2016 Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, Durango CO


We left the RV in Moab at the Portal RV Park while we were staying in the condo in Durango with Jim and Dana. On Friday Jim and Dana got their bikes ready for the Iron Horse Classic bike race tomorrow and Bob and I went out for breakfast to the College Drive Café. We were both still hungry from the 5 day rafting trip, so I ate a huge Veggie Burrito, Bob had the Whole Earth omelette and we cleaned the plates enjoying every mouthful. Jim and Dana arrived with their friend Don and his niece, Dior, and they joined us for breakfast as well. Then we went shopping in Durango, love all the fabulous outdoor stores here, but we ended the day at the nail salon getting pedicures, badly needed!! Finally it was dinner time and we all met at the East by Southwest Japanese restaurant and had a fabulous sushi dinner.

Today is the big day, the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic. The first Iron Horse race was in 1972 a group of 36 riders to celebrate the first run of the train in the spring by accepting the challenge to race the train from Durango to Silverton, 50 miles, with 6,650 feet elevation gain, over two passes, Coal Bank, 10,640 and Molas 10,910’. The steam train takes a shorter and easier route, but with limited speed, so it is truly a race between man and machine. There has been a full weekend of events every Memorial  Day for the past 45 years. Each year hundreds of riders will feel the thrill of descending into Silverton and looking to see if the train has arrived. Bob and I had to leave Durango before 8 am to drive to Silverton because the road is closed by 8:20 for the race. We ate breakfast at the Brown Bear Café, after waiting in line for half an hour, but it was worth the wait. By the time we had finished breakfast and walked outside the first riders had already arrived at the end of the race, they definitely beat the train. We went to the podium to watch the awards given for the Men Pro Open top three finishers:  1st Payson McElveen – 2:30:7.5; 2nd Ben Sonntag – 2:30:08.0; and 3rd Ned Overend -2:30:08.3. It was a close race to the finish line and because of an accident just before the end, Christopher Blevins finished 5th. Ned Overend who placed 3rd is a mountain bike legend from the 80’s and 90’s, we had his book on mountain biking when we were learning how in the late 80’s. We watched the rest of the riders come into  the finish line and there were some characters, loved the man on the Unicycle who completed the entire race in good time. After Jim and Dana arrived we all went out to celebrate a successful finish. What a fantastic accomplishment and maybe one of these years Bob and I might take part in it. That evening we all went to the Steamworks Brewing Company for dinner and Jim and Don feasted on the Cajun Boil!!!

Sunday we went back to the Steamworks Brewing Company to watch the mountain bike racers ride through the bar and out the back down a steep ramp to complete the loop 3 times. What a mob, there was standing room only so I sat on the bar to be able to see the riders come in through the window in the front and down past the bar to the ramp. What an experience to feel the energy of the riders and the cheers from the crowd as the riders came along one after the other. There was also a band playing outside, people dancing and drinking lots of beer. Finally it was over and  there was a drawing for a new Trek Stache 9-29+ fat-tire mountain bike, and the Winner was Jim Karlovec. What a great weekend for The Man, he gets engaged and then wins a very expensive mountain bike! You are on a roll Jim!!!