Steamworks Brewing Co. in Durango, Colorado, isn't a sports bar. It's a microbrew hotspot with the requisite number of TVs to show Broncos games on Sundays, a smorgasbord of upscale pub food, and (as you'd expect) really good beer. But there's no heavy emphasis on sports.
During the annual Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, though, sports come first.
The cycling event originally began in 1972 as a road-only race against the train from Durango to Silverton, 50 miles (and 6,650 feet of climbing) north. When event officials directed a mountain bike component through downtown, things got interesting.
Steamworks worked with race officials to route the mountain bike course through their bar, entering via a removed plate-glass window by the brewing company's front door, cycling to the immediate left of rows of tap-handles (and the bar itself), then exiting via a steep ramp off the back deck.
"This year... a couple riders even stopped at the bar for a cold craft beer," said Brian McEachron, Co-Founder at Steamworks, to The Huffington Post. "Many slapped hands with our patrons as they zoomed by. It was a blast!"
"All bike races should go through a bar," said Mitch Hoke, the men's Iron Horse mountain bike champion, to The HuffPost.
Pro rider Meredith Miller described the Steamworks section as "one of the coolest features of any race I have ever done," elaborating on her blog:
We rode up the ramp, through the window and onto a fenced off section within the restaurant. At first, it appeared totally black inside because the eyes needed time to adjust. People inside Steamworks were going nuts. They were screaming, cheering, eating and drinking as we zig-zagged through the place. We came out the other side of the restaurant down balcony via a super steep ramp. The ramp dropped us down from the top of the balcony to the pavement. Following the ramp, we took a hard left hand turn. Given the placement of the corner, had to make sure we didn’t zip down the ramp too fast or we’d wipe out.
In addition to the race, McEachron tells us Steamworks transformed their back parking lot into a trails demonstration (think technical biking over logjams, gigantic boulders, etc.) with a beer garden.
Steamworks first got into the racing spirit when Durango hosted the 2001 World Cup, and despite rumors to the contrary, McEachron says the race has never been on the bar itself, and the health department has never been involved.
PHOTOS and VIDEO of the race through Steamworks:
Through The Bar
Off The Back Deck
Through The Bar
Course Fenced By Pony-Kegs
Helmet Cam Footage
The Iron Horse Bicycle Classic