Ear to the ground

“Where do you think Laura Bush is sleeping tonight?”

-Local man looking down Main Avenue on the day of the First Lady’s visit to the Four Corners

Racing across America

When the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic draws to a close and the last piece of sweaty Lycra packs up and points it for a home, another major cycling event is already on the local horizon. One of the most grueling athletic events in the world will make a local stopover in the middle of next month. The fabled Race Across America (RAAM), a 3,000-mile cross-country cycling race, will pass through Durango in mid-June.

The 2005 race starts in San Diego on June 10 and finishes in Atlantic City on the week of June 18. In all, successful RAAM competitors will climb more than 109,000 feet, cross 14 states and pedal 3,047 miles.

“In the 1983 RAAM, I probably only slept 15 hours,” Lon Haldeman, two-time RAAM winner told Velonews about the experience. “I remember riding through many nights with a low heart rate just trying to get down the road and stay awake. My legs were strong enough to ride faster but I couldn’t force myself to pick up the pace.”

Sleep-deprived and struggling racers will be in the Four Corners region after crossing California’s Coast Range and making their way through the Mojave and Painted deserts. Riders will eventually find their way to U.S. Highway 160 and drop from Hesperus into Durango. The 2006 route will make for a second Durango stopover as well as a second visit to “RAAM’s classic trio of mammoth passes.” From Durango, cyclists will tackle Wolf Creek, La Veta and Cuchara passes before rolling into the windy plains of Kansas.

For more information on RAAM, log onto: www.raceacrossamerica.org.

Bill’s Bench

A monument to a local legend of bicycling is now in place. “Bill’s Bench,” a tribute to former Trails 2000 director Bill Manning, was installed last Sat., May 20, on the Telegraph Trail System.

Manning recently moved to Golden to spend more time with family and to help run the Colorado Trail Foundation. Before he left, the past and present Board of Directors of Trails 2000 chipped in to dedicate a bench to Bill. The bench was presented at the Happy Trails party last January, an event that brought together 500 people to celebrate Bill’s contribution and welcome in the new executive director, Mary Monroe. Manning himself came back to Durango to help put the new bench in place last Saturday.