10 Most Unusual Bike Races in the World | PedalChef

Key Takeaways

  • Cycling events worldwide offer unique challenges beyond traditional racing.
  • Some races feature novel elements like doughnuts or whimsical vehicles.
  • These unusual races emphasize fun and creativity within the cycling community.

Imagine pedaling fiercely not for the typical finish line glory, but for the sheer fun of the unique and the quirky.

Have you ever considered racing through a bakery-scented morning with your trusty two-wheeled steed, doughnuts awaiting you at every pit stop?

From the unusual to the downright zany, bike races around the world are redefining the joy of cycling with a twist of the unconventional.

Bike races come in all shapes and sizes - mountain climbs, balance tests, and even pastries play a role in these pedal-powered escapades.

While Tour de France might be the epitome of cycling challenges, there are numerous other events that turn traditional bike racing on its head.

These include underwater cycling, velodrome balancing acts, and more.

You're in for a ride that's not just about speed but also about creativity and stamina.

Every race mentioned has its own unique set of rules and challenges, guaranteeing that there's never a dull moment.

Whether you're a spectator or a participant, these events promise a blend of excitement and amusement seasoned with a touch of the bizarre.



Bog Snorkeling World Championships (UK)

Ever fancied cycling under water?

At the World Bog Snorkeling Championships, held in Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales, you'd be doing just that!

Imagine pedaling as hard as you can through a murky trench in a peat bog, with a snorkel as your lifeline to breathe.

Sounds like your kind of adventure?

Then this might be the race for you!

Here's what makes it a must-try (or must-see) event:

  • Date for Your Diary: Lock in August 25, as that’s when this bizarre yet thrilling race takes place.
  • A Twist on Tradition: Think of it as a triathlon but swap out the swimming for snorkeling in a bog.
  • Participants: More than 150 competitors brave these waters, displaying both courage and a sense of humor.
  • Junior Races: There’s something for the budding adventurers, too, with shallower, shorter bog courses.
  • Cult Following: This isn't just a local fad. It's gained a global fan base and has been listed by Lonely Planet as a top "must-do".

So, how about it?

Ready to snorkel and spin your way through one of the UK's oddest sports?

Whether you're in it to win it or just to tick something wildly unusual off your bucket list, the Bog Snorkeling World Championships promise a day filled with laughter, splashes, and some pretty unforgettable stories to share.

Don't forget to bring a towel – you're going to need it!

Marymoor Crawl (USA)

Have you ever imagined a bike race where speed is not the essence, but the sheer will to stay put is what gets you across the finish line?

Welcome to the Marymoor Crawl, also dubbed the "slowest bike race in the world."

Taking place at the Marymoor Velodrome in the picturesque Redmond, Washington, this is not your typical pedal-to-the-metal challenge.

Think you've got the patience of a saint?

Here's where you can prove it.

What's the game, you ask?

It's all about balance and stillness.

You, alongside fellow cyclists, will be balancing on two wheels, trying not to move an inch forward - quite the spectacle!

Picture this: a crowd of spectators watching in anticipation as riders fight the urge to pedal.

Here's the twist: The last rider to cross the start line without touching the ground claims victory.

Talk about nerve-wracking!

It's a thrilling mix of strategy and skill.

  • Location: Marymoor Velodrome, Redmond, WA
  • Challenge: Balance without moving forward
  • Victory Condition: Last to cross the start line

Did you know?

You'll be idling for up to four minutes before making that final dash to the finish line.

Yes, it's a test of patience, focus, and balance, where the slow and steady might just win the race.

If you've ever felt like biking, minus the breezy hair and racing heart, the Marymoor Crawl is your unique call to the tracks.

Are you ready to turn the biking norms upside down and, quite literally, stand still for your moment of glory?

Brompton World Championship (UK)

Ever fancied watching a bike race where speed meets style in the most British way possible?

The Brompton World Championship is your cup of tea!

This is not your standard cycling event; it's where the iconic Brompton folding bikes take center stage, and the attire is as important as the race itself.

What's the dress code?

Think less spandex and more Downton Abbey, as racers don suits, jackets, ties, and even the occasional monocle—the quirkier, the better!

The race occurs annually and has found a home in the heart of London from 21 to 23 June 2024.

Over a thrilling weekend, participants will navigate a bespoke circuit designed to challenge both their speed and their ability to swiftly fold and unfold their bikes.

Do you want to know a fun fact?

These races even include a Le Mans-style start where competitors dash to unfurl their bikes.

Some key points to remember:

  • Date: 21-23 June 2024
  • Location: Central London, UK
  • Bikes: Only Brompton folding bikes
  • Attire: Full formal wear required

Why is it on the list of unusual bike races?

Well, it's not every day you see a herd of sharply dressed cyclists pedaling through London on bikes that can be packed up and carried on the Tube.

Expect a weekend brimming with genteel competition, where grace and good humor prevail just as much as athletic prowess.

Looking for tickets or more information?

Keep an eye out; updates from the event organizers are coming soon.

Whether you're a Brompton enthusiast or just love a good spectacle, this event promises to be a wheel-y unique experience!

World Mountain Bike Chariot Racing Championships (UK)

Ever fancied yourself in a scene from "Ben Hur," but with a modern twist?

Well, the World Mountain Bike Chariot Racing Championships is the event for you!

This quirky race, set in the small but stunning Llanwrtyd Wells in Wales, is all about adapting the grandeur of ancient Roman chariot races for the mountain bike enthusiast.

Imagine being one part of a trio, two of you pedaling ferociously to pull a chariot, with your teammate, the charioteer, steering through the rugged Cambrian Mountains' terrain.

It's a test of teamwork, strength, and sheer biking ability.

But remember, you need to be over 16 to compete, and getting your team together is crucial.

Here's what can excite you about entering the race:

  • Team Composition: You need two riders and one charioteer.
  • Age Limit: Participants must be over 16 years old.
  • Craftsmanship: The chariots are built using traditional Roman techniques, melded with modern materials like mild steel and vulcanised rubber.

This isn't your typical UCI World Championship.

It's offbeat, it's thrilling, and it's a spectacle of skill and coordination.

Whether you want to view as a spectator or participate as a competitor, the World Mountain Bike Chariot Racing Championships promise an unforgettable experience.

And if that's not enough, there's always the Saturnalia Winter Warmer Beer — the perfect way to cap off a day of adrenaline-fueled historic racing.

Are you ready to join the fun?

Dutch Headwind Cycling Championships (Netherlands)

Ever fancied yourself cycling against nature's own version of a resistance band?

Welcome to the Dutch Headwind Cycling Championships!

Imagine pedaling furiously on the Oosterscheldekering, a massive storm surge barrier that faces the unforgiving North Sea.

This isn't your typical Sunday park ride; it's a clash with the elements where the wind is your rival.

  • Location: Oosterscheldekering, Netherlands
  • When: Annually during storm force winds

Forget about gears – you're going old school.

The bikes here are without any fancy tech; standard bikes only, please.

You'll fight through gusts that would make lesser bikes quiver, with wind speeds that can hit an eyebrow-raising 100 km/h (62 mph).

  • Bike Type: Standard, no-gear bikes
  • Wind Speeds: Up to 100 km/h (62 mph)

The route?

A straight 8.5-kilometre sprint where you're greeted by nothing but the wind's howl.

Just you, the bike, and a battle of wits and willpower against the full force of nature.

Could this be the ultimate test of endurance?

Many would nod vigorously.

  • Distance: 8.5 kilometres
  • Route Shape: Straight line

But don't think it's all about personal glory.

This quirky time trial is a testament to Dutch humor and grit, where cyclists from all walks of life gather to grin and bear it into the gale.

They turn what is normally a cyclist's nightmare into a festival of fortitude, lining up for the sheer, unadulterated challenge.

Imagine crossing that finish line, legs burning, lungs heaving.

You've not just completed a race; you've earned a story for the ages.

So, are you ready to take on the ultimate Dutch dare?

Grab your bike, and may the wind ever be in your face!

Bring Your Own Big Wheel (USA)

Ever fancied racing down a hill not on a sleek, aerodynamic road bike but on a child's plastic tricycle?

Welcome to the Bring Your Own Big Wheel (BYOBW) race in San Francisco!

Imagine you, dressed in the wackiest costume you can find, steering a big wheel bike down the serpentine curves of Vermont Street—not your typical Sunday drive, right?

This kooky event takes place annually, and for a good reason—it's downright hilarious and a heap of fun!

Did you know that Vermont Street claims the title of the crookedest street, taking over the famous Lombard Street's twisty lure for this event?

That's just part of the charm!

The race is held on March 31, 2024, and if you're young at heart, it's still not too late to join the adults-only race that's scheduled from 3pm-5pm.

So, what's the deal with the BYOBW race?

Here are the quick deets:

  • When: March 31, 2024
  • Who Can Race: Adults, with a special earlier time for kiddos 13 and under
  • Cost: Registration details and costs found online—check it out!
  • Where: Vermont St at 20th, in the lovely Potrero Hill

Did we mention it's a race notorious for its sense of community and sheer joy?

And who knows, you might just become San Francisco's next big wheel superstar, or at least enjoy a great deal of laughter trying.

Dust off that big wheel bike and let your inner child lead the way to an unforgettable experience!

Red Bull Goni Pony (Slovenia)

Have you ever zipped up a mountain on a bike with no gears?

If that sounds like a leg-busting good time, the Red Bull Goni Pony race is right up your alley!

Imagine pedaling a classic 20-inch Pony bike through Slovenia's breath-taking Julian Alps.

That's right, no gears, just pure pedal power.

The Challenge:

The route isn't your typical Sunday bike path.

You'll be tackling the Vršič Pass, a steep climb that reaches 1,611 meters above sea level.

With a trusty Pony bike from either its original production years (1965-1985) or a new Pony Classic model, you’ll truly test your mettle.

A Trip Back in Time:

  • When? Early June, when summer's just getting started.
  • Where? Kranjska Gora, where the mountains meet the sky.
  • What? Vintage bikes, retro vibes, and a community of cyclists ready to cheer you on.

Think you're alone in this quirky pursuit?

Far from it!

Last year, a staggering 1,669 riders took part.

And kudos to Luka Kovačič and Anja Plešnik, champions who've mastered the art of retro racing.

So, why not make it a retro holiday in Kranjska Gora?

Embrace the quirky side of cycling culture with riders who share a love for nostalgia and two-wheeled adventures.

Just remember: at least the rear brake must work, and leave the carbon parts at home.

Will you be the next to conquer the Vršič on a gearless wonder?

Tour de Donut (USA)

Ever fancied pairing your morning donut with a little competitive edge?

Welcome to the wacky Tour de Donut, where you can indulge in your sweet tooth while pedaling hard through scenic routes!

Imagine this: you're on a bicycle, the wind is in your hair, and there's a table full of donuts beckoning to you.

That's right, eating donuts can shave minutes off your race time.

Here's how it works:

  • For every donut you devour, 5 minutes are deducted from your cycling time.
  • Don't worry about speed; it's not just about how fast you ride, but how many donuts you can "handle".

This quirky event unfolds across different locations within the USA, where participants hit the road on a mass start.

They then stop at donut stations strategically positioned along the route.

Here are some crispy details:

  • Race Lengths: Varied, from a Mini (19.70 miles) to a Full (34.40 miles) and even a Double D (58.50 miles)!
  • Timing: Fleet Feet RFID automated timing for the longer races.
  • Donut Stops: Multiple, depending on the distance of your race.
  • Registration Perks: A free T-shirt if you register early!

Imagine pedaling through the picturesque Klackle Apple Orchards or a tranquil, paved bike trail, fueled by delicious donuts.

Whether you're in it for the love of cycling, donuts, or a bit of both, the Tour de Donut promises a delightful mashup of fun and frosting.

So, will you rise to the challenge?

Grab your helmet and your appetite and join the sugary race!

Remember to register early to snag that free T-shirt, and let's make those miles (and donuts) count!

Monte Zoncolan Hill Climb (Italy)

Have you ever dreamed of tackling a beast on two wheels?

If you're seeking a thrilling ride laced with jaw-dropping views and thigh-burning slopes, then Monte Zoncolan should be on your radar.

It's a notorious climb in the cycling world, infamous for both its beauty and brutality.

But, are you ready to take on this monster climb?

Starting from Ovaro, Monte Zoncolan's route extends 10.5 km, with an elevation gain of 1,210 heightmeters.

The average grade?

A staggering 11.5%.

Imagine the burn in your legs as you push pedal for pedal, conquering each switchback.

And then there's the climb's reputation among professionals – a mix of awe and apprehension.

Here's what you're up against:

  • Length of climb: 10.5 km
  • Total elevation gain: 1,210 m
  • Average gradient: 11.5%
  • Steepest gradient: Up to 22%

On the flip side, there's the indescribable euphoria at the summit, knowing you've tamed one of cycling's most feared ascents.

Snaking your way up, you'll navigate gradients that reach a leg-numbing 22% in parts.

Can you fathom inclines that steep?

This is where cycling meets extreme sport, and legends are made.

So, do you see yourself among the ranks of those who've left sweat and probably a bit of their sanity along this impressively tough climb?

Remember, every uphill has its downhill – so once you've reached the top, a exhilarating descent awaits.

Just picture it: the wind in your face, the sense of achievement, and a story to tell that'll trump any around a campfire.

Go ahead, gear up, and make your mark on Monte Zoncolan.

Are you in?

Undie 500 (New Zealand)

Have you ever thought of combining the thrill of a bike race with the hilarity of an underwear parade?

Well, the Undie 500 in New Zealand did exactly that.

This zany event takes place in Dunedin and is a sensational part of a larger student festival.

Imagine pedaling as fast as you can—all while sporting nothing more than your favorite pair of undies!

Here's what makes the Undie 500 stand out:

  • Location: The streets of Dunedin turn into a racetrack.
  • Dress Code: Vibrant underwear is the name of the game.
  • Atmosphere: Expect a wild, fun-filled experience with a hint of friendly competition.

Starting from the modest beginnings of a hitchhiking race, the Undie 500 morphed into a car rally and has since shifted gears, embracing the bicycle as its vehicle of choice.

It's not just a test of speed, but also a playful jab at conventional racing events.

Let's break down what you might see:

  • Participants whizzing past, fueled by a mix of adrenaline and the cheers of onlookers.
  • A variety of underwear styles, from the classic briefs to the more adventurous boxers.
  • Bikes decorated as vibrantly as the participants themselves.

With its unconventional premise, the Undie 500 is a testament to the kiwi sense of humour and their love for quirky sports.

If you're looking to add a dash of eccentricity to your race calendar or just want to experience something uniquely New Zealander, keep your eyes peeled for next year's entry dates.

Hey, it's your opportunity to bike in your best undies and be part of something memorably unconventional!