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What Is An Ultra-Distance Cycling Race?

If you love cycling and you are looking for a new challenge, you might want to consider ultra cycling. Ultra cycling is a form of long-distance cycling that involves riding for extended periods, often over multiple days, across varied terrain, sometimes in remote wilderness (with wildlife) areas and extreme weather conditions. Ultra-distance cycling races test the endurance, stamina and mental toughness of riders, who have to cover distances ranging from 200 km to over 7400 km and sometimes without support or assistance.

Why would anyone want to do such a thing?

You may wonder why anyone would want to subject themselves to such a gruelling and exhausting endeavour. Well, there are many reasons why people choose to participate in ultra-distance cycling races, but here are some of the most common ones:

  • To challenge themselves physically and mentally. Ultra-distance cycling races test your endurance, strength, speed, and resilience like no other sport. They push you to your limits and beyond and force you to overcome pain, fatigue, boredom, and loneliness.

  • To experience adventure and freedom. Ultra-distance cycling races take you to places you may have never seen before or see them differently. You get to explore new roads, landscapes, cultures, and people.

  • To achieve a personal goal or dream. Ultra-distance cycling races may represent something meaningful or important. Maybe you have always wanted to do one or have a specific reason or cause that motivates you. Completing an ultra-distance cycling race can give you a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that few things can match.

Ultra-distance cycling races can be divided into two main categories: Self-supported and Supported.

Self-supported races require the riders to carry (or source) everything they need for the duration of the race, such as food, water, clothing, tools and spare parts, and use any services along the way that are publicly accessible.

Supported races (such as Race Around Austria and Race Across America) allow the riders to have a support crew that can provide them with food, water, clothing, tools and spare parts. They also have a predefined route and checkpoints where they can rest and replenish their supplies.

Some of the most famous self-supported ultra-distance cycling races in the world are:

The Transcontinental Race (TCR) - Crosses Europe from one end to the other. The route varies yearly and usually covers about 4000 km and passes through several countries and mountain ranges.

The Silk Road Mountain Race (SRMR) - Explores Kyrgyzstan's remote and rugged landscapes. The route covers about 1700 km and climbs over 26,000 m of elevation, mostly on unpaved roads and trails.

The NorthCape-Tarifa (NCT) - Spans from the northernmost point of Europe in Norway to the southernmost point of Europe in Spain. The route covers about 7400 km and crosses 10 countries and several mountain ranges.

The Rhino Run - Takes riders across South Africa's Western and Northern Cape regions, then across the border into Namibia, and finishing in Windhoek (capital of Namibia.). The route covers 2750 km and climbs over 27000 m of elevation on mostly dirt roads.

The Tour Divide - Follows the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, which runs along the Rocky Mountains from Canada to Mexico. The route covers about 4400 km and climbs over 60,000 m of elevation, mostly on dirt roads and trails.


Ultra-distance cycling is a great way to challenge yourself, discover new places, and have fun on your bike. If you are ready to take your cycling to the next level, why not sign up for an ultra-cycling race and see what it's all about?


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