The Iron Horse Bicycle Classic is five weeks away, and most aspiring participants need to spend lots of time training. In-town roads have been cleaned of winter debris, but highways are a different matter. Is there some kind of schedule that CDOT uses to decide when to broom the edges of the roads? The place where U.S. Highway 160 joins U.S. Highway 550 is especially bad. – Gordon Thomas
The Colorado Department of Transportation does indeed have work planned for sweeping highway shoulders and sweeping has already begun.
That comes from our good friend Nancy Shanks, the soon-to-retire CDOT spokeswoman.
Friday will be Nancy’s final day, at which point she really ought to issue a statement, “you won’t have Shanks to kick around any more.”
But that won’t happen. Nancy is a class act.
In the bizarre and befuddling world of CDOT, Nancy used her terrific sense of humor and keen perspective to explain and enlighten.
Taking over as the new public face of CDOT is Lisa Schwantes, who has toiled tirelessly in a variety of communication and community-outreach positions.
Action Line has known Lisa since she moved to Durango in 1987. Naturally, Lisa will be “our good friend” because she already is.
So bon voyage, Nancy and welcome aboard, Lisa!
Now then, what’s up with the highway-sweeping thing? The local bicycling community wants answers.
You know how the local bicycling community gets.
When you’ve been astraddle a spin bike all winter, one becomes weary of being a human gerbil desperately pedaling a Bike to Nowhere.
So here’s the good news for the CoolMax/Spandex crowd.
Sweeping is underway and, as usual, the race route will be swept right before the event, according to the CDOT dynamic duo.
“We had been sweeping roads for a month already,” said Nancy Shanks. The most recent storm was an exception, when crews had to add more sand to the roads instead of sweeping it off.
Cyclists can rest assured that the roads are getting scrubbed. And by rest, we mean rest. CDOT, meanwhile, is hard at work.
“At night, while Iron Horse cyclists-in-training are storing carbs for the following day’s punishing ride, our crews are firing up the sweepers to clean up the roads on a midnight to 8 a.m. shift,” Nancy said.
Meanwhile, new CDOT spokeswoman Lisa Schwantes was checking out her new digs and discovered that the department has a vested interest in road sweeping.
“I’m not surprised to find many avid CDOT cyclists. I’ve seen bikes – mountain, road and sometimes both – tucked in corners of offices, behind stairwells and in the parking lots,” she said.
“Our own cyclists will appreciate the squeaky clean roadways, too.”
Still, having a graveyard sweeping shift might not be enough for the local bicycling community.
Here’s an idea: What if CDOT assigned sweepers to work 24/7 beginning every March 1 until Memorial Day?
In turn, Iron Horse hopefuls would solemnly vow to not ride in packs.
Um. Well. That’ll never happen.
Instead, perhaps CDOT could sponsor local riders with fluorescent jerseys that feature the CDOT logo with “Share The Road” emblazoned in huge letters across the back.
That way, motorists would be reminded of this important principle when slowing to a crawl because cyclists are riding five abreast ahead of them on a freshly broomed byway.
Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. You can request anonymity if your bike has a kick stand.