Ear to the ground

“Is that some kind of slang term for marijuana?”

-A Durangoan after being asked if he knew where to find Jim Greenhill (one-time Durango journalist and writer)

Toxic Thomas

Thomas the Tank Engine has been carrying a pretty heavy load. The cartoon locomotive, which pays Durango an annual visit and resides inside hundreds of local homes, got in trouble with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission last week. The commission ordered a voluntary recall after determining that the paint used on many of the Thomas toys contained lead, which is toxic if ingested.

The recall includes wooden vehicles, buildings and other train set parts sold between 2005 and June of this year, but only a handful of Thomas toys, typically with red or yellow paint, are involved. Thomas, himself, is not toxic, but James, the Ice Cream Factory, the musical caboose, the Smelting Yard and nearly a dozen other Thomas toys and accessories have been implicated.

Commission spokeswoman Patty Davis noted that the Chinese factory that produces the toys changed the type of paint used in January of 2005, causing the lead to be introduced into the product.

The recall involves wooden vehicles, buildings and other train set components for young children with the logo “Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway.” A manufacturing code may be located on the bottom of the product or inside the battery cover. Not included in the recall are toys marked with the letters WJ or AZ. A complete list of toxic Thomas toys is available at www.recalls.rc2.com.

Speed and Hermosa Creek

The starting line is returning to Hermosa Creek on Aug. 5. Following a 19-year hiatus, mountain bike racing is back on one of Durango’s finest stretches of singletrack.

The 22-mile race will run from the bottom of Hermosa Creek to the top. There will also be an extended 36-mile course for professionals and expert men, which will add a Hotel Draw-Colorado Trail-Corral Draw loop at the top of the course. Two singlespeed classes, prizes, and a post-race barbeque/campout for racers and friends and family is also on tap for the Sunday event. All proceeds go to the Fort Lewis College Cycling Team and the Mr. Smylie Bike Project.

For more information, visit www.cycling.fortlewis.edu.