What is 20K ultra trail?
20K is a crazy bike adventure.
It’s an unsupported bikepacking race-non-race along the highest roads and trails in the Western Alps.
A ramble of about 1000 km will take you on the highest military roads in Europe, across a territory that is unique for its beauty and majesty.
The name 20K stands for the ascent in the first edition, a mighty 20,000 mt. Over the years the route has lengthened, the ascent has grown and now stands at about 23K.
We believe that 20K ascent set this bikepacking adventure on its own, making it particularly demanding, one of those that won’t just leave their mark but a unforgettable (metaphorical) scar on every finisher.
You will cross incredibly fascinating territories such as the Assietta road, the Gardetta Plateau and the Via del Sale, just to name a few.
The idea for the 20K and its route came back in 2015, in Istanbul, at the finish line of the Transcontinental Race.
At the end, I and the other finishers were talking about that crazy ramble that took us across Europe from Belgium to Turkey and were asking what the most beautiful part of the road was… And everybody was saying, without a doubt, “the Assietta Road”.
I was confused. The Assietta is practically my backyard.
But looking back, only there I had seen other Transcontinental riders stopping on the road, admiring the view, lost in contemplation.
That’s when I understood how incredible what I almost took for granted was.
So, I decided to create a route, connecting the most spectacular stretches of the Western Alps and the French “Hautes Alpes” in a single, spectacular, and demanding route.
The 20K ultratrail was born.
The track is constantly evolving but some highlights tend to be there
- Strada dell’Assietta
- Colle delle Finestre
- Gardetta Plateau
- Via del Sale
Assietta is the highest military road in Europe, over 30km of smooth gravel, a dream for cyclists who go every year from all over the world to ride it on their gravel or mountain bikes.
Often climbing above 2400mt, it’s not uncommon to find yourself above the clouds.
Easily rideable with both gravel bike and mtb.
Also known as “Little Peru”, Gardetta Plateau is a bikepacking paradise. A wonderful plateau at over 2300m elevation, surrounded by some of the most beautiful peaks in the Alps.
Rocca la Meja sure stands out: a stone pyramid looking onto the whole path, as if it were following the riders along the plateau for more than 20km up to Colle del Fauniera.
Rideable with both mountain and gravel bikes
Via del Sale
Via del Sale used to be a commercial road, connecting the mountains of Limone Piemonte to the sea of Ventimiglia. It’s a spectacular white gravel road winding along the Alpine watershed at above 2000 m.
The route begins with the striking fort Col di Tenda, then continues onto the Italian French border in a succession of ups and downs on the crest of the valleys.
Along the way, you will come across a legendary hairpin turn carved into the rock nicknamed Zabriskie Point.
Villages and alpine lodges
Along the route you will meet many alpine lodges and characteristic villages where you can refuel and find support if necessary. You’ll be spending so many hours immersed in nature on the high peaks, you’ll be glad to meet some human faces.
In the lodges and villages, you’ll have a chance to taste mountain flavours like polenta with sausage or venison, soups, stews, and cheeses. As you cross the French border, you can also enjoy some characteristic Haute-Savoie food, like raclette or typical French omelettes.
The 20K ultratrail is an adventure made of physical effort, silence and contemplation of the majestic mountains surrounding you. You’ll experience the thrill of Alpine isolation, you will only hear your breath, whistles of marmots, and bells of cows.
When you reach the finish line you might feel that slight feeling of estrangement returning to the “civilized world”.
You will be constantly monitored via gps devices and will be visible in real time on the live tracking website so that your loved ones and friends can be updated on your adventure. You can also use the same live tracking system to check your position and that of other riders.
Unsupported but never alone
The philosophy behind 20K is that of an unsupported event, that is, every rider must get by on its own, without any kind of assistance.
Still, you will constantly be visible online in real time, thanks to the live tracking service visible on the internet.
Along the way you’ll often find staff from the organization ready to cheer you on in your adventure.