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As an annual rite, I typically ride in one or more organized centuries and other organized rides. All of those rides usually have a name that exemplify the ride in some way. For example "The Chilly Hilly" or the "Torture 10,000" or "Reach the Beach", etc. Additionally, I travel a bit and attempt to incorporate cycling when possible. So, I'm looking for possibilities for the next time I hit the road.

What is a notable organized ride that you have done, would like to do, or have considered? (A brief description and/or link would be nice as well.) Basically, I can of course google this, but that lacks the element of first hand experience that I feel I can get from this site. For all I know, something like the "Wilson County Wander" might be a superb hidden gem and by googling, it would never bubble to the top.

Since this is an international forum, metric centuries or other organized ride suggestions are also encouraged. (Although I'm not sure if these types of rides are common outside of the U.S.) As an example, I have done rides in the wine regions of the Pacific NW, and theoretically could find myself in wine regions elsewhere at some point.

Adjectives for outstanding could include things like, beautiful scenery, physically challenging, excellent support, etc...

Since this is a CW, only one answer per customer please.

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Does this have to be current? I have one from 2007 I can contribute. –  Neil Fein Oct 19 '10 at 17:48
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"So, I'm looking for possibilities for the next time I hit the road." - Your ride from 2007 is fine if it's an ongoing periodic ride. It's not very useful if it's retrospective. –  user313 Oct 19 '10 at 17:57
    
Do you have a maximum length in mind? (i.e. rides over 100 miles) –  darkcanuck Oct 19 '10 at 18:20
    
@darkcanuck - Pretty much a day ride and not multi-day. My last century wound up being ~125 miles, so I don't need a hard cutoff at 100 miles. –  user313 Oct 19 '10 at 18:47
    
It may be a peculiarity of the UK but we quite often get 100s where two routes are available, a 100 miler or a 100 km-er depending on your level. –  Amos Oct 19 '10 at 20:53

14 Answers 14

300 km, Vancouver Island, Canada

If you're ever near Vancouver Island (Canada) and are looking for a very challenging, scenic route, Ken Bonner of the BC Randonneurs organizes a 300km ride called "Alive are the Hills" as part of Eau de Hell Week. For less than a double century you get 4100m (13,700') of climbing on plenty of quiet country roads. It's a very memorable ride, especially if you've done the 200km the day before.

It's a self-supported ride, meaning you'll see someone at the start & finish, but probably no one except your fellow riders in between.

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Good one. I live in the Pacific NW so this can go on my doable list. –  user313 Oct 19 '10 at 19:50

La Marmotte

This summer I rode La Marmotte which is a good organised 174 km (108 mi) timed ride through the Alps with more than 5000 meters of climbing. The finish is on the top of the well known Alpe d'Huez. I was really tired at the end but the scenery was really beautiful.

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Now that looks like fun! –  darkcanuck Oct 21 '10 at 14:33
    
It was fun but I got a lot of cramps in my legs in the last two climbs and the first kilometers of Alpe d'Huez where really hot. In the next picture I am riding the Galibier (about 9%) wielertoerist.be/Samuel/fotos/titel+foto/… and really dying. –  Samuel Oct 28 '10 at 9:46

200km Ride to Conquer Cancer (Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Montreal).

It's a fundraising ride and is fully supported. A two day ride (from whichever city you start at) for over 200km. I've ridden the Calgary ride twice, and it's been a great challenge, but also relatively easy because of all of the supports provided

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I thought about mentioning this, but the fact that you have to raise $2500 to participate rules it out for the vast majority of people. I'm 1/100th of the way there :p –  meagar Oct 21 '10 at 21:50
    
yeah. the fundraising side is pretty steep. I won't be doing it in 2011 because I don't want to go back to everyone I know. again. asking for money to sponsor me. –  D'Arcy Norman Oct 25 '10 at 18:50
    
Yeah, that's a very high minimum entry rate. More than any other charity event I've seen. Being that it's a 2 day ride, there is a lot of money involved in supporting the riders. But it probably disqualifies a lot of people who would like to ride, but don't have a lot of rich friends to donate money. –  Kibbee Aug 29 '11 at 20:00

160 km (100 mile), Levi's Gran Fondo in Santa Rosa, California, US

100 km, Levi's Medio Fondo in Santa Rosa, California, US

51 km, Levi's Piccolo Fondo in Santa Rosa, California, US

This is a set of fully-supported (SAG wagon, multiple rest stops) rides in early October starting in Santa Rosa, California and going out to the coast (except for the Piccolo). There's a couple challenging climbs and some technical descents. The "Gran" is based on a training route that Levi Leipheimer uses. Proceeds go to various good causes, including helping to fund getting the Tour of California to include Santa Rosa. In 2009 there were 3000 total spots, and in 2010 there were 6000 total spots; both years the Gran route filled up very quickly. There's a festival at the finish line. A bike set up to be able to handle some rough country roads is recommended.

I haven't ridden it, but I know people that have, and I've volunteered to help out (primarily with valet bicycle parking at the festival).

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San Jose Bike Party

Next time you're in San Jose, CA on the third Friday of the month, check out San Jose Bike Party. http://www.sjbikeparty.org/

I've done it several times and it is a blast. Usually under 50km. You mentioned wine regions of the Pacific NW. San Jose is about 90 miles south of Napa/Sonoma. There are also numerous wineries right around San Jose if you are interested in that.

Adjectives. Beautiful city to ride through. Awesome group of people to ride with. Wonderful themes. Not physically challenging.

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European classics

There are hundreds of outstanding rides in Europe for amateurs, but here's a few of the classics:

  • Paris–Brest–Paris (PBP), the original audax: a 1,200 km ride from Paris to Brest on the Atlantic coast of Brittany, and back again, with a time limit of 90 hours. It has been run regularly since 1891 and in 2007 attracted more than 5,000 riders. For a long time this was the ride that European long-distance cyclists aspired to take part in.
  • London–Edinburgh–London (LEL), a 1,400 km there-and-back ride between two of the UK's capital cities. Run 4-yearly since 1989.
  • Vätternrundan, a 300 km tour of Lake Vättern in Sweden. Perhaps the most popular ride of this length in Europe, with over 15,000 riders.
  • La Marmotte, a 174 km sportif from Bourg d'Oisans to Alpe d'Huez, passing over the famous cols of Glandon, Télégraphe, and Galibier en route, with over 8,000 m of climbing.
  • Étape du Tour, a sportif in which amateurs ride one of the stages of the Tour de France.

Some newer rides that may become classics in time:

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200 km / 100mile (160 km) / 100km / 35mile(56km) Wine Country Century in Santa Rosa, California, US

The Wine Country Century is put on by the local cycling club, and (depending on specific route), may pass through as many as 7 appellations (officially recognized wine growing regions). The longer routes include a "bailout route" option to get back to the start. Generally scheduled for early May.

Santa Rosa is about 50 miles north of San Francisco.

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240 KM Elfstedentoch te fiets in Friesland, The Netherlands

The bicycle version of a very famous ice skating race (wikipedia article in english) (held anually if the ice is good enough).

This is a well known bicycle ride (in the Netherlands anyway) that has been held yearly since 1912. Only 15000 riders can participate, so you have to be quick to register (at least before the end of february for the ride in june of the same year). Riders that have completed the ride at least five times, of which at least one in the last five years get early registration access.

I never did it as I've never been nearly fit enough to pull it off, but perhaps one day...

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100 km, Delaware, US

The White Clay Bicycle Club in Delaware holds the Double Cross Metric every year. I think this is notable for being a good century for beginners -- southern Delaware is pretty flat.

Links:

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I really want to ride the Lotoja, from Logan, Utah to Jackson, Wyoming (206 miles). There's some beautiful scenery along that route (I've driven it several times) and enough up and down to make it really challenging.

I also really want to ride the Salt to Saint, from Salt Lake City, Utah to St. George, Utah. Since it goes through my hometown and all... Also, some beautiful views along the route.

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The Prouty is a very popular charity ride based out of Hanover, NH. They have both running and cycling events ranging from a 1k walk to 100 mile ride. There is also a 200 mile, 2 day event named the Ultimate Prouty that I have rode support for in the past: http://theprouty.kintera.org/faf/home/default.asp?ievent=320368

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Jaunt with Jim

Jim Klobuchar runs an annual week-long bike ride (now in in its 37th year) somewhere in Minnesota or an adjoining state (2012 is reputed to be planned for Wisconsin). The group is generally about 125 people, most in the 50-70 age range. Daily mileage varies greatly from day to day and year to year, from 35 to 80, with usually about 350 miles total in 6 days riding.

Definitely not a race, but no inn-to-inn puffball ride either. Riders have not been "self-contained" in 20-odd years (except for one holdout), and there is a repair van, but no organized sag support. Camping is in schoolyards and the like (there is a luggage truck), with meals usually arranged.

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Copper Triangle, Copper Mountain, Colorado

The Copper Triangle ride is a spectacular 78-mile loop over three Colorado mountain passes: Fremont Pass (elevation 11,318’), Tennessee Pass (10,424’) and Vail Pass (10,666’). The course goes by three ski resorts, many old mining outposts, and camp Hale, the historic training ground for the 10th Mountain Division. The total elevation gain is 5,981 ft. It is typically the first Saturday in August, with hundreds of participants.

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White Sands Missile Range Century

Bike 108 miles across the White Sands Missile Range, normally closed to the public. The fall ride is usually not announced very far in advance, and may not occur every year. There is a strict policy of no photos.

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Do they use this as target practice? –  Skizz Sep 1 '11 at 9:40

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