Big Wheels

These Siberians roll before gearing up to govern.

Out of such fiery conflict strong bonds are formed, and in the club's two-year history, Puckett has attempted to gather the group outside of commuting hours. One day last year he organized a litter pick-up day. "It didn't really work out, because no one wanted to get off his bike," he remembers.

Last spring he tried again. "I see that the Annual Employee Golf tournament is on August 14th," he noted in an April 2004 e-mail. "Anyone interested in a Siberian Cycling Team entry?"

"Siberians don't golf, they bike!" McConville fired back. "Count me out."

"Alright, so forget the golf ball," Puckett responded. "It would be hard to putt from the bike anyway. Maybe we could use a dead goat and throw it at the flag pin. I think they play a game similar to that in Afghanistan."

"Paul's goat toss sounds interesting," Siberian James Caravan, a city public-works administrator, wrote.

"How about a live goat sacrifice?" Satter proposed. "Or a chicken."

"I don't see what's so bad about the goat idea," Puckett replied. "Why would the goat complain? How often does a goat get a chance to play golf?"

Subsequent plans have been scrapped.

Most of the Siberians' correspondence, however, revolves around the morning's inclement commute, with appropriate responses and pre-emptive defenses.

"Alas, my heart was with the lucky Siberians this morning who were getting the last wet, icy shards that Old Man Winter is sloshing our direction," Puckett wrote one morning last year. "But, my delicate physical condition did not permit me to join our brave hearts in battling this last assault on the prerogatives of Spring. Cheerio and Bravo! I can only hope that your weekend is equally miserable."

"When did Wallace Stegner join the group, for cryin out loud?" Andrew Saliman, another city attorney, replied indignantly via e-mail.

"Yes, my New Siberian Biker friends," Satter wrote last November after rolling into downtown through an early-winter snowfall from his south Denver home. "It was a winter wonderland this morning, bicycling across the snow and slush. I am confident that all of you bicycled into work this morning, as did I. The inspector, Hon. Jay Breese, will be hard at work verifying this."

"Confirmation of Judge Satter's trip has been recorded," Breese, a non-cycling, but associated, county judge, wrote back minutes later. "Tire temperature when measured at 7:41 am is consistent with his arrival at approximately 6:30 a.m."

A few minutes later, Breese sent out another memo: "All vehicles are of course subject to immediate and complete inspection. The inspector and his staff have other responsibilities (still looking for WMD in Iraq, for Jimmy Hoffa, etc.) and only conduct random examinations. The Inspector does note with concern that Mr. Elley is missing and absent -- he presumably did not ride in today. It is utterly no excuse that he retired."

Elley -- Gary Elley, a former administrator in the city's budget-management office -- retired at the end of last June. On his final day of work, the club gathered in front of the Wellington Webb building and followed Elley home on their bikes, where his wife had a party waiting.

"It was a perfect day," Puckett remembers nostalgically. "Wet and rainy."

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