BID executive director says venue change frees up space
Participants ride in the Cruiser Crit at the 2016 Iron Horse Bicycle Classic in downtown Durango. This year, no event will take place downtown. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)
Two years ago, the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic moved its start line for the historic Durango-Silverton ride from downtown Durango to 33rd Street and East Second Avenue, about 2½ miles north.
It also stopped holding events Sunday in downtown Durango, including a mountain bike race that passed by Steamworks Brewing Co. and a Cruiser Crit, in which participants dressed up.
While some may think such a move from downtown could impact businesses over Memorial Day weekend — the unofficial start of the tourist season — business owners and business leaders say that they are not concerned about change.
“I don’t think it reduced the impact at all,” said Tim Walsworth, executive director of the Business Improvement District. “It actually keeps downtown a bit more open and flowing.”
1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Local package pickup in Chapman Hill
5:00 p.m. Women’s Short Track Race at Chapman Hill
5:30 p.m. Men’s Short Track Race at Chapman Hill
7:30 a.m. Start of the Durango Coca-Cola Road Race, 33rd Street and East Second Avenue
8:00 a.m. McDonald’s Citizen Tour departs, 33rd Street and East Second Avenue
3:00-7:00 PM Bike pickup at Durango Transit Center
8:30 a.m. Race start La Strada La Plata Gravel at Chapman Hill
9:00 a.m. Start of mountain bike wave 1 at Chapman Hill
11:30 a.m. Departure of mountain bike wave 2 at Chapman Hill
2 p.m. Departure of mountain bike wave 3 at Chapman Hill
On Wednesday, 1,906 cyclists were registered to ride from Durango to Silverton. The events for the whole weekend had a total of 2,388 registered participants.
Peak Food & Beverage CEO Kris Oyler said he expects business at the company’s restaurants — Steamworks, El Moro and Homeslice — to be on par with typical Memorial Day weekends.
Memorial Day weekend brings cyclists, but it also brings an influx of other visitors, he said.
“Generally we see about 50% more people across the board over this weekend,” Oyler said.
Oyler said Steamworks has been serving around 900 customers a day for the past few weeks. He expects that number to increase to 1,500 a day this weekend.
Even Homeslice, which tends to have less tourist appeal, will see a slight increase in traffic due to the IHBC event, he said.
Peak Brewing restaurants don’t open until 11 a.m., Oyler said. So they never had a business problem having the start line in downtown Durango on Saturday morning.
In fact, moving downtown events helped his employees get to work and avoid race-related traffic delays, he said.
Walsworth said congestion in front of storefronts can make it difficult for restaurants and retailers.
“Every time you have an event like this you have to close roads,” he said. “Downtown road closures can have their good points and they can have their bad points for business.”
Primi Pasta & Wine Bar owner Jarrod Regan said the Iron Horse helps businesses, as do Durango High School and Big Picture High School.
“We’ve noticed that for the last couple of years they’ve been down on the same weekend and that’s huge because two big catering events are happening at the same time,” he said.
Regan has noticed that since the Italian restaurant opened in 2020, IHBC attendees often dine with him the day before the ride to “load on carbs.”
“We’re pretty damn busy all year round,” he said. “So having maybe a few fewer tourists won’t really impact our Friday and Saturday business.”
For Silverton business owners, the Iron Horse event is one of the biggest weekends of the year, said San Juan County spokeswoman DeAnne Gallegos.
The IHBC brings together thousands of participants and spectators in the municipality of approximately 651 people.
“Memorial Day weekend is usually very busy. Not only with the Iron Horse, but we’re starting to see more motorcycle and car traffic on the 550 freeway,” Gallegos said. “And because it’s a three-day holiday weekend, we’re starting to see high traffic of all types.”
Along with the Iron Horse, this is the first that the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad will run a second train to Silverton, she said.
“I’ve had restaurants before that said they were beating their days last year,” she said.