In the realm of Grand Challenges to be had on two wheels, Colorado cycling events and century rides are renowned far and wide.
From the iconic Bob Cook Memorial Mount Evans Hill Climb, begun in 1962, to the Leadville Trail 100 MTB, the second oldest 100-mile marathon mountain bike race in the United States, Colorado cycling events reach unprecedented heights and blaze the trail for Type II fun.
But legendary Colorado cycling doesn't always end atop a Rocky Mountain summit. Two iconic events that attract cyclists from all over the world include the six-day, 400+ mile Ride the Rockies, first held in 1986, and Team Evergreen's Triple Bypass — “for those who dare.”
The Triple Bypass has been riding over three mountain passes higher than 10,500 feet for more than three decades. It's an epic cycling bucket list ride on its own merits…but it pales in comparison to its burly brother: the Double Triple Bypass (240 miles and 20,000 feet of climbing in two days).
There's a cycling event in Colorado for every type of cyclist
Not every cycling event in Colorado is for lunatics though. For 35 years, Elephant Rock had been one of the largest and most respected cycling events in Colorado, drawing thousands of cyclists to Castle Rock, CO without including any mountain passes in its route. The event, held for the last time in 2022, was part of the Outside Events Cycling Series.
The Outside Cycling Series, which is now The Ride Collective, rolls camaraderie, challenge and community into stellar bike rides in the Front Range and beyond and includes premier bike rides such as:
Copper Triangle in Summit County offers a classic alpine cycling course that was a word-of-mouth favorite of locals for many years before it became an organized event.
Tour of the Moon delivers a course featured in the movie American Flyers and made famous by the storied 1980s Coors Classic. The Tour of the Moon takes riders on a turn through the exotic Colorado National Monument and the high desert scenery around Grand Junction.
There are plenty of younger and well-established century rides and gran fondos in Colorado that appeal to the determined athlete and enthusiast, as well. They include bike rides such as:
- The Buffalo Bicycle Classic in Boulder.
- Colorado’s original and largest all-women’s bike ride Venus de Miles, up in Lyons.
- The Denver Century Ride in, you guessed it, the Mile High City.
- The Golden Gran Fondo, part of the SUAREZ Gran Fondo National Series and held where beer is brewed with pure Rocky Mountain spring water, Golden, CO.
If you're a gravel lover, The Ride Collective also presents two gravel events — the high alpine Crooked Gravel and the high desert Wild Horse Gravel — which complement several other rugged, rutty, rocky, sandy and steep Colorado crunchy celebrations, including the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic with its gravel, mountain and road events.
Legendary Colorado cycling doesn't always involve a mountain summit
Colorado also abounds with several charity bike rides, including Pedaling 4 Parkinsons and the Tour de Cure for the American Diabetes Association.
The Courage Classic in Summit Country raises money for Children's Hospital Colorado and the Tour de Steamboat, in Steamboat Springs of course, focuses on helping local, Routt County non-profits. Both attract thousands of riders each year without having to call upon the allure of intense pain.
But if you are a person who enjoys throwing yourself uphill and accumulating big numbers in cumulative elevation gain, these century rides are right up your hilly alley.
There’s the Stonewall Century in La Veta, CO. 102 miles, 7,500 feet of elevation gain, and the soul crushing backside of Cucharas Pass toward the end of the ride. The grade of this cruel climb includes a mile-long section exceeding 10 percent.
The Park 2 Park Challenge rides in with more than 11,200 feet of climbing in its 100 miles of brutality each July, but if you want elevation without lots of distance, the The Broadmoor Cycle to the Summit will give you just that each August — 4,275 feet of climbing in 12.42 miles as you race up Pikes Peak.
Clearly, Colorado’s cycling events and century rides attract hordes of cyclists wanting to test themselves on the steeps of the Rocky Mountains. But there are other century rides and bike events in Colorado that sing to the climbing soul without climbing a literal mountain.
The 719 Ride in Colorado springs is one of the most challenging single-day bicycle events in colorado
In fact, the 719 Ride in Colorado Springs is one of the most challenging single-day road cycling events in Colorado. With an Epic Climbing Score* of 127.82, there is no rest from the climbing. The amount of up is so ridiculous, it’s awesome!
The signature ride, a measly 71.9 miles, logs 9,190 feet of climbing and allows cyclists to earn points in the Gran Fondo category of the SUAREZ Gran Fondo National Series.
The physical and mental challenge at the 719 Ride is immense. But the beauty of the event is that riders can choose their own adventure.
The 719 Ride has 14 ride options from 14 miles to 200 miles that allow cyclists to do as much damage to their legs as their minds will allow. There’s even a do-it-yourself option, if you're not in Colorado or can’t make the ride start.
If you only do one bike event this year, you should choose the 719 Ride. It's a stunning experience. We recommend it 719%.
Participants in the 2023 719 Ride receive a discount of $7.19 on registration for The Broadmoor Cycle to the Summit, along with many other registration benefits.
There is no way to beat the 719 Ride. If you disagree, you didn't do enough laps.
Colorado Cycling Events Calendars
For a month-to-month list of Colorado cycling events and century rides, the Bicycle Colorado events calendar is a comprehensive resource. And for Colorado bike races, the USA Cycling and BikeReg event calendars are worth having in your saddle bag, if you race with a saddle bag.
*Epic Climbing Score
The Epic Climbing Score (ECS) is a simple calculation for comparing the amount of climbing a bike event has. The equation is total elevation gain divided by total distance. The ECS doesn’t indicate one event is better than another, or even easier or harder. There are tons of factors and considerations that help make a century, gran fondo or other event fun, compelling and awesome to ride.
Comparing the 719 Ride ECS to Other Colorado Cycling Events
- The Broadmoor Cycle to the Summit — 4,725' of elevation gain in 12.4 miles. It's the King of Excess (380.43 ECS).
- Bob Cook Memorial Mount Evans Hill Climb — 7,000' of elevation gain in 28 miles. It is truly excessive (250 ECS).
- The 719 Ride (I Cinque Giri) — A five-lap celebration of elevation (127.82 of ECS)
- Park 2 Park Challenge — 11,251' of elevation gain in 99.4 miles. 113.19 ECS.
- Triple Bypass — 120 miles and three mountain passes for those who dare. 10,990' of total elevation gain. 91.58 ECS.
- Buffalo Cycling Classic Buff Epic — 102 miles. 8,729' of elevation gain. 85.58 ECS.
- Copper Triangle — 6,500' of elevation gain. Three mountain passes. 79 miles. 82.28 ECS.
- Stonewall Century — Out and back over Cucharas Pass. 102 miles and 7,500' of elevation gain. 73.53 ECS.
- Tour of the Moon — 64 miles. Three tunnels bored through solid rock. Nearly 4,000' of elevation gain. 61.68 ECS.
A Colorado Springs Original
First conceived and ridden in 2016, the 719 Ride aspires to be a bicycle event that contributes to the culture and community of Colorado Springs. FORZA Colorado Springs!
The 719 Ride is a Colorado Springs Original riding in the draft of many great and long-established Colorado cycling events. It hopes to become a positive part of the Colorado Springs tradition and identity while celebrating the tradition, lore and culture of cycling and helping set the pace for cycling fun in the Rocky Mountain region.