Regardless of their times, the owners of the Irish Embassy Pub think every rider in the 40th annual Iron Horse Bicycle Classic who crosses the finish line Saturday in Silverton will be a winner. And theyre backing up their opinion with tangible rewards.
Each finisher in the Citizens Tour not the pro racers will receive a commemorative medallion designed by Bayfield artist Cindy Coleman of Duck Girl Art fame. Coleman said the design was loosely based on an IHBC poster from a previous year, jointly modified with input by Iron Horse director Gaige Sippy and co-founder Ed Zink. The medals were manufactured at a San Diego company owned by Embassy co-owner Mike Graham, who produced 1,200 of the medals for Saturdays event.
The front of each medal reads Finisher Iron Horse Bicycle Classic flanked by images of a cyclist and a Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad locomotive. On the back is the inscription May 28, 2011 50 Miles, 6,800 Vertical Feet Molas Pass 10,899 ft etched above the 40th anniversary IHBC logo.
When I introduced the idea about the medals, it came from when I was swimming in rough-water swims in Southern California, said Jerry Hembury, another Irish Embassy co-owner who once was a lifeguard in California.
The La Jolla rough-water event would give Survivor Medals if you completed the swim, so I thought it should work for the Iron Horse, he said.
Embassy manager Phillip Brennan, a native of Ireland, said getting actively involved in one of the most established and important annual Durango events is a duty for local businesses.
When I was growing up, the local pub used to sponsor every event that was going on, and thats one of the values I want to bring to Durango that were not just a business but that we want to be here til I grow old and to be a part of the community, Brennan said.
Zink said the idea is not unprecedented; child riders have received medallions for several years, and there were experiments with commemorative belt buckles being handed out for a few years, as well.
However, the concept of presenting a medal to every finisher in Silverton is both new and thoughtful, Zink said. Its community support like this thats kept the Iron Horse fresh and evolving for 40 years.