Some Durango business owners don’t care that Iron Horse is moving out of downtown – The Durango Herald

BID CEO says relocation creates space

Competitors ride in the Cruiser Crit of the 2016 Iron Horse Bicycle Classic in downtown Durango. There are no events in the city center this year. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

Two years ago, the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic moved its starting line for the historic Durango to Silverton ride from downtown Durango to 33rd Street and East Second Avenue, about 2½ miles north.

Also, no more events were held in downtown Durango on Sunday, including a mountain bike race led by Steamworks Brewing Co. and a cruiser crit where contestants wore costumes.

While some might believe such a move from downtown over Memorial Day weekend — the unofficial start of tourism season — could impact businesses, business owners and business leaders say they are not concerned about the change.

“I don’t think that reduced the impact at all,” said Tim Walsworth, executive director of the Business Improvement District. “In fact, this keeps the city center a little more open and flowing.”

May 26

1pm-7pm Local Parcel Collection in Chapman Hill

17:00 Women’s Short Track Race at Chapman Hill

17:30 Men’s short track race at Chapman Hill

May 27th

7:30 am Start of the Durango Coca-Cola Road Race, 33rd Street and East Second Avenue

8:00 am McDonald’s Citizen Tour begins, 33rd Street and East Second Avenue

3-7 p.m. Bike pickup at the Durango Transit Center

28th of May

8:30am: Start of the La Strada La Plata Gravel Race at Chapman Hill

9:00am Mountain Bike Wave 1 starts at Chapman Hill

11:30am Mountain Bike Wave 2 starts at Chapman Hill

2:00pm Mountain Bike Wave 3 starts at Chapman Hill

As of Wednesday, 1,906 cyclists were registered to ride from Durango to Silverton. A total of 2,388 participants were registered for the events throughout the weekend.

Peak Food & Beverage CEO Kris Oyler said he expects business at the company’s restaurants — Steamworks, El Moro and Homeslice — to be at par with typical Memorial Day weekends.

Memorial Day weekend brings cyclists but also an influx of other visitors, he said.

“In general, we’re seeing about 50% more people across the board this weekend,” Oyler said.

Oyler said Steamworks has been serving about 900 customers a day for the past few weeks. He expects that number to rise to 1,500 a day this weekend.

Even Homeslice, which tends to be less touristy, will see a slight increase in traffic due to the IHBC event, he said.

The Peak Brewing restaurants don’t open until 11 a.m., Oyler said. Therefore, they never experienced a downturn in business because they started in downtown Durango on Saturday morning.

In fact, moving events away from downtown has helped his employees get to work and avoided race-related traffic delays, he said.

Walsworth said congestion in front of storefronts could make it difficult for restaurants and retailers.

“Every time there’s an event like this, roads have to be closed,” he said. “Downtown road closures can have their benefits, but they can also have their downsides to business.”

Jarrod Regan, owner of Primi Pasta & Wine Bar, said the Iron Horse is helping the business, as are the degrees from Durango High School and Big Picture High School.

“We’ve found they’ve fallen on the same weekend for the last few years, and that’s huge because there are two big restaurant events going on at the same time,” he said.

Regan has noticed that since the Italian restaurant opened in 2020, IHBC attendees often dine with him the night before the carbo-loading trip.

“We’re pretty busy all year round,” he said. “So maybe if we have a few fewer tourists, it 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 thousands of participants and spectators to the community of approximately 651 people.

“Memorial Day weekend is generally very busy. Not only with the Iron Horse, but we’re seeing more motorcycle and automobile traffic off Highway 550,” Gallegos said. “And since it’s a three-day bank holiday weekend, we’re seeing heavy traffic of all kinds.”

In addition to the Iron Horse, the earliest the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad will run is a second train to Silverton, she said.

“I’ve already heard from a few restaurants that they are turning up their days compared to last year,” she said.

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