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Bicyclists of all ages celebrate Durango DEVO

Organizations works with 950 cyclists ages 2-18
Several hundred Durango DEVO participants donned costumes for the 10th anniversary celebration of the organization, which began with a bicycle parade launched from Buckley Park and ended with a party at the Powerhouse Science Center. About 950 kids ages 2 to 19 participate in DEVO groups.

From a modest start – fewer than 10 participants at its founding in 2006 –

DEVO, whose mission is developing lifelong cyclists one ride at a time, works with kids ages 2 to 19. Its 70 coaches run more than 20 programs, including Durango and Animas high schools’ league teams.

Between 250 and 300 people of all ages – it’s hard to get a count when the crowd is in perpetual motion – dressed in costumes both because of Halloween and the biking community’s love of dressing up. Some, like junior girls’ coach Nicole Schnee, who came as Glinda the Good Witch from the “Wizard of Oz,” added to the challenge of bicycling by wearing a ball gown and crown.

“My favorite part is laughing with the girls,” said Schnee, who’s been with the program since 2009. “They laugh a lot.”

A number of alumni have gone on to race at the college and professional level, including perhaps the most illustrious DEVO alumnus, Rio Olympian Howard Grotts, who attended the event Sunday. But for most of the parents, DEVO is important for other reasons.

“My daughter has gotten a sense of empowerment and team camaraderie,” said Jamie Wienk, administrative director of the organization. Her and husband, Eric’s, daughter, 7½-year-old Samina, participates in the DEVO preschool through fifth-grade junior groups. “People don’t think cycling is a team sport, but it is. She’s had people cheering for her, gets to ride in dress-up costume parades and she’s learned about road laws, because she also rides her bike to school.”

Other area cycling standouts also attended, including World Mountain Bike champion and multi-times Iron Horse Bicycle road race champion Ned Overend, Olympian Travis Brown, who’s vice president of the DEVO board of directors, and champions Todd Wells and Tad Elliott. Up-and-coming DEVO alumni Stephen Davoust and Levi Kurlander, who ride for Fort Lewis College, were also there.

“The thing I find beautiful is how many fathers are involved,” said Vickie Coe, who happened to be walking by Buckley Park and had to check out the gaily dressed crowd circling the park on their bicycles before heading out on the parade. “I just love seeing them so involved and sharing what they love with their kids.”

abutler@durangoherald.com

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