In ditching bike race, city explores a middle-of-road event

Now that the city passed on the 2013 USA Pro Challenge bicycle race, are there any spectacular initiatives to plug the gaping hole in Durango’s summer special-events calendar? What will attract thousands of new visitors to town? – Mildly Curious

With the exception of the Iron Horse, the city is pretty much done on the whole bike thing.

But rumor has it that Durango’s planning something easier and a lot cheaper than the pedal palooza of a couple months ago.

At least that’s the scuttlebutt. Nevertheless, local officials pooh-pooh any hush-hush plans – which means only one thing: something’s afoot.

Action Line conferred with unreliable sources and has discovered the city’s new tourism gambit.

Instead of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, the city will host the Schmoe Challenge.

It’s an average event for everyone from anywhere, a celebration for any Joe Schmoe who happens to show up in town on a warm August weekend.

“We think the Schmoe Challenge will have a broader appeal to our typical workaday visitor base,” one official confided. “It will be an inclusive for the average Schmoe, with no need for police escorts, athlete villages or international journalists.”

The Schmoe Challenge will keep several hallmarks of the Pro Challenge, such as the public art requirement.

Forget the iron roundabout sculpture. The Schmoe Challenge will accept one of those sofa-size landscape prints you can find at Home Depot for 80 bucks already framed.

And gala banquets? You bet! A royal Schmoe family will feel regally at home with Burger King and Dairy Queen. For the VIP, there’s KFC.

Every big shebang has to have a grand theme. The 2012 Pro Challenge’s was the forgettable if not pretentious ditty, “It all starts here.”

The Schmoe Challenge will build upon that idea: “It’s gotta start someplace, so here’s just fine.”

Athletic events remain at the heart of the Schmoe Challenge. There will be a Run of the Mill. But the real test will be for any Schmoe to venture past 10th Street while sauntering up Main Avenue.

The Schmoe Challenge is being planned by a blue-ribbon panel – a Pabst Blue Ribbon panel.

So you can expect Our Fair City to roll up the red carpet and spare every expense in making this happen.

Colorado voters recently legalized marijuana. Meanwhile, the City Council is about to ban tobacco use everywhere in town. Does this mean it’s easier to smoke dope than cigarettes in Durango? Sign me, J.R. Tokin

A haze hangs over this issue until tomorrow, when an activist, knee-jerk, busybody City Council likely will OK a ban on smoking outdoors in public places.

The ban will include the Animas River Trail, which parallels the narrow-gauge railroad tracks. Curiously, the train generates more smoke in one trip than the sum total of all cigarettes smoked on the trail over the last 20 years.

So this must not really be about smoke.

Confusion reigns. On the one hand, it’s becoming nearly impossible to use a federally regulated product (tobacco). At the same time, it’s becoming a cinch to use a federally prohibited product (marijuana).

No wonder why this country is so divided. We can’t even agree on what’s appropriate to inhale.

According to Colorado’s medical marijuana laws, you can’t toke in plain view of the general public or in a place open to the general public.

That pretty much describes the city’s approach to tobacco. So it’s a toss-up as to which product – cigarettes or pot – is easier to smoke.

If the city were serious about protecting citizens from smoke, it would ban the sale of matches and lighters.

But this would upset a key constituency group: burners of incense and smudge sticks. In other words, denizens of the Farmers Market.

The folks could easily storm City Hall on any given Saturday if denied their right to light locally made holistic patchouli-scented candles.

E-mail questions to actionline@durangoherald.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 80301. You can request anonymity if you wonder when the city will try to ban 32-ounce soft drinks.

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