Spring is the season for road cycling events in Durango. The first is set for this weekend.
Fort Lewis College will host its annual Squawker Road Classic this Saturday and Sunday. Top teams from around the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Cycling Conference will compete across a variety of categories. Community members also can sign up to compete in their own classifications.
It’s an important weekend for Fort Lewis and all of the RMCCC riders, as the road national championships are set for next weekend in Grand Junction.
“Collegiate cyclists from the RMCCC will descend upon Durango for one of the toughest weekends of racing before the USA Cycling Collegiate Road Nationals in Grand Junction,” FLC cycling director Dave Hagen said in a news release.
The event serves as a USA Cycling Collegiate Regional Championship. That will bring schools from around the Southwest as well as the Inter-Mountain Conference to Durango to compete along RMCCC powers such as University of Colorado at Boulder, Colorado State University, Colorado Mesa University and Fort Lewis.
As a USA Cycling-sanctioned event, there will also be categories for all three races open to registration for cyclists beyond the college ranks.
FLC’s top men’s road racer, junior Cormac McGeough, won’t compete this weekend. He is in New Mexico at the elite Tour of the Gila stage race. But Skyhawks men such as Peter Behm, Ian McPherson and Lucas Rowton will be riders to watch in Category A. On the women’s side, freshman Charlotte Backus will get her first chance to show her talent to the home Durango crowd.
“Behm has been all-star all year, and seniors McPherson and Rowton have been riding really well,” Hagen said in an email to The Durango Herald. “Backus has been our best female all road season, and the rest of the females are coming into form at the right time.”
Hagen also is excited about the Category B men. “They are racing exceptionally well this year and have won many races,” he said. “They’ll be exciting to watch this weekend.”
Racing will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday with the Morehart Murphy Team Time Trial. Four-person collegiate teams will start on County Road 213, otherwise known as the La Posta Highway, at the intersection of River Road behind Home Depot. It will be a 19-mile course, with riders turning around near Bondad before it meets U.S. Highway 550. Teams will go off in 1-minute intervals. Individuals in the USA Cycling category will start at 9 a.m. and use the same course.
Saturday is loaded with more racing from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Zia Taqueria Neighborhood Criterium will utilize 4th through 6th avenues as well as 7th through 10th streets in downtown Durango. The start/finish line will be at the intersection of 4th Avenue and 8th Street.
Five collegiate and four citizen categories will take to the course, which features a climb on the 6th Avenue hill. Spectators are encouraged to cheer on the competitors all day.
The Carver Brewing Co. Road Race will begin at 8 a.m. Sunday on Rim Drive. The clockwise course will feature three to nine laps, depending on category. Each lap is 5 miles and navigates North Rim Drive, North College Drive, Goeglein Gulch Road and East 8th Avenue.
Online registration is available for the USA Cycling divisions. There is an extra $5 race-day registration fee for those who don’t sign up in advance.
Volunteers are needed to make the event the long-running success it has become. More than 60 volunteers are needed to be course marshals. Those interested should contact Hagen at email@example.com.