Bicycles are the vehicle of choice this weekend in Durango, where fast and not so fast riders will climb to Silverton on Saturday in the 47th annual Iron Horse Bicycle Classic.
The chance of snow at the highest elevations – an expected and occasionally unexpected hazard in some few previous years – is virtually zero.
In the Citizens’ group will be plenty of Durangoans who have been training since the first of the year, and out-of-towners from adjacent states back for their third or fourth experience.
Friends and co-workers challenge one another just to complete the ride, while there will be father-son and mother-daughter pairs and at some a tandem bicycles.
This year the gravel road events have been expanded, sending riders on their choice of two distances, 46 and 56 miles, both up Horse Gulch Road. The longer ride reaches Bayfield.
Ever imaginative, race organizers will time riders on four segments with different characteristics, as the county roads will not be closed. Riding gravel is the new challenge, providing a different experience than pavement offers.
The gravel races, which could include as many as 250 riders, will begin and end at 9th and Main Avenue on Sunday.
On Sunday, downtown Durango will be event-central, with a kids’ race, a kids’ village and expo, BMX, mountain bike and cruiser events. Dozens of under-5 year-olds assures a strong next generation of riders.
If you enjoy seeing skilled riders race through Steamworks at Second Ave. and 8th Street, the route requires a climb up from the alley rather than a drop down from above. The change is the reaction to a previous year’s rider who almost lost the top of his head against the top of the window opening at high speed. Requiring a climb will slow everyone down and eliminate the risk.
Venders and music fill out the 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday downtown.
What began as a serious ride to Silverton – more quickly than the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad could make the trip – has grown into multiple riding events for all different skill levels and ages.
Participating with friends and family, perhaps with some slight improvement in physical condition, are the goals and the rewards.
A bicycle culture during the warm months has already arrived in Durango and will grow further. This weekend bicycle fever will be a hundred-fold.