criterium and downhill events are back
| This painting, by local
artist Krista Harris, will be on display at Steamworks
in conjunction with the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic
For more than three decades, cyclists have packed the
narrow twists and turns of U.S. Highway 550 for the annual
47-mile trek from Durango to Silverton known as the Iron
Horse Bicycle Classic. And while originally conceived
as a race of man against machine, the classic has grown
into a three-day celebration of all things two wheeled
with a chain – and then some.
“We just try to show everyone a good time during
the weekend,” said Kendra Holmes, Iron Horse race
director. She said this ranges from the traditional road
race to mountain biking events, a foot race, a swimming
event and even an art exhibit. And while there are plenty
of distractions for the athletically inclined, she said
the Iron Horse is geared to being equally entertaining
Of special note, Holmes said, is the return this year
of the criterium, a short, fast race that will be held
in the streets of Durango. She said the crit hasn’t
been held in 12 years but was resurrected because of demand.
“It’s pretty much built for spectators,”
she said. “Seeing 30 riders in a pack racing around
corners downtown should be pretty exciting.”
She said the crit, which begins at 7 a.m. Monday with
the junior division and culminates with the pro races
at noon, takes racers on laps of an 800-yard loop through
downtown, starting at the Main Mall.
Iron Horse schedule of events
7:30 a.m.: Pro
road racers leave Durango
8:15 a.m.: McDonald’s
Citizen’s Race/Tour starts at McDonald’s
; Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Train leaves
station for Silverton
8:30 a.m.: Highway
550 closes at Durango Mountain Resort
10 a.m.: Endo
Downhill starts at Log Chutes, Junction Creek
Road, West on 25th St. at Main Ave.
12 noon: Highway
8 a.m. Run/Heart
Walk (Park Elementary)
All day: Cross
Country mountain bike racing and Expo, Chapman
10:15 a.m.: Mountain
Cross qualifiers, Chapman Hill
12:15 p.m.: Mountain
2:15 p.m.: Kids
All Day: Criterium
Observed Trials at Steamworks
Also back by popular demand this year is the mountain
bike downhill, held at the Log Chutes Trail. “We
haven’t had one of those in nine years,” Holmes
said. “It was another thing where people asked for
She said the race, which begins at 10 a.m. Saturday,
is open to riders of all abilities and that the steep
course should provide plenty of action for spectators
“It’s a fun, fun course,” she said.
“These guys are on bikes with 10 inches of suspension
– it’s crazy.”
In addition to the downhill action, there will be cross
country mountain bike racing Sunday at Chapman Hill and
in Horse Gulch. Holmes said the best places for watching
these races are on Fort Lewis College Mesa at the top
of Chapman Hill and the quarry in Horse Gulch.
For those looking for something they can enjoy at their
own pace, the artwork of local painter and cyclist Krista
Harris will be on display at Steamworks. The exhibit,
“About a Bike,” will run until the National
Off Road Bicycling Association Championships in August.
“She paints and lives and breathes cycling,”
said Holmes. “It’s different; it’s inspirational;
it’s bike art.”
For the more puritanical bicycle enthusiast, there are,
of course, the road and citizen’s races. Holmes
said the pros will take off from the Durango Recreation
Center at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, followed by the citizens,
who will depart at 8:15 a.m. from McDonald’s.
“We encourage people to come down and see the riders
off,” she said. “We’ll have tandems,
kids, people dressing up – every year we have someone
doing something crazy.”
Holmes said she expects about 400 competitors for the
road race and more than 500 for the citizen’s race.
Overall, there are 1,300 people signed up for Iron Horse
events and numbers for the Iron Horse have been rising
steadily over the last five years, she said.
“We are up this year quite a bit. I think Durango’s
on the upswing again as far as cycling is concerned in
Holmes attributes the rise in interest to the area’s
scenery, the fact that the road race is on a closed road
and several years of good weather during an event that
historically has been prone to the whims of Mother Nature.
And she said this year the trend will continue.
“We’re having good weather,” she said.
“It’s going to be good, damnit.”