churn of gravel beneath the tires, the essence of this famed event comes alive.

It's not just about racing; it's about enduring, conquering, and sharing stories that last a lifetime.

So, grab your bike, chart your course, and maybe, just maybe, aim for that Lantern Rouge.

It's not every day you get to be celebrated for finishing last, after all.

The Death Ride (California)

Ever wondered what it takes to cycle through majestic mountains with the spirit of a festival in the air?

Let's talk about the Tour of the California Alps, or as it's better known, the Death Ride.

It's not just a race; it's a celebration of endurance, complete with quirky traditions that'll have you smiling through the pain.

  • When? July 13, 2024
  • Where? Markleeville, CA
  • Distance? 103 miles
  • Climbs? 5 mountain passes

Imagine propelling your bike over 103 miles with a whopping 15,000 feet of climbing.

That's not just any day out; that's an epic adventure!

The Death Ride loops through picturesque landscapes, pushing you over five mountain passes, including both sides of Monitor Pass and Ebbetts Pass.

Feel the burn yet?

But what's with the bizarre angle, you ask?

Picture this: themed rest stops where you can catch your breath and share a laugh, and fellow riders donning playful costumes that range from the wacky to the wonderful.

It's hard to miss the camaraderie here.

  • Monitor Pass West and East — 8,314 feet
  • Ebbetts Pass East and West — 8,730 feet

The mix of grueling effort and joyous atmosphere turns competitors into a tight-knit community for the day, propelling each other forward with every pedal.

Are you ready to join in, embrace the challenge, and earn your bragging rights?

Because the Death Ride is waiting to test your mettle and offer a story to last a lifetime.

Keep those wheels turning!