Top 5 Toughest Mountain Bike Trails in the World

Top 5 Toughest Mountain Bike Trails in the World

Mountain biking is a sport to test yourself to the limit off the beaten track. Push yourself beyond excellence on the most challenging mountain bike trails.
Looking for a real challenge? When it comes to mountain biking and testing your skills for ultimate performance, there are a variety of mountain biking activities and events world wide to push you to the absolute limit. Explore the world with mountain biking, from the toughest of mountains to jungles, forests and snowy plains. Mountain biking events can stretch hundreds of miles, and are often a challenge for even the highest-level professionals.

Get your mountain biking shorts and gear ready, because In this blog we’re going to explore the toughest, most extreme mountain biking events in the world, and where you might find out just what you’re capable of. Here are five of the toughest mountain bike races below.

1. Yak Attack

The highest race in the world, Yak Attack is the mother of all challenges. Named after the famous Yak and located in the Himalayas, Yak Attack has 10 stages and covers over 310 miles of terrain with a combined elevation of 15,000 metres. Along the route, the temperature can wildly fluctuate between 30°C and -20°C, and climbing Thorong La gets you to an eye-watering 5,416 metres above sea level. With having to maintain your performance at severely alternating altitudes, this challenge is not for the faint of heart. As of 2023, no foreign competitor has won this mountain biking race.

2. Crocodile Trophy

Switching colder temperatures for searing hot heat, Crocodile Trophy is another mountain biking event named after a well-known member of the local wildlife you may pass by enroute. Located in the Australian Outback, the Crocodile Trophy is not for the faint of heart. This legendary mountain biking event is 404 miles long and takes 8 days to complete. The course starts in Cairns and ends in Port Douglas, touring North Queensland and including 13,000 metres of elevation. Add in the baking sun and heat, as well as possible encounters with a famous, carnivorous reptilian member of the local wildlife, and you have a race that takes you to the limit and beyond.

3. Ironbike

When it comes to a test of wills, the Ironbike mountain biking event is certainly not for amateur hobbyists.Taking place over the Italian Alps, this 8 day race has over 7 stages and covers over 435 miles with an overall climb of a whopping 22,000 metres. With steep inclines, remote trails and 3000 metre, heart-stopping passes, this race boasts as one of the toughest mountain bike races in the world, with a significant portion of participants dropping out before finishing the course. This race demands absolute, physical resilience and mental fortitude, showing you who you are at your limit.

And, don’t trip over the first hurdle when applying. When mailing Ironbike, always remember to put “IRON BIKE ” as the subject of your mail as all mail without it gets automatically deleted.

4. La Ruta de los Conquistadores

Another challenge that tests your metal is the Ruta de los Conquistadores. With only three days to complete a trek that crosses Costa Rica, starting from the Pacific coast and ending at the Atlantic, time is never a luxury with the Ruta de los Conquistadores. Taking you from one side of Central America to the other, this 161 mile race will test you with all manner of obstacles. From five mountain ranges and freezing volcano peaks with stunning views, to humid, biodiverse rainforests full of wildlife, this is one of the most difficult events in the world with climbs totalling 29,000 feet.

5. Iditarod Trail Invitational 1000

Remote, with freezing temperatures and stunning views of the Northern Lights, the Iditarod Invitational is a 30 day and night ultra marathon event that’s extreme in every way. Stretching over 1000 miles, this route tests your tenacity and resilience with both its length and icy, inhospitable embrace of Alaskan wilderness. Due to its highly volatile conditions and limited outside support, the Iditarod Trail is for competitors who are both mountain bikers and survivalists. So much so, before entering, you need to complete an ITI 350 race first to prove you have the sufficient level of navigational and winter survival skills, as well as self-sufficiency, to qualify for the 1000 mile race.

Participants must ensure they have the right mountain biking gear for the conditions and take all the supplies they need with them, although they can make stops at local villages enroute and pick up supplies they've forwarded beforehand. Despite the harsh conditions, the Aurora Borealis is a beautiful sight, as is the stunning landscape of snowy tundras, glaciers, winter forests and mountains.

For more on what to wear when mountain biking, check out our guide for more details.