Wolfpack Hustle Marathon Crash Race
Los Angeles, California
Thousands of competitors rush, shoulder to shoulder, through predawn downtown L.A. in the nation's largest unsanctioned bike race. The Wolfpack Hustle attracts commuters, hobbyists, weekend warriors, and professional cyclists from all over the world. Its reputation for chaos and debauchery means participants don't ask if they'll get in a crash, but when. "At every turn, I could hear carbon fiber and muscle collide with concrete as bikes went one way and bodies another," assistant editor Matt Skenazy wrote for Outside after he competed in March 2013.
Midnight Half Marathon
New York, New York
For its second year, this event's runners will take off through the streets of New York on "an urban course that's open to interpretation," says race director Joe DiNoto. Like alley cat races in cycling, there's no set route here: runners choose their own way—through side streets, buildings, and alleyways—to checkpoints in a specific sequence. "This changes the game," explains DiNoto. "Street knowledge, split-second decision making, speed—all are requirements for victory." Details of the 2013 race were announced just a month before the race. Watch Orchard Street Runner's Facebook page for details.
Arizona Trail Race
Parker Canyon Lake, Arizona
More epic than its modest name suggests, this event involves a 750-mile bike traverse from Mexico to Utah with no entry fee or support. The nine-year-old race features the longest stretch of singletrack in the world, and it's the only one requiring competitors to carry their ride 24 miles across the Grand Canyon. "The beauty is in the raw challenge of crossing the deserts," says organizer Scott Morris. "Heat, innumerable rocks, and sharp vegetation are part and parcel of the AZT. No other bikepacking event is as technically challenging, nor are any courses as hard to keep your tires inflated on."
Rapha Gentlemen's Race
Discretely conducted twice a year—once on each coast—these 100-plus-mile team races extend admittance via invitation only. "I think they deliberately do it under wraps so that it's sort of developed a cult status," says one anonymous Gentlemen's Race alum, who knows he could face repercussions for talking about the event. Recently, Rapha has held open applications on its website. For the 2013 eastern race, entry hinged on writing a brief essay. "This year's race will be in the area where George Washington famously crossed the Delaware River during the battle of Trenton," the organizers state. "He once said, 'It is better to be alone than in bad company.' Agree? Disagree? Please explain." Keep a watchful eye on Rapha's site; no one knows when or where the next races will take place.
Durango Dirty Century
This 80-mile, high-elevation, singletrack ride in the mountains near Durango is for experts only. The course starts in town, but quickly ascends to Bolam Pass Road via the Hermosa Creek Trail before descending the Colorado Trail—a loop that takes the average rider about 14 hours to complete. It's not so much a race, explains ride sponsor Matt Turgeon, as a group ride where everyone tries for their fastest time. "In other words," Turgeon elaborates, "we don't charge a fee, and we keep enrollment down to fewer than 75. It's like a church picnic, but on wheels." Finishers are rewarded at the post-race party with tall, cold ones from nearby Carver Brewing.
GoPro X-Country Mountain Bike Race
Riders pedal up Vail Mountain as many as three times during the formidable GoPro X-Country Mountain Bike Race . Located near downtown Vail, the event is spectator-friendly, typically drawing big, energetic crowds. It also happens to offer one of the largest cash purses in the mountain-biking world. The cross-country race is one of five competitions in the Jack Links Beef Jerky Ultimate Mountain Challenge, a test of athletic skill and endurance. The series also includes the 10K Spring Runoff, a road bike time trial, a river spring down Class II whitewater, and an SUP surf competition. "The X-Country Mountain Race at the GoPro Mountain Games is equally about the actual event and its festivals before and after," says Paul Abling, senior marketing and PR manager for the Vail Valley Foundation. "Race the same course as the pros, with a grueling start-elevation of 8,100 feet on Vail Mountain, while tens of thousands of spectators cheer you on from below."