It’s not a bad rap, being known as the fastest club in town. Indeed, the social C-ride of the Durango Wheel Club has been described as what could easily pass for the A-ride in most “normal" communities, which may not have quite the history and passion for cycling that Durango does.
But, as active types know, Durango is far from normal when it comes to cycling, as illustrated by the DWC, with a longstanding presence in the local community and membership that boasts state, national, and world champions. No matter the skill level, however, DWC offers a welcoming community, races, and training opportunities to cyclists of all ages.
Cyclists have been a strong influence in the Durango community since the late 1800s, when the Durango Wheel Club was originally founded. Back then, it was an advocacy group in this old Wild West town. Today, members favor Lycra jerseys over breeches and bonnets, but the DWC remains one of Durango’s most prominent clubs, helping sponsor events like the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic in town.
“We provide a way for people to get into group road riding who are new to the sport and a place for experienced riders to ride,” says DWC director Spencer Compton.
From April through October, DWC hosts group rides on Saturday mornings. A typical A/B ride might include 45 miles that include 3,700 feet of climbing, or 55 miles with 3,800 feet of elevation gain. That's on top of starting at 6,500 feet. “The A and B rides are fast and can feel more like races than training rides,” Compton admits.
The social C-Rides are usually orchestrated the morning of and are generally a bit lower key. But no matter which option you choose, expect an adventure through some of Durango’s best landscapes. Take your mind off those burning lungs and quads with the killer views from Coal Bank Pass or Lemon Reservoir.
The club is open to cyclists of all ages, so if you’re new to town, or new to riding, it's a great way to get involved with the cycling community. The DWC also has a prominent Masters racing team.
“The attraction to the Wheel Club initially was to meet some fellow riders,” says Michael Dietzman, a member since 2012. “And to see how deep and strong the caliber of rider is in this cycling-crazy town.”
Likewise, Compton joined the DWC as a way to get into group riding before the Iron Horse. “I was a sporadic member at first, but then I became hooked on the sport and started racing too,” he says. Durango isn’t such a bicycle-friendly community for no reason. The DWC stays true to its roots by being an active advocate for improved cycling infrastructure and awareness. Compton currently serves on the City of Durango Multi Modal Advisory Board as a voting member representing cyclists, and on the Bicycle Colorado Board of Directors for Durango and SW Colorado. “We actively advocate on behalf of cyclists for improved roads, awareness and education,” Compton says.
And membership has its benefits: Members get access to all the group rides, pace-line clinics for beginners, parties, and time trials, as well a sweet deal on the official DWC kit.