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Five things you need to know about the Challenge Roth bike course

From the tough climbs you need to be prepared for. To the best spots for spectator support, and the record times to try and beat. Get Roth ready with our guide to the Challenge Roth bike course.

Writer & Long Course Triathlete
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With the legendary Challenge Roth just a few weeks away, the lucky few thousand athletes who managed to get a spot on the start line of this iconic race will be busy ticking off their final few training sessions before it’s time to countdown to the firing of the first race morning canon.

Whether you’re racing this year, or hoping to get a place in 2025. We take a look at the key things you need to know about the bike route – which has set the stage for insane crowds and insanely fast bike splits – so you can be ready to tear it up on race day.

Don’t let the fast times fool you

A quick look at the Challenge Roth finish times, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that the bike course must be pretty flat. But in reality, this course is far hillier than you might think – and it shouldn’t be underestimated.

Other than one relatively flat section, you can expect to spend much of your time on the bike enjoying constant rolling climbs. And while most of the climbing averages around the 2-4% gradient mark, there are a couple of sharp kickers that pitch up to 11%.

ROUVY indoor cycling app Roth route
As you can see from the virtual version on ROUVY. The bike course at Challenge Roth certainly isn’t flat!

If you can pace yourself well on the climbs, and make the most of the free speed on the downhills by descending well. This is still a quick course. But the roads of Roth are going to make you work for that fast bike split. Getting familiar with the route – either in real life, or virtually on ROUVY – will help you to know what to expect come race day.

Solar Hill is the least of your worries

If someone says ‘Challenge Roth’ and ‘hill’ in the same sentence, your mind probably instantly takes you to the Tour de France-like scenes of solar hill. Made iconic by the crowds who form a corridor along the short, sharp ascent. A wall of noise powering each participant up the gradient.

Challenge Family Roth
Solar Hill is famous for the crowds. But it’s the tough climb at Greding you really need to be prepared for.

But while Solar Hill might be the most atmospheric climb on the course. It’s certainly not the only one your quad muscles need to be worrying about. In fact, with a few of us here at TRI247 having ridden the course ourselves – in real life, and on ROUVY. We’d say it’s the long drag up from Greding which you’ll encounter twice – first at around the 40km mark and again 120 kilometres into the course – that it’s worth being ready for. A sharp left hand turn takes you straight into a steep kicker. It’d be easy to get carried away and blast up this. But you’ll be going up, up, up for another 2 kilometres or so.

Overcook the climb at Greding, and your legs won’t forgive you by the time you get to the marathon.


Aero is still everything

Despite all those climbs, you’ll still want to focus on staying aero as much as possible on the bike course at Challenge Roth. The super smooth road surfaces mean you can make up some serious time on the flatter sections if you’re dialled into your aero position.

And what goes up, must come down. So being confident on the downhills will help you to get that average speed ticking upwards.

Hotspots and aid stations

The course might be tough, but the crowds are second to none. Part of what makes Challenge Roth so special is the incredible support and atmosphere – there’s no race quite like it. And that makes every metre of climbing feel a little easier. There’s a total of 10 hot spots on the two loop course. So if the going gets tough, rest assured you’ll never be far away from another round of cheering spectators to boost your motivation. Here are some of the hot spot highlights to look forward to on race day.

Eckersmühlen Pyraser Biermeile: ~5km and ~90km

Early on in the loop you’ll reach the first hot spot at Eckersmühlen. Part of the Roth tradition, this is the oldest hot spot on course. Commentators will welcome athletes by name as they ride by, making you feel like a PRO. And spectators can enjoy music, grilled sausages and beer as they wait to cheer the athletes on.

Heideck: ~15km and ~100km

Next up is Heideck, where the whole town comes out in force to line the streets and cheer the athletes on. The Red Bull truck here will also have a commentator providing race updates. Listen carefully as you ride through if you want to find out what’s happening up the road in the PRO race!

Gredinger Kalvarienberg: ~40km and ~120km

Challenge Roth call Greding the ‘hill of pain’. So you’ll be glad to know there’s a fantastic supporter hot spot here to give you the energy boost you need to take on the elevation. Commentators Max Dorner and Benni Koch are on hand to hype up the crowds, with live music and a party vibe adding to the atmosphere. You’ll definitely appreciate the distraction when you reach the climb for the second time around!

Solar Hill: ~70km and ~155km

Of course, the most famous hot spot on the Challenge Roth bike course is Solar Hill. Get ready to feel like a PRO cyclist leading the Tour de France as you head into Hipoltstein. Crowds several people deep line both sides of the street, creating a corridor of fans urging you on as you make your way up the climb.

Embrace the chaos and soak up all the energy. This is a once in a lifetime race experience you’ll remember forever!

Alongside the 10 hot spots, you’ve also got aid stations approximately every 17.5km where the on course nutrition for 2024 will be Powerbar.  

Challenge Roth bike course records

Feeling fast? You’ll need to pick up some serious speed to contend with the current bike course records.

2023 was a record breaking year for Challenge Roth. Magnus Ditlev and Daniela Ryf not only obliterated the previous bike course records. But took the overall records down in the process, which were previously held by triathlon legends Jan Frodeno and Chrissie Wellington.

Magnus Ditlev completed the bike course in 3:57:45, with an overall finish time of 07:24:40. It was a performance of the ages, described by Sebastien Kienle as “like the first landing on the moon in our sport, or breaking supersonic sound.”

Daniela Ryf was in similar record-breaking form. She took a staggering 10 minutes off Chrissie Wellington’s previous world best (08:18:13), which had stood for 12 years, to finish in 08:08:21. A powerhouse on the bike, Ryf completed the 112 mile bike course at Roth in 04:22:56.

Daniela Ryf Chrissie Wellington Challenge Roth 2023
Daniela Ryf and Chrissie Wellington embrace after the finish line [Photo credit: Challenge Roth]

In the age group field, taking a look back at the 2023 results the fastest time on the bike clocked in the women’s age group field was a speedy 4 hours 52 minutes. Meanwhile, the fastest age group man on the bike in 2023 completed the 112 mile course in 4 hours 20 minutes.

If you’re racing Challenge Roth this year, or looking to get on the start list for next year. There’s plenty of excitement in store on the bike course, but being prepared is key. If getting out to Roth early enough to do a full recce isn’t feasible. It’s well worth jumping on the indoor bike trainer and riding the virtual version of the route on ROUVY to get familiar with the course so you’ll have a good idea of how to pace yourself for success on race day.

Jenny Lucas-Hill
Written by
Jenny Lucas-Hill
Jenny Lucas-Hill is a writer, content creator and communications professional. A long-distance triathlon enthusiast, she has three full Iron-distance finishes to date & also loves watching the sport.
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