Trendspotting: Endurance Bike Races

The next big thing in endurance events is appropriately known as endurance cycling. 

First came marathons, the ultimate runner's test. Next there were century bike rides, the key milestone for a recreational cyclist. And most recently the Iron Man added swimming to become the ultimate test of one's mettle. But there's a new way to test your physical and mental fitness. They're generally referred to as endurance bike races, which range anywhere from 50 to 200 miles and include a combination of pavement and dirt roads.

According to the SPY Belgian Waffle Ride, which takes place in the San Diego area on April 26th, the route is "over 200 kms of suffering over sinuous, bone grinding roads fraught with arduous climbs, mud, chocking dust, leg-numbing sleet or heat, and winds." It's quite the endurance cocktail, to be sure.

The routes for these races, which can also be ridden recreationally, exist in a no man's land between road cycling and mountain biking. The surfaces are too rough for skinny tires and not quite interesting enough for fat ones. As such, several bike manufacturers have responded with specific bike designs.

The GT Euduroad series is called the Grade. It features four aluminum models and two carbon models ranging from $870 to $3,580. The top-of-the-line Grade Carbon Ultra is pictured here.

The Specialized Diverge line features four aluminum models and three carbon models ranging from $1,100 to $8,500. The top-of-the-line Diverge Carbon Di2 is pictured here.

Endurance bikes feature a more upright riding position for looooong days in the saddle on varied surfaces. The tires are as wide as 35c (typical road tires are 25c) with beefier wheels to handle rough terrain, and all of them have disc brakes for maximum stopping power.

In addition to the Belgian Waffle Ride, the Dirty Kanza 200 takes place in Emporia, Kansas, on May 30th, and Rebecca's Private Idaho in Ketchum, Idaho, rolls on September 5th.