The mayor wears spandex

Cycling-champ Tom Danielson is chosen for honorary city title

Tom Danielson, among Durango’s cycling elite, autographs the sleeve of Madeleine Bruno, 12, before the start of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge race Aug. 20 on Main Avenue. Danielson, who will be named honorary mayor of Durango at tonight’s City Council meeting, credits much of his cycling success to his time here. He lives in Boulder. Enlarge photo

JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald file photo

Tom Danielson, among Durango’s cycling elite, autographs the sleeve of Madeleine Bruno, 12, before the start of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge race Aug. 20 on Main Avenue. Danielson, who will be named honorary mayor of Durango at tonight’s City Council meeting, credits much of his cycling success to his time here. He lives in Boulder.

The next honorary mayor no longer lives in Durango, but he is well-known around area bike trails.

At 5-foot-10 and 130 pounds, Tom Danielson will likely have the least amount of body fat of any public official in La Plata County. As a world-class cyclist, he will be one politician who can’t be accused of exaggerating his athletic accomplishments.

Unfortunately for sports fans, Danielson won’t be at City Hall tonight when regular Mayor Doug Lyon proclaims him the honorary mayor for 2012, but another public event is tentatively planned for Nov. 9.

According to the proclamation, the city wants to recognize “Tommy D” for calling Durango his hometown and his charity rides in support of athletic scholarships at Fort Lewis College, where he earned a marketing and psychology degree and led the cycling team to a national championship.

The professional cyclist and entrepreneur who actually grew up in Connecticut and lives in Boulder gives Durango much of the credit for his professional success.

“I feel like Durango is really the reason I have gotten to where I am in my career. I definitely owe the college and the town of Durango for everything I have,” Danielson said in a telephone interview.

“It’s a unique community. If you immerse yourself in it, you can chase any dream you want or live any lifestyle you want. It works the best when everybody works together as a team. That’s what I’ve always loved and believed about Durango.”

When his professional cycling career is over, Danielson would like to move his family to Durango. Danielson and his wife, Stephanie, have two children, Steven, 2, and baby Stella, three months.

His family and busy career make it difficult for him to travel to Durango as often as he would like. He is speaking at an eye conference in Minnesota this week in support of implantable contact eye lenses that he says have made a difference in his cycling career.

He is also marketing a line of coffee.

When he moves back to Durango, Danielson said he sees himself opening a coffee shop and bakery. Because he does not want to step on any toes, he emphasized that he won’t be opening a store here any time soon.

Danielson will be the first honorary mayor in at least five years. In his new capacity, he was not sure how he would wield his power.

“I don’t really know what kind of power it is, maybe free Dairy Queen Blizzards for everybody? I don’t know what it would be ... free coffee at the Bread? We’ll see what we can do,” he joked.

A suggestion that he waive all tickets for bicycle-related traffic offenses conflicted with his perception of the city: “Do people get bicycle tickets in Durango? I don’t think so.”

jhaug@durangoherald.com

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