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Bike races and new bike paths

Last weekend, my husband and I were in Leadville, Colo., to celebrate a close friend’s sixtieth birthday, their 30th wedding anniversary and Lance Armstrong’s victory at the Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race.

Despite pulling up to the finish on a flat rear tire, Armstrong set a new course record in the Race Across the Sky with a time of six hours, 28 minutes and 51 seconds, winning by nearly 30 minutes. Dave Wiens, who had won the race every year since he started competing in Leadville in 2003, broke seven hours Saturday, but wasn’t able to hang with Armstrong after he pulled away from a small pack of front runners as they climbed to the Columbine Mine, which sits 12,600 feet above sea level.

Wiens rode a great race even though he finished 30 minutes behind Armstrong. He has beaten two Tour de France first-place finishers: Floyd Landis and Lance Armstrong. Last year was the first round against Armstrong, in which Wiens was able to cross the finish line two minutes before Armstrong in a record-breaking six hours, 45 minutes and 45 seconds. Last year, Armstrong had just come off the couch. This year, he just came off the tour.

It was exciting to be at the 6:30 a.m. start in downtown Leadville (10,200 feet), where 1,400 riders were trying to stay warm and dry. The air was charged with tons of nervous energy, and anticipation. Armstrong in Saturday’s race has done more than draw huge crowds and set a new course record. He’s given mountain biking a huge and renewed boost. If you are likewise inspired by Armstrong’s victory, now may be the time to dust off your bike and get out on the trail.

Our best wishes to Morgan Murri, as he competes this Saturday at the Leadville Trail 100 Ultra Marathon (a 100-mile foot race). Morgan may have other worries, but a flat tire isn’t one of them.

Pathway project

The Lake Forest Circle Pedestrian and Bicycle Pathway Phase II project is on track and ready to go, thanks to the approval of the owners on the July 2009 Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association ballot.

The Lake Forest Circle trail construction measure passed by an owner’s vote of 1,296 in favor to 385 opposed, and already existing funding, money that was in the bank (the special Parks and Trails Fund), has been approved by the owners to be spent on the next phase of the Lake Forest Circle Path project.

Phase II is a continuation of a pathway that was constructed last year — an 8-foot wide paved non-motorized pathway that began at the intersection of Lake Forest Circle and Fish Cove Court and ran southwesterly back to Beaver Circle, approximately 3,000 lineal feet. At that point, a 5-foot wide curb and gutter design, concrete sidewalk was constructed across the dam, 1,200 lineal feet of construction that now provides a safe alternative to what was a very tricky situation for anyone walking across the dam in the roadway.

Phase II construction will begin first thing in the spring as soon as conditions and weather permit. Construction includes approximately 3,500 lineal feet of 8-foot wide paved pathway adjacent and parallel to Lake Forest Circle beginning at Lyn Avenue and running southeast back up to North Pagosa Boulevard, through the intersections of Vista Boulevard, Woodsman Drive and Lakewood Street, making a connection to an already existing pedestrian pathway on North Pagosa Boulevard. A competitive bid process will be initiated over the winter and a contractor will be selected in the early spring.

The association is also looking into the possibility of working with Archuleta County on a 2010 Colorado State Trails Grant application for additional funding for pathway construction on Park Avenue. The project proposal would be for the extension of the Park Avenue pathway from where it ends now at Eagles Loft Circle, extending northeasterly to connect to Cloudcap Avenue.

In other Pagosa Lakes area news, the paved pedestrian and bicycle pathways on North Pagosa Boulevard and Lake Forest Circle will be temporarily closed Thursday and Friday, Aug. 27 and 28, while a pavement seal coat is applied. This maintenance project will help protect the pathways.