Durango dominates Cross Nationals

Durango cyclists once again braved freezing temperatures on knobby tires in pursuit of stars and stripes. A large contingent of local riders went up against the best in the country at last weekend’s Cyclocross National Championships in Bend, Ore.

For many riders, cyclocross dominates the fall and winter shoulder seasons as they negotiate precarious courses on skinny but knobby tires. Barriers and obstacles are also thrown into the mix, forcing riders out of the saddle and adding a running component to the two-wheeled discipline. Cross courses are often sadistically difficult, and crashes, cold and injury are all offshoots of cyclocross culture. Last weekend, riders from throughout the U.S. lined up for the nation’s biggest cyclocross race, and Durango and Fort Lewis College were well represented at the starting line.

Most notably, Specialized Factory Racing’s Todd Wells put another stamp on American cyclocross with a dominating performance in the men’s elite race. The largest and most boisterous crowd of the weekend lined the course for the treacherous race, as Bend’s hometown favorite Ryan Trebon launched into first at the gun. Wells hung back until he could capitalize on a series of crashes and move into contention.

“In the beginning I was maybe around 10th place,” Wells said. “There were some crashes I avoided and made it up to maybe the top five,” said Wells. “I was by myself for the last four or five laps, able to hold off Trebon. One lap, he took like five seconds out of me, but luckily I was able to get it together and just hold the gap.”

Wells was crowned national champion, riding to his third stars-and-stripes jersey of 2010. The race capped off a stellar season for the Durangoan, who earned two additional national titles this year, in cross country and short track.

“It’s pretty big for me. I’d never won the cross country title before, so I got it this year, the short track, and now the cyclocross,” he said. “It’s the perfect season.”

Fort Lewis College sent a van full of racers to Bend in a bid to retain the team collegiate cyclocross title against archrival Lees-McRae College. Though local riders enjoyed their fair share of top 10 finishes, it wasn’t enough to hold off the small school from Banner Elk, N.C. With the most points earned in both the men and women’s races, Lees McRae walked away handily with the overall D1 omnium win. However, Fort Lewis played the numbers game well and earned second place on the weekend, one step down from last year.

Several other Durangoans also returned home from Bend sporting the stars and stripes and national titles. Ned Overend overcame reigning Master’s Men National Champion Paul Curley as well as a course choked with mud and ice for the national title.

“The course was changing all the time,” Overend said. “It was kind of dicey on that first lap, but then I was able to bridge up and put it down on the grass areas.”

Durango Wheel Clubber Martha Iverson took first for the Masters Women, 60-64. And Durango once again boasted the eldest national cyclocross champion with 77-year-old Walt Axthelm bringing home gold in the Masters Men 75+ division.

Mountain Middle School gets go-ahead

Mountain Middle School is off and running. The proposed school’s charter application was approved unanimously by the Colorado Charter School Institute Board of Directors, and the charter middle school is on track for an Aug. 22, 2011, opening.

The school, which will serve sixth- through eighth-graders, will be based on the same model as Animas High School. Both schools can trace their roots to California’s innovative High Tech High, which stresses the use of technology and real-world situations as a means to an end in the learning process.

Mountain Middle School did suffer a setback on the road to charter approval in November of last year. At that time, the school withdrew its application to adjust for sweeping changes in Colorado Academic Standards.

“We are pleased and proud about the time and commitment put forth strengthening the prior application, detailing an aca

demically rigorous program driven by a school culture of respect and collaboration,” said Nancy Heleno, President of the Mountain Middle School Board of Directors.

Although the school has not announced a location, the Recruitment Committee has reviewed more than 180 resumes for consideration for the position of Head of School. Five candidates are now under serious consideration, and one of them has been publicly vetted after progressing through six interviews, one student assembly and two writing procedures.  

One of the foundations of Mountain Middle School will be the application of technology to the learning and education process. A major tenet is: technology is the tool, learning is the objective.  

Mountain Middle School will host three upcoming information sessions: “School Culture Drives Academic Excellence” on Jan. 25; “Technology in Mountain Middle School” on Feb. 23; and “Academic Excellence through Project-Based Learning Curriculum” on March 24. Visit www.mountainmiddleschool.org for details

Forest Service closes Telluride gates

It’s official. The backcountry gates at the Telluride Ski Resort have closed, and access to the Bear Creek area has been restricted. This week, the Forest Service announced that three backcountry gates from atop the ski area have been closed. The move is in response to a property dispute between the ski area and rogue developer Tom Chapman.

Last year, Chapman assembled more than 40 acres of mining claims in Bear Creek and is using the property as leverage against the ski company. Chapman has made a career of buying private land within national forests, wilderness areas and national parks and threatening to develop them. In one case in the mid-1990s, he began building a luxury log cabin on a remote parcel in the West Elk Wilderness. He then persuaded the Forest Service to swap it for 105 acres near Telluride, which he later sold for more than $4 million. Chapman and claim owners Irene West and Ron Curry are now playing hardball with Telluride.

Locals tell The Telluride Watch that they believe the Forest Service has essentially taken the side of Chapman in the dispute. The gates should be left open to provide public access to public lands, they say.

“Those gates access much more than the private claims, and the Forest Service has a legal obligation to provide access to public lands,” said Tor Anderson, director of the Telluride Mountain Club. Anderson went on to question whether access to public land elsewhere would be closed for fear of public intrusion on private lands.

– Will Sands



In this week's issue...

July 21, 2022
Wildlife success or deal with the devil?

Land swap approved in Southwest Colorado, but not without detractors

July 21, 2022
Tapping out

The latest strategy to save the San Luis Valley's shrinking aquifer: paying farmers not to farm

July 14, 2022
Hey, good environmental news

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