Closed highway made the Iron Horse bike ride what it is today

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Closed highway made the Iron Horse bike ride what it is today

Riders used to make 47-mile trek with automobile traffic
Ned Overend descends Coal Bank Pass. Free of traffic since the mid-1990s thanks to a highway closure, riders can now hit speeds of close to 50 mph on the descents of Coal Bank and Molas passes without worrying about cars on the road.

Closed highway made the Iron Horse bike ride what it is today

Ned Overend descends Coal Bank Pass. Free of traffic since the mid-1990s thanks to a highway closure, riders can now hit speeds of close to 50 mph on the descents of Coal Bank and Molas passes without worrying about cars on the road.

Closed highway made the Iron Horse bike ride what it is today

Riders in the 2017 Iron Horse Bicycle Classic pro road race fly down Coal Bank Pass. The highway didn’t used to be closed for the race, which was more dangerous and meant riders could lose their lead if they became stuck behind a car.

Closed highway made the Iron Horse bike ride what it is today

Law enforcement work at Purgatory on U.S. Highway 550 to turn away Iron Horse riders who have not made it past that point. Troopers are tasked with monitoring weather conditions during the race to make sure it is safe for cyclists to continue, and they help sweep riders off the road if they do not hit certain checkpoints in fast enough time before the highway reopens.

Closed highway made the Iron Horse bike ride what it is today

When Ned Overend claimed the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic road race championship in 1983, he had to beat cyclists and navigate automobile traffic on his way from Durango to Silverton.

Closed highway made the Iron Horse bike ride what it is today

Tom Mayer came to the finish line at the top of Coal Bank Pass by himself in the first official Iron Horse Bicycle Classic in 1972. The race was inspired by his quest to ride from Durango to Silverton faster than the train on which his brother Jim was a brakeman.
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