Epic Endurance: 6 of the Hardest Cycling Events in the World

Words by Jeffrey Stern

To find the desire to spend not only hours, but days, in the saddle with task at hand is a skill earned after years of preparation. Why not take your hard-earned decades of cycling endurance to a new place and test your grit and determination while soaking up some of the world’s true beauty? We’ve got the adventures for you on each continent.

The Tour of Ara

A relatively tiny event capped at 80 riders split over two waves, the Tour of Ara in South Africa follows mixed surface roads for the entire 800 kilometers. Riders cross the African Cape of the course over six-days. Conditions vary from high heat in the Karoo semi-desert area, to rain and possible snow depending on the year. Incredibly unpredictable, but a stunning African safari of a different type.


The Japanese Odyssey

With a fourteen-day time limit imposed by the organizers of The Japanese Odyssey, this 2,400-kilometer endurance ride starts in Tokyo and ends in Osaka. In between, participants cross ten mountain passes and cut through the heart of the Japanese Alps. The third edition of this island odyssey will run September 16th, 2017 and although there are no prizes, this challenging and unique experience will provide all finishers with the satisfaction of completing one of Asia’s toughest cycling events.


Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge

Originating from a group of 26 of cyclists raising money for charity by riding one loop of New Zealand’s largest lake, Taupo, and now exploded to roughly 8,000 participants from over twenty countries, the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge has hit celebrity status among endurance events for the whole family. Kids can ride the five-kilometer event, while seasoned adults can test themselves on the 1,280-kilometer Extreme Enduro route. Mark your calendars for November 25th, 2017 for a Southern Hemisphere summer adventure to remember.



PBP, as it’s known in some circles, is regarded as one of the most demanding and historic randonnées in the world. At approximately 1,200 kilometers, Paris-Brest-Paris starts and ends in the French capital. The first edition in 1891 was an actual race, which lasted until 1951. Logistics keep this event at 5,000 riders and the organizer, Audx Club Parisien, only puts the event on every four years because of the huge undertaking. The last edition was in 2015 so you’ll have to wait until August 2019 for this European classic endurance challenge to hit the calendar again.


Tour Divide

Last year’s Tour Divide saw a new course record set when Mike Hall of Yorkshire, England finished the 4,455 kilometer ride in 13 days, 22 hours and 51 minutes. Following one of the most beautiful trails in the world, North America’s Continental Divide, bikepackers travel along the Rocky Mountains and pass through five states (Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico) before arriving at the Mexican border for a well earned feast of tacos and beer.


South American Epic

Beginning at the northernmost portion of Colombia along the Caribbean’s beaches and passing through ten UNESCO World Heritage Sites, a dozen National Parks, Machu Picchu, the Bolivian Salt Flats, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, the South American Epic doesn’t disappoint. At 13,525 kilometers, this insane ride is three times as long as any other event on our list. Plan to devote your whole summer to this unforgettable journey in the saddle, beginning on July 9th, 2017.


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