Off the back of Ambassador Angus Young's latest ultra-distance race, the Silk Road Mountain Race, and the more recent Badlands Event. We take a look at some of the most epic endurance and ultra-distance cycling events in both the UK and wider Europe. We also help break down some of the barriers to understanding how these events work and what you can do to start getting involved.
Marquee events such as the Transcontinental, the Mallorca 312, as well as self-sufficient routes such as Lands End to John O'Groats, are often high on people's lists. But there are many more organised and pre-planned routes that you can explore and race. The lines between disciplines are often blurred when it comes to such ultra-distance endurance events and bikepacking, allowing you to make of the events what you will. But the main common denominator is a test of physical and mental stamina, and one hell of an adventure.
We couldn't create a top list of such events without mentioning the Frontier 300, a ride which takes in 300km of gravel and quiet country roads between the west coast of Scotland and the east coast of England. Rawvelo has played a key role in keeping riders fuelled and motivated in this adventure for the past two seasons and we’re already looking forward to next summer.
The Fronter 300 is for those looking for an all-day ride which doesn’t need months of route planning. Starting at around 4am, riders will traverse the country finishing late in the evening before having a party on the beach the following morning to share tales from the road.
Find out more - https://frontier300.cc/
Self-titled as the 'wildest gravel challenge in Europe,' Badlands takes place in Grenada, Spain, every September. The event, one that sells out each year, pits riders against each other over an unsupported gravel route of 750km, with over 15,000m of elevation, across the only deserts in Europe, the wild coast of Cabo de Gata and the highest Col on the continent, Pico Veleta at 3,396m.
Badlands is for gravel riders who are ready for, or already experienced with, off-road ultra-distance cycling events. For many it’s a race, for others it’s a battle against themselves to finish in one piece. Many don’t make it, scratching (the term for pulling out of such an event) along the way. But for all taking to the start line the event presents once of the most epic gravel ultra endurance rides in Europe.
Find out more - https://badlands.cc/
Great British Divide
The Great British Divide is a fairly new unsupported MTB bikepacking event that takes riders from one end of the country to the other. The route covers 2,000km, with a shorter 1,400km option also available, and is pitched to participants as not a race, but an adventure and reliability test to be completed in a couple of weeks.
The Great British Divide is for those who want an ultra-distance MTB event in the UK but without the pressure of it being a timed race. It’s a near unbeatable way to discover parts of the country that you’ll likely never have seen or would otherwise ever see, by bike.
Find out more - https://greatbritishdivide.com/
An organised but unsupported road ride which has gathered momentum over the years, the Dunwich Dynamo is a 120 mile / 192 kilometre road ride throughout the night early July each year from London to Dunwich in Suffolk. There’s no signage along the way, rather a planned route online for you to plan yourself, meeting the other riders in the evening before embarking on this overnight adventure - following a snaking line of bike lights to the east coast.
The Dunwich Dynamo has been running since 1993 - Legend has it that a few half-civilised City couriers just headed east after a post-work session one balmy Friday evening... and kept going till they hit the sea. It’s a great event for road riders looking for something a long ride with a difference, amongst an awesome community of riders looking to share the adventure.
Find out more - https://www.dunwichdynamo.co.uk/
Further - Pyrennes
Further presents three epic events each of which share the same core elements of endurance and adventure. Riders will cover road, gravel, mountains and hike-a-bike (whereby you push or carry your bike over unrideable terrain). And you do so for days on end over a mixture of set and free routing.
Further events are definitely not for the faint hearted, or untrained for that matter. Further aimed to create an event that challenged cyclists to discover their own limits, and the limits of what can be achieved on a bicycle. But the experience is also a raw one too - just you and bike, armed only with a plan of how to get from A to B and beyond.
Find out more - https://frthr.co/
Another one for the roadies who like to push their limits in the saddle, London-Edinburgh-London is a 1,415km ride starting and finishing in the capital going via Manchester in an audax format. The event is only held every four years and next returns in 2025, so if this is something you’re keen to make your next endurance cycling adventure then there’s plenty of time to get into shape and prepared.
Riders navigate via around 15 checkpoints, or CPs as they’re better known in the ultra cycling world, at which riders register to show they have covered the prescribed distance. Expect to be sleeping where you can along the way, supporting yourself with what you’ll need to ride for days on end, most likely on very little sleep.
Find out more here - https://londonedinburghlondon.com/
Part of the Gravel Earth series of events, the Traka is based in Girona and is fast becoming one of the must do gravel rides / races. In the same feel as the hugely popular Unbound Gravel event over in the US, the Traka offers up four different routes, from 50km up to the full distance beast at 360km.
The Traka 360 pits riders against over 5,000m of elevation along the route, one to be tackled on either a gravel or mountainbike depending on your preference - and guts. All riders will get to experience the party atmosphere at the start and finish, as well as the stunning scenery that Catalunya, Spain has to offer.
Find out more - https://www.thetraka.com/the-traka-360k/