A new self-supported bike packing race will begin and end in Durango this summer. Between the start and finish, the cyclists will pedal more than 1,000 miles along the border of Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico, which is why the race’s name combines New Mexico and Colorado.
“I’ve always dreamed of making my own route,” said the event’s organizer, Casey Rhea, who is a longtime bike packer who also competes in endurance races.
He said one of his goals “was to create a sampler platter of Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico’s seldom ridden singletrack, spliced together into a route with as little pavement as possible.”
The aim, he said, is for the race to be a new hybrid in mixed media ultra-endurance racing: long enough to be epic; technically challenging enough to be a true mountain bike event; and diverse enough to properly highlight this rough and rugged region.
The inaugural event, which is free, is set to begin at 6 a.m. Aug. 27 at Buckley Park. The route will then take cyclists through towns including Rico, Dolores, Mancos, New Mexico towns Farmington, Arboles, Chama, Ojo Caliente, Questa, back into Colorado at Antonito, Pagosa Springs before returning to Durango.
Some of the trails included along the route include the Colorado Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, Boggy draw, Phil’s World, Piñon Mesa and Alien Run, in addition to other pre-established routes, aiming for minimal vehicle traffic.
“It’s mixed media, so it has everything,” Rhea said. “Singletrack when possible and dirt when we can’t.” The route is currently 1,020 miles, but Rhea said he’ll update in the spring if needed.
Rhea said he designed it as a loop so that logistically it’s easier to commit. He said he also wanted to create a route that highlights some small towns in Colorado and and New Mexico, and he has created a list for the participants that includes some of best restaurants along the route.
“I ride to eat,” he said, referencing a bike packing joke. “This highlights lots of local spots riders can support along the way.”
The riders will use GPS trackers of their choice, and people will be able to follow their progress online. “It’s a cool way to encourage people to be accountable with people looking over their shoulder,” Rhea said.
The event will be capped at 75 participants. He said it will be a good option for riders who want something different than the Colorado Trail Race. So far, 15 people have signed up to participate, and 15 to 20 have expressed interest.
“It takes a real leap of faith to do a first year event,” he said.
An event website is in the works and should be live in the next couple weeks. In the meantime, people can find more information at https://www.instagram.com/thenewcolorace/ and at The New Colo Race group page on Facebook.