Off and Running
by Marc Witkes
Second Bike Fest delivers fast, fun rides
September 17, 2004
It was a little like adult baseball fantasy camp on bicycles.
The second annual Ned Overend & Boure Bike Fest has been taking place all week and continues through Saturday. With a different group ride scheduled every day and the chance to meet some of the area's top cyclists, many riders have joined in the fun and camaraderie for as many days as they could safely play hooky from work and family responsibilities.
Wednesday's ride traveled U.S. Highway 160 West to Mancos, Colorado Highway 184 to Dolores and returned along the same route. Twenty people gathered at the Kennebec Cafe, 1,500-feet above Durango at the mouth of La Plata Canyon for the 9:30 a.m. to 10ish start time.
Fashionably late and "Durango time" rules were obviously in effect. Some riders warmed up with a climb on Hesperus Hill while others opted to drive and meet for breakfast at the cafe. Total mileage for the day ranged from 70 to 95 miles.
Wade Moore, Boure sportswear employee who does everything except make clothes was, in his words, the designated "ride follower."
Guy Nethery, from a small bike club in Austin, the Texas Cyclones, came with his friend, Joe Udell. It was a good opportunity to get away from the oil fields for a week, see some new scenery, and get in some good riding. Nethery and Udell heard about the rides in one of the e-mail newsletters from Boure.
Pulling out of the cafe after breakfast of Canadian bacon, scrambled eggs, fruit, toast, black beans and Coca-Cola, cyclists seemed to have enough calories and caffeine to make it through the day. The pace while passing the Hesperus Ski area was pedestrian-like, but that didn't last long.
Olympian Todd Wells and perennial favorite and homegrown Durango High School graduate Frank Mapel pulled riders through the Mancos Valley and past Summit Lake. Everybody drafted on the wheels of these giants, but they still gasped for breath in the oxygen-deprived mountain air. Wells and Mapel pedaled with brutal efficiency in perfect circles. Both athletes are preparing for the Mammoth Mountain U.S. Mountain Bike National Championship, Thursday- Sept. 26 in California.
Like a child waiting for Christmas, Wells talked about the upcoming cyclocross season. "My buddy Matt Shriver is putting together a cyclocross race series at Fort Lewis College this winter," Wells said. "There used to be just a couple of guys doing cyclocross in Durango, but now there's quite a few, and we get together to practice once a week during the season." For a schedule of races and more information, see www.mattshriver.com.
Drew Bourey, owner of Boure, wore his factory clothing. The red, green and yellow colors on his shirt matched his helmet, bicycle, socks and shoes. "How do I get to a color coordinated outfit?", I asked. "All you need to do is spend a little money," Bourey quipped. "Maybe next year Miguel Indurain will join us on one of these rides."
Darlene Hogue, graciously drove a support vehicle for wayward, or otherwise, lost cyclists.
Tom Hoefer and Tracy Wilde, Mountain Bike Specialists employees, benefited from a day off from work.
3D bicycle manufacturer Chris Herting had a fast custom-bike to enjoy his ride.
All of the cyclists regrouped and caught their breath at the Dolores Grocery Store. Tradition dictated the rules, so Mapel treated riders to a box of Little Debbie Moon Pies. "If this ride gets much bigger, Frank will have to buy two boxes of those," someone said.
Craig Campbell, a Hassle Free wrench, and I left a few minutes before the rest of the group. We soft pedaled the back road up to the graveyard on Highway 184. The conversation had just turned from various bike lubes to past Death Rides when Wells, Mapel and company whizzed past.
Campbell caught on the train and just before I got dropped, hard, Mapel and I shared a few words. "Are you getting in a good workout?" I asked. "Any kind of riding you can do this late in the season and have some fun is good," Mapel said. "It's been a long year of racing."
It was a lonely 30-mile ride back to Durango for me. Automobile drivers don't pay much attention to elevation changes on the road, but the stretch between Mancos and Hesperus is not flat.
Meet today at Oscar's in the Town Plaza today and Bread Bakery at 9:30 a.m. Saturday Durango time for rides up Coal Bank Hill and through the Animas Valley to Baker's Bridge.
Missed out on the rides this year? Don't worry, you have another year to get in shape and lose that beer belly for Bike Fest 2005.
Marc Witkes is president of Durango Motorless Transit. He writes a bi-weekly column on outdoors adventure and running.He can be reached at 970-247-3116.