You may never have heard of any of them, but these 10 events are must see (in fact, must participate in) motorcycle events that range from the crazy to the downright bizarre. From racing on a beach with 1000 other riders at the same time, to hillclimbs up near vertical mountains or sidecar racing in sheep paddocks and even dirt track riding of Royal Enfields in India, there’s something here for all tastes.
Enduropale Le Touquet – Le Touquet, Stella and Merlimont, France
Not only can the Eudropale Le Tuouquet lay claim to be the biggest bike race on a beach in the world, it comes close to being the biggest motorcycle event, full stop. It first began in 1975 and now in it’s 40th year, the event attracts up to 1,000 competitors (all racing at once) and anywhere from 300,000 to 500,000 spectators.
The event is now run slightly different than when it originated due to environmental concerns, but basically involves a 14km course along various beaches and sand dunes on France’s Opal Coast where both professional and amateurs alike can enter. That mix of the talented and wannabes is what makes this event so unique – you’ll witness Dakar racers not only being challenged by the course, but dodging hapless amateurs as they crash and fuddle their way along the sand – some for the very first time.
Poags Hole Hillclimb – New York, United States
The description of this event on it’s Facebook page reads “see 10′ long nitro powered motorcycles climb a 625 foot monster hill – the top is at a 75 degree incline!!”. That’s right, this ain’t your father’s hillclimb, lad.
Modified bikes that pump out an absurd 300 horsepower and are fueled using nitro-methane, wearing paddle tires with massive bolts or chains, even supercharged bikes go solo in a time trial up a hill, while standard dirtbikes race side by side in an x-climb, going at near vertical angles and have been doing so now for nearly 20 years.
Dirt Quake – Norfolk, United Kingdom
Dirt Quake is a relatively new event, having only begun in 2012 but it’s already spawned reciprocal events in the United States (also called Dirt Quake) and Australia (Dirt Hustle). The formula is simple but loads of fun. Bring whatever motorcycle you want, including slushbox scooters and track orientated superbikes to race on dirt track oval.
In typical British fashion, the even is created not to take itself seriously. Not only do riders bring completely innapopriate machines to a dirt track, they also dress up in ridiculous costumes. A festival atmosphere with entertainment and camping at the track makes this a special celebration of how fun motorcycles are.
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Serres Rally – Serres, Greece
A simple way to describe the Serres Rally is that it’s the Dakar Rally but for more normal people. No one is likely to die competing in the Serres Rally, though that doesn’t mean it isn’t difficult. The approximately 1700 km long course takes place over seven days and goes through all sorts of varied terrain in the beautiful Serres region of Central Macedonia.
Despite it being competitive, amateur races are encouraged to participate and the vibe of the Serres Rally is much more one of a big party than a do or die event like Dakar. The organizers have even gone to lengths to supply bikes for participants who can’t afford to transport their own to Greece and this year, you’ll be even able to ride at a leisurely pace as part of a guided tour as the rally travels through the Serres countryside.
Australian Postie Bike Grand Prix – Cessnock, Australia
What is a postie bike, you might ask? It’s a Honda CT100 and has remained relatively unchanged since it first began production in 1980 and is the main form of transport for postal delivery workers (posties) in Australia. They’re cheap, they’re unsophisticated and therefore are perfect for a not so serious race. The Postie Bike Grand Prix even included an old school Le Mans run to your bike start.
The inaugural event took place only last year on a 1.5km street circuit through the town of Cessnock which is located about two hours north of Sydney. Spectators equivalent to half the towns population lined the barriers where 60 teams composing of two riders each participated in knock out qualifiers before a final victor was crowned. The event will be back again in 2015.
Royal Enfield Rider Mania – Various, India
Hosted by the Brotherhood of Bulleteers Motorcycling Consortium member clubs in India every year, this annual gathering brings Royal Enfield owners from all over India (and the world) to get together and race any motorcycle they want – as long as it’s a Royal Enfield. Racing takes place on a dirt track and riders of all calibers are catered for.
While the bike you ride must be a Royal Enfield, nothing stops you from modifying your machine to better match the circuit, hence knobbies and modified suspension are allowed. All in all, nearly 1000 competitors now participate each year and the event changes location around India annually to ensure as many get to join in as possible. Music is an integral part of the festival with an open stage and where event participants are encouraged to perform with the evenings seeing a professional band’s performance.
Boarded Grasstrack – Cornwall, United Kingdom
Want to race at a sheep paddock? Then have the Mid Cornwall Motorcycle Club got the place just for you. See, it’s actually a grass track but to avoid red tape and bureaucracy when it comes to making an actual race track, they decided just to call it a sheep pen instead (they have actual sheep there too, lest someone accuse them of dishonesty). Put some wooden boards up and you’ve got an amazing mix of grass track racing at what’s essentially a farm plus extremely close spectator access.
Because the track uses wooden boards instead of ropes as barriers, there’s almost no other track in the western world where you can get so close to 1000 cc sidecars hurtling sideways around the corners. Dirtbikes, both seniors and juniors, along with a variety of sidecars race all day so there’s plenty of action to witness.
GNCC Powerline Park – Ohio, United States
Powerline Park is a massive 1,000 acre park that plays hosts to all sorts of off-road adventures and once a year it becomes the host of a round of American GNCC National Off-Road Racing series – a dirt bike and ATV series that sees racers, both young and old compete at some amazing venues.
The Powerline Park track is some nine miles in length and features inclines, declines, twists, turns, mud, creeks, rocks and just about everything else in between. Search for some videos of it on YouTube, it’s incredibly funny to watch these riders throw themselves at it, almost like lemmings off a cliff.
Red Bull Alpenbrevet – Grimsel, Switzerland
Riding a road course that winds through 140 km of breathaking scenery and over three of the highest passes in the Swiss Alps might not sound like much of a challenge for motorcycles and you’re probably right. That’s why the Red Bull Alpenbrevet is restricted to mopeds – usually with capacities of around 50 cc.
Like Dirt Quake, the idea around the event is more fun than fierce competition with riders encouraged to dress to impress. The winner of the ‘race’ is the rider who most closely matches the average speed of the entire field, so going super fast isn’t an issue. It’s an extremely popular event and last year, tickets to enter the 1000 strong field sold out within two hours.
300 Curves of Gustav Havel – Horice, Czech Republic
Having possibly the best name for any motorcycle event in the world, the 300 Curves of Gustav Havel is a road race in the same vein as the legendary Isle of Man TT, but with much nicer weather. In fact, the location of the race and it’s surrounding scenery is nothing short of spectacular. Many visitors who watch the race bookend it with a road tour through the surrounding regions.
Spectating at the 300 Curves of Gustav Havel is also brilliant. How many other circuits let you sit down in a centuries old pub, drink a pint and watch as riders blast past at speeds of 250 kp/h on what is a normal road. The race has been going since 1922, though the current 3.20 mile long circuit is greatly shortened from its original form.