It may have been the costumes, or it could have been the boat. Whichever it was, two Vikings from Albuquerque took top honors Sunday at the Iron Horse Durango Cyclery Cruzer Crit fundraising race.
“It was great fun,” said Gay Blech who, with her husband, Dusty, made up the Viking team. “It was fun to see all the different costumes (and) the crowds were so happy and cheering” for them, she said.
Each year, the Cruzer Crit raises money for a charity. This year, it was Bicycle Lemonade, a group that recycles bicycles and bike parts, and donates some free bicycles to appropriate recipients. Bicycle Lemonade also helps run the Cruzer Crit every year.
“Durango loves bicycles,” said Bicycle Lemonade cofounder Jon Bailey.
Bailey, who works at Durango Cyclery, said the organization last year purchased a mobile trailer that allows up to four recycled bicycles to be assembled at one time. The money raised this year will go toward rehabilitating the trailer, he said.
Bicycle Lemonade has fixed thousands of bicycles, Bailey said. These bikes usually have 80 to 100 percent recycled parts.
When bikes are donated, the team goes through each one to find the reusable components, he said. Those parts that aren’t usable are then made available to artists who may want to use them in sculptures or other projects. Parts that don’t find a home are sent to salvage, Bailey said.
To win the event, the Blechs used a combination of PVC pipes, wood-toned plastic and homemade Viking-style shields to transform their tandem bicycle into a Viking ship.
Of course, both wore bike helmets adorned with horns and “armor” breastplates to complete the ensemble.
The couple took the bike around the course four laps, and the crowd chose them as the top dogs out of the three top winning entries. Their prize was a custom-made electric guitar.
The couple also participate in other races, such as a half-century event in Albuquerque.
Linda and Ron Bunk of Durango also joined the race. Linda was dressed in a nun’s habit. “I get to show a little leg” because the habit had to be hiked up to ride her bike, Linda Bunk said.
Her husband dressed in a Hawaiian-style shirt, a couple of leis and a garish wig. Instead of a front wheel, Ron Bunk’s bicycle was attached to a shopping cart that held an inner tube, a six-pack cooler and other items.
Ron Bunk noted that the shopping cart was purchased at Belt Salvage Co. in Cortez, and did not come from a retailer.
“We’re slackers, and we didn’t enter any of the other events,” he said.
Durango resident Laurie Dickson, a friend of the Bunks, said she was doing the Cruzer Crit because, “It’s so damn fun.”
Dickson said her friends at first “had to twist my arm,” but then said “people have to lighten up a little.”
The event is “a great expression of Durango’s energy,” she said.