Hey, Spike! melds ’Zuma’s colorful past and present
August 6, 2016
The old mining town of Montezuma is known for a lot of things.
In the summer it's a favorite Summit County ride for avid road bicyclists to reach Montezuma and get back. Recently, the route has produced a few bodily bumps, scrapes and bruises to riders along with some damage to expensive bikes.
Sitting at 10,000 feet above sea level, past Keystone Resort, the mining town still has residents and is an incorporated municipality — mayor, town council and town hall.
It was once home to Jim "JT" Tyler, a renegade lawyer who died in Mazatlan, Mexico, some years back. He fit right in with the motto: "Montezuma — there are no rules above 10,000 feet." Tyler's house burned to the ground after his passing.
Another celebrity who used to have a presence there, and is still living, but now back in Silver City, New Mexico, is M. John Fayhee, author/magazine-newspaper guy. "MJohn" had the Mountain Gazette magazine office in 'zuma, and recalls famous climber Royal Robbins dropped in.
Still owning a cabin there is Jana Novak, also an author and blogger, who has a cabin in Bill's Ranch and just relocated to Oklahoma City — for love.
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"Meanwhile, sadly, I am putting my Peru Creek Road cabin on the market and hoping to sell it ASAP. Hopefully, it'll make it on the market within the next week or so," Jana reveals.
Colorful place this Montezuma and its characters.
Not long ago, another character — albeit unnamed — owning a residence "where the pavement meets the dirt," came up with several road-crossing mini-barriers to slow traffic and discourage road bikers from congregating there.
While minor looking, the pipe-chain-hose contraptions created havoc for even the most veteran of cyclists.
In separate incidents, two locally famous bikers, private eye Charlie McCormick and dentist-former Breckenridge mayor John Warner, did not fare well in their attempts to delicately get over the "barricades."
At Spike!'s request, Charlie tells his story this way:
"My accident happened Saturday July 16, 2016. I hit the largest of the four barriers going downhill at very low speed. I nearly took a header, but managed to drop the bike and get my feet down. Unbeknownst to me, my derailleur hanger got bent inward.
"Later, while climbing Swan Mountain on the way back to Breck, when I shifted into low gear the derailleur moved into the gears and spokes and got chewed up. I did take a header at that time, but it was uphill at slow speed. My bike is a Colnago with Campy components. I had to replace the hanger, the derailleur and the chain. With labor, parts and taxes my repairs cost $531 — not to mention two round-trips to Denver.
"Great that you mentioned JT. When I ride to Montezuma, I always go about 100 yards into town on the dirt just so I can take a look at JT's old house…or what's left of it. A remarkable character," Charlie adds.
Dr. John's report is similar:
"I was riding with Tim Casey, Jeff and Barb Hill on Sunday, July 17. I was riding my Specialized Roubaix Pro with Dura Ace components. I found out today that I need a new derailleur hanger and a new derailleur (about $350) and the helmet was $240 for a total of $590. Thanks for your interest."
What John did not include in his tale, is that he sustained some bruised ribs and stiffness, still apparent at his office a few days later. His helmet was cracked in the fall, and saved him from even more serious injury.
With these two reports, Summit County Interim Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons met with the Montezuma Town Council and Mayor Leslie Davis to come up with a positive outcome.
The sheriff says the council encouraged the homeowner to clear the roadway, which he did, and that Montezuma will likely purchase a formalized speed bump arrangement for install next summer.
"I met with the mayor and council for about an hour," the sheriff says. "We had great open dialog and all were very responsive."
Sheriff Jaime contacted the Summit Biking organization to help get the word out that cyclists should avoid gathering on the road where pavement turns to dirt, suggesting they move off to the side.
Miles F. Porter IV, nicknamed "Spike," a Coloradan since 1949, is an Army veteran, former hardrock miner, graduate of Adams State College, and a local since 1982. An award-winning investigative reporter, he and wife Mary E. Staby owned newspapers here for 20 years. Email your social info to firstname.lastname@example.org