Photo by Joe Foley

ROAD CYCLING

Athens Twilight Criterium
athens, georgia
APRIL 26-27, 2013

Founded in 1980, the Athens Twilight was the first nighttime cycling race in the U.S. in more than 60 years. The race saw 40 riders that first year. It’s now the premier crit in the country, with eight separate race classes and 150 fast sprint cyclists. The course is a simple 1K rectangle through downtown Athens, lined with 30,000 fans cheering, drinking, and even heckling. Spectators are really close to the action. Cyclists are going 35 mph, right in front of you, and you get a sense for just how fast that is. It’s the fastest race they’ll ride all year. It’s also a rough and tumble sport. You’ve got 100 bike riders, inches apart, pushing each other. It’s like a NASCAR event. athenstwilight.com

Wintergreen Ascent
roseland, virginia
APRIL, 2013

This classic hill climb begins at Devils Backbone Brewing Company and follows Hwy 664 as it ascends Wintergreen Mountain. There is no down. Only up. Here’s a number’s breakdown of this short, but tough race.

6.75 miles—Distance up the mountain

30 seconds—Intervals that riders are sent up the mountain in classic time-trial fashion. Pedal your heart out to catch the rider in front of you and stay ahead of the rider behind you.

7.4 percent—Average grade incline from start to finish

15 percent—Max grade during the course

2,626 feet—Total elevation you’ll gain

vacycling.org

Assault On Mount Mitchell
spartanburg, south carolina
MAY 20, 2013

The Assault may not be the toughest road race in the South, but it’s easily the most iconic. Is there any challenge more primal than trying to ride up the biggest mountain around? From 100 miles away? 750 riders accept this challenge every year, pedaling 102 miles from Spartanburg, S.C. to the top of Mount Mitchell, a route that takes in 10,350 feet of elevation gain. The first 75 miles are rolling, but the last 25 miles are packed with the most brutal climbs. freewheelers.info

Jeremiah Bishop’s Alpine Loop Gran Fondo
harrisonburg, virginia
SEPTEMBER 29, 2013

It’s billed as the toughest gran fondo in America, 104 miles of Virginia and West Virginia back roads with 11,000 feet of climbing and two gravel roads. “I’ve been training on the route for almost a decade. It’s a ball buster, for sure. It’s one of the hardest training rides I’ll do,” says founder Jeremiah Bishop. “It’ll find the limit of most people, but still allow them to enjoy a beer afterwards. Start in the city of Harrisonburg, then ride through the agricultural bread basket of Virginia and into the national forest in West Virginia. Sheep cling to the sides of the mountains, there are open meadows on peaks…it’s like riding in Switzerland. “It harkens back to an era when people who rode road bikes weren’t soft men who shaved their legs and rode $10,000 bikes,” continues Bishop. “Road cycling used to be hard core. This gets back to the soul of the ride.” alpineloopgranfondo.com

Six Gap Century
helen, georgia
SEPTEMBER 29, 2013

Some say it’s the toughest century in the South. Show up and you’ll pedal the steepest mountain gaps in Georgia, following the same route that pros battled on during the Tour de Georgia. In the middle of the ride, there’s a time-trial race up Hogpen Gap, the toughest climb on the route. The winner is proclaimed King of the Mountain. “Everyone’s mellow at the beginning, but then you have this independent race up the gap where everyone has a chip and digs deep because your time is compared to everyone else’s,”says Brian Toone, last year’s king. “You’re spent at the end of the KOM challenge, but you’ve got half the century left to ride.” cyclenorthgeorgia.com

Best of the Rest

Roanoke Twilight Criterium
Roanoke, Virgina
April, 2013roanoketwilight.com

3 State 3 Mountain Challenge
Chattanooga, Tennessee
May 4, 2013chattbike.com

Black and Blue Double Century
Boone, North Carolina
June 8, 2013blackandbluerelay.com

Blood, Sweat, and Gears
Boone, North Carolina
June, 2013bloodsweatandgears.org

Tour of Page County
Luray, Virgina
April 26-28, 2013pagevalleycycling.com

Bike Virginia Tour
Buena Vista, Virginia
June 21-26, 2013bikevirginia.org

Hot Dogget 100
Mars Hill, North Carolina
July 13, 2013hotdoggett100.org

24 Hours of Booty
Charlotte, North Carolina
July 26-27, 201324hoursofbooty.org

Tour de Burg (road days)
Harrisonburg, Virginia
July, 2013svbcoalition.org

Blue Ridge Breakaway
Waynesville, North Carolina
August 17, 2013blueridgebreakaway.com

Shenandoah Valley Century
Harrisonburg, Virginia
September, 2013svbcoalition.org

Town Mountain Hill Climb
Asheville, North Carolina
September, 2013ashevillewomenscycling.com

George Hincapie Gran Fondo
Greenville, South Carolina
October, 2013granfondohincapie.com

Final Fifty Ride
Greenville, South Carolina
December 29, 2013greenvillespinners.org

For more great Race Ahead information check out these sections:

Snowsports

Trail Running

Road Running

Mountain Biking

Road Cycling

Climbing

Paddling

Hiking

Multisport

Superlatives