Must-Ride Bike Races

Must-Ride Bike Races

Hotter'N Hell Hundred— Wichita Falls, Texas

This race began nearly 33 years ago when Wichita Falls Bicycle Club member Roby Christie came up with the idea to ride 100 miles in 100-degree heat as a way to celebrate the city’s centennial in 1982. Now the largest single day 100-mile ride in the U.S., last year the event attracted more than 12,500 participants. Texas local Mike Merril, who has completed the race twice before, says the course provides a very flat ride, and avid cyclist Rick Ankrum offers a detailed account of the race on his blog
August 23;

Femme/Velo— Bitterroot Valley, Mont.

“Women who come to the Bitterroot Valley of Montana this June to ride in Femme/Velo will be treated to a world-class event,” says race director Nicole Adamson. This 100km, all-women’s cycling event is celebrating its second anniversary this year and all participants are treated to a pre-ride breakfast and post-ride party with Bitter Root Brewing. “It’s a fun ride and great way for women cyclists to connect. The course is intermediate and tours the entire valley from alpine to ranch land... All the best that the valley has to offer,” says Adamson.
June 22;

Turtle Crawl Triathlon and NestFest— Jekyll Island, Ga.

No list of bike races would be complete without mention of a few fantastic triathlons. As a celebration of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center’s conservation efforts, the annual Turtle Crawl Triathlon presents participants with a truly unique race experience. Considered one of the most scenic triathlons on the East Coast, the Turtle Crawl offers an opportunity to ride along Jekyll Island’s picturesque shoreline and the finish is followed by a beach celebration that sees the release of rehabilitated sea turtles.
May 17;

USA Pro Challenge— Colo.

Known as “America’s Race,” the Pro Challenge takes place over the course of seven days with the world’s top athletes racing through Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. It’s the largest professional road cycling race in the U.S. and the state’s biggest spectator event. Haven’t reached the pro level yet? For the second year in a row, event organizers will host the Pro Challenge Experience race; a public ride that anyone can participate in on August 10, just a few days before the official event.
August 18-24;

Tour of the Gila— Silver City, N.M.

Often considered the toughest amateur road race in America, the Tour of the Gila is a multi-day race that sees participants through a challenging but stunning course that lies on the outskirts of the Gila National Forest. “4 or 5 days of races include 3 road stages, a time trial, and a crit,” says Reid Hester, Ph.D, a USAC moto ref who’s worked the race since 2010. “ It's all at altitude and has the most climbing of any series of races in the country.”
April 30- May 4;

Zoo-de-Mack— Mackinac Island, Mich.

According to the event’s website, the Zoo-de-Mack is not a race, but some cyclists still like to take it seriously. No matter how you like to ride, this weekend-long celebration of bikes, beers and great bands is sure to show you a good time. “The first half of the ride is through rolling farms and countryside, with a couple of killer hills,” says Jessica Stock, a recreational biker who participated last year. “The second half is by far the best part- about 26 miles of wooded trails with stunning views over Lake Michigan.”
May 16-17;

Mammoth Fall Century and Gran Fondo— Mammoth Lakes, Calif.

Described as a “bucket list ride,” this race’s course takes cyclists along the east side of the High Sierra and offers unbeatable views of the Sierra Nevada Range, Mono Lake and the White Mountains. The 102-mile Fall Century was named a “Top-Ten Century" bike ride by Bicycling Magazine in 2012 and this year the race will celebrate its 20th anniversary.
September 6;

Ironman 70.3 Vineman— Sonoma County, Calif.

Starting and ending in the heart of Northern California’s Wine Country, this half-Ironman distance triathlon makes for a dazzling destination race. “It provides some great views of some of Sonoma County's most well-known vineyards and wineries,” says Andres Douzoglou, owner of the new California-based cycling and triathlon shop, Beyond Aero. “Its picturesque, rolling, terrain is a great mix of fast and challenging, which makes it a good option for triathletes with cycling abilities of all levels.”
July 13;

Quad Cities Criterium— Davenport, Iowa

Next year the Quad Cities Criterium will celebrate its 50th edition, making it the second longest running bicycle race in the U.S. Beginning in the heart of East Davenport and following a newly routed course, this year participants will make their way through the challenging hills of McClellan Heights before sailing back down 12th street and finishing the three-quarter-mile long course in the same place they started.
May 26;

HITS Triathlon Series— Napa Valley, Calif.

Thanks to winding roads that border spectacular vistas and gaping valleys that are decorated with vineyards, Napa Valley is one of America’s most coveted triathlon venues. Once featured as a USAT Magazine inspirational athlete, Ironman competitor Annemarie du LeBohn describes the course as a combination of heaven and hell. “It was heaven riding through wine country, the vineyards, and portions of rolling green hills with the lake as a backdrop,” she says. “It was hell with the headwinds going down the mountain and then ending the bike course by climbing Knoxville Road, roughly 13 miles.”

Gran Fondo Hincapie— Greenville, S.C.

Following the routes that George Hincapie used to train for his own races, this fall competition highlights the stunning colors of the Blue Ridge foothills and presents participants with a chance to ride alongside Hincapie himself. Cyclists can choose between three different routes that vary in length and intensity and when the ride is finished all are invited to fun post-race festival at Hotel Domestique.
October 25;

Red Bull Berm Burners— Richmond, Va.

The first ever Red Bull hosted Berm Burners biking competition will see riders of all disciplines (BMX, MTB, Cross and Single Speed) compete on a stripped down pump track designed to put each cyclist’s core abilities to the ultimate test. The race will be held in a head-to-head format and sixteen finalists with the fastest single lap times will qualify to compete in a tournament style bracket that will determine the Berm Burners champion. Red Bull's world-class BMX and mountain biker, Addison Zawada is slotted to compete, which means it’s sure to be an exciting event.
May 17 and 18;