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Our Story - The Ironhorse Saga

Many of you are probably wondering how the name Ironhorse Wealth Management (Investments & Estate Planning) was founded. I have been asked the following:

  • Was it named after Lou Gehrig, the famous baseball player who played in 2,130 consecutive baseball games without missing a game and earned the nickname “The Iron Horse”?
  • Was it named after the 1924 silent movie “Iron Horse” which was directed by John Ford?
  • Was it named after the TV show “The Iron Horse” which starred Oklahoma native Dale Robertson and appeared on ABC from 1966 to 1968?
  • Was it named Iron Horse which is a nickname for the 4th Infantry Division based at Fort Carson, Colorado?
  • Was it based on the poem “Iron Horse” written by Allen Ginsberg in the 1960’s?
  • Was it based on the Iron Horse, a nickname given to the pump on an oil well?

None of these are the exact answer, but in a way they all contributed to the name.

Several years ago I had an item on my “Bucket List” that I wanted to complete while I was still in somewhat “decent shape”. This experience was an undertaking that would involve about 6 months of training in order to complete a 6 ½ hour affair. The place of the event would occur in Durango, Colorado on Memorial Day weekend. The achievement would be the DURANGO IRON HORSE BICYCLE CLASSIC.

Memorial Day 2011 marked the 40th anniversary of the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic and the following is a quote from Ironhorse Bicycle Classic website as to how the Iron Horse was conceived:

"The Iron Horse Bicycle Classic was the brain child of Tom Mayer and his older brother Jim. Jim worked as a brakeman on the D & R G W railroad which had run the steam powered locomotive between Durango and Silverton since the 1880's. Tom was a young bicycle enthusiast who grew up alongside the tracks to Silverton. Tom challenged Jim to a race to Silverton. As the train came by the house, the steam whistle screamed and Tom climbed on his trusty steel framed 10 speed and pedaled up over the rim of the old volcano and descended into the caldera to the mining town of Silverton. The train takes a shorter and easier route, but with limited speed, so it is truly a race between man and machine. When Tom became strong enough to win, the bragging rights were his, and the whole town knew it."

(You can read more about the story and see some fabulous views by visiting Tom Mayer’s website here: http://www.abundantadventures.com )

The Iron Horse Bicycle Classic was born. Now the ride starts with the train whistle in Durango, marking the start of the race and culminating with a 10-mile descent into the mining town of Silverton.

On Memorial Day in 2011 I concluded my second straight year of competing in this journey, I had a chance to sit on my deck in Durango and ponder life and a name for a new company. Now this achievement may not be the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, but it is the most difficult thing I have completed since I turned 55! The ride (I do not compete in the race) covers 50 miles and starts at an elevation of over 6,500 feet. To complete the ride one must make 3 climbs including 2 mountain passes that reach 10,640 feet and 10,910 feet respectively. Each time I have completed this ride it has taken me between 6 ½ and 7 hours to complete! In an effort to have full disclosure, I must admit I have yet to participate in the whistle start in downtown Durango. They have time limits for closure of the highway and if you are not over the passes by a certain time, they remove you from the course. Being a true “Sooner”, I have jumped the gun both times and started the ride several hours before the official start time. I have ridden the complete 50 miles, but need the head start to complete it before they clear the roads.

Each time I have undertaken this ride, I have suffered from leg cramps and have walked my bike up 6-8 degree inclines to finish the ride. (I am planning to ride again this Memorial Day, 2018, and my goal is to not walk any of the ride). From this experience, I have decided that this event is a metaphor for life and our quest to reach our retirement and financial goals.

The first step that I took when I signed up for the event was to set goals. The first goal was to complete the ride, but to also complete it within the time allowance. Just like in life, we must set our financial and retirement goals. How much do you want to have saved? When do we want to retire? How much do I have to accumulate to live a comfortable life in retirement? I started a very regimented and disciplined training schedule to reach my goal. Just like life, things would come up and derail my best laid plans for training. The key was to get back on track as soon as possible and try to make up for the missed days.

During the course of our lives, there are events that happen that throw our goals off course. During the ride, I mentioned that I came down with severe leg cramps. Both times I thought I was going to have to quit, but managed to walk my bike and edge closer to the goal of finishing. As soon as I reached the peak, I was able to coast down the hill to prepare for the next ascent. I discovered as long as I kept peddling, no matter how slow or take one step in front of the other, I was getting closer to my goal.

In life, we find that there are certain financial crises, lost jobs, falling stock market or a lousy economy that may derail our best laid plans of saving for the future. As long as we stay the course and commit to our savings plan or our investment strategy, we will reach our goals.

There will be some steep slopes where we have our doubts, but as long as we continue on our course, we will also have some down hills. Trust me, going down that last hill into Silverton, hitting over 40 mph makes the first 3 climbs seem well worth it! My goal is to make those retirement years seem like they are as easy as going downhill on a bicycle!

As I sat there on my deck (trust me, after the ride my legs were too much like Jell-O to stand), my thoughts went to what is more dependable than an Iron Horse steam locomotive? The Iron Horse helped to tame this country, created the time zones and is still around today in helping us conserve energy and move freight from one point to another. When naming my company, I wanted a name that symbolized my commitment to my clients and symbolized the stability and reliability that I have shown over the years.

The bicycle ride was a very personal journey for me and so is your own financial journey. I want to be there to help you up those steep mountains and help you enjoy those long descents in the retirement years. I cherish the relationships that I have developed and look forward to the many more that will develop in the future.

I want to thank each and every one of you for allowing me to be there for your personal journeys and together we will work to reach your goals and complete your bucket lists.

 Steven D. Kaestner
JD/CPA/CFP®