The Rides

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The Ride. It is the cathedral of our sport, where we worship at the altar of the Man with the Hammer. It is the end to our means. Indeed, The Bike may be the central tool to our sport, but to turn the pedals is to experience the sensation of freedom, of flight. It is all for The Ride.

The world is overflowing with small, twisty roads that capture our collective imagination as cyclists. We spend our lifetimes searching out the best routes and rides; we pore over maps, we share with our fellow disciples, we talk to non-cycling locals all in pursuit of the Perfect Ride.

The Rides is devoted entirely to the best routes and rides around the world. Some are races or cyclosportives, others feature in the Classics and stages of The Great Races, while others still are little-known gems, discovered through careful meditation on The V. Be warned: these rides are not your average Sunday Afternoon spin; these rides are the best and most difficult rides in the word – they represent the rites of passage into La Vie Velominatus. It is to be taken for granted that these rides require loads of Rule #5, many of them Rule #10, and all of them are best enjoyed in Rule #9 conditions. They have been shared by you, the community. The Rides also features articles devoted to the greatest rides and providess a forum for sharing other rides for discussion.

If you’d like to submit a ride or an article about your own favorite ride, please feel free to send it to us and we’ll do our best to work with you to include it.


Category: Grimpeur / Distance: 56km / Location: Paia, Maui, Hawaii, USA


Haleakala is simultaneously the longest paved continuous climb in the world as well as the shortest ascent from sea level to 10,000 feet in the world. Though not terribly steep, this is a long, grinding climb that will reduce a strong rider to a whimpering lump.

To put the effort in perspective, this climb is 60km long a an average of 6% with two pitches as steep as 17%. That translates to somewhere between 3 or more hours of nonstop climbing, usually in Maui’s direct heat and often into a whipping headwind that spins around into a headwind no matter which direction the switchbacks take you.



Category: Rouleur / Distance: 265 / Location: Liege, Belgium


Liege-Bastogne-Liege is not only La Doyenne, the oldest of the Classics, but also represents perhaps the most demanding course in cycling. The 280 km, 3000m vertical route starts with an easy ride out from Liege to Bastogne which lulls riders into a false sense of security; the hills are frequent, but none of them terribly demanding. Into Bastogne, and the story changes on the way back to Liege with 9 categorized climbs in the second half, including the fearsome Côte de la Redoute and the Côte de Saint-Nicolas.



Category: Hardman / Distance: 265 / Location: Compiégne, France


L’enfur du Nord. The Hell of The North. The Queen of the Classics. This isn’t a ride over the stones from your local brick-paved roads. You think climbs are what make a ride tough? We’ve got news for you: this is the hardest ride on the planet and it boasts a maximum elevation of 55 meters. These are vicious, brutal stones; the kind that will stretch each kilometer to their full length, the kind of stones that you will feel long after the rattling of the bars has stopped. These stones will change you. Forever.


Guide: Pavé Cycling Classics

Mortirolo/Gavia Loop

Category: Grimpeur / Distance: 115km / Location: Bormio, Italy / Contributor: Joe

The Mortirolo is perhaps the most feared pass in Western Europe, and the Gavia the most storied. Given their proximity to each other, its a wonder why this isn’t the most talked-about ride in Italy. Maybe it is; its impossible to say without being Italian. The loop nature of this ride makes it feasible as a solo escapade, but any ride with the kind of stats this one bears – 3200 meters ascended in 115 kilometers including the viscously steep Mortirolo – is best enjoyed with a riding partner or support car.


200 on 100

Category: Grimpeur / Distance: 330km / Location: Vernon, VT / Contributor: cdelinks

“Dumptruck of Awesome” has become the catch-phrase associated with this brutally hard, yet strikingly beautiful 330 kilometer (200 mile) ride down Vermont Route 100.  This ride was made popular during the summer of 2011 when Ted King, Tim Johnson, and a local amateur cyclist, Ryan Kelly, documented this ride on film. The ride starts on the Canadian border and finishes on the Massachusetts border.  With over 2500 meters of climbing on this 330 kilometer ride, you will need to pack a few lunches to get through this one.  Do this ride in the Fall, and the foliage might be beautiful enough to distract you from the horrible pain you will most certainly suffer.


De Ronde Van West Portlandia

Category: Grimpeur / Distance: 76km / Location: Portland, Oregon, USA

A ride that officially “never happens” each spring, this 76 km route charts a course through Portland’s West Hills, paying homage to the European Spring Classics. Approximately 1,800 meters of paved and unpaved climbs are spread throughout the course, with several sections reaching grades of over 20%. More information can be found at Ronde PDX.


Seattle Master Urban Ride

Category: Rouleur / Distance: 130km / Location: Seattle, Washington, USA


This is perhaps the most challenging urban route in Seattle, hitting three of the big hills that define Seattle’s topography. The route starts and ends on Phinney Ridge, but hits the climbs of Interlaken and Alder Street/Lake Dell Drive on its way to Mercer Island, before coming back to hit Queen Anne and Magnolia, weaving its way up each of these hills as many times as possible via the steepest route available before the finale to the north via Golden Gardens, Blue Ridge Drive, and Carkeek Park. Panoramic views of the Cascades, Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, The Olympic Penninsula and Puget Sound makes this a standout Urban ride.


  1. With over 2500 meters of climbing on this 330 mile ride

    Oh, Frank: You do such good work here, but this is wrong and wrong (inaccurate and in violation of Rule #24). Please feel free to erase this; the last thing I’d want is to come across as a persistent and anal pedant (which I am, sadly), but in learning la vie Velominatus, I have come to appreciate the tidiness of the cycling code. Jokes aside, these are terrific additions. Big kudos.

    Maui has the longest and highest continual climb in the world, sea level to 10,000′ in 36 miles with an average gradient of 6%

    Gianni: I’m watching you, too! Nice socks, though.

  2. One milestone and one nearly… a new maximum speed today of 91.6 km/h.

    Set because I was watching a guy I’d just climbed a hill with disappear very rapidly – turned out later that he clocked 104.7, which I find insane. But I have to say he seemed very comfortable and clearly a natural descender.

    And a race/sportive today called Coast to Coast from Dubai to Al Aqa (Fujeirah) with a total of 220km (plus some climbing for the Velominati KOM competition) has brought me up to nearly 9,900km for the year.
    I am in touching distance of my fifth year in a row to reach 5 figures. Should crack it on Wednesday, inshallah.

  3. @ChrisO

    Was that going downhill? My fastest was about 75 kph a few months ago down a huge, straight hill. Didn’t try to pedal to make it faster, just let gravity do it’s thing.

    Kudos on the distance as well! It takes some serious work to get that many kms racked up in a year.

  4. @ChrisO
    Well done on both the speed and distance!

  5. Good work Chris – anything over 80kph gets my harris nibbling chunks out of the saddle!

  6. Right that’s it, race in Dubai today was the last hard ride done until the new year.

    The finish was a little uphill circuit around a motorway track (think Freire, Vino or Sagan) and then a 250m flat sprint. I surprised myself by just moving up and staying with the front bunch as lots of people blew up and fell away.

    Finished 13th, at the back of the sprint bunch, won by the national champion. Dean Downing was supposed to come and race it but broke his collarbone last week.

    Pretty pleased to stay with them and still have something at the end. We don’t get many race opportunities here so its good to make something of the ones that come along. I’m just so out of the habit of riding in big, fast bunches that I was just hanging off the back and staying nervously out of trouble for the first 50k.

    All that training seems to have been good preparation though. Who knew..

  7. @ChrisO
    Awesome ride, Chris!!

  8. Cool looking climb.

  9. @Marko
    Very nice. The image info gave the location, as I wondered where it was.
    Col de Chaussy, in the Rhone-Alpes.

  10. @Marko
    Holy smokes! There had better be a brew house at the top of that bugger!

  11. all this messaging about bicycles and riding is making me crave the real thing… off for a nice, blow off work, afternoon ride!

  12. picture of today’s ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

  13. @Anjin-san
    Wow, you live by the BRP? Amazing country. How you like your Firecrests?

    Beautiful bike – love how you matched the tape/hoods to the front end and saddle to the rear in full Rule #8 compliance!

  14. Just came back from a ride on some of the most pristine tarmac I have ever seen in this town. The road took my out into the rez toward the mines. Beautiful high desert, even had some coyotes run across the roads in front of me. I have to meditate in the V since the 20km of false flat was destroying my morale but all in good fun.

  15. @frank
    The Blue Ridge Parkway is about 1/2 a kilometer from my house… I live in the promised land in Asheville, NC. The 303 Firecrests (in tubular!) are really amazing. Light, quick, good ride quality, and still pretty stiff. Definitely Rule #8 compliant! 14lbs. 2oz. Great race bike. I feel an Asheville Climbing Cogal forming in my mind…

  16. @RedRanger

  17. @Anjin-san
    South Tucson area. Mission road to be exact. Tucson is not known for smooth roads, but this one is super smooth. cant figure out why other than the low traffic volume.

  18. @RedRanger
    Thank you. I travel quite a bit for work and can usually bring a bike with me so I have started to keep a running list of recommended roads/routes in case I find myself there.

  19. Count me in! I’m over in Durham & have sadly missed two trips to the BRP and have never even made it to Asheville. Ugh, what a shame. Hopefully this spring or summer.

    On another note, and while not necessarily regarding these outstanding rides, what is the feeling on group rides for good causes? Looking for a group road ride tomorrow, having trouble scaring up friends for one since most are cross riding these days, and found a group ride on good local roads that is for a good cause, offers free food afterwards, and is on a similar route I’d be riding anyway.

    I can’t decide if it will be fun or more headache than anything. Squirrels and ‘cumbebt freaks are known to come out for such rides. Though since it’s the winter I figure maybe it won’t be as bad as say, the MS summer ride, which brings out a lot of dangerous (and slow) riders.

  20. @Ron
    we could organize an Asheville Cogal… lot’s of climbing. Start in Brevard… SR215 up to the Parkway (what’s that a 7 or 9 mile climb that puts you above 5,000 feet?) then head south, get off the parkway and complete the loop on some backroads… sounds good and long.

  21. I am sitting here procrastinating on today’s workout… first Tempo Ride of the season. Welcome to the pain cave, come on in and stay awhile. Arrgggh. All I keep telling myself is to suffer well now so I can win well later in the year. We shall see.

  22. Today’s coach prescribed workout (he is a task master!) was 4 ten minute tempo intervals at 270 watts with a five minute break between each interval. I did this work on a local climb called Elk Mountain Scenic Highway… long, relatively steep, but with a predominantly consistent road surface and grade. After the second interval, on the way back down the mountain, I started in with all reasons why I should call it day. You know, need to get back to work, tired from the previous days ride, etc. etc. Needless to say I got to the bottom, turned the bike back up the hill, put it in the bing ring and said “fuck it, let’s go suffer some more.” I don’t specifically recall riding the last two intervals, but the data from my Garmin says that I went considerably faster than the first two. Cycling Nirvana! Can’t wait to ride tomorrow.

  23. @Anjin-san
    Awesome. I love it when that happens. I quite often find the second 20 minute interval of my 2 x 20 session to feel better and produce better numbers than the first. Unfortunately, with it being on the rollers, I tend to remember every last second.

    Did the Sufferfest Downward Spiral the other night and despite being in bits during the warm down at the end I found myself wondering whether I could do the session twice without dropping the pace or effort too much to survive? Bizarrely, the answer that came out was yes. Doubling the figures, 60km at an average of 32kph, would suggest not but it’s a challenge and it’ll be interesting to see how much the figures do drop.

  24. @Anjin-san
    Awesome ride! Man, sounds like you brought the “V” with you on that ride!

  25. @Chris
    Having purchased my first USA Cycling racing license yesterday since 1993, I need to hit some of these intervals. I always do a few unstructured intervals on my rides, esp on the rollers, but since I have to start with the Cat 5 ranking and their race length is usually less than 40 miles, I need to work the intervals more. My usually training is long miles with some intensity thrown in but now I will have to gear up for shorter, more intense efforts.

  26. @Buck Rogers

    I’ve got two interval sessions that I do, the Sufferfest Downward Spiral noted above and the 2 x 20 sessions my sensei got me doing.

    I use the Sufferfest Hell Hath no Fury as the basis for the 2 x 20, it gives you something to watch, ladies racing, to take your mind off the pain and also gives you the timings both on the screen and as an audio alert so you don’t have to worry about keeping an eye on the clock. I generally ignore all the build up bits leading up to the first 20 minute interval and just ride that as my warm up and the same with the time trial segment at the end, that forms part of the warm down. I also ignore all the prompts to speed up or slow down during the two intervals.

    The plan is pick a gear that you can turn at 100rpm or more for the 20 minute interval (go too big and it’ll come back at you towards the end and you’ll shift down or diet. too little and there’s no point) keep the cadence constant or if you’ve got, ahem, power keep that constant throughout. You shouldn’t give any consideration to the second interval in the choice of gear for the first, worry about that during the second – I usually find the second one easier anyway.

    Then after five minutes or so recovery (I find the footage during the recovery is incredibly relaxing and always take my mind off what is about to come), pick exactly the same gear for the second interval and do it again.

    You only need to do that once a week but you’ll see a difference quite quickly. don’t do it the night after anything serious though. it’s best on rested legs. The descending intervals can be done on tired legs.

  27. @Chris
    Good stuff! I will try it next week! Thanks man.

  28. @Buck Rogers
    The 2 x 20’s can take a couple of attempts to get into because of the balance between picking a big enough gear to make it worthwhile and being able to turn that gear consistently for the 20 minute interval. I find that it will feel easy to start with, by 10 minutes you might be questioning your choice (both of the gear your in and cycling as a way of life) but hang on and by 15 minutes you should be thinking I can do this.

  29. @Chris
    Good stuff. I put myself on that exact 2 X 20 regimen since jan. 1.
    Plus a once weekly hour-long ride at “tempo” (which seems to mean different things to different people. I use 90% or so of LTHR, until I get a better feel of what the equivalent gearing, pace and effort are on rollers). The final 15 min. of which I am counting imaginary mile posts trying to hold on until the end. Staying upright during the cool-down is the final challenge.

  30. @xyxax
    Before I started doing them in September I could ride 32km at 32kph (20 miles at 20mph) any longer got slower fairly rapidly. At Christmas I rode a flat 113km at a shade over that pace. Granted, I had some wind assistance and they’re not the only training sessions I’ve been doing but they play a key part. Did a shade under 80km on Sunday at 31kph on a hillier route, half of it was two up with my sensei who was pushing me hard. The 2 x 20’s are great for endurance.

  31. @Chris
    I did the 2 x 20 workout Tuesday while in FT Worth, TX on business. It was flat with a wind out of the north… i went south for the first interval with a tailwind and it was tough to keep the output consistent. Turned around for the second interval and riding into the headwind my wattage was very consistent. I usually do my tempo work on 3-5% grades so this was a little odd. Do you do yours on a flat or uphill course?

  32. @Anjin-san
    Ha! I spent the first 18 years of my life in Ft. Worth. Talk about an endurance ride.

    That’s what I like (need) to hear!

  33. @Anjin-san
    Rollers all the way mate! Hurts more.

  34. @Chris
    You know you’ve been on the rollers too much when you are leaving the the house on a ride, do the final “forgot anything” check, and realize you don’t have gloves, shades, bidon, or helmet.

    Three “quick” roller/trainer routines that I like from a link in Jens’ “Forty” post:
    Jens putting in basement work

  35. @itburns
    and you’re wearing summer gear in the middle of winter…

  36. 2 x 20 tonight or a bit more than half one. Fucktard computer died on me, first time ten minutes into the first interval. Ten minutes is a long time turning 50 x 17 at 100 rpm or more without distraction (at least it is for me).

    Got it going again, did the recovery but it went again with 17 minutes to go of the second interval. Concentration blown, there was no way I was going to get to the end just watching the cadence and letting my mind constantly ask how I was going to keep on turning at that rate.

    Sacked it in for a glass of wine and some fajitas.

    Annoying really, the first interval was going so smoothly.

  37. @Chris
    Hill repeats on the mtb for me in short sleeves yesterday… had to vest up for the descent tho.

    PS V-Kit is for the road only…


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