Long drives for races - how far is too far?

Looking at a race that would require a long drive to and from. At what point do you say no way? It’s 4 hours each way (so 8 round trip) for two 45-min crits. In the past, I would try to get the same amount of riding as driving, say, 3 hour drive for a 100 mile Gran Fondo would give me around 6 hours of riding. Trying to decide if 8 hours of driving is worth 1.5 hours of racing. I just have nothing close and want to race.

Related question. What to do with 4 hours solo in the car? Podcasts? Music? I’ve lost interest in the TR podcast; any recommendations to kill the time?

TL;DR - What’s the max hours you’ll drive for a race? What’s the max ratio of driving:racing you’d do?

I have no set ratio. I base it solely on how much fun the race looks like. I’ve done 8 hours each way for a 100 mile MTB race. I’m seriously looking at a gravel race that’s a 9 hour (each way) drive just because it looks super cool.


Longest I’ve done was driving from Jackson Hole to Tempe for Ironman 70.3 Arizona, about 15 hours of driving with an overnight stay in Kanab, Utah. Gorgeous drive, but the race was so not worth it, so I won’t be doing it again. I think an 8-9 hour drive is the most I’m willing to do, which puts me in range of Coeur d’Alene, Boulder, and St. George, so I’m probably gonna stick to those races for the foreseeable future.

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It depends on the race and start times. Normally, for a same day race I would at most drive 2hrs (by myself). For me, 4hrs for 2 45min crits would be a hard pass. Driving to the race isn’t as bad as driving home after the race, that part can really suck. However, if you have someone to drive with and you can split up the drive it might be worth it.

I really want to do The Rad, which is a 9hr drive which means hotels etc. That is probably the farthest I would ever drive. If I do SBT next year I will definitely fly.

It all depends.

I wouldn’t do 8 hours for two 45 minute crits. But I’ve done 3 hours each way for a 2 hour road race. 6 hours each way for a 100 mile mtb race multiple times, and almost two days of driving each way for the Breck Epic (6 days of mtb racing).

as for drive time, other podcasts. escape collective, evoke endurance, trainer road, sharper end, pulp mx.

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I’ll regularly drive 2 hrs for a tuesday night crit one way. If it’s a big regional / high level race right now maybe a 6 or 7 hour drive, I’ll make a trip the night before and stay overnight. Haven’t yet flown to a race but that’s kind of my threshold if I’m committed to a race any further than that I’m gonna pack my bike and fly.

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Depends on the race. Have driven 2 days each way for nationals, but skipped a crit 4 hours away due to the drive:


For me if it’s over 4 hours, I’d get a hotel or air bnb for the night before the event. Anything less than 4 hours isn’t too bad, even for a couple shorter races in a day. If it was a 9+ hour one way drive, that would be definitely 1 and maybe a 2 night stay over, depending how I feel.

I like listening to payson mcelven for some good interviews and stories, modern wisdom podcast is pretty cool. I have yet to find many podcasts I like, I do like ebooks for long drives or the comedy channels on XM radio.

Depending where the race is, I try to find a neat family owned restaurant or “best” restaurant around. You could be driving by some great BBQ or some other niche foodie spot on the journey.


Might have to ask some club guys if they want to carpool.


Too Far?

I’m getting ready to drive Boston → Lutsen → Leadville → Boston over about 1.5 weeks. And then 3 weeks later Boston → Leadville, Boston again this time staying for 2-3 weeks.

But, I do cross country trips like that every year. Load up on lots of podcasts and audio books. iExit is an app you need. And make damn sure whatever your car is is long-haul comfortable.


I’ve done 1000 mile (14 hour) one way road trips before, but for +100 miler events. It gets tedious. Considered flying but the expense is greater and the risk to bike damage is far greater than just driving.

The default trip is 11 hours now, one way. A 4 day mission, Thursday to Sunday.

Actually bought a VW Bus to be able to pack bike/gear and sleep in the bus for far away events.

Each to their own :person_shrugging:t3:


I think it is entirely personal (utility function and opportunity cost of time in transit) and race/season dependent.

I’ve done 2.25 hours one way same day (so about 5 hours in the car) for a 40 minute race – but it was an important one for me to try out some new equipment outside of my normal race series. I’ve only done overnight once (and it was pretty minor 3.25 hour drive but race started at 8 AM).

Really - just depends on your goals and how you want to spend your time.

I would personally have a hard time getting myself to drive 8 hours for 1.5 hours of crit racing….unless it was a big race that I had set as my A race for some reason.

But I have driven 10+ hours to do a gravel race, so….:man_shrugging:

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I drive approximately 380 mile to race two criteriums followed by the return drive home a number of times each year. Usually no mare than six times per year. Depending on traffic that’s roughly 12 hours total driving for 2 hours of racing! Long day to say the least.

I’ve done 700 miles one way driving back from nationals. Pretty insane but, a friend who I traveled with crashed and was very uncomfortable and needed/wanted to get home to see her doctor and be with her husband.

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It’s been sort of a function of where I live. Previously I was In a pretty rural area where cycling wasn’t super popular, so anything more significant/competitive than the local produce market turkey trot necessitated a 4+ hour drive. Nowadays I’m lucky to be in an area where we have a ton of cool local events within an hour of where I live, so I’m much lazier- I might go further afield for something like a championship or a really cool course/destination race, but would have to offer something more than what I can do locally. If your options are relatively scarce I think it’s just a personal cost/value thing.

I like music and driving is one of the few times I get to listen to a full album with relatively few interruptions, so that’s my go-to. Audiobooks could be another option :slight_smile:

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  • How much will this race cost me, in terms of time, money, brownie points?
  • Is the race part of a series?
  • Will it be a spectator-friendly event? (CX races, some crits are, road races = nope)
  • Can I go up the day before and stay the night? If not, how early do I need to get up?

Before child, I would happily drive 4 hours each way for a 50 minute race. Now, if I can’t ride to the race then it’s probably a no-go.

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I generally find it pretty ecologically uncomfortable to drive for longer than I plan to ride for.

8 hours for a 45 minute race borders distasteful.

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I’ve driven Austin to Chattanooga twice (~14 hours) for Ironman races. Raleigh to Panama City Beach for 1/2 IM (13 hours). Austin to Fayetteville, AR (10 hours) twice this month for Gravel Tri Nationals and Highlands Classic gravel race. Sometimes with company, sometimes alone with my thoughts and a podcast or Phil Gaimon’s audio books. Beats watching baggage handlers load your bike case onto the plane, tho. Gravel Tri nationals was the worst - left the race around 2pm on Friday, drove 10 hours back to Austin (alone) then went to work at 7:30 on Saturday. I didn’t say I always make good decisions

I’m good for 4 or 5 hour for a good crit

I drove London to Aix en Provence.

Stopped overnight in Lyon on the way down, had a cruise around Champagne on the way back. :sunglasses: