Top mountain bike races in the world
Mountain biking allows you to get exercise and the adrenaline flowing, as well as plenty of fresh air while basking in the beauty of nature. Most enjoy mountain biking as a leisure activity that the whole family can take part in. However you can take this a step further and partake in mountain bike races at a more serious level. You don’t have to stop there! For the seriously fit and seriously wealthy there are international stage races to compete in. We’ve taken a closer look at the top four mountain bike races in the world.
The Cape Epic is held towards the end of March every year in the Western Cape, South Africa.
Participants can prepare themselves for a gruelling yet beautiful 8-day race traversing majestic cape mountains, indigenous forest, iconic fynbos, breath-taking coastline, and flourishing vineyards. The route has been redesigned every year and has visited over 40 towns since its start in 2004 – this adds to the excitement of the race as riders wait in anticipation for the big reveal of the route each year. In 2018 the route covered a total distance of 658km, including four consecutive days of riding over 100km, plus 13 530m of total climbing. It is the only 8-day mountain bike stage race to be classed as hors categorie by the Union Cycliste Internationale – meaning it’s tough as hell – and is also one of the most televised mountain bike stage races in the world. It is open to riders 19 years and older. All riders must undergo a full medical exam and supply the race organisers with their medical history. The Cape Epic is incredibly popular and hard to get into with early bird tickets selling out in minutes, so if this is your kind of thing, best get ready to book as early as possible to avoid disappointment! Next year’s Cape Epic will cost you and your teammate approximately US$5900.
2.Hero MTB Himalaya
Held in Himachal Pradesh, India, the Hero MTB Himalaya is a 7-stage race taking place over 9 days and covering around 650km. This race was started in 2005 and has been classed as one of the toughest mountain bike stage races in the world with a total elevation gain of almost 15 000m and the highest altitude reaching 3250m. From 2016 the route has been set from Shimla to Dharamshala, winding through broken tarmac, meadows, tough uphills, spiralling downhills, and through village back roads. Participants can choose to ride solo or in teams of two and the registration costs around $799 inclusive of race fee, bedding and food. On average, around 70 riders take part, representing more than 15 countries from around the world and two of the top ten riders get to face off for the King of Himalaya title. The course is tough and in 2011 104 riders started but only 42 finished! If you dare to push yourself to the limit whilst winding through the beautiful Himalayas, then this is for you.
3.The Iron Bike
The Iron Bike is one of the longest running and most well-known mountain bike races in the world. The race is held each year in the Piedmont region of Italy, with the course winding through the surroundings of the beautiful Italian Alps. Riders cover a distance of 700km with a total 25000m of climbing and can spend around 12 hours a day on their bikes in this seven stage, eight day race. It is so tough that only 50% of participants survive the week – but the bragging rights are said to be so worth it! Entry fees range from €550 to €750 and includes full boarding, feed zones along the race course, as well as refreshments and dinner upon camp arrival each night. As tough as it is, tickets sell out fast so it’s best to get your name on the list if your dream is to tick this race off your bucket list.
Yak Attack is held every year in Nepal and is the highest mountain bike race in the world with heights of 5416m above sea level and an overall altitude gain of 12000m. It is an 8-stage race between Besi Sahar and Pokhara (although they do occasionally change the course slightly), spanning a total of 400km over just 5 days. As if that wasn’t enough, riders can brace themselves for weather ranging anywhere from +30 to -15 degrees celcius, muddy bogs, dizzying singletracks, rickety suspension bridges, herds of yak, and even snow. Entrance costs around $2295 per person and includes coach transfer from Kathmandu to Besi Sahar (on arrival) and from Pokhara to Kathmandu (upon completion), 8 night’s accommodation, meals, luggage transfer, and water stations throughout the course.
Do you have what it takes? Are you fit enough to take on these top four mountain bike races? To partake in these top races you will need to not only be fast on booking but also consider the costs of race entry, airfare, accommodation and car rental pre and post event. Accidents can happen and you would need medical coverage as well as, massages and/ or medical attention after each stage. These races can be gruelling on not only you but on your bike as well, you would also need to consider maintenance, repair and transport costs for your bike.
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