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Mountain News: Armstrong’s presence felt



LEADVILLE, Colo. – Lance Armstrong made his name world-known on skinny tires, not fat ones. Still, there is only one Lance Armstrong, and so the atmosphere this year at the Leadville 100 — a fat tire race — was electrified with Armstrong competing.

The course demands Herculean efforts. As the name suggests, it covers 100 miles, with 14,000 feet of climbing, topping out at 12,600 feet.

As well, there can be special challenges peculiar to Leadville, a one-time mining town set to resume its mining ways in another year or two. “Lycra will never replace denim as the fabric of choice,” observes the Gunnison Country Times in its report of the race.

For example, one rider said he had to “yoo-hoo” to get past an oblivious woman driving a pickup truck down the middle of the road, a cigarette dangling out of the window. That same racer was chased by dogs down a hill near the finish.

Then there was Armstrong. One competitor, Crested Butte’s Ethan Passant, with outstanding accomplishments in long distances in his own right, found himself in an unusual position at one point. “I looked back and said, ‘Holy $***, Lance Armstrong is on my wheel, drafting off of me,’” he said.

It came down to Armstrong and David Wiens, a Gunnison resident who had previously won the race five times — all after supposedly retiring from racing.

In the end, Armstrong conceded the race, and Wiens eased away to a win, despite a flattening rear tire that held only 10 pounds per square inch of air as he squished across the finish line in a record 6 hours and 45 minutes.

Beyond this obvious drama at the front of the pack, the Times’s correspondent, editor Chris Dickey, also muses about the also-rans. Such as how on earth did the guy from flat-as-pancakes Kansas train for a race like this?

Riding getting expensive

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – Blowing through a stop sign while riding a bicycle is costing riders money this summer in Jackson. The local police department has ramped up enforcement of the laws. The Jackson Hole News & Guide says 40 per cent of cases in traffic court on a recent day were riders charged with failure to stop at stop signs.

“The warnings weren’t working,” said Alan Johnson, a police officer, who is leading the charge. The fine is $100, plus $35 tuition for an eight-hour traffic school.

Johnson, who is a cyclist himself, says he gives riders the benefit of a doubt. “If somebody gives a worthwhile attempt to stop and look both ways, they’re good,” he said. “If they don’t even come close to stopping and they just look around and go, they’ll get a ticket.”

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