by Alicia Hopkins
May 26-27 2007
The Iron Horse Bicycle Classic is a race inspired by Tom Mayer,
and his older brother Jim. Jim worked as a brakeman on the D & R G W railroad
which had run the steam powered locomotive between Durango and Silverton since
the 1880's. Tom was a young bicycle enthusiast who grew up along side the tracks
to Silverton. Tom challenged Jim to a race to Silverton. As the train came by
the house, the steam whistle screamed and Tom climbed on his trusty steel framed
10 speed and pedaled up over the rim of the old volcano and descends into the
caldera to the mining town of Silverton. The train takes a shorter and easier
route, but with limited speed, so it is truly a race. When Tom became strong
enough to win, the bragging rights were his.
In 1972 a group of 36 riders decided to celebrate the first run
of the train in the spring, by accepting the challenge. It's been all up hill
since then. In 35 years the Iron Horse has become one of the Classic bicycle
events in the West. Durango is centrally located between Denver, Albuquerque,
Phoenix, and Salt Lake City. It is an ideal early summer meeting of the riders
from each of these cycling centers, to bring home the glory to their own
communities. In recent years the participants come from every state and many
foreign countries to ride the famed Iron Horse course. Each year hundreds of
riders will feel the thrill of descending into Silverton, and looking to see if
the train has arrived. And familiar faces will be there, as many people come
back year after year to the "best race we've around ".
The Iron Horse features a 47-mile road race, and 52-mileroad tour on the scenic and mountainous Highway 550. This unique race is against
an authentic steam powered train, the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge, ultimately finishing
in the mining town of Silverton.
The Navigators Insurance Cycling team's Phil Zajicek took the
road race victory, whilst Chris Wherry (Toyota-United) claimed the criterium.
Road Race Results
Full Race Results