10 Epic Cycling Challenges to Try Before You Die | PedalChef

Key Takeaways

  • Ultimate cycling challenges test endurance and resolve.
  • Diverse terrains and distances cater to different skill levels.
  • These rides offer unique, unforgettable cycling experiences.

Imagine a journey that pushes you to the very limits of your endurance.

Cycling challenges across the world offer just that, with some rides so grueling, they're a match for your wildest dreams.

Epic cycling challenges are the ultimate tests of stamina and grit.

Whether scaling towering peaks, braving gravel-packed trails, or embarking on coast-to-coast adventures, there's no shortage of pedal-powered quests to add to your bucket list.

You're not just after any ride.

You're hunting for experiences that boast authenticity, challenges that teeter on the edge of impossible.

That's what sets these epic cycling events apart.

Tested by the bravest riders, they offer you an opportunity to write your own chapter in cycling folklore, armed with the knowledge of some of the most monumental rides out there.



Race Across America (RAAM)

Have you ever dreamed of cycling across the entire United States?

Race Across America (RAAM) might just be the challenge you're looking for.

This isn't your average bike race – it's a legendary journey that few dare to tackle.

Race at a Glance:

  • Distance: Roughly 3,000 miles
  • Start: Oceanside, California
  • Finish: Annapolis, Maryland
  • When: Held annually in June

Solo or team, the choice is yours.

You can take on this behemoth solo or in a team of two, four, or eight.

Either way, you're in for a serious test of stamina and willpower.

Here's what you're signing up for:

  • Teams: Solo, 2-person, 4-person, or 8-person relay
  • Duration: It takes about 8 days for the fastest riders
  • Sleepline: Sleep? Barely. The top competitors rest no more than an hour per day.

Imagine the thrill of racing through deserts, over mountains, and across plains, pedaling day and night, pushing your limits, with nothing but the road ahead.

It's not just about the distance; it's about the journey and the stories you'll tell.

Remember, RAAM is not just a race; it's a monumental commitment.

The physical, logistical, and financial aspects are no joke.

But that feeling of crossing the finish line?


While you prepare, consider the endurance, financial planning, and logistical support you'll need.

RAAM veterans say it’s as much about the preparation as it is about the pedaling.

So, are you ready to join the ranks of the most tenacious cyclists on the planet?

Strap on your helmet, hop on your bike, and let's see what you're made of!

Dirty Kanza (Unbound Gravel)

Ever dreamt of testing your mettle on miles of rolling gravel?

Then you might want to add the Unbound Gravel to your cycling bucket list.

Formerly known as Dirty Kanza, Unbound Gravel is more than just a race – it’s a voyage into the heart of Kansas' Flint Hills.

The Challenge Awaits

  • Distances: Offers a range from 25 to a staggering 200 miles.
  • Terrain: Predominantly gravel – so you'll need to come prepared for a bumpy ride.
  • Location: The vast openness of Kansas, capable of both inspiring and intimidating.

Train Right, Ride Hard

Considering taking on the century double?

Make sure you give yourself ample time to train on those gravel paths.

Suggested plans include a mix of Sweet Spot Base and Sustained Power Build workouts.

The Community Factor

  • Entry Point: For many cyclists, Unbound Gravel is their introduction to gravel racing.
  • Passion Fuel: For veterans, it’s the event that cements their love for the discipline.

Tickle your fancy?

Remember, despite your level of fitness, starting with base training is critical.

Then, depending on your timetable, build up to the event’s demands.

So, whether you’re vying for the top spot or just looking to cross the finish line, remember that Unbound Gravel isn’t just about the distance; it's about the journey – the sights, sounds, and camaraderie of the gravel grinding community.

Get your bike ready, set your sights on Kansas, and prepare to crank out miles where the pavement ends and adventure begins.

Leadville Trail 100 MTB, Colorado

Have you ever dreamed of conquering mountainous terrain on two wheels?

If so, the Leadville Trail 100 MTB is your ticket to an unforgettable adventure.

Set in the breathtaking Colorado Rockies, this challenge is not just any bike race—it's a pedal-pushing journey through the clouds!

Date: August 10, 2024

Start Elevation: 10,152 ft

Maximum Elevation: 12,424 ft

Why You Can't Miss It:

  • The scenery is unbeatable. You'll traverse through heart-stopping landscapes.
  • It's a test of both physical and mental stamina. And let's be honest, the bragging rights are colossal!

Expect the Unexpected:

  • Distance: 100 miles of pure adrenaline.
  • Elevation Gain: A lung-busting 12,000 feet.
  • Terrain: From the soul-testing Columbine Pass to the shoulder-rubbing with fellow cyclists, every pedal stroke is a story.

Who's Riding?

  • Ages range from 18 to 80 years.
  • Representatives from all 50 states and over 25 countries.
  • Even local Leadville citizens join the fray!

Grab your bike, rally your courage, and join over 1,750 riders who have marked their calendars for an event that defines epic.

You'll need to begin training months in advance, but the challenge is half the fun, right?

Whether you're aiming for a personal best or just hoping to cross the finish line before the sun sets, the Leadville Trail 100 MTB is your arena to prove what you're made of.

Remember, the race isn't over until you say it's over—are you ready to make history on two wheels?

The Death Ride, California

Have you ever dreamed of conquering mountainous terrain on two wheels?

If that's a resounding "Yes!" then saddle up for the Death Ride in the breathtaking California Alps.

Why call it the Death Ride, you ask?

Well, with terrain as awe-inspiring as it is challenging, it's a ride that will test your mettle!

What to Expect:

  • Miles: Roughly 103
  • Elevation Gain: An intense 15,000+ feet
  • Mountain Passes: Five that'll make sure you earn your bragging rights!

Mark your calendars, because on 07/13/2024, this epic event kicks into high gear.

Imagine spinning your way over five mountain passes, including the legendary Monitor and Ebbetts passes.

All while surrounded by the kind of scenery that'll make you want to strap a camera to your helmet!

Consider These Quick Facts:

  • Location: High Sierras, California
  • Climbing Challenge: Over 15,000 ft
  • Total Distance: 103 miles
  • Mountain Passes: 5

This isn't just a ride; it's a festival on wheels!

Picture yourself crossing the finish line to a chorus of cheers, live music, and well-earned celebration at sponsor booths.

Training Tips:

  • Start early! Building up to this day will take time.
  • Focus on elevation. Those climbs won't conquer themselves!
  • Hydrate and nourish. High altitudes mean paying extra attention to your body.

Are you ready to take up the challenge and join the ranks of riders who've tackled the Death Ride?

Gear up for an unforgettable adventure and the chance to say, "I did it!"

The Assault on Mt. Mitchell, South Carolina to North Carolina

Have you ever craved an adventure that tests your limits?

Picture yourself pedaling through breathtaking landscapes with a community of fellow cyclists.

That's what the Assault on Mt.

Mitchell offers.

This isn't just any bike ride—it's a rite of passage for serious cyclists.

Distance and Climb:

  • Total Distance: 102.7 miles
  • Total Climb: Summit at 6,684 feet


  • Start: Spartanburg, SC
  • Finish: Mt. Mitchell Summit, NC

Key Time Points:

  • Deadline for Blue Ridge Parkway: Must pass by 2:15 PM.
  • Checkpoint at Mt. Mitchell Parkway (Rest Area #9): Must reach by 4:00 PM.
  • Event Cut-off Time: 5:30 p.m.

You'll start in Spartanburg, South Carolina and push through to the summit of Mt.

Mitchell in North Carolina.

Are you ready to conquer the highest peak in the East?

This particular ride isn't for the faint of heart:

  • You face a staggering 102.7-mile distance.
  • You end up at the lofty elevation of 6,684 feet.

The 47th Assault will take place on May 20, 2024.

It's a gathering that attracts nearly 800 cyclists globally.

Securing your spot means joining an elite group that has stared down the 'Beast of the East.'

Quick Tips:

  • Train for long-distance climbs.
  • Watch the time! Deadlines are strict.
  • Enjoy the camaraderie and the challenge.

So, are you up for this epic test of pedal power?

Bookmark May 20th, and start prepping now.

Your bragging rights await at the summit!

RAGBRAI (Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa)

Have you ever thought about cycling across a whole state?

Imagine pedaling through the heart of the American Midwest, not alone but with thousands of fellow enthusiasts.

Welcome to RAGBRAI, an annual event that turns Iowa into a cyclist's paradise for one week every summer.


  • Full Name: Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa
  • Duration: 7 days
  • Distance: Varied, crosses the entire state of Iowa

Lasting seven days, RAGBRAI isn't just about testing your endurance, but it's a full-on festival.

You'll be among 20,000 registered week-long riders, joining a community that celebrates cycling, music, food, and camaraderie—ready for this rolling party?


  • Established: August 26-31, 1973
  • Founders: John Karras and Don Kaul

This isn't just a local affair—RAGBRAI is recognized as the oldest, largest, and longest recreational bicycle touring event in the globe.

Your journey will start on a Sunday in late July, waving goodbye to a town buzzing with anticipation and finishing up in a totally different spot with a sense of accomplishment you'll find hard to match.

Iowa State Patrol Sgt.

Alex Dinkla, who helped coordinate the routes, revealed large numbers from a recent anniversary ride:

  • Weeklong Riders: 20,000
  • Day Riders: 9,000

Routes and Towns

Before you know it, you'll be cycling from, say, Sioux City on the western border to the inviting banks of the Mississippi in the east.

Every year, you'll witness new slices of Iowa's diverse landscapes and hospitality in the overnight towns dotting your route.

Getting excited?

Time to dust off your bike, start training, and join the RAGBRAI tradition!

HooDoo 500, Utah

Have you ever thought about pushing your limits on two wheels?

The HooDoo 500 might just be the challenge you're looking for!

Imagine pedaling across 500 miles of Southern Utah's stunning landscapes.

Yes, you heard that right – 500 miles!

Why HooDoo 500?

  • It's an ultra-marathon bicycle race.
  • The course covers an impressive 30,000 feet of climbing.
  • You’ll pass through national parks and monuments; think Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon.

The HooDoo 500 isn't your average Sunday ride.

It's an adrenaline-pumping journey through some of Utah's toughest terrain.

Want to race solo?

Go for it!

Prefer a team?

That’s an option too!

The Route: Quick Facts

  • Distance: 512 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 30,000 feet
  • National Parks: 3
  • National Monuments: 3
  • Start/Finish: St. George, Utah

Participants often share that the mix of physical challenge and natural beauty is unmatched.

From red rock hoodoos to forested mountain meadows, every pedal stroke brings a new view.

How Do You Participate?
  • In-Person: Ready for the starting line in St. George?
  • Virtually: Anywhere in the world on your bike trainer.

The HooDoo 500 is a qualifier for the Race Across America (RAAM), so if you've got dreams of that finish line, here's your starting point.

Ready your bike, gather your crew, and let’s see if you have what it takes to tackle the HooDoo 500.

Mark your calendar: August 23-26, 2024.

Register early, train hard, and maybe we'll see you at the start line in St.


Crusher in the Tushar, Utah

Have you ever craved a challenge that's part gravel, part road, and wholly unforgettable?

Welcome to the Crusher in the Tushar in Utah!

  • Distance: 70 miles
  • Elevation Gain: Over 10,000 feet
  • Location: Beaver, Utah
  • Terrain: Paved and dirt roads

This isn't your average Sunday ride; be ready for a true test of endurance, strategy, and grit.

Beginning in the quiet town of Beaver, the course immediately serves up a hearty climb, ascending towards the dizzying heights of Utah’s majestic Tushars.

Why does this race captivate so many?

Perhaps it’s the blend of:

  • Stunning high mountain scenery
  • Unpredictable weather patterns that can change in a blink
  • A welcoming yet competitive community of fellow riders

Conquering the Crusher means tackling both, 40 miles of dirt and 30 miles of pavement.

It’s a battle between you and the mountain, with the mountain holding a slight edge.

Remember, you’ll be riding Utah's highest road, peering down from 11,500 feet at the world below—now that's something to write home about!

What to bring?

  • Extra tubes
  • Pocket tools
  • Pump or CO2 cartridges

Gear up and prepare to test your mettle against nature’s relentless spirit.

Who knows?

You might just find out something new about your resilience.

Ready to join the fearless few?

Chart your training, pack your toolkit, and set your sights on the Tushars.

The Crusher awaits—are you up for the challenge?

The Big Dam Bridge 100, Arkansas

Are you ready for a biking adventure that'll test your mettle and treat your eyes?

Then gear up for the Big Dam Bridge 100 in Arkansas.

This isn't your average neighborhood bike jaunt; it's a grand tour over the longest pedestrian and bicycle bridge in North America!

Imagine pedaling over a 4,226-foot bridge, surrounded by panoramic views of the Arkansas River—sounds epic, right?

Here’s what you can expect:

  • Scenic Routes: Over 40 miles of scenic riverside trails connect Little Rock and North Little Rock, setting the stage for your cycling challenge.
  • Distance Diversity: Whether you’re feeling like a casual ride or pushing your limits, there are multiple distances to choose from—15-mile, 25-mile, 50-mile, 75-mile, even a 105-mile leg for the truly ambitious.
  • Community Spirit: Join over 2,500 cyclists who flock to this event every year. It’s a celebration of community, endurance, and the joy of cycling.

Here's the scoop on the event:

Aspect Detail
Location Central Arkansas
Main Attraction Big Dam Bridge across the Arkansas River
Bridge Length 4,226 feet
Event History Started in 2006
Event Timing Annually, traditionally the last Saturday in September
Participants More than 2,500 cyclists

Remember, whether you choose to coast along for a few miles or go for the century ride, it's all about enjoying the journey.

So, why not add the Big Dam Bridge 100 to your cycling bucket list?

It's a pedal-push toward triumph, camaraderie, and some seriously beautiful vistas.

Get ready to ride!

The Six Gap Century Ride, Georgia

Heard about the Six Gap Century Ride?

It's an absolute must for your cycling bucket list.

Taking place in the heart of Georgia, this annual event invites you to challenge yourself against the terrain that has tested the best of the best.


Mark your calendar for the last weekend in September, with the next ride set for September 28-29, 2024.

It's not just a ride; it's a two-day cycling celebration, complete with an expo the day before the main event.

What to Expect:

  • Climbs: Brace yourself for six of North Georgia's steepest climbs.
  • Distance: The total journey spans 104.2 miles of breathtaking scenery.
  • Elevation Gain: Ready to soar? You'll tackle over 11,200 feet in elevation.

Imagine pedaling through the same routes once conquered by the pros in the historic Tour de Georgia.

Here's a snapshot:

Gap Name Elevation
Neels Gap 3,143 feet
Jacks Gap 3,213 feet
Unicoi Gap 2,949 feet
Hogpen Gap 3,460 feet
Wolfpen Gap 3,356 feet
Woody Gap 3,160 feet

Tips for Success:

  • Train smart. Those hills won't spare you!
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
  • Pack nutrition like a pro. You'll need the fuel.

Thousands join each year, not just for the personal challenge, but to soak in the camaraderie that only events like these can offer.

Will you be among the sea of cyclists next September?

Just picture that sense of accomplishment when you crest that final gap.

Yes, it's tough, but hey, that's what makes it epic, right?

See you in the mountains!