Durango has not looked better than it did for the five days of activities that culminated in the start of the 16-team USA Pro Cycling Challenge through parts of Western Colorado. Parking stripes were freshened, hedges clipped, American flags hung and the rim road at Fort Lewis College resurfaced, all for the expected 20,000 people and the television cameras that would showcase this community to the world.
While the numbers may be squishy, the race did attract some out-of-towners, but apparently nowhere near the numbers expected. Yes, some restaurants were full, and Sunday afternoon and evening’s downtown street fair was crowded before the fireworks, but there were reports of motel rooms available mid-day Sunday, the day before the mid-morning start.
Spectators along Main Avenue for the race were many, congregated at Eighth Street for the start and less so at 12th and Fifth streets where the route made turns. And, yes, many other spectators were spread along other portions of the race route to and from the college campus, plus U.S. Highway 160 west of Durango. But the totals could not have been in the tens of thousands.
Buckley Park, with its large screen, was a popular draw, where food and drinks were available and civic organizations had booths, but, numbers in the thousands? No.
From our perspective, Durangoans had themselves a very good time, and they worked hard for it. Cooperation and coordination among local governments, the college, not-for-profits and local businesses was extraordinary, which is what was required for an event of this size. There were cash contributions, the usual imaginative and competent community leaders, and many, many hours donated by community volunteers. All were needed.
So, we say to those distant Coloradans – and to cycling fans from across the country – who did not make the trip to Durango to encourage the USA Pro Cycling Challenge competitors and to enjoy the festivities, make a point of attending next time. We had a very good time.
This Labor Day weekend we will welcome motorcyclists who will enjoy entertainment, food and drinks in two locations, in Ignacio and north of Mancos.
They will be in downtown Durango, too, as usual.
Automobile drivers should look twice, as they say, to avoid an accident. And when on foot, on Main Avenue sidewalks, look twice to enjoy the display of engineering and chrome.