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Iron Horse action begins Friday

Short-track cross-country race to kick off action
Kira Payer wins the 2022 Iron Horse Bicycle Classic pro women’s road race. Payer will be back this year to defend her title. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

The Iron Horse Bicycle Classic will kick off on Friday with a spectator-friendly event at Chapman Hill. After the success of the Roostmaster race last year at Chapman, the Iron Horse will kick off with a similar event this year – an invite-only short-track cross-country race.

The women will race at 5 p.m., followed by the men at 5:30 p.m.

“It’s a lot like the Roostmaster and will run pretty similar,” IHBC director Ian Burnett said.

The race won’t feature jumps on a dual slalom course like last year, but instead use more of the backside of Chapman.

“We wanted to do something for the community to watch,” Burnett said.

The short-track races will be 20 minutes, plus one lap.

The cross-country mountain bike races on Sunday will also use some of the same features as the short-track race. Spectators will be able to watch the bikers climb Lion’s Den trail before flying down and then doing it again.

The first wave will start at 9 a.m. while the pros will start in the third wave at 2 p.m. on Sunday.

“It’s a brutal course, for sure,” Burnett said, but noted the Lion’s Den climb is actually an easier alternative.

The access for people to watch the action is also better at Chapman than at Durango Mesa since it is in town, Burnett said, and they’re encouraging people to ride their bikes to see the action.

“Parking is limited, especially on Sunday with church services,” he said.

The La Strada La Plata Gravel Race will also start at Chapman Hill, at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday.

The event’s flagship race, the Durango Coca-Cola Road Race to Silverton, meanwhile, will start at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday.

U.S. 550 will close at 8:30 a.m., but Burnett said they’re encouraging people to leave by 7 a.m. if they want to see the racers in Silverton or along the way.

Last year’s road race winner Kira Payer will be back to defend her women’s title. The men’s runner-up, Caleb Classen, is also back. He finished second to World Tour rider and Durangoan Quinn Simmons last year.

A few other local riders to watch out for over the weekend in the various events include Sarah Sturm, Ellen Campbell, Howard Grotts, Ned Overend, Todd Wells and Dane Grey, among others.

“We’re excited to bring it back to Chapman; it’s a historic place for us,” Burnett said.

The Lion’s Den and Rim trails were part of the 2001 UCI World Cup event held in Durango.

“We’re celebrating those roots, and it’s in town so it should be a fun atmosphere,” Burnett said.