Iron Horse Classic taps new director

Durango’s biggest bicycle race has new leadership. Gaige Sippy, 38, has been hired to promote and organize the 36-year-old Iron Horse Bicycle Classic. Sippy is a racer and bike enthusiast himself and hopes to bring a new perspective to the nationally recognized event. He takes the place of Kendra Holmes, who directed the Iron Horse for eight years.

Sippy graduated from New Mexico State University in 1992 with degrees in economics and history. After graduating, he moved to Durango to pursue bicycle racing and was employed at Mountain Bike Specialists. He returned to New Mexico in 1994 as an employee of Intel Corp. However, four years ago, Durango called Sippy and his family back to be closer to family and friends and to abundant outdoor activities. Sippy’s wife is Mary Polino, founder and director of Durango Montessori.

Since their return, Sippy and his family have been active in the local and regional bicycle scene. He has participated in dozens of cycling events and hopes to bring “an insider” perspective to the Iron Horse.  In addition to his racing resume, Sippy has traveled to dozens of cycling events including the Tour de France.  

“The race has been run very well to this point,” Sippy said of the Iron Horse . “We’re hoping to build on the enthusiasm for the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic and reach out to racers as well as tour riders. We’re also working to increase the race numbers both in the road race and criterium.”

This year marked the first year that a mountain biking race was absent from the Iron Horse. In addition, the National Mountain Biking Series has given Durango a pass for the last two years.

“We’re also going to revisit having a big mountain bike race not on Iron Horse weekend but later in the summer,” Sippy said. “We’re hoping to get Durango back on the map in the mountain biking world.”

Sippy concluded by saying that the Iron Horse will strive to maintain its good relationship with the Durango and La Plata County communities.

“We’re really focused on reaching out to the community and being a good friend to Durango,” he said. “Local participation from businesses and volunteers is crucial to this race, and we want to continue to have a good relationship for many years to come.”

The Iron Horse Bicycle Classic was started in 1972 as a tourism-generating activity and is the fourth-oldest sanctioned cycling event in the United States.


D.A. drops charges against Orio’s

Orio’s Roadhouse fired back up last week. On Nov. 8, District Attorney Craig Westberg dropped his criminal case against the Durango bar, which has fought and violated the statewide smoking ban enacted July 1.

Since the ban went into effect, Orio’s has claimed exemption, saying more than 5 percent of its revenue is generated from tobacco sales, and it qualifies as a cigar/tobacco bar. In the first round of the legal battle, Orio’s prevailed. On Aug. 30, District Judge David Dickinson issued a preliminary injunction and prevented District Attorney Craig Westberg from prosecuting based on the fact that the bar did not have an on-site humidor in 2005. Westberg approached the situation from another angle and filed criminal charges against the bar for violations of the Colorado Indoor Clean Air Act. The real question was not the humidor, but whether 5 percent of the bar’s revenues were actually generated from the sale of tobacco products, according to Westberg. However, citing the adverse court ruling and new evidence, Westberg dropped his charges last week.

“In the face of a variety of adverse court rulings, and evidence which was recently obtained, the prosecution has no choice but to, and has moved to dismiss the charge against Orio’s Roadhouse, which was filed pursuant to the recently enacted Clean Indoor Air Act,” Westberg wrote.

However, a trail is still scheduled for early in 2007, when the court will rule on whether or not Orio’s actually meets the criteria set forth in the ban.

“At this point, the current state of the law in this District is that while smoking indoors in public places is generally banned, it is an affirmative defense if a bar derives more than 5 percent of its gross revenue from any tobacco products other than those from vending machines,” Westberg said.


Local documentary wins Emmy

The envelopes were opened last month and a regional Emmy went to a local documentary. “Working a Double,” a film that looked at two local waitresses in different phases of their life and their thoughts on serving the public, won a Heartland Region Emmy Award last month in Denver. The film and two others from Exposure Productions/City Span 10 went up against stiff competition from a region including Colorado, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Kansas and many metro markets with large budgets.

All three of Exposure Productions nominated films were created for and aired on City Span 10 over the past year. The other nominees were: “Building for the Seventh Generation,” an account of sustainable-building techniques in the Four Corners and the debt such techniques owe to ancient methods; and “Fourteen,” a glimpse into the life of a 14-year-old girl as she makes the transition into high school .

“All three of these programs have won other awards as well, but winning an Emmy is really the icing on the cake,” said Marc Snider, of Exposure Productions.  “It’s nice to know that we can compete with the big markets and big dollars of larger areas. We are really fortunate and appreciative that the City of Durango is so supportive of creating informative, content-driven programming that addresses difficult and interesting issues.”  

Hawks off to NCAA Championships

Fort Lewis College athletes are off to the national championships this weekend. The Skyhawks men’s soccer and women’s cross country teams will be among the more than 800 student-athletes competing at the 2006 NCAA Division II National Championships Festival beginning Thursday at the University of West Florida in Pensacola. The Festival will feature 70 teams from across the nation competing in six sports.

Complete with opening ceremonies, the festival will be an Olympic-style competition with the different sports being played in various venues throughout the Pensacola area.

The men’s soccer semifinals will kick off Nov. 16 and continue there until the championship game Nov. 18. The women’s cross country championship will also take place Nov. 18.

A number of the games, including the men’s soccer semifinals and championship, will be available to watch online. Local fans can watch the games and stay up-to-date with all the action by visiting

– compiled by Will Sands


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July 21, 2022
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July 14, 2022
Hey, good environmental news

Despite SCOTUS ruling, San Juan Generating Station plans to shut down