Happy Horse

Saturday, June 2, 2018 7:04 AM
A bike racer barley beats the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge train as it cuts across Highway 550 in Hermosa.

The organizers of the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic which took place last weekend again gave participants and spectators a good time. It was neck and neck at the finish for the professional riders arriving in Silverton. And though hampered by a forest fire along the route, gravel riders were still able to ride segments of the county roads.

In downtown Durango on Sunday, BMX riders raced dirt bumps placed downhill on 9th Avenue and topped a tall metal Conex container to cross Main Avenue. Bold riders on small bikes.

The weather was blue sky and warm, and no snow – none – on the two mountain passes.

The citizens’ ride to Silverton included out-of-towners as well as locals, and a contingent on e-bikes rode to Purgatory Resort. The shorter unassisted ride to Purgatory also had a respectable field.

There have been fewer professional riders in recent years, perhaps because of the proliferation of imaginative rides elsewhere, but because of its evolution, the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic retains its strong appeal.

Riders are in college or company colors, or enjoy repeat participation with friends, or just the feel-good challenge of getting into shape for the ride during the preceding six months.

Riders note their finish times from year to year in half-hour or quarter-hour increments, not in seconds. No more detail is needed beyond the satisfaction of being able to say, “I rode to Silverton.”

More and more two- and three-year olds seem to enjoy their riding on pedaless bikes on a short portion of a block on Main Avenue, with low ramps as challenges. The next generation of riders is assured.

While the BMX-ers dove downhill on Sunday, other miles-long adult races which headed through east Durango and out of town were beginning and ending close by. Applaud one series of riders and turn to cheer another. The logistics were finely tuned.

Restaurants were busy, doors and windows open to the crowd. Organizers said “no” to food carts and food sales by otherwise distant providers. The downtown activities were a benefit to restaurants and businesses along the three blocks.

Thanks to the organizers and the hundreds of volunteers who gave participants and spectators such a good time last weekend.