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Cyclists embark on McDonald’s Citizen Tour to Silverton in 51st Iron Horse Bicycle Classic

1,906 riders were registered for the iconic ride
Nineteen hundred six cyclists were signed up for the 47-mile ride from Durango to Silverton on Saturday. The Coca-Cola Road Race and McDonalds Citizens Tour uses U.S. Highway 550, which is mostly an uphill climb that takes riders above 10,000 feet through Coal Bank and Molas passes. (Josh Stephenson/Special to the Herald)

More than 1,900 cyclists were signed up for the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic’s signature Coca-Cola McDonalds Citizen Tour on Saturday, which features the scenic, yet challenging, U.S. Highway 550 route from Durango to Silverton and dares riders to race the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad train to the finish line.

Coloradans traveled to Durango from across the state and were joined by people from around the country to participate in the iconic ride for the IHBC’s 51st anniversary bright and early Saturday morning.

Nate Lipke traveled from Denver for his eighth tour to Silverton. He said his wife and son were riding the train and they would meet in Silverton. He loves the views and scenery Colorado offers.

Durango Citizen Tour riders line up at the start for the 51st Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, which drew hundreds of riders who challenged themselves, each other and the train on the 47-mile uphill climb from Durango to Silverton. (Josh Stephenson/Special to the Herald)

Sarah Allen, whose son goes to school in Durango, said she is aiming to complete the Iron Horse for her first time with her son on Saturday, although she doesn’t expect to keep up with him on the ride.

She said the Iron Horse is the last stretch of her four-day venture to ride the entire San Juan Skyway, which has a total distance of about 236 miles and includes routes such as the Million Dollar Highway linking Durango, Silverton and Ouray; the towns of Telluride and Dolores; and Mesa Verde National Park.

Durangoan Chris Gann rides past Chad Cheeney, 7-year-old Bo and 5-year-old Bella as they play music to support riders in the Citizen Tour of the 51st Iron Horse Bicycle Classic on Saturday morning. (Josh Stephenson/Special to the Herald)

Lisa Marcia, who lives in Durango part-time, was visited by Albuquerque resident Jimmy Minar, who came to town to participate in Iron Horse events. Marcia said she was riding in the Quarter Horse race on Saturday, which started at 33rd Street and Second Avenue at 8 a.m., the same time and place as the McDonald’s Citizens Tour.

The Quarter Horse tour is shorter than the ride to Silverton at 25 miles long and takes riders through the Animas Valley from Durango to Purgatory Resort. Cyclists must best a 2,300-feet vertical climb, but food and festivities await just beyond the finish line at Purgatory’s Village Plaza, according to the IHBC’s event description.

Marcia said she expects to drink a lot of beer after her bike ride, which she hopes to complete without suffering too much.

Citizen Tour riders make their way up Shalona Hill during the 51st Iron Horse Bicycle Classic on Saturday morning. (Josh Stephenson/Special to the Herald)

“It’s a fun weekend,” she said. “Usually, the family comes up from Albuquerque to enjoy all the other festivities.”

Minar’s daughter participated in the Sprite Kid’s Race on Friday, and other family members planned to take on the Narrow Gauge 10 Mile & 5K on Sunday.

“It’s a fun weekend for the whole family,” she said. “There’s something for everybody.”

Minar was riding a mountain bike on Saturday. He said he isn’t sure if he’ll make it to Silverton, but he was ready to give it a try.

In the Coca-Cola Road Race men’s pro category, Caleb Classen, 21, took first place with a time of 2 hours, 7 minutes and 18.6 seconds. He beat the second place racer by 1 minute and 37 seconds.

In the women’s pro road race, Kira Payer, 24, took won first place with a time of 2 hours, 30 seconds and 28.5 seconds. She bested the second place racer by 44 seconds, according to the IHBC’s official results available at https://bit.ly/3oCQFnd.

The races went about as smoothly as they could as far as crashes and injuries go. Sgt. Keffler with Colorado State Patrol said there were zero crashes reported on Saturday.

cburney@durangoherald.com

Cyclists embark on the McDonald’s Citizens Tour from the starting line at 33rd Street and Second Avenue at 8 am. sharp on Saturday in the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic’s 51st anniversary. The classic Durango-to-Silverton event attracted thousands to town this year; some experienced riders and some newcomers looking to overcome the 47-mile excursion and beat the train to Silverton. (Christian Burney/Durango Herald)
Nineteen hundred six cyclists were signed up for the 47-mile ride from Durango to Silverton on Saturday. The Coca-Cola Road Race and McDonalds Citizens Tour uses U.S. Highway 550, which is mostly an uphill climb that takes riders above 10,000 feet through Coal Bank and Molas passes. (Christian Burney/Durango Herald)
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