Race: The Gourmet Century, Asheville, N.C.
The Event: "Energy bars do a great job for their intended purpose," says Chris DiMinno, the Gourmet Century's chef-manager. "But what I've found is people perform better on real food." And that's what the Gourmet Century is all about: bringing in a small army of local chefs for a ride that's both a culinary event and a biking one. The day starts with cappuccinos, made on the premises, and local baked goods (for carb loading); then, over the course of the 100-mile ride, there are three stops for food beyond common road grub — dishes like wild-mushroom quiche and grilled octopus. After riders ascend toward Blue Ridge peaks, roll through forested valleys, and eat at local farms, the ride ends with a four-course meal that's worth every pedal stroke.
When: August 22
The Place: Besides Asheville, which offers an excellent sampling of the area's rising cuisine, the Gourmet Century takes place in Nagoya, Japan; Bend and Portland, Oregon; and Sonoma, California.
Don't Miss: The local beer. The Asheville area has scores of breweries, ranging from behemoths like Sierra Nevada and New Belgium to small-batch producers such as One World and Wicked Weed, whose large, wood-lined downtown pub makes for a great detour.