The Best Biking Events of Summer
By Chelsy Ranard
The summer bike scene has begun and there are a ton of possibilities to enjoy biking around the U.S. this summer. Whether you’re into biking leisurely with the family, biking in beautiful scenery, dressing up, drinking a beer after you bike, or competing in a race, there’s a biking event for you happening this summer.
Your home state, city, or region probably has its own well-known biking event that you should definitely attend, but these are a few awesome biking events that may or may not be near you this summer.
The Outlier Offroad Festival is in Vail, Colorado and is an amazing festival for mountain bikers. This year the event is September 9th through September 11th and each day is filled with amazing biking activities. The festival offers bike demos, races, and amazing prizes for winners. Chairlifts run mountain bikers up the mountain where the trails are intense and the scenery is unreal – Vail is amazing in the winter months and the summer months offer a different view of this amazing environment. There are races that vary from a 5-mile beginner course to a 25-mile elite course for different skill levels. Not to mention the other family friendly activities including Oktoberfest, Vail Farmer’s Market & Art Show, and Adventure Ridge where you can zip line or do a ropes challenge course. Just be aware of mountain biking safety and remember to register for races!
Tour De Fat
Tour De Fat is a celebration put on by New Belgium Brewing to increase awareness and participation in cycling and sustainable forms of transportation. Nine cities are participating in this biking extravaganza including cities in North Carolina, Illinois, Idaho, Colorado, California, Arizona, and Washington D.C.
The events include dressing up and riding your bike through a parade, music, dance contests, slow ride competitions, and car-for-bike swappers. This is a great family event and includes a ton of great energy for each community. This is a biking event for anyone with a bike, or even without one, to come and enjoy the festivities.
Unlike the other biking events mentioned so far, the Going-to-the-Sun Road doesn’t have a specific day or weekend that you have to make in order to experience it. This road is in Glacier National Park and has some of the most beautiful landscape scenery in the world and experiencing it behind handlebars is unmatched. During the spring, the road is only open to hikers and cyclists, making it the great time to go because you aren’t biking on this narrow road alongside vehicles as well. The height and narrow areas make for a nerve-wracking ride for some, so be aware of the road before you decide to embark on this trip.
Both drivers and bicyclists should practice good driving etiquette when sharing the road with each other, especially on this road to prevent any accidents. The ride climbs 3300 feet over 32 miles but bicyclists are prohibited from riding between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. during certain times of year. So do your research and decide on your type of ride before venturing towards Montana.
Dead Baby Downhill Race
The Dead Baby Downhill Race from Seattle to Georgetown, Washington is not the most inoffensive name for a bike event, but the founder, Dave Ranstrom, said he would have rethought the name had he known it would be so popular and continued for nearly 20 years. Regardless, this event is not for the faint of heart.
This race has no predetermined route and bicyclists that create their own Frankenstein, DIY bike masterpieces ride through traffic and red lights and create their own path. It’s a race that’s been called “like road warrior on steroids” and the only official rules are: “No biting and no eye-gouging.”
This event is Seattle culture at its most pure with no real sponsors or much advertising, it’s not reported on a lot, and it’s sort of a well-kept cool Seattle secret that the rest of the world doesn’t know much about. It offers drinks, music, jousting, and an extreme side of bike life in Washington. This year it should start on August 5th, but information is pretty hard to find.
RAGBRAI stands for The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa and it’s an annual seven-day bicycle ride across the entire state and is the oldest, largest, and longest bicycle touring event in the world. The route average is 468 miles and is a ride not a race. This ride has been around a long time, so things are pretty well organized. There are strict registration guidelines, you can be a daily rider instead of doing the full week, there is bicycle repair, bike shipping services, medical, an expo, merchandise, organizations that sell food at every stop, you name it. This year it begins in Glenwood and ends in Muscatine from July 23rd to July 30th. This is not just a biking event, it’s an adventure.
With great weather come great biking opportunities all over the U.S. this summer. There are literally thousands of biking events and festivals all around the country, and each town has its own hidden gems. These five races, rides, and events are great examples of biking events this summer, but don’t be afraid to find the event closest to you and share in the biking events in your own community. If not, you can always mountain bike in Vail, drink a beer at Tour De Fat, be a part of Seattle culture at the Dead Baby Downhill, see the amazing scenery of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, or bike across an entire state at RAGBRAI.
Chelsy is a writer from Montana who is now living in Boise, Idaho. She graduated with her journalism degree from the University of Montana in 2012. When she isn’t writing she spends her time riding her bike, throwing a Frisbee for her dog, and exploring the outdoors in Boise. Follow her on Twitter!