Iron men, iron women and iron-y

by Ted Holteen

Surely you’ve heard this one: Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach. There’s a third part to that old truism that often gets forgotten in the retelling. I’ve built quite a reputation for myself by insulting people who accomplish things that I can only dream about doing, and my criticisms can hardly be called teaching either. I am a card-carrying member of this forgotten or consciously unmentioned group, the one many call the cynics. We mock what we don’t understand, what we can’t or won’t do, people we don’t relate to. Are you witnessing an epiphany? Will I soon change my admittedly bitter attitude and start thinking that a guy who goes out alone in the Utah desert and cuts off his own arm when he gets stuck is not an idiot? Unlikely. Will I someday respect The Big Wu for their talent while realizing they simply choose to play a style outside of my own personal taste? No, because they suck. I didn’t ask them to go onstage and play bad music to a bunch of musically ignorant hippies. But can I do better? Of course not. I’m a no-talent coward who is always more likely to point out what’s wrong than to find a solution and bitch about it until someone else does something about it or I just move on to another complaint.

This week, however, I’m going to put aside my own insecurities and failings and give credit where it is due. Although I will go to my grave believing that the bicycling community is largely a cliquey group of underfed and garishly clad dorks that thinks too much of themselves, I must grudgingly admit that what a couple of thousand of them will do this weekend is damn impressive. For the 35th year, Durango and Silverton will be linked by the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, and this time I’m cool with it. These lunatics will not only wake up early on the Saturday morning of Memorial Day Weekend, but then they’ll ride the 48 miles to Silverton without benefit of gasoline or even coal. That’s not just any 48 miles, either. It’s also 5,700 vertical feet of climbing over two mountain passes, usually in the snow. On second thought, they are idiots after all. Regardless of how we feel about the whole thing, it will affect everyone in town, be they riders, drivers, walkers or sitters. I imagine it’s a lot nicer to be in a bike race when there are no cars about, and the powers that be have made accommodations to that end. On Saturday morning from 8:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Highway 550 will be closed from Durango Mountain Resort all the way to Silverton, and the area south of DMR won’t be a treat for drivers, either. The race itself starts at the Rec Center with a partial closing, and there’s also a citizens’ noncompetitive tour for people who like to ride but just aren’t in that much of a rush. The starting point for the tour is logically situated at McDonald’s, who is sponsoring the thing. I don’t even know where to begin to deconstruct that incongruity, but suffice to say I fully expect this fall’s Durango Marathon to be sponsored by Velveeta. Saturday’s race is hardly a spectator-friendly affair, but not so for Sunday’s festivities. The downtown Criterium is a series of road races for all age and gender categories and follows a course from Main to Third Avenue (east/west) and from Seventh to 10th streets (north/south). Fun stuff and another great event for downtown Durango, but remember that all of the streets in that area will be closed all day until 6 p.m. A small price to pay when you consider the possibility of seeing a Spandex clad housewife hit a curb and fly through the plate glass window at Le Rendezvous.

Despite such inspirational messages to the contrary, some of us may still opt to spend Memorial Day Weekend more traditionally, that is to say eating and drinking to excess. I can’t say that it’s the best way to pay tribute to the millions of fallen American service men and women for whom the holiday was created, or if they would fully appreciate how we’ve chosen to celebrate and honor their sacrifice, but it wasn’t my idea. What we’ve been given is a full slate of nightlife with many familiar faces, which is a nice way to celebrate any holiday. Steamworks continues a Memorial Day tradition of their own, welcoming back rockabillyists Brethren Fast on Friday and Saturday nights. Scoot ‘n Blues has three nights of live music in both venues; Friday and Saturday sees The Motor Kings in the main club and Kirk James on Sunday. In the lounge Friday is Lee Bartley and the Terry Wells Band, with the Frank Trio downstairs on Saturday. Over at the Summit, the Victor Barnes Band plays insurgent bluegrass on Friday, Nosotros has one of their Latin dance parties on Saturday, and the melodic punk style of the Freeman Social closes out the holiday weekend on Sunday night. It’s not as confusing as it sounds – they’re bars, after all. Just keep looking ’til you find something you like, or at least can tolerate. Otherwise, you can come to my house and watch the Phillies. But bring your own beer.

Speaking of beer, big doings in Bayfield. In yet another bold but shameless act of self promotion, it is my pleasure to announce that in addition to Steamworks and the Billy Goat Saloon (both fine establishments in their own right), Bay area residents now have a third choice when it comes to wasting away a few more hours of precious life in a tavern. Mill Street Brews somehow duped authorities, both local and state, into thinking that two Canadian brothers with an unpronounceable name will be responsible enough to sell beer and wine to people who are themselves too irresponsible to drink said beer and still get the extended cab F-350 back to the ranch without running over a stop sign or two on the way. Enjoy it while you can before those authorities change their minds. I think they have a bookstore over there, too.

I really can’t make this stuff up – it’s illegal. Talk to me. Oh, and whoever came up with that “absence makes the heart grow fonder” nonsense – meet me on the playground at 3 p.m. You’ve had it coming for far too long. •