Memorial Day weekend in Durango means one thing: the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, the premier cycling event in the Rocky Mountains. The Iron Horse Bicycle Classic officially got its start in 1972 when a group of 36 riders decided to celebrate the Durango train’s first spring run and re-create a century-old tradition. However, the bike race really began in the 1880s when — legend has it — Tom Mayer and his older brother Jim Mayer decided to race, with Tom on his bike and Jim as a brakeman on the steam-powered train that ran from Durango to Silverton. Tom eventually won against the train.
Today, the 47-mile road race from Durango to Silverton kicks off the three-day Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, which will run from May 23-25. Cyclists traverse two, 10,000-foot mountain passes as they race the Durango train to Silverton.
Now in its 44th year, about 3,500 people participate in several different Iron Horse events over Memorial Day weekend, including the Morehart Murphy Criterium, the MBS Mountain Bike Race, the Coca-Cola Road Race, time trials, a kids’ race and more.
For the less serious riders, there’s even the Durango Cyclery Cruiser Crit — a cruiser parade with cyclists wearing crazy costumes — at 5 p.m. Sunday, May 24, at Ninth and Main in downtown Durango. Riders must register, make a donation (to benefit a local nonprofit) and wear a helmet during the parade.