What started as a simple race idea turned into a full weekend of revelry in Durango, Colorado complete with new trail openings, nostalgic celebration, and a slew of legendary mountain bikers riding alongside up and comers. The first annual Durango Dirt Fondo was the brainchild of decorated locals Todd Wells and Ned Overend and served as a way celebrate the 25th anniversary of the first mountain bike world championships, which were held in Durango in 1990.
Taken from the popular Italian road cycling Gran Fondo format, the two strung together a 30- and 50-mile singletrack route through three trail networks that encircle the town. Some 300 riders hit the trail for pleasure and pain under a hot and dry September day this past weekend. What the race spurred, though, was far more impactful for mountain biking and the community as a whole. The event enabled the completion of a new trail connection (Sugar Trail) in the popular IMBA Epic-rated Horse Gulch area to connect the race course, coincided with the opening of the highly anticipated lift-accessed Divinity flow trail at Purgatory ski area, and raised funds for three charities: Trails 2000, Mercy Medical and NICA (National Interscholastic Cycling Association). While the area has been coasting on a fat tire legacy, this renaissance of mountain biking couldn't be more aptly timed.