Inaugural self-driving bike racing race to be held August 27
A new self-driving bike race will begin and end in Durango this summer. Between start and finish, cyclists will cover more than 1,000 miles along the border between southern Colorado and northern New Mexico, which is why the name of the race combines New Mexico and the Colorado.
“It’s always been my dream to do my own course,” said event organizer Casey Rhea, who is a lifelong cyclist who also competes in endurance racing.
He said one of his goals “was to create a sampling platter of the rarely traveled singletracks of southern Colorado and northern New Mexico, stitched together into a road with as little pavement as possible.”
The goal, he said, is for the race to be a new hybrid in mixed ultra-endurance racing: long enough to be epic; technically challenging enough to be a real mountain bike event; and diverse enough to showcase this harsh and rugged region.
The inaugural event, which is free, is scheduled to start at 6 a.m. on August 27 at Buckley Park. The route will then take riders through towns such as Rico, Dolores, Mancos, New Mexico towns Farmington, Arboles, Chama, Ojo Caliente, Questa, back in Colorado to Antonito, Pagosa Springs before returning to Durango.
Some of the trails included along the route include the Colorado Trail, Continental Divide Trail, Boggy Draw, Phil’s World, Piñon Mesa, and Alien Run, in addition to other pre-arranged routes, designed to keep vehicle traffic to a minimum.
“It’s mixed media, so it has it all,” Rhea said. “Singletrack when possible and dirt when not possible. The route is currently 1,020 miles, but Rhea said he will update in the spring if needed.
Rhea said he designed it as a loop so that logistically it would be easier to engage. He said he also wanted to create an itinerary that highlights select small towns in Colorado and New Mexico, and he created a list for attendees that includes some of the best restaurants along the route.
“I ride to eat,” he said, referring to a cycling joke. “It highlights lots of local spots that runners can pick up along the way.”
Runners will use GPS trackers of their choice and people will be able to track their progress online. “It’s a cool way to encourage people to be responsible with people looking over their shoulder,” Rhea said.
The event will be limited to 75 participants. He said it would be a good option for riders who want something different from the Colorado Trail Race. So far, 15 people have registered to participate and 15-20 have expressed interest.
“It takes a real leap of faith to put on a freshman event,” he said.
An event website is in the works and should go live in the coming weeks. In the meantime, people can find more information at https://www.instagram.com/thenewcolorace/ and The New Colo Race group page on Facebook.