The World’s Toughest Endurance Challenges: Iron Bike and La Haute Route

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Cycling on Hallowed Ground

Europe. Cycling. They are the quintessential where and what pairing. Like climbing in the Himalayas or rafting through the Grand Canyon, you are not a fully formed cyclist until you’ve pedaled on the hallowed grounds of the Old Country.

Not surprisingly then, Europe is host to a number of the two-wheeled adventures that make up The World’s Toughest Endurance Challenges, a book dedicated to lifting the curtain on our planet’s most extreme tests of mettle.

For road warriors, few events compare to La Haute Route, the world’s toughest  cycle sportif, which pits participants against the grind of arduous riding (and climbing) day after day for a week. Perhaps more importantly, it avails the chance to trace a path over some of the most famous mountains in cycling, as it winds its way from Geneva, through the French Alps, and then down to Nice.

Along the way you’ll encounter Alpe d’Huez, the Telegraph, the Galibier, and other legendary ascents. It’s your chance to taste a small bite of the pain endured by Tour de France pros. Will you survive and thrive, or crack and quit?

The route is less familiar, but no less menacing at Iron Bike, roundly considered among the world’s most difficult mountain bike stage races. During eight leg-crushing days competitors travel north through the Italian Alps, logging nearly 400 miles and almost 89,000 vertical feet of climbing. It’s a feat that would be brutal on paved roads, but consider that much of the course is on technical singletrack, and no wonder only the most iron willed survive.

Learn more about these races and dozens more like them inside the imagination-capturing pages of The World’s Toughest Endurance Challenges.