There are thousands of bike races held every year around the world. The majority of these races are local and are designed to get bikers in the community involved with the sport of cycling. However, the hardest and most technical of races require dedication and long hours of training in order to complete. Still others are historic, beautiful, and interesting. Here are the top 10 amateur bike races in the world.
1. Iron Horse Bicycle Classic
This race is located in Durango, Colorado and is a very unique race in that bikers don’t race each other but a train. The race is the result of two brothers-one a railroad brakeman and the other a cyclist-challenging each other to a race to nearby Silverton, Colorado.
Officially started in 1972, the Iron Horse attracts hundreds of people from all over the world and is considered to be a celebration of Colorado history and culture as much as it is a bike race. Durango is nestled deep in the Rocky Mountains and the road track is beautiful and challenging.
Details available here: http://ironhorsebicycleclassic.com/
2. Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive
The sportive runs along Northern Ireland’s coastal roads and is a great race for beginners. Started in 2011, there are three distance options from which a racer can choose from:
- Causeway Coaster-56 km
- Glens and Coast Route-125 km
- Giant Killer-185 km
Giant’s Causeway usually attracts at least 1000 riders, all of whom need good technical skills. The course involves climbing and steep descents that are usually wet due to the regions weather patterns. The race is usually held in September and offers a unique countryside and accommodates riders of all levels.
Details available here: http://www.lincolngrandprix.org.uk/
Cycletta is a U.K. wide event first opened in 2011 and is open to women only as an effort to encourage female cyclists at all levels, from any country. The race offers seven different venues that include Cheshire, Cornwall, and East Sussex. Olympic gold medalist Victoria Pendleton is an avid supporter of these races and encourages women to engage in cycling as a sport.
Details on venues, dates, and entry fees available here: http://humanrace.co.uk/events/cycletta
4. Nature Valley Bicycle Festival
This bike festival is held in Menomonie, Wisconsin with a smaller event also held in Stillwater, Minnesota. The Nature Valley festival is wonderful for those who are new to bike races. Not only are there races for beginners and mid-level riders but there is a race for children as well. If you need a race that is laid back and includes the whole family, this may be the race for you.
Details available here: Nature Valley Bike Festival
5. Dresden Race
This is a unique race because it mixes elite, novice, and child cyclists all on the same route. The Dresden race starts and finishes in the historic city of Dresden in East Germany with two different routes of 106 km or 75 km. The Dresden race pairs with the pro Sachsen Tour so that amateurs can race with professionals. There is a separate ride held for children six to thirteen years old. Kids fourteen and older enter with the other amateurs.
Details available here: http://www.sachsentour.org/
6. Green Mountain Stage Race
The Green Mountain race is a four day event packed with races for many different cycling skill levels. Held in the Green Mountains of Vermont, this is one of the largest amateur stage races and has been around for thirteen years. The Green Mountain race has a fun and laid back atmosphere while at the same time offering good competition for any racer.
More information available here: Green Mountain
7. Valparaiso Cerro Abajo Race
The general consensus about this race can be summed up in one word: insane! This race is an urban course in Valparaiso, Chile that involves a steep downhill descent through the street while going over stairs, curbs, nearly crashing in buildings, and maybe dodging some dogs along the way. To prepare for this race, good mountain biking skills are critical because even though the course is urban, the skills are varied.
An incredible first-person video available here: Race Video
8. Maratona des Dolomites
This is a giant amateur race held in the Dolomites mountain range of northeastern Italy. The routes through these mountains are most famous for their role in the Giro d’Italia. However, there is a rich cultural atmosphere and beautiful scenery that many cyclists find exciting. This race can be fairly competitive and attracts over 9000 riders from 40 different countries. This race, is definitely a bucket list item!
More details available here: Maratona dles Dolomites
9. Tour of the Bahamas
Held in Nassau, the Tour of the Bahamas is a three day competition for amateurs. This race involves time-trials, circuits, and road races. The tour boasts highly ranked courses and a professional but fun atmosphere for the riders. Not only will you be biking one of the most beautiful islands of the region but you’ll be staying in resorts with fellow cyclists from around the world. The competition is also open to both adults and juniors.
Details on registration available here: Bahama’s Tour
10. UCI World Cycling Tour (UWCT)
While UCI normally offers races to professionals exclusively, since 2011 they have put on an amateur world tour that ends with the Amateur Road World Championships. Participants in the tour will have to attend qualifying events in order to reach the world championships, however. Races are held all over the world and each year the world championship brings together cyclists from at least 50 countries. UWCT is a wonderful way for amateur racers to get a taste of what professional cycling is all about.
Details available here: UWCT
No matter what your skill level at least one of these races will be available to you. Some are supportive of good causes and others are something to work toward as the trail is grueling and difficult.
Did we miss any great amateur road races or do you have a great experience riding in any of these or other road races? Let us know!