People like to say you'll need triple-bypass surgery after completing the Triple Bypass in Colorado. They're not always joking. This 120-mile, supported road ride goes over three monstrous Colorado passes for a total ascent of 10,000 feet. The ride specs don't seem to deter cyclists, however. The event has been known to sell out mere hours after registration opens. If you're feeling über-healthy, opt to tackle the Triple Bypass route backward, from Avon to Evergreen, the day after completing this traditional event. That's called the Double Triple Bypass, and it's definitely not for the faint of heart. "I think the Triple should be on everyone's bucket list," says race director Jenny Anderson. "The 120-mile ride over three mountain passes is a great way to enjoy the Colorado Rockies. But you have to do some serious training to complete the Triple's 10,000 feet of elevation."
Levi's Gran Fondo
Sonoma County, California
Scenic roads, beer, music, lots of support: "We believe we've put together the best possible day a person can have on two wheels, pure and simple," says marketing director Greg Fisher. Levi's Gran Fondo isn't exactly a race, but it's ridden (and live-tweeted) like one. Show up for the Gran Route—which covers 103 miles and 9,000 feet of elevation—to throw down with former professional racer Levi Leipheimer and his buddies. On the other hand, the event's well-stocked rest stops every 12 miles, shorter route options, and warm post-race showers might tempt you to mistake the event for a luxury bike tour.
L'Etape du Tou
Every cyclist has dreamed of competing in the Tour de France. And, for one day in July, that fantasy can come to life: You can ride a mountain stage of the Tour with the same support—closed roads, mechanized assistance, roadside feeding—the pros enjoy, says press officer Thomas Cariou. "Whether you race it, ride it, or merely survive it, L'Etape is a challenge for everyone," adds Neil Shirley, a former professional cyclist and the current editor of Road Bike Action magazine. "And it's a challenge that will find its way on my calendar year after year, due to the uniqueness of riding the very same stage Tour riders will tackle just days later." Don't hesitate to register: the event fills up quickly, with more than 13,000 riders from 50 countries regularly attending.
Trek 100 Wisconsin
The Trek 100 starting line is located just a few yards from the bike company's headquarters and local manufacturing facility. This 25-year-old charity ride raises money to fight childhood cancer, and each year it draws thousands of cyclists of all abilities. "The start of the Trek 100 is always an emotionally charged, powerful moment. The riders gather with great excitement," says Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer development officer Colleen Moran. "Many riders are moved to tears when they hear from survivors. They're motivated, and ready to hit the road." All participants must commit to raising a certain amount of money for charity in addition to paying the registration fee, which includes a Trek 100 T-shirt, a pre-ride breakfast, snacks en route, and afternoon festivities. Not up for a hundred miles? You can opt to ride 62, 36, or 19 miles instead.
The Dirty Kanza
There's no shortage of gravel grinders in the Midwest, but only the Dirty Kanza covers the Flint Hills. "Once home to the great Kanza Nation, the Flint Hills are one of the two remaining tracts of natural tallgrass prairie in the world," says Jim Cummins, the event's founder. "Beautifully rugged and remote, they've been called the easternmost edge of the West." The terrain is gorgeous, but it's also grueling. With winds strong enough to make downhill feel like uphill and 200 miles of blacktop, gravel, and dirt roads, anyone crossing the line wins.
Crusher in the Tushar
This unique event starts in downtown Beaver—birthplace of Butch Cassidy—and ends at ski resort Eagle Point after traversing the Tushars, one of Utah's highest mountain ranges. The 70-mile Crusher, in a league of its own, is neither mountain-bike race nor road ride. Half the route is on asphalt; the other half is on dirt. Though the buzz phrase "gravel racing" is in currency right now, event director Burke Swindlehurst likes to classify the Crusher in the Tushar as "a mixed-surface event." The former professional racer wanted to combine everything he loves about racing bikes, so the Crusher welcomes roadies, mountain bikers, and cross racers. "People now define themselves as cyclists—they're not chained to specific disciplines anymore. The event isn't clearly defined; it's whatever you want it to be."