RIDGWAY – Two Ridway businesses, Peak to Peak Bicycles and COREsolutions, have teamed up to offer an Iron Horse Official Training Program to get riders ready for next year’s 40th anniversary Iron Horse Bicycle Classic.
The annual Memorial Day race from Durango to Silverton started as an actual race of muscle power against the narrow-gauge steam train, but has since become a multi-day, multi-event magnet for cyclists from around the country. (Outside Magazine listed the Iron Horse at No. 33 on its “Life List” of things to do.) Last year over 2,500 riders participated, many of them in the iconic 50-mile, mostly uphill run to Silverton.
Peak to Peak’s Randy Charrette explained that the training program is designed for riders on this side of the mountains who “have always wanted to ride the Iron Horse but never knew how. We can help you learn how to train and ride the 50 miles to Silverton.
“It’s also something to do in the winter,” Charrette said. “Have a goal.”
Riders do not need a racing license to do the tour; it is not officially a race, according to the IHBC website. But riding fitness is crucial. All riders must be to the top of Coal Bank Pass by 12 noon (race starts with the train whistle at 8:15 a.m.) and to the top of the second high point, Molas Pass, by 12:40 p.m. Riders not past those points will be bussed to Silverton. The last 27 miles of the route over the passes are closed to car traffic, but only until 1 p.m., and all riders must be off the road by then.
There are four aid stations on the route with food and water. There is no technical support.
Beginning in January, according to Charrette, the training program includes three spin classes a week at COREsolutions on Sherman Street in Ridgway. That’s the first 12 weeks. Classes led by Jill Jordan will “focus on pedal stroke, heart rate, cadence and climbing, eating for fitness, bike position and gear, strength training and mental focus, getting stronger, pain, injury prevention, recovery, relaxation and stretching.”
Then in April and May, Charrette will lead the road-ride part of the training. Twice a week for eight weeks participants will go out with the Peak to Peak team to learn riding techniques and bike setup. Charrette's wife Jen is pregnant and due in February. She said she hoped to be back on her mountain bike and getting into riding shape by the beginning of the road program. This year, the Iron Horse is bringing back its mountain bike race, Jen’s specialty. It’s scheduled for Sunday, May 29. It does not go to Silverton but instead loops from downtown Durango up the flowing singletrack of Horse Gulch. Kids will ride the seven-mile loop once, adults two times, up to men’s and women’s pros, who will ride four times around on the dirt.
The $325 price tag for the training program also includes return shuttle following the ride, from Silverton back to the start in Durango, and a Peak to Peak bike shirt.
For an additional $275 COREsolutions will add two equipment pilates classes per week over the 12-week spin program. They’re calling it the Hardcore Version.
Charrette said registration for the Iron Horse is open beginning Dec. 1. Don’t procrastinate, he said, all available slots fill up in “a couple of months.”
Peak to Peak Bicycles may be reached by calling 970/626-3177.