Iron Horse

Annual event kicks off summer season

The 41st annual bout between cyclists and the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad to see who is faster in making the 50-mile trek from Durango to Silverton over two mountain passes will take place as usual Saturday morning, marking an important ritual for road cyclists and their supporters. With this signature race, though, comes a range of events that gives cyclists, runners and general fun-lovers plenty to choose from over the weekend. Taken together, the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic ushers in the summer season by honoring the regional beauty and active lifestyles that define Southwest Colorado for many residents and visitors alike.

Unlike many years in the recent past, this year’s Iron Horse Bicycle Classic is forecast to take place under sunny skies – a factor sure to increase the enthusiasm of participants and their well-wishers from Durango to Silverton, even if cyclists face a bit of a headwind on the race against the train. Warm weather also will add to the fun at the many auxiliary events that will fill out the weekend. For those who missed the full 50-mile endeavor, which is sold out, there is a less grueling Quarter Horse race from Durango to Durango Mountain Resort on Saturday morning. There also is a time-trial race in the Animas Valley, as well as a criterium, wherein cyclists complete many laps through a downtown course.

On Sunday, the focus shifts away from the road, when the annual mountain bike race will be run, starting at Ninth Street and Main Avenue downtown. For the less serious bicycle enthusiast, Sunday afternoon will bring the Cruiser Crit to downtown Durango’s streets. This crowd-pleaser features bikes from fancy to those that would make Rube Goldberg blush, and costumes along a similar spectrum. Speed is not the Holy Grail in this race, but it is nonetheless impressive to participate in or watch. And for those who prefer their exercise to be wheel-less, the annual Narrow Gauge 10-mile or 5K runs through town and around Fort Lewis College’s campus will take place Sunday morning, and the Narrow Horse swim will be held this evening at the Durango Community Recreation Center.

The festivities offer something for everyone from the fittest of Spandex wearers to the most creative of costume designers – linked by the backdrop that Durango and its spectacular surroundings provide for such events.

The added bonus of the holiday weekend, a full calendar of non-race-related activities and the impending end of the school year give the days to come a flavor of celebration that is deserving of notice, and participation far and wide.