About 2,500 bicyclists will again be racing the train from Durango to Silverton on Saturday, May 25, in the 42nd annual Iron Horse Bicycle Classic.
The Iron Horse Bicycle Classic includes many events in Durango from Friday, May 24 to Monday, May 27.
But the real Iron Horse race is on Saturday when the Durango Coca Cola Road Race from Durango to Silverton starts at 7:15 a.m., with 600 riders in various race categories.
And at 8 a.m., the McDonald’s Citizen 50-mile tour from Durango to Silverton begins, with another couple of thousand riders.
Gaige Sippy, race director, said he isn’t sure how many of the bicyclists end up beating the train, but he figures maybe 30 to 40 percent fail to keep up with the steam engine.
This year, however, the Citizen tour participants will be timed, so he should get a better idea of how many bicyclists actually beat the train’s time of about three hours and 40 minutes.
Also new this year will be live video coverage of the event online at www.ironhorsebicycleclassic.com
“We’re going to have a camera in Silverton and a camera on top of Coal Bank,” Sippy said. “We’ll be streaming all the events on Saturday and the events on Sunday in downtown Durango.
The first racers are expected in Silverton perhaps shortly before 9:30 a.m.
Last year’s winner was Lachian Morton of Boulder, who made it over the passes to Memorial Park in Silverton in two hours, 11 minutes and 30 seconds.
The first pro man and woman bicyclists to cross the finish line in Silverton this year will each win $2,250 in prize money.
The race also brings thousands of spectators to town, along with the family and friends of riders and those temporarily stranded by the morning-long highway closure. Participants will be coming from 46 states and five countries, Sippy said.
Sippy said he likes the weather forecast for the weekend — cool and sunny.
The bicyclists ran into a bad snowstorm in 1995, with many having to be rescued at Molas Pass, and the following year there was enough snow that the race was cut short at Durango Mountain Resort.
In 2008, the entire race was canceled due to snow.
Silvertonian to ride
the Iron Horse again
For Mary Beaber of Silverton this will be here seventh Iron Horse ride.
“I also attempted it in 1997 but it was stopped because of weather when I was at Purgatory,” Beaber said. “But I rode to Silverton a week later.
Beaber said “it's a great challenge and a wonderful opportunity to ride the passes without traffic. I never care about time. I just want to make it before the cut off times and enjoy the beautiful scenery along the way.”
Beaber said she’s done a lot of training for Saturday’s ride.
“I’ve ridden to the top of Coal Bank and back from Purgatory or Haviland three times and once to the top of Molas,” Beaber said. “I’ve done numerous rides from Durango to Purgatory and also Hesperus hill. I do spin classes during the winter months.”
Beaber said her favorite part of the ride is he Animas Valley to the top of old Shalona.
“There’s always great wildlife in that section — bear, deer, elk, turkey vultures. Last week there were 10 elk grazing near Lake Shalona.”
But Beaber said “it was a tough spring for training with the high winds.”