Iron Horse Bike Classic 2022

“Oh sure, the road is climbing at 8% but at least it is straight into the wind,” said by me starting the climb to Molas Pass. (to be fair, that was really the only time wind was a factor the entire ride.)

This past weekend we headed down to Durango to give the Iron Horse Bike Classic event a shot with a couple teammates. As usual, two days later I’m still processing this adventure… Can’t decide if this was the most scenic ride I have ever done, or one of the most challenging.

Fresh and ready to start in Durango

The idea is to start in Durango, CO and beat the old steam engine train headed to Silverton. I’m happy to say we all dit it. I think the 3 of us even finished within a minute or so of each other. We were doing the “citizen’s tour” version, so no timing chips for us.

47 miles and just over 5600 feet of climbing (strava link). The first 10 miles or so are pretty flat. The rest is mostly just going up with some short stretches of descent to keep it interesting. Two peaks to cross and both over 10,000 feet.

Elevation profile

I drove the route the day before with some teammates who have done it before and the biggest take-away for me was “don’t go out too hard.” Which I interpreted as, take it easy at the beginning and keep gas in the tank for that final pass. Wise words.

In hindsight, I think I took it too easy for too long. My legs definitely took a beating, but from a cardio perspective, I did barely a third of this ride in Zone 3 (tempo), with the rest being in zones 1 or 2. I’m a slacker 😒

2 minutes in zone 4?

So basically 2 minutes in zone 4. I definitely wasn’t pushing as hard as I could/should have. For a guy who claims to love to suffer and climb hills, this is embarrassing in retrospect. Oh well. Next time I’ll know to hit those climbs up the passes harder!

Other observations:

  • Breathing is harder above 10k feet — and power (watts) output drops accordingly.
  • I stopped too often for wardrobe changes and to wolf down food. There’s a point where it doesn’t seem so fun to pass the same people on the climbs 2 or 3 times…
  • Pickle juice is sort of a get out of jail free card if you blew your nutrition and your legs are starting to feel crampy.
  • What a beautiful route! Definitely spent a lot of time just looking around at the scenery. Seriously. I can’t stress how awesome it is was up there.
The air gets thinner.

This is a big enough event that lanes and sometimes even complete stretches of road are closed. In fact, the road was shutdown from Purgatory all the way to Silverton. I am so thankful for that and everything else the race organizers did. The final “sprint” right down the middle of Silverton is a complete blast, too. Even if it does start to seem like the longest main street ever by the end.

And while 50 miles is a lot to cover, the cheering crowds along much of it was pretty awesome too. Especially around the start and finish segments.

I am still trying to decide if I will do it again or not. In other words, is this a “one and done” or an annual thing? If nothing else, it is a fantastic excuse to get to a part of the state we haven’t visited nearly enough. And that’s probably my answer.

As always, big shouts out to Mrs. AdultOnset for joining me in these travels and keeping the trips fun. Also, thanks to Steve for the guide and pickup services afterwards! And finally, thanks to Brent and Jenn for letting me ride with them a bit during the event 🙂

One reply on “Iron Horse Bike Classic 2022”

Wow ! Neat story, makes me want to drive it for the scenery. Not sure I would take pickle juice along ? Sounds like everything mechanical stayed together ? Rest up for the next event. Daddy


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