2020 Ethio Mountain Challenge

Event dates:

Saturday 21 November – Saturday 28 November 2020

Ethio Cycling Holidays 4-day tour
Event packages:

Details of 2020 event packages will be posted here soon

Tsgabu Grmay, Ethiopia’s UCI World Tour rider, will host the second edition of this event in November 2020. A special feature of the event is the chance to ride with Tsgabu Grmay and other young Ethiopian cyclists. The route also takes in some of the best cycling roads in Ethiopia rivalling the famous ascents used in Grand Tour races in Europe.

Images and reports of the event’s first edition staged from 4-6 November 2019 can be found @ethiocycling The challenge event was won by Haftab Weldu in an overall time of 2 hours 19 minutes and 8 seconds for the six time trial sections shown on the map here. Richard Gregory placed 2nd and John-Paul Fanning finished 3rd. Film of the 2019 event will be released shortly. The itinerary given below is from the 2019 event. Our 2020 event itinerary will be published soon.

Itinerary: 5 days in Ethiopia | 3 days cycling | Total distance 375km

On arrival in Addis Ababa off your overnight flight, you will be met at the airport and taken for breakfast at a nearby hotel. Returning to the airport for your connecting flight to Mekelle, you arrive at your hotel in the early afternoon. This gives you time to assemble and test out your bike before getting your event briefing and evening dinner.

Overnight stay at Hatse Yohannes Hotel

Stages 1 & 2: the first stage is a testing (7-13%) 5km climb from the edge of Mekelle taking you up onto the plateau extending north towards Eritrea. Between the two stages is a stunning stretch of tarmac with long sweeping descents into Agula and Wukro where you stop for coffee. The second stage is a 8km ascent starting north of Wukro and leading up to the 7th century mosque in Negash. From there you ride an undulating route through Frewenyi and Idaga Hamus before entering the final 10km descent into Adigrat. Tonight you will eat out at a traditional Ethiopian restaurant.

Ride distance: 120km

Overnight stay at Canaan International Hotel

Stages 3 & 4: today’s first stage is a long 12km climb that starts with gentler gradients (5-6%) before kicking up to steeper gradients (10-12%) around halfway. In the second half of the climb there are great views back from where you have climbed as you push on to the summit at just over 3000m. A breath-taking 20km descent into Bizet follows this timed section, and from here you continue to the ride’s halfway point at Enticho. After a stop here the jagged Adwa Mountains start to appear ahead, and following a few more climbs you descend into Adwa and regroup for the day’s second stage. Stage 4 combines two climbs on the road between Adwa and Axum and a 5km flat stretch on top of the plateau leading to Axum airport. Later in the afternoon, as you ride into Axum, you will chance to see the magnificent Stelae Park alongside the ancient church of Tsion Mariam.

Ride distance: 130km

Overnight stay at Yared Zema International Hotel

For Stages 5 & 6 you first return back to Adwa, the site of the famous 1896 victory by Ethiopian troops over the Italians. Stage 5 starts on the road heading south out of Adwa and climbs steeply (12-15%) at the start before levelling off over the second half up to Switchback Summit. Following this timed section is a beautiful descent to Maykenitil and onwards into the valley. The event’s final stage starts from the bridge in the valley bottom and climbs for 15km (10-15% gradient) to the summit overlooking the town of Workamba. Beware for a number of false summits! From here you ride the final 25km into Abiy Addi. After taking a shower and food, you transfer by vehicle to Mekelle airport for your final Celebratory Meal attended by Tsgabu Grmay at the end of the event.

Ride distance: 125km

Overnight stay at Hatse Yohannes Hotel

Today is your departure day from Mekelle. Please speak with us about your onward plans. If you have time, we would recommend some sightseeing in Addis Ababa or even at the rock-hewn churches in Lalibela.

What’s included in the event package:

  • hotel accommodation
  • all breakfasts, lunches and dinners
  • all ground transport
  • all luggage and bike transfers for the rides
  • full support* on your ride from drivers and cycling guides
  • maps and profiles of the rides supplied as gpx files and pocket-sized ride cards
  • airport transfers

*All rides are fully supported with lead vehicle and tail-end vehicle; motorbike rider; cycling guides; mechanics to assist with assembly of bikes and any mechanical problems; nutrition for rides including water, energy bars, gels, bananas, tea/coffee

Not included:

  • International and domestic flights
  • Visa for Ethiopia ($50)
  • Travel insurance
“The sight that greeted me was like no other I’d seen on a bike. Stretching far into
the distance were crags and canyons of soft brown rock, looking like the
American Wild West but on an even grander scale.” Pete M