Iron Horse Bicycle Classic: Celebrating 50 Years


DURANGO, Colorado (May 9, 2022) – The Iron Horse Bicycle Classic will celebrate its 50th anniversary May 27-30 at the annual celebration of cycling in Durango, Colorado. In addition to the world renowned Durango-Silverton race and ride, the Iron Horse will debut three new events in 2022. This year marks a return to pre-pandemic registration numbers, and the 50th anniversary will celebrate all that the Durango cycling community has become–a home for Olympian, national, and world champion cyclists as well as the 600-rider strong Durango Devo youth development program.

Riley Amos decenting Coal Bank Pass on his way to victory of the 2021 Iron Horse Bicycle Classic 2021. Photo courtesy Iron Horse Bicycle Classic

The backbone of the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic is the Durango-Silverton route, where riders “race the train” over two mountain passes for a total of 50 miles and 5,700’ of elevation gain. The tradition began in 1971 when Tom Mayer, a cyclist, challenged his brother Jim, a railroad worker on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, to see who could get to Silverton faster. Tom was able to pedal the distance faster than the steam engine, and the legend of the Iron Horse was born.

Photo courtesy Iron Horse Bicycle Classic

“In the ’60s, there wasn’t a movement like this,” Jim Mayer said. “When you fast-forward and see what’s happened in areas like Durango and Moab and other places where all the bicyclists continue to race and ride, it’s incredible. I never would’ve thought [Tom’s] challenge to me would result in something this big. It’s an incredible legend.”

Photo courtesy Iron Horse Bicycle Classic

This year, the Durango-Silverton events have sold out, exceeding pre-pandemic registration numbers. Two-thousand two hundred riders will participate across the competitive Coca-Cola Road Race categories and the non-competitive, gran fondo-style McDonalds Citizen’s Tour. Last year, the professional road race was won by Erin Huck and Riley Amos.

New for this year is the Tailwind Ouray-Silverton race and tour, where riders will tackle Colorado’s infamous Red Mountain Pass. Leaving the town of Ouray, known as the “Switzerland of America,” the route travels 23 miles with 3,300 feet of elevation gain. With no shoulder, Red Mountain Pass is usually a perilous endeavor for cyclists, but riders in the Tailwind Ouray-Silverton road race and non-competitive tour will enjoy a closed road while they tackle the challenging climb and descent.

Back in Durango, off-road riders will be challenged by the Subaru Mountain Bike race in the Horse Gulch trail system, and the La Strada La Plata Gravel Ride on scenic county roads. The

Mountain Bike Specialists King & Queen of the Mountain is an omnium competition featuring the professional road race and mountain bike races.

Also new this year is the Dual Slalom and Roostmaster mountain bike events. These professional, invite-only events will make for excellent spectating opportunities under the lights of Durango’s Chapman Hill ski area Sunday night.

“We are really looking forward to bringing back some of the original Mountain Bike events that we hosted in the 80s to celebrate cycling in Durango,” said race director Ian Burnett. “This year we will honor our 50 year history while pushing forward some new traditions. I can’t wait to get the ride started and feel the amazing energy we have for this year’s event.”

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