33. Beat the Train

On our 2010 Life List: race the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic.

Sep 1, 2010
Outside Magazine

Iron Horse Bicycle Classic    Photo: Chris Giles (chrisgilesphoto.com)

The premise of the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic (ironhorsebicycleclassic.com) is gloriously simple. The 50-mile road race begins in Durango, Colorado, and—6,700 feet of climbing and two mountain passes later—ends in Silverton. The historic narrow-gauge train takes an average of three and a half hours to make the journey. All you have to do is beat it. If you're in pretty good shape, like my father-in-law and I were, it's a demanding but doable challenge. Both man and train leave downtown Durango at the same time, chugging along side by side as you head toward the hills. Your routes soon diverge, but the train keeps rolling in your head. You know the time you have to beat, the speed you have to average. So you downshift, get out of the saddle. A few minutes later, you look at your computer, recalculate, and stand up again. If you're like us, three hours into the race, with your thighs about to explode, you absorb the frantic energy in the air toward the top of the last climb. The math says you've still got a shot at beating the train. You bomb the last descent into Silverton faster than you normally would and blast down Greene Street with just minutes to spare. Who knew it could feel so good to beat a slow, stinky old train?

Filed To: Events, Road Biking