Cyclists To Race Steam Train

How Many Cyclists Can Beat A Steam Train Over A 50 Mile Race

In my day, I was used to struggling to keep up with steam Express trains travelling at 80 mph, but these days it is all a bit more docile.

The Grand Canyon Railroad runs from The Canyon to Flagstaff, a 50 mile journey. For some reason most of the mighty steam locos these days have to pull the extra weight of a diesel with them, just in case something goes wrong. It is a sad state of affairs.

Fortunately this line is rather slow train travel, giving passengers good value for their money and creating the possibility of a bicycle beating the train over the distance.

Make sure you check out the video at the end. Next time I go to the Canyon, I hope to be there to ride the steam train.


The following excerpt is taken from a story in the Los Angeles Times.

Grab your bicycle and try to leave this 1923 steam engine in the dust in a race from the Grand Canyon to Williams, Ariz., on Sept. 26. (Grand Canyon Railway)
By Mary Forgione
Join the bicycle race or ride the train in a September race from the Grand Canyon to Williams, Ariz.

Here’s how it works: Riders pay $60 to $80 (depending on when they register) to enter the race and then are to show up, ready to roll, in Tusayan on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon at 1 p.m. on Sept. 26

The course has cyclists following Arizona Highway 64 for 50 miles, gaining and losing more than 2,000 feet in elevation. They then will turn onto historic Route 66 for the last four miles.

The Grand Canyon Railway train, the 310-ton steam engine No. 4960 built in 1923, will hit the tracks at the same 1 p.m. start time. Passengers can ride the train and watch the race for $75 for adults and $45 for children 16 and younger.

So which is likely to win — man or machine?

In 1991, 51 cyclists — Wiatr Krzystof was the first — beat the train in about two hours. Cyclists reached speeds of more than 40 mph while the train hit some rough spots in the tracks and slowed to 25 mph, according to an Associated Press article on the event.

Advance registration for the bike race and advance tickets for the train are recommended.

Story courtesy of Los Angeles Times June 3, 2015

Here is a video I found on youtube by Mike Armstrong. About 4 minutes in there is a nice pan of a double header.


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