After all the issues with the race bike, it was almost a relief to go back to something a lot simpler in terms of the bicycle. I did the Iron Horse (Durango to Silverton) last year with some friends, and returned to it this year with the idea of beating the train. I even planned to train (hah!) for it on the Crest here, riding with a Wednesday night group and getting actually into shape, and signed up with the Tailwind ‘beat the train’ group.

All I had to do was ride 49 miles over a claimed 6,800′ of climbing and two 10,500’+ passes in 3 hours, 30m. Easy, right??

The best laid plans, of course. First, trying to keep the motivation for training (and the time). Rather than the 100 miles a week and 10,000′ I really wanted, it was more like 20 miles a week and many less feet. A couple of no miles, a couple of long weeks, but no long rides at all. Nothing over 35 miles, and mostly under 20.

Better than last year, where I tore my knee up in April and had one ride. But not idea since I also wanted to cut 35m off of last years moving time, and more than that off my overall time.

I made it up there, though, and set off with the group at the start. The pacers had a plan (20-22mph on the Animas Valley flats, 7mph on the climbs, and 25-30 on the descents). That seemed reasonable, with the possible exception of the climbs — until I immediately lost any idea where they were and just sat in a pack. By the time I caught up to one on the Coal Bank ascent, I was ‘behind, but could make it up on the descents’. Also, I hadn’t fuelled as well as I probably should, so I was definitely dragging on the way up. 7mph was a distant dream.

That always sounds like a plan to me. I’m just not in shape to climb fast (I’ll blame it on my Clyde status). So I slogged it up to the top, slammed the descent at a little over the 25-30 (with the exciting moment as my rear wheel hit a rock and skipped. It’s at times like that that I wish i could cycling in my leathers and not die of heat prostration). By the time I was getting up towards Molas, though, the clock was ticking a bit too fast and I knew I wasn’t going to make the 3hrs 30.

In fact, I crested Molas at just under that. I hadn’t stopped at all, because there would be no way to make it if I had. The descent  into Silverton is relatively technical, and was made more so by both one stretch being one-lane, and by the brief but exciting hail storm. In the end, I pulled into Silverton in 3hrs 40.

The train, however, too 3 hours 45. While I’d missed the time, I’d managed to make the objective. I’ll take it, even if I hadn’t done it on a Unicycle or a tandem dressed up to look like a Unicorn (!).

But holy cow, these beers tasted good!



Two wheels, no motor!

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