40th anniversary party planned in Memorial Park
By Mark Esper
Some 2,500 bicyclists will be peddling over the passes to Silverton on Saturday, May 28, in the 40th running of the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic.
“We’re expecting nice weather and there’s fresh snow on top of the peaks,” said race director Gaige Sippy. “We’re super excited.”
He said with the bicyclists’ entourages, “we’ll explode the size of your town by about 4,000 people.”
“This weekend of events will be the largest Iron Horse Bicycle Classic ever,” Sippy said, with a total of some 3,600 riders from 44 states and five countries taking part in various events.
A celebration marking the race’s 40th anniversary will be held at Memorial Park.
“We’ve got birthday cakes coming your way, and a band in the park,” Sippy said.
Also in honor of the 40th anniversary, two participants this year will be Tom and Jim Mayer, former Durango residents “who dreamt it all up back in 1971,” Sippy said.
In a re-enactment of that 1971 contest, Jim Mayer will ride the train to Silverton and Tom Mayer will race him on bicycle.
“Tom will be riding the same bike he rode back then,” Sippy said.
Since 1971, Sippy said, it’s been “a lot of miles and a lot of people.” He estimated some 75,000 riders have taken part in the event.
Sippy said the competition this year will be fast.
“The women’s field is extremely strong, with a lot of talent,” Sippy said.
That field will include Jeannie Longo of France, an Olympics gold medalist and winner of the Women’s Tour de France.
On the men’s side, last year’s winner, Burke Swindlehurst of Salt Lake City, is returning, along with other former winners, including Ned Overend of Durango.
“It will be a strong field on the men’s side too,” Sippy said.