Riders ready? Ned and Todd’s Durango Dirt Fondo is about to take off.
This Saturday, hundreds of riders from 14 states and at least two countries will line up a 30 or 50-mile racing tour of Durango’s flagship singletrack, all commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the 1990 World Championship races that put Durango on the mountain bike map.
So, what’s a Fondo? All the rave in Europe, they’re usually über long gravel grinders or paved road rides with timed segments in the name of serious competition. Overend and Wells got it in their heads to host one on their home turf and they knew who to go to.
“Let’s do it,” Gaige Sippy said. He’s the man behind the scenes of the famed Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, one of the biggest and oldest cycling events in the Southwest. “We have the resources, the insurance, all that stuff. It’s the logical organization to put it together.”
According to Wells, a contemporary and celebrated Olympic cyclist, things just came together. “Here’s a unique opportunity to bring a real singletrack mountain bike fondo to the U.S. scene,” Wells said.
They’re bringing it alright. Many of the original racers in the 1990 Worlds will be here and every major cycling media outlet will cover it. Adding to the allure, today’s hottest young racers will line up with the pioneers of the sport.
“Durango has a big place in the history of mountain biking and the development of the whole sport,” said Ned Overend, a world and six-time national champion racer. “I think it’s cool to commemorate it.”
That evolution of the sport and Durango’s role in it will be on display Saturday night during the after party at the Discovery Museum, the event’s epicenter.
The course will speak for itself, Sippy said. It may see Durango once again leading the pack in mountain biking destinations.
“There’s no other community like this,” said Overend. “Where you have this variety of trails surrounding town.”
On Sunday, the National Interscholastic Cycling Association’s executive director Austin McKlerney will attend a NICA benefit breakfast. He’ll see how Durango DEVO develops young cyclists, and how many of them bloom in collegiate competition and beyond.
Kick starting the weekend on Friday morning, in conjunction with the 25th anniversary theme, a public land symposium will be held at Fort Lewis College. The first symposium in 1990 broke trail, giving rise to an organization – Trails 2000. Twenty-five-years later, the group sets a model standard for sustainable trail building and maintenance, with 300 plus miles of singletrack within 30 minutes of downtown Durango. Friday, Colorado’s recently appointed director of the Colorado Recreation Industry Office Luis Benitez will be a keynote speaker.
“They’ll come to appreciate what we have here,” Sippy said. “It’s time to recognize that.”