The Go List

9 American Centuries to Master

From coast to coast and in between, check out these stunning 100-mile bike rides

9 American Centuries to Master

It's an age-old question: What’s the best century? Try these out and judge for yourself. Photo: Courtesy of Jeff Clark/Santa Barbara 100

Pick one of these 9 rides from around the country and start training. 

Red Rocks Century

Morrison, Colorado 
August 8, 2015 
Difficulty:
 Hard

There are 12,000 feet of elevation gain during this century. We just wanted to get that out of the way. Now the pros: You get to spend the day pedaling past big-time Colorado landmarks like Dinosaur Ridge (where there’s a massive collection of dinosaur fossils) and the Mars-like Red Rocks Park, and you’ll climb up to 11,140 feet at Squaw Pass. Throw in dusty-but-charming mountain towns like Idaho Springs and Evergreen, and you’ve got yourself a two-wheeled highlight reel of Colorado’s Rockies.


Crater Lake Century

Crater Lake, Oregon 
August 15, 2015 
Difficulty:
 Moderate

Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the country, is the destination on this scenic century. Begin by cruising through the Wood River Valley, with nice views of the Cascade Range, before climbing 3,000 feet to the rim of the lake, where cliffs form a 2,000-foot-high wall around the blue water. After the big climb, it’s summit and gap pedaling around the lake on the perfect Rim Drive, with near-constant views of the lake below. 


Maine Lighthouse Ride 

Portland, Maine 
September 12, 2015 
Difficulty:
 Easy

The majority of this very social 100-mile ride hugs the coast of southern Maine, taking cyclists along small peninsulas with killer views of the Pine Tree State’s iconic lighthouses. You’re not really racing here—you’re touring. You’ll see nine lighthouses in all, cross the salty Scarborough Marsh twice, and roll through Kennebunkport, which could not be more Maine with its quiet seaside village, lobster-eating charm. 


Lorie’s Lakeside Century

Chesterton, Indiana 
September 19, 2015 
Difficulty: Easy

The beauty of riding bikes in Indiana? It’s flat to gently rolling. But the charm of this particular century is that it delivers you to some of the most dramatic landscape in the Midwest: the jagged coast of Lake Michigan and the Indiana Dunes, which rise 180 feet above the lake in a tangle of sand, bogs, and grassy prairies. The occasional lighthouse and bucolic farm are just bonuses, as is the cool fall breeze coming off the lake. 


Tour de Whidbey

Whidbey Island, Washington 
September 19, 2015 
Difficulty:
 Moderate

Whidbey Island is a sprawling, curvaceous hunk of farmland in the middle of Puget Sound off the coast of Washington. Cyclists knocking out the Tour de Whidbey will pedal a 100-mile figure eight across this island that’s packed with wineries, small coastal towns, and rocky coves. Locals hop over from Seattle and knock out wine bike tours so often that cycling has become second nature on the island. Expect wide shoulders and minimal traffic with drivers who are genuinely happy to see you. 


Santa Barbara 100

Santa Barbara, California 
October 17, 2015 
Difficulty:
 Hard

This 100-mile course will hurt more than a little—you’ve got 9,000 cumulative feet of climbing. Beginning around mile 40, you’ll climb 3,000 feet over seven miles. But it’s all kinds of Southern California magic: swanky neighborhoods lined with palms, avocado orchards, and the cliffy Pacific coast. You’ll even get some ridgetop miles with views that stretch to the Channel Islands, ten miles off the coast. 


Ultimate Fondo Las Vegas

Las Vegas, Nevada 
April 2, 2016 
Difficulty:
 Moderate

First thing to know: You won’t be pedaling the Strip. This ride takes you deep into the area’s storied desert, giving you a chance to pedal through Red Rock Canyon, where the desert floor is covered with Joshua trees and the high canyon walls are striped in shades of maroon. You’ll also tackle the eight-mile climb to the summit of Mount Potosi and cruise through the lesser-known Lovell Canyon, offering views of Mount Charleston


Campagnolo Gran Fondo New York

Fort Lee, New Jersey  
May 15, 2016 
Difficulty:
 Moderate

Forget the Brooklyn Bridge, ditch the urban bike lanes, and escape the concrete jungle. This ride begins and ends on the iconic George Washington Bridge, which straddles the Hudson River connecting Manhattan to New Jersey. In between, you’ve got roughly 100 miles of surprisingly rural roads on the west side of the Hudson, a four-mile timed climb up Bear Mountain, and selfie-worthy views of New York City’s skyline. 


Key West Century Tour

Key Largo, Florida 
Every second Saturday of the month. Every weekend during peak winter season.
Difficulty:
Easy 

Instead of your annual massive century ride, Key Largo Bike guides take small groups on a fully supported 100-mile jaunt from Key Largo to Key West once a month. You’ll follow the route of the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail, pedaling impossibly long bridges that connect sandy islands poking out of the aqua blue sea—the Gulf of Mexico on your right, the Straits of Florida on your left. You’re looking for dolphins, flamingos, and maybe the occasional massive sea turtle as you pedal to the southernmost point in the continental United States. 
 

Filed To: Travel, The Go List, Biking

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