05/27/06

Location =  Colorado - Durango to Silverton  
Distance =  47.0
Time =  3:21:01
Ave. Speed =  14.0
Max. Speed =  46.0
Monthly Dist. =    282.02
Yearly Dist. =  1322.67

I beat the train in the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, from Durango, to Silverton! I had some serious doubts going in, but I managed to pull it off. I couldn't have done it without the help and camaraderie of my neighbor Don. Riding with him made me stronger and faster, and helped to give me the confidence and ability that I needed to accomplish my goal. His time was 3 hours and 7 minutes, easily beating the train which takes 3.5 hours. Sweet!!!

The ride starts at the recreation center in Durango, and follows highway 550 to Silverton. The highway is closed for the race, as almost 3000 people on bicycles take it over.

I'm a slow starter, so I didn't try to keep up with the jackrabbits, that go flying out of the start. Instead, I was content to ride at my own pace, and find my groove. The ride starts out mostly level for the first 12 miles, and then the climbing begins. I wear my camelback, because I need to drink a lot of water, and it carries 100 ounces. This is a holdover from my mountain bike heritage, and makes me stick out like a sore thumb, in the throng of roadies. Early on, I spotted another camelback wearer, and he confirmed that he was also a mountain biker turned road rider. We took turns drafting each other for the first 12 miles, and then he had to let me go, when the road turned uphill.

The race goes over two massive passes, that are nearly 11,000 feet high. Coal Bank is the first one, and Molus Pass is the second one. The first climb was about 8 miles long, and then it went downhill again. I thought that I had crossed Coal Bank Pass, until I saw a sign that said it was 4 miles away. At this point the climb steepened, and the temperature dropped, and it was the toughest part of the race. It seemed like I would never top out at the crest, but eventually, it arrived. A long, chilly descent, set up the next climb to Molus Pass. This climb wasn't as long, nor as steep, and I kept up a nice spin with my pedal cadence. Once I topped out at Molus, I was home free, because there followed a long, speedy downhill, that took us all the way in to Silverton. I was feeling light headed toward the end, and needed a power bar when I finally got off of the bike. It was a great feeling of exhiliration and accomplishment, knowing that I had beaten the train.

Lots of people of all ages, did this race. Most of them were faster than I was, and some were slower. I've never been passed by so many women, most of them the size of gumdrops. I fell in love with each one, as she went by. A few people were riding mountain bikes, and one guy was on a unicycle! As I passed him, I told him that he was "awesome", and another guy who was passing us both, said that he was his "hero". It looked like a big 29" mountain bike tire that he was riding. He must have had a brake of some kind, or else the downhills would have killed him.

The ride was incredibly beautiful. Gigantic mountains towered above, forests spread across their flanks, and snowmelt filling creeks. It was quite green and lush, a contrast to what I have been used to in New Mexico, as we are suffering from a major drought.

The weather was excellent, and temps varied from about 50 to 70. There were buses to take people back to Durango, and the bikes went back in semi-trucks, to be picked up later, at the rec center.

All in all, it was a most excellent, day!



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