Ultra-Distance Cycling Races – A Guide

We all know about the very long bicycle races like the Grand Tours, but what about other races that can last for days on end? Imagine being required to jump through hoops day after day to do something people do every day, like using the Unibet bonus code. Unless you are really passionate about it, it seems like a waste of time. Or does it? Let’s find out more about bike-packing and ultra-distance cycling races.

What is Ultra-Distance Cycling?

As it turns out, this isn’t easy to answer. There are many different criteria and definitions of the term, but it is safe to say that we are talking about races that last for a very long time and cover huge distances. One might think that the Grand Tours fit the bill, but that would be wrong. While many races are done in stages with breaks for sleeping and different events, here the clock runs from the minute you take off, until you get off your bike for good.

So, Grand tours are out, but some of their stages might not be. In 1919, the longest stage of Tour de France was 300 miles. Other stages of other tours also ran in hundreds of miles from time to time. As difficult as it is to get a clear definition of ultra-distance cycling, the examples show what is usually meant by the term.

You may have heard the term ultra-cycling. While they sound similar, there is a big difference between the two. You see, with ultra-cycling, riders are allowed to take turns, as long as the goal is met at the end of the race and each individual has a whole team supporting them and following their every step by sticking close by. With ultra-distance cycling, it is all on one rider. Sure, they may get the support they need, but they are the ones that have to complete the race from start to finish.

What are the Races and Who Governs Them?

This is where things can get somewhat tricky. UCI is generally the main governing body of all cycling races. However, this is not the case with these races. ultra-distance cycling, along with ultracycling, is governed by the UMCA, or the UltraMarathon Cycling Association.

The most famous races that challenge the stamina of even the most durable cyclists include Race ACross Europe, or RACE, which is nearly 3,000 miles long, and the Race Across the Alps, arguably the hardest one-day race in the world. However, these are ultracycling races.  

Dirty Kanza XL

This is one of those races that fit the ultra-distance cycling. 350 miles on gravel are not meant for beginners, or event moderately fit cyclists. The event is by invitation only, though you can register and hope for the best. You are required to provide your own support crew as well.


If the term sounds like backpacking, it’s not a coincidence. It actually blends the traveling method of backpacking with mountain biking. Imagine, if you will, a trekking path designed specifically for people with mountain bikes that are willing to camp out in nature until they finish the course. That is basically it. There is no competition involved, at least none that we know of, and it is more oriented towards a personal challenge of seeing whether you can conquer the distance.

Bikepacking can also be used as a form of travelling, provided you stick to mountain roads and paths. If you are interested in pursuing this hobby, make sure you stock up on camping supplies and have a good sense of direction and survival gear.