DENVER (KDVR) – With the Tour de France spanning the majority of July, Colorado cycling enthusiasts that have been watching the Durango Kid Sepp Kuss compete from 5,000 miles away may have felt an envious itch stir.
That itch may be the desire to replicate the physical efforts being broadcast from the world-famous cycling competition that’s been held nearly every year since 1903. The Tour is a 21-stage race that covers 2,200 miles in 23 days, in which about 160 professional cyclists compete.
Reaching this level of competition may be wishful thinking for most of the bike-loving masses of the Centennial State, but there are undeniable benefits from training around the Mile High City, with its gradients and climbs.
So, with that in mind, why not look through this collection of upcoming bike races, that if undertaken, are certain to test both your output threshold, your peloton drafting ability and your athleticism-adjacent ego.
Tour de Steamboat
The Tour de Steamboat began back in 2005 and offers participants the chance to truly test their “gravely grit” in the 100-mile Bingham Built Gravel Ride which boasts an elevation gain of 6,354 feet. There is also a lower-tier gravel bike race, the 50-mile Honey Stinger Gravel Ride, which has a 2,483-foot gain in elevation.
Road races are also part of this competition and include the 66-mile Glas Deffryn Ranch Yampa Loop, the 44-mile Mountain Valley Bank Oak Creek Loop and the 20-mile Peace, Love & Kindness Family ride.
This two-day event offers the chance to gauge your leg’s limits at a much higher altitude than the Tour de Steamboat.
Day 1 of the event offers three options to choose from if participating, including the 79-mile Copper Loop, the 42-mile Vail Pass ride and the 12-mile Family Route, none of which dip beneath an elevation of 10,000 feet.
Day 2 of the competition is again another three-pack to choose from and includes the 81-mile Ute Pass ride, the 42-mile Keystone ride and the 24-mile Family route.
Deep in the heart of the Rockies and sitting at the base of the Copper Mountain Resort is the starting line for the Copper Triangle race, which carries three climbs across the 79-mile stretch of road while reaching an elevation gain of 6,500 feet.
There are very few courses this riddled in history, with Camp Hale, the home of the 10th Mountain Division, as well as several mining towns worth reflecting on while your legs suffer the great burn, otherwise known as extreme exercise.
Leadville Trail 100 MTB
Attention, mountain biker reading this list, here is the challenge you’ve been searching for. Described by organizers as “the race of all races,” the Leadville Trail 100 MTB offers a nearly 2,000-foot climb across a 104-mile course that takes you past Columbine Mine and the Twin Lakes.
“Come prepared, leave as a legend,” reads the course info section of the event’s homepage.
With a majority of the ride running through forest trails and an elevation gain, this is another ride with plenty of scenery to distract you from slowing that cadence.
Midnight Starlight Spectacular Bicycle Ride
On the opposite end of the spectrum from these other warm dayside rides sits this nighttime competition that takes participants through the Garden of the Gods as the stars watch from above.
This race that starts at 10:30 p.m. is a bit laxer in nature due to its more tightened focus on enjoying the outdoors at night, specifically the Juniper Loop. Those participating as a rider can circle the course as many times as desired.
This road century ride that rolls along Colorado State Highway 23 between Segundo and La Veta includes an elevation of 7,500 feet and a free mid-ride lunch as well as a post-race barbecue.
This will not be a walk-through of a ride, so be sure to train appropriately, and brace yourself for when you meet the dementor of a climb known as “Soul Crusher” at mile 83.
This 106.2-mile adventure takes competitors capable of doing so out of Evergreen, and over the top of the Loveland, Vail and Juniper passes. Truly, if you can accomplish this trifecta then you are indeed worthy of a polka-dotted jersey, set aside for kings of the mountain.
Alternatively, if you are feeling one bypass short of the full hat-trick, then you can sign up for the Double Bypass route which will run 63.4 miles over both the Loveland and Vail passes.
Pikes Peak Apex
This three-tiered competition runs for four days in Colorado Springs and offers a range of competitive options to enter including pro-women and pro-open categories, an age-specific category and an open duo category.
The most competitive categories, the pro-open and pro-women categories, offer the chance to claim $25,000 cash prizes.
Lastly, if you are interested in riding for just a single day, race organizers are offering one-day packages.
Denver Century Ride
Lastly, to wrap up the season, why not take your bike back down to a flatter road through the Denver area while competing in either the 100, 85, 50 or 25-mile races, the longest of which experiences an elevation gain of 6,061 feet.
This is easily the most accessible for those living in the metro and honestly, a great way to ease into the cycling community if you’ve been itching to do so.