cycling utah May 1999

Racing the train still popular 28 years later

DURANGO, Colo. - This year celebrates the 28th anniversary of a cycling event which began as an in-store promotion for the Outdoorsman now known as Mountain Bike Specialists.

The Iron Horse Bicycle Classic was spawned by sibling rivalry between Tom Mayer and his older brother Jim. Jim worked as an engineer on the Denver & Rio Grande 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 beside the railroad tracks.

Tom challenged Jim to a race. The next morning as the train came by the house, the steam whistle screamed. Tom climbed on his trusty, old steel-framed 10-speed, anticipating the 47 miles that lay ahead. He gained 5,500 vertical feet as he pedaled up over the rim of the old volcano and descended into history. Tom was waiting at the station when Jim and the train chugged in.

In 1972, a group of 36 riders mounted their bicycles to celebrate the first run of the train in Spring. It's been all uphill since then. With 27 years of success the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic's list of past winners reads like a Who's Who of American Bicycle racing. The Iron Horse is truly an international cycling Classic!

Over the years there have been several events added to the classic train race. Beginning in 1984, a strong emphasis on mountain biking was added. Durango now has a full weekend of road and off-road events for the casual cyclist, young rider, beginner racer, or full-time pro. the mountain bike cross country race course is uniquely located right in the edge of town. Local trails where the pros train all year round are used for the event.

In 1998, The Classic hosted 1,800 event riders in 12 events over the 3 day Memorial Day weekend. This makes the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic among the 10 largest races in the country. Durango also hosted the first-ever World Mountain Bike Championships in 1990 and five National cycling championships....not bad for a little out of the way sports town of only 15,000 people nestled between the mountains and the high desert in southwest Colorado.

Hundreds of cycling enthusiasts travel to Durango for the famed Iron Horse Bicycle Classic held every Memorial Day weekend. Participants and spectators alike will enjoy the action on May 29-31 this year.

For more information call: Race Director, Ed Zink 970-259-4621 or visit our website: www:/durango.com/ironhorse or email:[email protected]

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