The Iron Horse Bicycle Classic sold out again this year, only three days later than last year.
The Iron Horse is one of the largest races in the country, with more than 2,500 riders participating. About 1,150 pro cyclists race from Durango to Silverton, with an additional 1,350 recreation riders in the noncompetitive citizens tour.
The 2,500 cap was implemented three years ago under a recommendation by race organizers, the Colorado State Patrol and officials from Durango and Silverton.
Enrolled riders vary in age from 15 to 80. The average age for an Iron Horse competitor this year is 41, said Gaige Sippy, the event's director. Twenty-eight percent of this year's field is female, up slightly, in part, because of more husband-and-wife teams, he said.
Last year, race enrollment was boosted by a timely article in the 3-million circulation in-flight magazine, US Airways Magazine. Last year, Sippy said he saw a big spike in enrollment - about one rider every two minutes, he estimated - right after the article was published in early March.
Sippy said he saw more aggressive sales this year, but there is no US Airways Magazine article to boost sales.
"Word of mouth is the best marketing tool we have," he said.
This year will be the first to feature a new riding option, the Quarter Horse, a 25-mile ride that starts at the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad station and finishes at Durango Mountain Resort at Purgatory. About 150 to 250 less-experienced riders are expected to take part.
Professionals and serious riders finish the ride to Silverton in less than two hours.
Cindy Dahlberg, who offers an Iron Horse training class, said most of her students take a more leisurely five to six hours.
She didn't think the cycling community would be so quick to forget that the Iron Horse was canceled last year because of snowed-out mountain passes. She thought the race would sell out, but not as quickly as it did.
"It's pretty shocking, really," she said.