‘Tour of Duty’ rides into Durango

City pulls together welcome for another cycling event

Cyclists on the Tour of Duty Ride approach the Durango Welcome Center on Main Avenue on Saturday. The riders are stopping in Durango during their journey from San Diego to New York City to honor military, police, firefighters and emergency-service workers in the United States and Australia. Enlarge photo

DAVID BERGELAND/Durango Herald

Cyclists on the Tour of Duty Ride approach the Durango Welcome Center on Main Avenue on Saturday. The riders are stopping in Durango during their journey from San Diego to New York City to honor military, police, firefighters and emergency-service workers in the United States and Australia.

While most eyes Saturday were on events for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, a group of two dozen cyclists from the United States and Australia glided to a stop in front of the new Durango Welcome Center exactly at 11 a.m.

The cyclists represent the “2012 Tour of Duty Ride” from San Diego to New York. The ride honors the military and public-safety personnel, according to the organization’s website.

“This event aims to demonstrate the admiration and respect we hold for the military, police, firefighters and emergency-service workers who serve our (two) countries with diligence, care and selflessness,” says the website.

Durango authorities were told about the Tour of Duty arrival only about a week ago.

Durango Fire & Rescue Authority Chief Dan Noonan said Durango, as usual, was up to the challenge and pulled a plan together quickly.

“That’s what Durango does,” Noonan said just before the cyclists arrived.

A fire truck and two motorcycle officers led the group to the Welcome Center.

The chief said that there were 32 department personnel plus eight managers involved in the event. That’s about double the normal on-duty staffing levels.

Susan Lander, interim director of the Durango Area Tourism Office, agreed with Noonan that Durango has the gumption to handle multiple events.

“In Durango, we pull together,” she said while waiting for the riders to arrive.

The Tour of Duty Ride started Aug. 12 in San Diego and will conclude Sept. 1 in New York City at the USS Intrepid aircraft carrier. The Intrepid is now a national museum that also houses the Space Shuttle Enterprise.

Along the 2,600-mile trip, riders will stop in places such as Nashville, Philadelphia, Chicago and Washington, D.C., among others.

Phoenix Fire Department Capt. Greg Hawk shoots video as the Tour of Duty Ride arrives at the Durango Welcome Center. Enlarge photo

DAVID BERGELAND/Durango Herald

Phoenix Fire Department Capt. Greg Hawk shoots video as the Tour of Duty Ride arrives at the Durango Welcome Center.