RIDGWAY – Jen Charrette had long been jealous of the Durango Devo mountain bike club. “They started in 2006 and have 250 kids, with groups for every age, starting with striders,” the smallest, pedal-free two-wheelers. “They’ve produced tons of champions.
I wanted to do something here in Ridgway,” she said this week at the bike shop she runs with her husband Randy. But the startup was intimidating: creating the entity, dealing with insurance, etcetera.
She found a solution this fall, and has opened an extension of Durango Devo in Ouray County. (There’s one in Silverton, too.) “We use their insurance, their worker’s compensation, their policies, their model. All of the teachers are from here though, from Ridgway and Ouray. It’s great. We started last week and have 20 kids, ages 5 to 14. It’s more than I expected at first.”
It’s an eight-week program. The kids meet once a week on Wednesdays, from 3:30 to 5:30. The little kids, the Junior Devos, meet in Town Park and ride the trails in Solar Ranch or the BMX track north of the library. “Our first week we worked on ‘level chins’ (keeping your head up and eyes down the trail – not on your front tire) and ‘parallel pedals’ to keep weight evenly distributed on the bike. The emphasis is on fun, but each week there’ll be a skill to work on.”
Charrette is herself one of the instructors for what she calls “the little guys,” along with Johanna Berry-Wasser. The older kids, the U14s, are coached by Randy Charrette and Jonathan (J.B.) Brittain. “They took the 10 to 14 year-olds over to the Weaver trails,” north of town, Jen said. “Later we’ll go over to the RAT trails” (off County Road 10 east of the highway). “The older ones will be getting the basics of technical riding, proper climbing and descending, emergency stopping, how to ride terrain, reading berms, that kind of thing. In Durango, they focus more on training and racing. We’re not there yet.”
Although Charrette did say she is interested in learning more about the Colorado High School Mountain Bike League. “These are introductory races for high school kids of all ability levels. Paonia and Grand Junction have joined up this year.”
The Devo program is not free; it costs $125 per child for eight weeks. Although, thanks to donations from CORE Solutions, Colorado Boy and Peak to Peak Bicycles, Charrette said, “We’re trying not to turn away any kids because their parents can’t afford it.”
Charrette said she would consider taking on new club members, even though the fall program has begun. The next eight-week program will happen in the spring.
“Since we don’t have any competitions to shoot for, we have a couple of end-of-season events we’re planning,” Charrette said. “We’re going to do a dress-up Halloween ride and potluck. And we’re planning an overnight trip to Fruita with the parents,” to ride some of the trails there.
Asked if the Devo kids would be riding the proposed pump track on the south side of Ridgway, Charrette said yes. “The skills are the same.” Apropos of the pump track, Charrette mentioned an upcoming fundraiser at the gazebo in Hartwell Park this Saturday (Sept. 17) at 6 p.m.; there will be beer for the adults, courtesy of Colorado Boy, and hot chocolate for the kids. Then at 8 p.m. there’ll be a screening, in the gazebo, of The Triplets of Belleville, the Oscar-nominated 2003 animated feature about cycling (and much more) in France.
After the first week, Charrette said the most important thing was, “They all came back with smiles on their faces. I’m super psyched.”