So we all know about the Tour de France and Lance Armstrong (and that whole thing…) and how it’s the number one bike race in the world.

But here’s the thing…it’s not necessarily the hardest one in terms of testing and challenging a biker’s physical prowess.

This may be hard to comprehend, but the truth is that there are, indeed, other bike races (and really other type of races in general) who specifically seek to be more physically grueling than the most popular/well-known ones!

A huge cause of this misconception here is that people tend to believe the pop-culture surrounding athletic events such as the Tour de France. And in this case, it’s one that’s been perpetuated quite some time…that the Tour de France is somehow the most difficult one from a physical standpoint. It’s not!

Honestly, it’s a lot like how most people would assume that marathon runners are in good shape and while that’s certainly not a false statement, it doesn’t tell the truth though. The truth is that there are many other footraces far harder than a simple marathon.

But I digress…

So let’s bring it back on topic.

Below is a list of the hardest bike races in the world, and the reason why I’m telling you about them is because these are some good goals to shoot for while you’re engaging in your spin cycling training.

If you are preparing for any of the races mentioned below, we would recommend you to check out these road bike models for racing.

In fact, I’d say they are absolutely wonderful goals to shoot for and should give any dedicated biker the necessary motivation to push themselves through their trip(s).

So without further ado let’s begin with:

The Trans Pyr – Spain

The Trans Pyr - Spain

The Trans Pyr is a ‘mountainous’ bike race in Spain that starts on the eastern edge of Spain on the Mediterranean coastal city of Roses and ends all the way on the other side of the country on the western edge of the city of San Sebastian.

The race is supposed to be around 509 miles and will force riders to climb an estimated 66,601 feet in altitude.

What makes this race particularly challenging and unique is that it goes through the entire length of the Pyrenees! And, typically, the winning rider usually spends about 45 hours riding…while some may even double that!

So you see, my friends, this is already starting at a pretty difficult level.

The Race Across America (RAAM) – United States

The Race Across America (RAAM) - United States

The name gives it away pretty much, but just to be sure you are going to be starting in Oceanside, California and ends in Annapolis, Maryland (there’s just something poetically fitting about a grueling physical race across the wide expanse of the land of the red, white, and blue that ends up in the same place as the United States Naval Academy), and it totals over 3,000 miles!

Ya that’s a lot…like 1,000 miles more than the Tour de France.

And as if that wasn’t impressive enough then consider that riders oftentimes do it in HALF the number of days that it takes to complete the Tour’s three-week long journey!

Yes, that’s right. A race that is over a 1,000 miles longer and that is also 50% more than another race is also expected to have its competitors finish in half the time it takes that shorter race.

And for some final interesting facts, consider that the riders are actually not required to sleep, and so many of the top guys will easily average only two hours of sleep a day.

You up for this?

Iditarod Invitational – United States

Iditarod Invitational - United States

Now if those last two weren’t enough to make you want to climb onto your spin bike and just go crazy at it in front of everyone at the class and make yourself seem like an insane person on a mission befitt of an immortal then this one ought to at least make you think about doing so.

So the Iditarod Invitational is going to be dramatically different from those last two guys. Different as in, you will be racing through the dead middle of winter…in Alaska!

Ya…this one definitely separates the wheat from the chaff.

The actual race itself drags on for 1,110 miles, and it also doesn’t really have much in the way of climbing altitude. Certainly, nothing like the Trans Pyr, but obviously this ‘lack of challenge’ is going to be more than made up for by the fact that you are going to be trudging through -56 degree Fahrenheit blizzard-like conditions half the time!

And that’s still not the end of it. This particular race…actually has no set course or path.

Yes, you read that correctly. The Iditarod basically adopts the stance that you start at Point A and end at Point B, but you do so by whatever means necessary and whatever route you decide to do.

Now to be completely open and honest here, this race technically might not qualify as a bike race per se…because you also don’t necessarily have to bike the entire way. In fact, those of you who are astute enough have probably gathered that oftentimes you actually won’t be able to bike at all. A blizzard hits, heavy winds, freezing rain, etc. all would be show stoppers and would either force you to bunker down for cover and wait out the storm or you would have to continue on foot. And this is quite common actually considering that the average speed is hardly even 3 mph…which would also explain why there’s only ever been 42 individuals in the entire history of this race to have actually finished it even.

Maybe you should take that spin bike outside now for a quick little ride…test the waters so to speak.

Final Thoughts and Parting Words

Right about now, I suspect that there’s really only two types of people left here.

Those who read this and thought:

I’m going to be one of those few who finishes the Iditarod/RAAM/Trans Pyr.


I’m going to eat some pizza now and not go to the gym and not bike.

Well, fortunately for you if you’re in that second group is that I’m here to remind you that spin biking is partly done so out of actual pleasure and a sense of ‘fun’ rather than enduring tortuous pain and possibly risking life or limb.

So regardless of your personal opinions and feelings towards these races. You can still just simply enjoy a nice ride on the spin bike at the end of the day at your leisure.

And that’s really all that matters in the end…that you’re getting in shape and that you’re having fun while doing it!

Ride rider!

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Matt Williamson
My name is Matt - fitness freak by choice. I intensively study and write about nutrition and health related topics. After reading and researching intensively on human health, I aspire to proliferate the wisdom that I acquired in a simple way.