SportsEvents Magazine

AUG 2018

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August 2018 24 Special Feature: 2018 NATURAL VENUES GUIDE Durango is cen- trally located between Denver, Albuquerque, Phoenix and Salt Lake City, and offers more than 300 miles of world- class mountain biking and hiking within 30 minutes of downtown. Although the scenery, hotels, award-winning restaurants and galleries are big reasons why tourists visit Durango, sports enthusiasts – particularly cyclists – head to the city to compete in the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, a three-day event that pits riders against the steam locomo- tive in what many call the "best race we've found anywhere." Durango was founded by the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad and incor- porated in 1881. A narrow-gauge railway extension connects Durango on a 45-mile trip to Silverton via a route that has been run- ning continuous- ly for 130 years. Today, instead of carrying gold and silver from the San Juan Mountains, the steam locomo- tive moves tour- ists to Silverton from May through November or to Cascade Canyon during the winter. Tom Mayer, a bicycle enthusiast, and his older brother Jim, an engineer on the Denver & Rio Grande Western railroad, agreed to race to nearby Silverton in a battle of man versus machine. The chal- lenge was set. When Jim's train passed the Mayer home with its horns blaring, Tom jumped on his steel-framed 10-speed bicycle, pedaling his way to the mining town of Silverton and was waiting with his bike when the train arrived. In the spring of 1972, a group of 36 riders celebrated the first run of the train for the season and the Iron Horse race was born. Today, participants from every state and several countries join the race each year and it is considered a strong develop- mental event for young riders. And since the race is the same as the original course in the 1970s, riders can compare results to improve their performance. While the main event is set on paved roads, the climb through mountainous passes and the off-road races qualify this Dango COLORADO POPULATION: 18,503 The Iron Horse Bike Classic Races from Durango to Silverton in ultimate race of man against machine. Downtown MTB Races through Steamworks Brewery. Cole Davis Photography Durango Area Tourism Office

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