Suffering is an inherent part of our passion, and every year we willingly put ourselves through the wringer to prove something to ourselves, beat others or test our limits. This is what makes us special.

“If this was easy, everyone would do it.”

But it shouldn’t be purely about how hard or how easy something is; think instead about the experience, the setting and the motivation. Difficulty is just one variable in the game of life. Here’s our run-through of the most exciting rides and races that we’ve ridden and/or followed this year.

A drama of heroics in six acts: Maratona dles Dolomites

maratona-2016-racing-88

“Traditionally dramas are a five-act play. But this is the 30th edition of the legendary Maratona dles Dolomites and it’s more than a drama and therefore deserves six acts. The following play is an excerpt of the more than 9,000 individual stories full of pain, fun and glory as the racers conquered the 7 passi of the Maratona. The text is based purely on true circumstances and portrays the brutal journey of the modern hero on their horses made of carbon…”
Continue reading here

A fight for survival, ambition and CEOs: Tortour

tortour-2016-granfondo-cycling-ultracycling-kpmg-iwc-schaffhausen-joko-vogel-tortour-schaffhausen-222-von-346

“What motivates people to ride 1,000 km non-stop? In the Swiss city of Schaffhausen this August, there were 192 people who had the answer to this question. They were here for the TORTOUR, the world’s biggest multi-day non-stop ultra-cycling event that succeeds where many golf tournaments fail…”
Continue reading here

F*ck, I’m (not) famous – Racing without Dege: Ronde van Vlaanderen

ride-like-a-pro-68

“Who wouldn’t want to be a pro for a day? With John Degenkolb’s absence at the Spring Classics a definite, we got a call from Giant-Alpecin asking: could we step in? This meant that this year’s Tour of Flanders for us wasn’t just going to involve high expectations on the dreaded cobbles and brutal climbs around Oudenaarde, but we would be doing it on a shiny new team bike and with full race support to boot…”
Continue reading here

Buddies, back pain and finishing goals: Ötztaler

o%cc%88tztaler-radmarathon-cervelo-r5-test-review-110

“238km. 5,500 metres of climbing. These are the figures that merit for membership to the Ötztaler finishers’ club. The initiation process hurts, but around 4,500 unidentified heroes join each year, battling through scorching heat in the valley of pain and numb from the cold as they scale the Timmelsjoch. They call it the challenge of a lifetime. We wanted to be part of it…”
Continue reading here

The Big Apple, peanut butter and high fives: GFNY New York

gfny-new-york-city-1

“Traffic-free, smooth tarmac that artfully weaves its way through a picture-perfect Alpine landscape, a cool breeze greeting you as respite from the warm spring-like temperatures and not even a hint of cloud in the sky – come on, New York is as far removed from this image as Iron Maiden are from paradise. But despite that, it is still a winning location for the Campagnolo Gran Fondo New York….”
Continue reading here

Pentagon, wine and an Italian champion: Bolzano with Claudio Camin

claudio-camin-bikes-sportcamin-it-bozen-bolzano-56-von-124

“No one would predict that a trip to South Tyrol would take you to an ancient Greek enclave, and nor that a visit to a specialist carbon bike company would digress into organic wine and deep philosophical discussions. For fans of culture and individuality, there’s definitely something to take away from this story…”
Continue reading here

Imagine a race where no one races: King Gravus in Berlin

ENVE

“Armed with the Romero Titanium CX from the competent hands of the Californian bike company Stinner, we found ourselves in the German capital to take part in the King of Gravus. The special thing about Berlin isn’t just its virtually unrivalled wealth of culture and history, but the fact that you can explore the entirety of this compelling city by bike – providing you’ve got the right one!…”
Continue reading here

What’s been your toughest ride this year? And what made you pick you it?
Write to us at heroes@granfondo-cycling.com

PS: Readers' Survey 2017 - Give feedback, win awesome prizes: We're giving away prizes worth €10,000 among all participants of our reader's survey! Win prizes from Open, Focus and Shimano! Click here to take part now!

Words: Robin Schmitt Photos: Diverse