Iron Horse Classic is an annual bicycle race through the San Juan Mountains. It starts in Durango and ends in Silverton, which is 47 miles away.
It was started in 1971 by two brothers— one was a cyclist, and the other was a brakeman for the railroad. The original race was who could get to Silverton first, the bike or the train. The first year, the cyclist won! The fastest time was by Jonathan Vaughters, who finished in 1:57:27 in 1996.
We knew that we could never beat two hours, so we decided to take the train.
I think we’ve decided our average speed while climbing is about 6mph. It would have taken us two days to reach Silverton from Durango, so the train saved us some time, and besides, Travis really likes trains.
Silverton is a cute little tourist trap. The train brings three loads of passengers up from Durango daily, and they love spending money on beer and ice cream and little figurines of black bears.
Originally, Silverton was a mining town. The mines were most active active in the early 1900s, but mining continues up until this day. Of course the industry has ruined all the water in the area, but according to Silverton Historical Museum, the average American uses about 4 million tons of mined material in his or her lifetime. Depressing.
But the museum was neato.
We consumed sandwiches, Silverton-brewed beer, and espresso drinks. We drank water to avoid altitude sickness. Silverton is over 9000 ft, so we had to breathe deeply but no headaches or dizziness. Then we went for our ride to camp
We ended up just pulling off on the side of the road, walking up a trail and setting up the tent in a relatively clear spot. We had to load up a bear bag with our limited tree options (I think that’s too close to the tree).
We’re getting much quicker at setting up camp now, and making dinner was a cinch.
It’s definitely getting cooler up in the mountains, so Travis set up our sleeping pad couplers so we can snuggle more easily under our camping blanket. Therm-a-Rest has basically furnished our sleeping get up.
We’re hoping the blanket was a good choice as opposed to sleeping bags, because snuggling was a top priority for this trip. We bought an emergency bivouac just in case. So tonight we stay warm and stay away from the bears, and tomorrow we climb Red Mountain Pass.