By Ben Gavelda
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.
How many legends can you cram into a starting line?
And they're off.
It was a hot and rusty day out there in the high desert.
Riders heading up the Telegraph climb with the La Plata Mountains in the back.
A lone rider catches their breath and begins the descent after the Telegraph climb.
Todd and Troy Wells crushing it on the descent of the Anasazi Trail.
NICA Executive Director Austin McInerny enjoying the local trails.
Some of the fastest cats in town, Brent Winebarger and Nick Gould. Nick took home third behind Todd and Troy Wells.
Todd Wells and Ned Overend.
A Team Fat Chance whip on display at the 25th Anniversary Celebration of the 1990 UCI World Mountain Bike Championship.
Some Yetis from back when the company used to be based in Durango.
A compilation of old clips from the 1990 UCI World Championship that was held in Durango was shown.
Greg “H-Ball” Herbold, winner of the 1990 UCI Downhill World Championship in Durango.
Terrain Park Manager and flow trail builder Josh Hamel cutting the rope to the new Divinity flow trail at Purgatory as some legends look on.
A huge turnout and a long train in support of more lift-accessed, gravity-fed trail in Durango.
One of the influential builders and ripping riders, Logan James, celebrates the grand opening with some champagne.
Logan James and Dennis Martin shredding one of the jump lines.
Dennis Martin tipping 'er sideways on the new Divinity flow trail.
Full results from the Durango Dirt Fondo here.