To a lot of mountain bikers, this will sound like a most excellent adventure: Todd and Ned’s Durango Dirt Fondo, a group event that will commemorate the 25th anniversary of the World Mountain Bike Championships, is coming this fall.
The Sept. 12 ride, which has elements of a tour and a race, will start and finish at the Powerhouse Science Center. Registration begins March 23.
It’s a project dreamed up and put into motion by world-renowned Durango cyclists Todd Wells and Ned Overend as well as the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic committee, which will organize the event.
“I think for the mountain bike geek, this is something you’ll want to do,” said Gaige Sippy, Iron Horse director. “We started to come up with ideas of what we wanted to do, and this seemed to be a good fit.”
Wells, a Fort Lewis College graduate, is a three-time Olympian and Overend is a multiple national champion as well as winner of the inaugural 1990 Worlds cross country race held at Purgatory Resort.
The 30- and 50-mile courses will feature singletrack trails that allow Durango mountain bike racers to be among the best in the country, if not the world. Wells and Overend will be there to share the trails with as many as 500 riders – the cap for the event.
A fondo is a timed, mass-start event. It’s not technically considered a race, but there will be timed segments out on the course if you want to compare yourself with your friends for bragging rights.
“We’re kind of doing a hybrid approach on this,” Sippy said.
There will be mechanical, nutritional and medical support on the course.
The 50-mile fondo is a cloverleaf course with Durango at the center. It will use four different trail systems connected by hard-pack bike paths and roads, with the final segment using Overend Mountain Park, west of downtown, according to an event news release.
A post-race party will precede a 25th anniversary World Championship party to take place at 6:30 p.m. Sippy said many of those who played key roles in the 1990 Worlds will be invited – several of whom still live in Durango. Many of Wells’ contemporaries will be invited, as well.
Getting Wells’ and Overend’s schedules to mesh for this event – which they plan to make an annual – proved challenging, Sippy said. With a busy race schedule, Wells had only three weekends he could have possibly participated.
Todd and Ned’s Durango Dirt Fondo has two main beneficiaries: Trails 2000, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary, and the Mercy Health Foundation, which supports projects of Durango’s Mercy Regional Medical Center.