The number of self-supported, ultra-distance bikepacking races is growing rapidly. Many races are listed below and the differences between various categories of races is summarized.

Please Contact Me if you know about a major event that should be added or if you notice any errors.

Page contents:

Ultra-Distance Bikepacking Races, Road & Off-Road

The following table contains most of the major self-supported bike races that are at least 700 km long and the clock never stops. There are also good lists at Apidura, Bikepacking.com and Bikepacking.net.

The events are classified as to whether the terrain is generally (paved) roads, gravel (unpaved roads), MTB (off-road trails), or snow. Be aware that this classification only gives a very rough idea. Some road events may include some gravel, most gravel events also involve a lot of paved roads, some MTB events may be possible on a gravel bike, etc. Please do your own research on the event that you’re interested in and choose which style of bike you think you’ll be most comfortable with.

You can re-organize the table by clicking an arrow in the column heading to sort based on that column.

2019 start date Event Region Distance
(km)
Terrain
 
Notes
27/12/2018 The 03 New Zealand 4,000 Road Complete tour of New Zealand’s South Island.
24/02/2019 BikingMan Oman Oman 1,000 Road Became the first event of this nature in the Middle East in 2018.
24/02/2019 Iditarod Trail Invitational Alaska, USA 1,600 Snow The original bikepacking race and still the longest fat-bike race in the world. Started in 1987 using a much shorter route, but has used the current format since 2000.
09/03/2019 TransCimbrica Germany &
Denmark
1,300 Gravel Starts and finishes near Hamburg and visits the northern tip of Denmark.
16/03/2019 Indian Pacific Wheel Ride
Official, Ride Far
Australia 5,500 Road Goes across the southern part of Australia between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It started as an organized race in 2017, but became an unofficial “Ride” in 2018.
13/04/2019 Iberica Traversa Spain 1,900 Gravel Crosses Spain using unpaved roads and trails. 1200 km version also possible.
18/04/2019 Arizona Trail Race Arizona, USA 1,200 MTB The race started in 2006 using a much shorter route, but has used the current format since 2010.
19/04/2019 Monaro Cloudride 1000 Australia 1,000 MTB Traverses the ridgetops of the Great Dividing Range in south-eastern Australia.
25/04/2019 Italy Divide Italy 900 Gravel From Rome, central Italy, to the Alps.
29/04/2019 BikingMan Corsica Corsica
(France)
700 Road Short race with non-stop climbing on the Mediterranean island.
01/05/2019 Race Around The Netherlands Netherlands 1,600 Road It would be difficult to find a flatter route than this.
05/05/2019 Gravel Tro Breizh France 1,400 Gravel Mixed surface route over the hills and along the coast of Brittany.
11/05/2019 Race Through Poland Poland 1,200 Road Free choice of route between various checkpoints.
24/05/2019 All Points North England 900 Road Free choice of route between 10 checkpoints.
25/05/2019 Highland Trail 550 Scotland 900 MTB The main bikepacking race in the UK, started in 2013.
26/05/2019 Bike NonStop US USA 5,500 Gravel Portland, OR to Washington, DC on mixed surfaces including a lot of gravel rail-trails.
29/05/2019 Normandicat France 900 Road A relatively short race around NW France.
??/05/2019 BikingMan Laos Laos 800 Road “A mountainous race course through the tropical jungle.”
01/06/2019 American Trail Race USA 8,000 MTB Sort of an east-west version of the Tour Divide (instead of north-south), but far longer.
01/06/2019 Tuscany Trail Italy 500 MTB The most popular MTB bikepacking race in Europe is around central Italy and started in 2014.
02/06/2019 Trans Am Bike Race
Official, Ride Far
USA 6,900 Road First run in 2014, it goes from Oregon to Virginia along the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail.
06/06/2019 TransAtlantic Way Ireland 2,500 Road Generally follows Ireland’s Atlantic coast; 2019 will be the 4th edition.
08/06/2019 Portugal Divide Portugal ? Gravel Checkpoints at the extreme N, E, W, and S points of the country.
14/06/2019 Tour Divide
Official, Facebook
Canada-USA 4,400 MTB Race along the Rocky Mountains from Canada through the USA to the Mexican border. It started in 2008 and had evolved from the slightly shorter Great Divide Race, which ran from 2004-10.
15/06/2019 The 1000 Miler South Africa 1,600 Gravel Including “as much dirt as possible” over challenging South African terrain.
17/06/2019 Grenzsteintrophy Germany 1,250 MTB Runs along the former East Germany-West Germany border. Started in 2009; will only be held every 2nd year after 2019.
20/06/2019 North Cape Tarifa Norway-Spain 7,400 Road The longest self-supported race in Europe. Options to finish in Finland (1700 km), Austria (4100 km) or France (5400 km).
22/06/2019 GB Duro UK 2,000 Gravel Across the length of Britain, with half of the route off-road.
23/06/2019 TransOst Challenge Germany-
Romania
2,900 Gravel Crosses eastern Europe to the mouth of the great Danube river via several mountain ranges.
29/06/2019 BC Epic 1000 B. C., Canada 1,000 MTB Generally follows the Trans Canada Trail for over 1000 km in the Rocky Mountains of southern British Columbia.
29/06/2019 Around Norway Norway 3,200 Road Start & finish in Oslo, looping through the southern Norwegian coast, fjords and mountains.
29/06/2019 TransPyrenees Ultracycling Race France &
Spain
1,000 Road Over the classic Pyrenean passes, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean.
??/06/2019 Navad 1000 Switzerland 1,000 MTB The first bikepacking race in Switzerland, started in 2015.
01/07/2019 Trans Alba Race Scotland 1,700 Road Around Scotland, including a lot of the west coast and a couple of islands.
05/07/2019 La Baroudeuse, Unpaved France 2,700 Gravel Route information not yet announced.
06/07/2019 Vistula 1200 Poland 1,200 Gravel Mostly follows the Vistula river through Poland.
07/07/2019 Bikepacking Trans Germany Germany 1,600 Gravel Lots of off-road riding over some of the more mountainous regions of Germany.
07/07/2019 Pan Celtic Race UK &
Ireland
2,300 Road Through Scotland, Ireland and Wales including two ferry crossing of the Irish Sea.
10/07/2019 TransDolomitics Way Italy 1,200 Road Mountainous route through the Dolomites and Italian Alps.
20/07/2019 3 Peaks Bike Race Austria-Spain 2,000 Road Traverses the Alps, including 3 checkpoints on classic passes, extended to finish in Barcelona in 2019.
21/07/2019 A-cross The 5 Belgium 1,200 Gravel Mainly around Belgium, but sections in the 4 bordering countries. A-cross The 3 is a shorter, 500 km version.
21/07/2019 Round Denmark Bike Race Denmark 1,900 Road The route uses a lot of dedicated bike paths and several ferries.
??/07/2019 Transcontinental Race
Official, Ride Far
Europe 4,000 Road The most iconic race of this style and one of the first, starting in 2013. Goes from NW Europe to SE Europe via various checkpoints with a free choice of route in between.
03/08/2019 20K UltraTrail Road Italy-
Switzerland
-France
1,100 Road 20,000 metres of climbing throughout the eastern Alps including 9 passes over 2,000 m elevation.
03/08/2019 20K UltraTrail MTB Italy &
France
700 MTB 20,000 metres of climbing on many high-altitude old military roads near the Italian-French border.
14/08/2019 BikingMan Inca Divide Peru 1,700 Gravel Includes a pass in the Andes mountains at over 4,700 m elevation.
19/08/2019 La Baroudeuse, Road France 2,700 Road Route information not yet announced.
31/08/2019 Terra Australis Bike Epic Australia 6,500 MTB Ride from the northern to the southern tip of Australia’s east coast.
17/08/2019 Silk Road Mountain Race Kyrgyzstan 1,700 MTB Covers many dirt roads and trails in the Tian Shan mountains of Kyrgyzstan (between China and Kazakhstan).
01/09/2019 TransIberica Ultracycling Race Spain &
Portugal
3,500 Road Several checkpoints around the Iberian peninsula, including Europe’s highest road up the Pico del Veleta.
16/09/2019 Black Hills Expedition S. Dakota, USA 700 MTB South Dakota now has several other bikepacking events, but this was the first in the region in 2014.
??/09/2019 BikingMan Portugal Portugal 900 Road Includes the Algarve mountains and Atlantic coast.
04/10/2019 Trans Pyrenees Race France &
Spain
1,500 Road Traversing the Pyrenees mountains between the Atlantic and Mediterranean and back again. Organized by the same team as the TransContinental Race.
06/10/2019 Morocco Bike Adventure Morocco 2,900 Gravel Cross Morocco via the Atlas mountains. 2,000 km option also possible.
17/10/2019 Holyland MTB Challenge Israel 1,400 MTB Goes through the historic places and landscapes of Israel.
27/10/2019 Across Andes Chile &
Argentina
1,500 Road Traverses dry deserts and high mountains.
23/05/2019 Hydra Epic Lithuania 800 MTB Traverses the eastern part of the country, including some singletrack and riding through the capital city.
22/06/2019 Taunus Bikepacking Germany 800 Gravel Convoluted route through the small Taunus mountain range north of Frankfurt.
07/06/2019 Born To Ride France-Switzerland-Italy 1200 Road Mountainous root linking ancient citadels across 3 countries.
27/07/2019 North Cape 4000 Italy-Norway 4,200 Road Cross Europe from south to north, with a free choice of route between checkpoints.
20/07/2019 Trans South Dakota Race South Dakota, USA 1,200 MTB Crosses the state on a mix of trails and roads and includes rafting down a river in the middle.
13/09/2019 Ruska – Ride across Finland Estonia-Finland-Norway 2,000 Road Crosses Scandinavia from south to north.

2019 event or date not yet announced:

Event Region Distance
(km)
Terrain
 
Notes
Alberta Rockies 700 Alberta, Canada 700 MTB Follows the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.
BikingMan Taiwan Taiwan 1,100 Road Through the mountains and along the island’s east coast.
Colorado Trail Race Colorado, USA 800 MTB The third of the three classic races in the Rocky Mountains, started in 2007.
Freedom Challenge RASA South Africa 2,300 Gravel The main bikepacking event in Africa, which started in 2015.
French Divide France 2,100 MTB Goes from the Belgian to the Spanish borders on many gravel roads and trails.
Hunt 1000 Australia 1,000 MTB From Canberra to Melbourne via the Australian Alps.
Japanese Odyssey Japan 2,500 Road Several checkpoints around Japan must be visited, but it’s not a timed race.
Race To The Rock Australia 3,000 MTB The starting location and route of the race varies each year, but it always finishes at Uluru (aka Ayers Rock) in central Australia.
Steens Mazama 1000 Oregon, USA 1,600 Road The route is primarily on paved roads, but about 10% is on gravel/un-paved roads.
Torino-Nice Rally Italy-France 700 Gravel Covers many of the gravel, old military roads in the Alps.
Mount Magnet 1400 Western Australia 1,400 ? Follows the coast north of Perth then returns via a longer inland route.

Will not be held in 2019, but expected to be held in 2020:

Event Region Distance
(km)
Terrain
 
Notes
Hard-Cro Ultra Race Croatia 1,400 Road Visits the 4 corners of Croatia. First held in 2016 but will not be held in 2019.
Tour Aotearoa Brevet New Zealand 3,000 Gravel Crosses New Zealand on roads and trails. First held in 2016 and held every second year.
Andes Divide S. America ? Gravel Planned to be held for the first time in 2020 and to traverse the entire length of South America along the Andes mountains.
World By Bike Challenge World ? Road Planned to be held for the first time in 2020 using the rules of the Guinness World Record for global circumnavigation, but fully self-supported. It will be a similar format to the World Cycle Race that was held in 2012 and 2014, but with different organizers.

Certain ‘ultracycling’ road races where each participant has a dedicated support vehicle also have a category for self-supported riders:

2019 start date Event Region Distance
(km)
26/04/2019 Race Across Italy Italy 800
28/05/2019 Race Around Denmark Denmark 1,600
29/06/2019 Race ACross Europe Europe 4,700
05/07/2019 Race Across Germany Germany 1,100
28/07/2019 Race Across France France 1,500
23/08/2019 Hoodoo 500 Utah, USA 800

Ultra-Distance Cyclosportives / Gran Fondos

Typical cyclosportives are designed to take average cyclists about 4-8 hours, and so are challenging and involve long distances but cannot be classified as ultra-distance. Some longer events include more than 300 km of distance and/or 5,000 meters of climbing in a single ride, many of which are listed below. Click on the name to visit the website. In these events, riders receive support from the organizers at certain locations and group riding is normally allowed.

Event Country Distance Climbing Notes
AlpenBrevet Switzerland 276 km 7,000 m
Audax Alpine Classic Australia 320 km 5,500 m
Dirty Kanza Kansas, USA 320 km 3,000 m Mostly gravel/dirt roads
Dragon Ride Wales Wales 305 km 5,200 m
Extrême Ride Bike Pyrénéen France 563 km 12,000m
Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge New Zealand 640 km 6,400 m 640 km = 4 laps of the lake, 2 lap (320 km) option also exists
Mallorca 312 Spain 312 km 5,000 m
Milan – San Remo Italy 302 km 2,000 m
Liège–Bastogne–Liège Belgium 273 km 5,200 m
Raid Extrême Vosgien France 550 km 12,000m
Sjælland Rundt Denmark 300 km 2,200 m
Styrkeproven Trondheim-Oslo Norway 543 km 3,600 m
Tortour Challenge Switzerland 550 km 7,000 m No group riding, many participants have a support vehicle, but riding unsupported is an option. Also 390 km version.
Trafalgar Way England 500 km 6,800 m 320 km and 356 km options also exist
TransScotlandRace Scotland 540 km 5,800 m More like a mini-TCR than a cyclosportif
TransWalesRace Wales 346 km 6,200 m More like a mini-TCR than a cyclosportif
Tour du Mont Blanc France, Switzerland, Italy 330 km 8,000 m
Tortour Challenge Switzerland 550 km ? m Unsupported version of the larger and longer supported (ultracycling) race.
Tuscany Road Italy 560 km 10,000m
Vätternrundan Sweden 300 km 1,500 m
Wysam 333 Switzerland 333 km 3,200 m

Some 12-hour and 24-hour time trials can be done without external support and often involve doing loops around a certain region, so self re-supply can be relatively easy.

Audax / Randonneur / Brevet Events

The main difference between cyclosportives and audax/randonee/brevet events is that the latter are intended to be non-competitive and non-timed. Often, some support is provided by the organizers at the checkpoints in these events and they range in distance from 200 km up to 1500 km, with a reasonable number of events in the 300-600 km range. The most important events are Paris-Brest-Paris in France and London-Edinburgh-London in the UK.

See the list on Wikipedia for other audax rides. Some such rides are suggested in the comments to this post on the TCR Facebook page. Ciclo Fachiro organizes many rides in Italy, including some that are over 2000 km long.

In the USA, “century rides” (100 miles / 161 km) are common and there are sometimes double centuries (200 miles / 322 km). These have a similar format to many audax rides. The Wikipedia page lists some of the larger and more famous such rides.

Supported Ultracycling Races

Upon first hearing about bikepacking races, many people compare them to the more famous Race Across AMerica (RAAM) or other supported ultracycling races (many of which are listed on the website of the UltraMarathon Cycling Association). The general length and the fact that the clock never stops are similar, but the nature of those races is very different due to needing support/follow cars. This website mainly focuses on unsupported events. Unsupported and supported races typically attract quite different types of people, although some people have done both.

Certain races that are primarily supported also have unsupported categories, these are listed underneath the table in the Bikepacking section above.

Unsupported vs. Supported Racing

Ride Far focuses on self-supported/unsupported races in which support cars and all other forms of organized support are prohibited. This focus is mainly due to cars being quite unnecessary in most people’s everyday lives and the world would be a better place if people used them less – we would be healthier, the planet healthier, and cyclists safer. Cars are definitely not needed to assist someone who is riding a bike, even when they’re riding very far.

Considering the distances that unsupported cyclists can ride per day without a vehicle behind them, I cannot see why support vehicles are needed in ultra-distance cycling. The fact that riders with a support vehicle can stay on their bikes for a few hours extra per day (due to not needing to search for supplies, find somewhere to sleep, or do maintenance on their bike) and ride slightly faster due to carrying no extra equipment doesn’t make the racing any better to watch or more enjoyable to do in my opinion.

The effect that small decisions that are constantly being made by racers in unsupported races (about fueling, rest, navigation, etc.) have on the race outcome is one of the most fascinating aspects of these races. In supported races, the rider’s support team makes most of the decisions and so the differences between racers becomes more physical than mental (even though the mental aspect is still very important). For me, this makes supported races less interesting to follow than unsupported races.

Another reservation about supported races is that the cost of doing them is significantly higher than it is for unsupported races due to the support team and vehicle costs. Supported races are therefore more elitist and less inclusive than unsupported races. In unsupported races, it is possible to compete very competitively on an extremely limited budget (see the section on Race & Equipment Costs).

Some people may try to argue that having a follow vehicle and support team makes ultra-distance cycling safer. However, as reported in a guide for RAAM support crews, support vehicles have hit their own racers on multiple occasions. In addition, the presence of support vehicles has not prevented two racers from being killed during RAAM and others seriously injured when hit by other vehicles (see RAAM’s Wikipedia page). Finally, having the perceived safety net of a support crew may make racers push their physical and mental limits further, thereby endangering themselves more than they would if the crew wasn’t there. Overall, there is no evidence that having a support crew increases a cyclist’s safety.

Having support vehicles does make sense in relatively short, fast-action professional bike races on closed roads. In those situations, the style of racing would be very different without the support vehicles and the sport would probably not be as entertaining or financially viable. It’s only in ultra-distance racing where I see support vehicles as being unnecessary, and so Ride Far focuses on unsupported cycling.

Last minor page modification: June, 2019
Last significant page update: January, 2018


Race Informationthe-riderThis page is in Ride Far, Part III: Bikepacking Race Information.