Montclair, New Jersey. Houston, Texas. Bethany, Oklahoma.
These are a few places where riders are traveling from to compete in the inaugural Durango Derby on Saturday, starting at 8 a.m.
Two hundred and fifty riders have signed up to take on the four stages, which span over 30 miles through the Durango Mesa Park, Overend Mountain Park and Animas Mountain.
The high-level event has attracted 38 pro solo men’s riders and 14 pro solo women’s riders as of Thursday afternoon. Top pro riders like Payson McElveen, Sarah Sturm, Ellen Campbell, Howard Grotts, Todd Wells, Evelyn Dong, Ruth Winder are in the pro field.
“It's creating an event that people are interested in with courses that are challenging but accessible,” Durango Derby director Dave Hagen said. “In this case highlighting the amazing access we have to different terrain, all right from town. Safety is the number one thing of course, so we have medical plans and course marshals and all sorts of stuff to prepare for that.”
The course offers a challenge for even the professional riders, with a flowing meadow to begin Stage 1 followed by the Telegraph hill climb leading into some rocky terrain on the ridge. Stage 1 ends with a downhill section into the all-new half ridge. The first stage spans 9.3 miles.
Stage 2 takes place in the iconic shale of Overend Mountain Park. The fast, 5.1-mile stage includes speeding down the Star Wars trail.
“It’s probably one of the most unique places to ride a bike in the country just over in (Overend) mountain park because of the shale,” Hagen said. “It offers up very flow-y stuff and down gullies and it’s just very unique.”
The shortest stage is Stage 3 at 6.3 miles, but Animas Mountain is unrelenting and can catch some riders out if they’re not careful, according to the derby.
Telegraph hill returns in the fourth and final stage. Riders will race 12.9 miles up and over Telegraph hill before hitting the desert Grandview Trails and finishing in Durango Mesa Park.
Both the men’s and women’s winners will take home $3,000 dollars. Second place will get $1,250, and third place will get $750 for both genders.
Prizes from companies like Maxxis Tires, King Cage, MRP Bike, Tailwind Nutrition, Embark Maple, Stan’s No Tubes will be handed out in the two- and four-person team categories, as well as to the top solo amateurs.
“We're excited about what's going on,” Hagen said. “The new trails are going to be right there near the venue for future use. We're very thankful to Durango Mesa for letting us host up there.”