A friend and I rode in the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic and kept pace with the train for 10 miles. Staying with the train was a blast. But afterward, we got to thinking: What happened to the locomotive? There was no indication that the train was the inspiration for a nationally recognized event. No flags, no bunting, no nothing. Surely the train should dress up for this grand community event on this day of days. - Walt Dear
Getting all gussied up for festive occasions is practically a Durango law.
Snowdown, Halloween, the first day of Farmers Market - this town begs for an excuse to wear attention-grabbing garb and gaudy accessories.
What do you expect from a place that celebrates its well-deserved designation as the least fashion-conscious town in America?
So when the train shows up au naturel on Memorial Day weekend, some were understandably shocked by the blatant violation of community standards.
But there's a good reason for the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad's naked locomotive.
Railroad officials said the absence of decoration was a streamlining strategy to provide an edge for the annual race.
"We decided that since the train is at such a disadvantage all the time and considering that the bike riders
always beat the train, we wanted to keep the train as sleek as possible," admitted Andrea Said, marketing manager for the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. "We didn't want the bunting and flags flapping around, which would reduce the aerodynamics."
Unfortunately, the tactic was not as effective as hoped, as hundreds of Lycra-clad sprocket heads managed to humiliate the train for the 35th time in 37 years.
You'll recall the locomotive "won" twice thanks to late May snowstorms that forced the event's cancellation.
The train needs a new secret weapon other than freak weather.
Action Line suggests the railroad change to a more athletic diet, one loaded with carbohydrates.
Instead of burning coal, the train could run on spaghetti and breadsticks. A high-carb diet would provide more energy for bike-beating climbs, but there's an environmental benefit, as well.
A pasta-powered train could clear the air over Durango's soot zone. Rather than the nightly cloud of coal smoke, a zesty marinara aroma could waft through the south-side neighborhood.
Then the train could make a special bunting of red-checked tablecloth, like those found at a cheap Italian bistro. Add some wine bottle with dripping candles on top and a couple of Cinzano umbrellas.
Full steam ahead - al dente, of course!
The classified ads offer some oddball glimpses into the local scene. Have you noticed the ad for two steel bridges for sale? Has CDOT tossed in the towel on the Bridge to Nowhere and decided to part out the project to cut its losses? I doubt it, but you might suggest it to them. - Bill Rhoades
Cutting its losses? Heck no! The only loss at the Colorado Department of Transportation is a loss of face.
The bridge is going forward and is not considered disposable surplus. That's the story, and CDOT is stickin' to it.
"We're not selling the bridge," confirmed the department's spokeswoman, Nancy Shanks.
CDOT appreciates the suggestion, though.
And speaking of suggestions ... Because the bridge is here to stay, we need a name-the-bridge contest. Action Line will publish your ideas, and then we'll put them up to a vote or something.
As you can see, not a lot of thought has been put into this Name The Bridge Contest. But that's OK because the bridge itself doesn't seem to have much planning, either.
Send your nominations and suggestions to the address below. This could be the source of great amusement (or embarrassment).
E-mail questions to email@example.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. You can request anonymity if you can explain why "bunting" simultaneously means a fabric decoration, a baseball strategy, a small bird and a hooded
sleeping garment for infants.