Tuesday, December 27, 2005

There’s no place like home for holiday gifts

It's that time of year again for holiday parties, giving gifts, making resolutions and setting new goals and challenges. Somewhere in the frenzy, fitness, health and a good dose of the outdoors should not be far from anyone's mind. After all, those are the reasons why we live here.

Once again I have scoured the planet for new and interesting gifts for all of the amazing athletes of Durango and, surprise! I found the best deals are right here .

Some of these products are made and sold in Durango. While many of my picks are made elsewhere in Colorado, all are sold locally.

After cycling lots of miles over the past few years and finding a way to permanently lodge both my seat post into my down tube and my handlebars into my fork, I wish someone would buy me a new 3D road bicycle.

Chris Herting was a partner with Yeti Cycles from its beginning in 1985 until 1991. In 1992, Herting left Yeti and started 3D Racing frames.

"3D stands for dedication, design, development," Herting said. "I am a small, one-person custom frame builder and I design each frame for that customer using information like body dimensions, flexibility and riding style."

Herting builds road, mountain and tandem bikes.

"Pretty much anything with wheels on it," Herting said.

Durango Cyclery is selling jewelry made by up-and-coming cyclist Alicia Rose Pastore. She's making chain link key chains and bicycle earrings while trying to raise money for next year's racing season. The 12-year-old Miller Middle School student has already used this year's proceeds from her business to buy a new racing bike.

"I'm also selling hanging plastic bag holders at Guido's," Pastore said. "I have my own business, called 'Soft As A Rose Cards & Crafts,' where I make homemade bath salts, bath teas, bath bombs, soap, earrings, potpourri, cards and necklaces."

Call Pastore at 385-4571 or e-mail her at pastore@frontier.net

The Cyclery is also selling Xtracycle racks and unique toilet paper dispensers.

"You can put 200 pounds or a kayak on those Xtracycle racks," said owner Russ Zimmermann.

Backcountry Experience and Peanut Cafe have Mountain Boy sleds. Brice Hoskin makes these in his Silverton shop, is selling them through L.L. Bean and is producing 10 times the amount of sleds he did when he first went into business two years ago.

"Everybody in Silverton and Crested Butte puts their groceries on their push sleds, even though they are intended for kids," said Backcountry buyer Becky Rockis.

Brown's Sport Shoe has 180s ear muffs that are fleece-lined and go behind the head instead of over the top.

Your Running Store has Fuel Belts, Blister Shield and multi-colored Pearlizumi Wrapsody Hats.

Maria's Bookshop has several Lance Armstrong selections to fuel your fire this winter. And, there's a new book, Duel in the Sun: Alberto Salazar, Dick Beardsley, and America's Greatest Marathon by John Brant.

My own fitness goals for 2006 include learning how to ride in a pace line properly and completing the Arizona and Florida Ironmen races without drowning. I'd rather do almost anything else in the world than flail my arms and legs while attempting to swim laps.

Please don't be shy and let me know your fitness goals for 2006. If I get enough responses, they'll fill a future column.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Wells brothers win nationals

If you think that biking is only an activity for the sunny, warm days of summer, think again.
Despite nasty weather conditions that included ice, slush, snow and mud, Durango cyclists continued their frequent podium visits at the Liberty Mutual U.S. National Cyclo-cross Championships at Roger Williams Park in Providence, R.I. The three-day weekend events, Dec. 9-11, included 1,400 competitors.

The Wells' brothers, Todd and Troy, each took home national championships, while Fort Lewis College won the collegiate championship. Todd races for GT Hyundai while Troy, a student at Fort Lewis College, races for TIAA-CREF/Clif Bar.

Cyclo-cross, a mix of road and mountain biking, running and leaping over various obstacles with the bike hoisted atop a shoulder, including hay bales and other barriers, has been popular in Europe for several years, but is finally catching on in the United States.

During the cyclo-cross season, which begins in the fall, when road and mountain biking is finishing up, older brother, Todd, 30, had been focusing all of his energies on the national championship.

"It's the only race everyone cares about," explained Wells, as he prepared for the weekend's championship. "The weather is supposed to be snowy, and my brother and I both seem to do well in poor conditions."

Despite crashing and breaking his handlebars early in the men's pro race on Saturday, Todd held on for a 14-second margin of victory over Ryan Trebon.

"Fortunately, you are able to switch bikes in cyclo-cross, and I picked up a new bike on the next lap," Todd said. "It's satisfying to accomplish my goal."

Todd was on his way to Mexico for a little rest and relaxation after another long, but successful, season of professional cycling. Earlier in the day, Todd watched Troy dust (or rather, mud) the competition in the under-23 national championship.

"It was amazing to see my brother win," Todd said.

Troy, 21, pushed hard at the start of the race and then backed off a little after he opened a little gap during the second and third laps.

"The course was covered with ice and snow and I wanted to be conservative," Troy said. "There were also four run-ups (dismounting and running with the bike) during each lap, and I don't like those and would rather just stay on the bike."

With a busy weekend and still in transit back to Durango on Monday, Troy wasn't able to get much studying done for his final exams next week.

"After finals, I'm leaving on Dec. 21 to race in Europe for one and a half months," Troy said. "I'm excited to race, and last year I only got to stay there for two weeks."

The defending national collegiate champion, Fort Lewis was supposed to race on Friday but was forced to wait another day to claim its title again.

"It snowed all morning on Friday, it started raining, and there was a windstorm blowing three inches of snow sideways," said team manager Dave Hagen.

When conditions settled down on Saturday, the Skyhawks won their third consecutive national championship.

Matt Shriver finished second overall in the men's collegiate race.

"Cyclo-cross is usually not canceled but when I went out to do a few laps on Friday, I couldn't feel my fingers or toes, despite wearing booties, hat and lobster gloves," Shriver said. "I am not stoked for a race to be canceled, but the weather was so bad that even the insane racers of New England didn't want to be out there."

Hagen was thrilled with his team's performance.

"The whole team really stepped it up out here - everyone from our first rider down to our last," he said.

Grant Berry, sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, finished 37th in the Elite Men's division while teammate Ryan Barthel finished 41st. Shriver, racing for Kona/Easton, added a 47th-place finish in that event.

Other men's finishers in the collegiate races included Adam Snyder (7), Eric Ransom (11), Jon Belcher (21) and Mike Stevens (26).In the women's collegiate race, Tina Dominic (3), Molly Hummel (8), Onawa Pelham (9) and Chantel Shoemaker (15) all had strong showings. In the men's master race, Steve Lamont of the Durango Wheel Club finished 12th.

Sunday's races included the low-key Liberty Cup, but, both Todd Wells (1) and Shriver (16) decided to push the pace.

For complete race results, see cyclocrossnationals.com.

Thweatt, Casey and Flint take national stage

When 369 runners took the starting line at the Foot Locker Midwest Cross Country Girl's Championship 5,000-meter race at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside two days after Thanksgiving, Laura Thweatt and Erin Casey, from Durango, were among the nervous high-schoolers waiting for the starting gun.On the boys side, Steve Flint, from Bayfield, was among 362 runners.

Formerly known as the Kinney Cross Country Championships, the Foot Locker has been providing a national championship for high school runners for 26 years. Notable runners Dathan Ritzenhein (1999-2000) and Melody Fairchild (1989-1990) were national champions for two years.

Thweatt, 16, a junior, finished in 105th place with a time of 19 minutes and 50 seconds.

After previewing the course on the day before the race, Thweatt was a little concerned about the snowy, cold condition, but on race day it was sunny and blustery.
"I had a good season this year, but I would have liked to do better at the state meet," Thweatt said. "Now I'll be running during the winter getting ready for the Simplot Games in Idaho in February."

Thweatt got an early start while running the 800-meter race in seventh and eighth grades at Miller Middle School. "I'd like to continue running in college," Thweatt said. "Running is something I hope I can do all my life."

Casey, 15, a sophomore at Durango High School, finished 123rd in 20:07.
"It was the largest race I've ever been in, and it was a little overwhelming," Casey said. "Laura and I started out together but we lost each other." Only 17 seconds separated Casey and Thweatt at the finish.

Besides a crowded start that extended all the way across an open meadow, Casey also contended with a tough, snowy, slippery course. A skier with Durango Nordic, Casey usually competes in the annual Thanksgiving Turkey Trot, but missed this year's event while resting for the Foot Locker race.

"My Dad (Jim) was probably happy that I didn't race, because I can usually beat him at the shorter distances," Erin said.

Flint, 17, a senior, finished 58th with a time of 16 minutes. "I was a little disappointed," Flint said. "I got boxed in at the start of the race and I never really worked my way up."

Still, it was a great experience for Flint, who was completing a stellar four years of running for Coach Vernon Kimball. Flint's Wolverine boys squad won every event they entered this season except the Durango Invitational.

"Mr. Kimball did a great job," Flint said.

Now that cross-country season is finished, Flint is playing varsity basketball. "I'm a better runner than a basketball player, but I'm having fun," he confessed.

Flint hopes to run someday for a Division I college like BYU, Stanford or Oregon, but that will probably wait for two years while he completes a mission with his church.

For complete race results, see http://www.footlockercc.com./

Marc Witkes has been running, biking and writing in Durango for almost 20 years.