September 26, 2015: 260 bike riders and the Grand Canyon Railway's steam-powered train challenged each other to a race. The 53-mile route took racers from the edge of the Grand Canyon's South Rim in Tusayan, to the famous cruising Route 66 at Williams, Arizona.
Who won? The honor went to old engine 4960, but only by 10 minutes. And the credit should also go to the humans that ran the machine, Engineer Eric Hadder and fireman Karl Zicopolous.
As reported by the Williams News, the bike riders held their own until mile 41 when wind and fatigue slowed them down. Constantine Schreiber of Tempe won the men's race at 2:19:08. Jennifer Schuknecht of Scottsdale won the women's race at 2:28:17.
This year's race start in Tusayan is seven miles outside of Grand Canyon National Park. Next year, there is talk of starting the race one stop up the line inside the park. More ideas for next year include giving racers one-way tickets on the train from Williams to the Grand Canyon plus leisure time to enjoy the park before race day. And who knows? Maybe a little natural R&R will boost riders that extra 10 minutes needed to beat the train.