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Cycling, it holds individual interests for a multitude of reasons whether it is transportation, competition, exercise or even an expression of art and it would seem that Durango has become a convergence of them all. A visitor to the area will see right away just how much this city loves its bicycles and how it has become a way of life for many people residing here. "We dig it!" Durango, Colorado is now a Gold Level Bicycle Friendly Community. There are almost a thousand miles of trails for mountain bikers, hundreds of miles of highway for the roadies in some of the most beautiful country in America. There is a paved path designated for foot and cycle travel called the Animas River Trail that runs the entire length of the city which gives users quick access to almost anywhere in town.  At the southern end of the Animas River Trail is a well manicured and very nice dirt track for all the BMX fans. Businesses down town have begun to provide curbside bike racks for parking and it is not uncommon to see them filled to capacity. There are high quality bike shops with multiple manufactures and superbly skilled technicians ready to help cyclists of all levels. Groups and clubs for kids and adults of all ages are available and Fort Lewis College boasts one of the best cycling teams in the nation. During the summer there are race events of one kind or another running all season long including the famous Iron Horse Bicycle Classic which takes place every May.  A calendar of events is available on this site that visitors may utilize for information. Whether its mountain biking, road biking or taking the cruiser to work the amount of people peddling these days is growing and Durango continues to grow with it. The popularity of bicycling isn't something that has been happening recently. In fact Durango has had a hand in its development as a sport for a long time and has a rich history.  Many people believe that the first bicycles were the “High Wheel” cycles commonly depicted on posters of the 1880s but in fact the first bike resembles more of what we ride today. In 1817 Karl von Drais a German inventor put together his Laufmaschine or "running machine" which was made of wood and iron. Despite being very heavy and lacking peddles it became quite popular and other people were quick to copy and improve upon his idea.  It wasn't until technology in metallurgy had advanced enough to allow inventors to build bicycles that didn't outweigh the people trying to ride them. By then the basic principal had spread all over the world and was brought to Durango along with the miners, settlers and people developing the community beginning in the late 1880s. Paved roads were not available during this time period and bikes were more of a novelty but that didn't stop people from building wooden circle tracks (velodrome) and racing each other for bragging rights. Durango also had its own bicycle club, the Durango Wheel Club that was begun in the 1890s! Obviously bicycling has been a very big deal in Durango for a VERY long time, truly an amazing photo taken in 1895!  The above photo is courtesy of the La Plata County Historical Society, Animas Museum Photo Archives.  If you are interested in your very own copy of this incredible historical photo email animasmuseum@frontier.net or call 970-259- 2402.  Durango is full of rich history and the Animas Museum is definitely well worth the visit, for more information please visit their website:  www.animasmuseum.org The Iron Bicycle Classic, a race that not only pits rider against rider, but also against a steam locomotive that runs from Durango to Silverton. This race was first started in 1972 and follows hwy 550 over two major high mountain passes for a finish of 48 miles and yes many riders beat the train. Professionals clean the course in a little over two hours and one local "Ned Overend" has five wins under his belt as of 2014. The Iron Horse has gone from the original 36 riders to an event that attracts people by the thousands with big sponsors and professional athletes from all over the world. It now includes mountain bike races, trials biking, BMX, time trials, criterium and cruizer crit. This event now takes up most of the Memorial Day weekend! Mountain biking was in its infancy in the late 1970s and bike technology was slowly being adapted from the road and BMX bikes to cycles with frames, tires and wheels that were more suited for dirt trails in mountains. Enthusiasts looking for something new to do on two wheels were quick to take advantage of the many trails nearby and Durango rocketed to the forefront of the industry. Bicycle companies like Yeti and Barracuda can trace their roots here and have helped local riders become some of the best in America.  Durango was the host of the first EVER Mountain Bike Worlds Championship race in 1990 in which local racer Greg "H-Ball" Herbold won the downhill and local Ned Overend won the cross country event! Durango is a fairly small city and has some of the best cycling athletes in the world which makes it "special" in my opinion. We have one of the best colleges in America for cycling and local racers finishing in the top ten of the Tour De France, this is very prestigious for a community our size.  The city is small but bicycling is huge here and I hope it continues to safely grow. Break out the bikes bring your friends and GO Outdoors! References Iron Horse Bicycle Classic. (2009). History of iron horse bicycle classic in durango, colorado. Retrieved from http://ironhorsebicycleclassic.com/history-iron-horse-bicycle-classic-durango-colorado Pedaling History Bicycle Museum. (2012). History timeline of the bicycle. Retrieved from http://www.pedalinghistory.com/PHhistory.html
Durango Bike Trails
© DuranGO Outdoors
e e Courtesy of the La Plata County Historical Society, Animas Museum Photo Archives