USA Cycling at crossroads as Rio Olympics approaches | PostIndependent.com

USA Cycling at crossroads as Rio Olympics approaches

Kristin Armstrong could win her third straight Olympic gold medal in Rio. The women’s pursuit team is favored to capture gold. Several Americans could land on the BMX podium.

Will anybody in the U.S. notice? Or even care?

That is perhaps the biggest challenge facing USA Cycling as the Rio Games arrive. One of the nation’s most popular participatory sports is dealing with aging athletes, declining membership and a vast disconnect between amateur riders and their elite counterparts.

It has left USA Cycling officials to wonder just where they stand in the sport’s structure.

“There is no doubt we need to adapt as an organization,” agreed Derek Bouchard-Hall, who took over as the governing body’s CEO last year after a successful career in private business.

To usher the organization into the future, Bouchard-Hall spent several months examining USA Cycling’s shortcomings, then came up with a three-prong approach to shake things up.

First, he is championing a renewed emphasis on amateur cycling, rather than funneling so much of USA Cycling’s resources to elite athletes. The idea is that by fostering growth at the grassroots level, the sport in the U.S. will become more robust in the long-term.

Second, he wants to broaden the coverage of USA Cycling to encompass not just racers but the everyday cyclist, those who ride in mass events such as RAGBRAI — the bike ride across Iowa taking place this week — and Gran Fondos, the pseudo-races that have become all the rage.

Finally, he wants an organization that is more open, transparent and willing to adjust to feedback, a customer-focused approach that stems from his previous job with bike retailer Wiggle.

That’s not to say USA Cycling is abandoning elite athletes. Instead, Bouchard-Hall believes the amateur cyclist and elite cyclist go hand-in-hand, the growth of one helping the other.

“People say, ‘Where do you put your efforts, the amateurs or the elite?’ The answer is both,” he explained. “This is a balance that all national governing bodies in America face.”

The Rio Olympics may offer an opportunity to kick-start his plan.

Sure, broadcaster NBC will focus on more glamorous sports such as gymnastics and swimming, the traditional Olympic sports that push the public needle. But whether they are mere highlights of Armstrong in the time trial or Connor Fields on the BMX track, or online streams of cycling events throughout the Olympic program, the visibility of the Summer Games is priceless.

That is crucial for USA Cycling, which has always struggled to raise money.

Part of its support comes from the U.S. Olympic Committee, and is based on success at world championships and other major competitions. But according to recent USOC tax returns, sports such as shooting, rowing and sailing often receive more money than cycling.

“Where we suffer is our federation doesn’t have the funds,” said Sarah Hammer, who anchors the women’s pursuit team. “Something like swimming, they can generate their own through sponsors.”

USA Cycling has rarely had that ability, even when Lance Armstrong was in the spotlight.

Some worry things could get even tighter for elite athletes if Bouchard-Hall redirects some of their scant funding to support the growth of grassroots cycling. But he quickly dispels that notion, pointing toward fundraising and sponsorship plans to help fill those coffers.

More importantly, Bouchard-Hall said, people should understand that his plan to revitalize USA Cycling is a long-term approach that will eventually benefit elite athletes, too.

By growing the sport at the local level, Bouchard-Hall hopes USA Cycling’s slow membership decline will turn around. More young people will pick up cycling, reversing a trend toward an aging demographic. And some day, the best of those athletes will advance far enough in the sport that they will compete at world championships and the Olympics.

“We’re not even participating in track cycling in some of disciplines, which is unfortunate,” Bouchard-Hall said. “We believe we’re a really important part of the racing ecosystem, but we also believe it’s the right thing to do to foster participation at all levels.”

USA Cycling received a small bump four years ago from the London Games, where it won four cycling medals — fifth-most of any nation. But Bouchard-Hall hopes for a bigger return from the Rio Games, where the time zone will make tuning in easier for American fans.

The difficulty lies in trying to build on the visibility.

“We’re not a sport that generates a lot of attention without big megastars and big money,” Bouchard-Hall said. “When we had Lance, we got a lot of attention, cycling got a lot of publicity. But our Olympians, as great as those stories are within the sport — and people who follow the sport do love them — they don’t translate well outside of them. What we need to do is get out the stories and that’s a difficult challenge.”

But it’s also a unique opportunity. The Olympics are a once-every-four-years chance to help Bouchard-Hall jumpstart his vision for the future of USA Cycling.

“You have to be able to change as an organization when everything around you is changing,” said Mark Gullickson, the long-tenured director of USA Cycling’s mountain bike program.

“I think Derek was faced with some really tough challenges,” Gullickson said, “and we’re still in the early phases of where you’re headed. But I think we’re making changes that we need to make if you really want to change the direction of the program to meet the needs of the members.”

Trump invites Russia to hack Clinton’s emails

MIAMI — Donald Trump has a message for Russia: find Hillary Clinton’s missing emails. But his running mate, Mike Pence, is sending mixed signals.

In a  press conference Wednesday, the Republican presidential nominee said that the 30,000 missing emails from Clinton’s private email server would reveal “some beauties” and made an extraordinary plea for a foreign power to locate them.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said. “I think you’ll be rewarded mightily by our press.”

Clinton’s campaign asserts that Russia hacked computers belonging to the Democratic National Committee and released those emails on the eve of the party’s convention to benefit Trump’s candidacy. The emails, published by WikiLeaks last week, revealed that the DNC favored Clinton’s candidacy over rival Bernie Sanders, triggering a leadership shakeup within the DNC.

The New York Times, citing ederal officials who have been briefed on the evidence, reported Wednesday that American intelligence agencies have told the White House they now have “high confidence” that the Russian government was behind the theft of emails and documents from the DNC.

Trump dismissed the claims, saying it’s not clear who hacked those emails, but the incident is a sign that foreign countries no longer respect the U.S.

“If it’s any foreign country, it shows how little respect they have for the United States,” said Trump, who added that he was “not an email person myself because I believe it can be hacked.”

Moments after Trump took the final question, Pence condemned the possible cyber-espionage, breaking from Trump for the first time since being selected as his running mate.

“If it is Russia and they are interfering in our elections, I can assure you both parties and the United States government will ensure there are serious consequences,” Pence said in a statement.

A spokesman for House Speaker Paul Ryan said Wednesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin should stay out of the U.S. presidential election.

“Russia is a global menace led by a devious thug. Putin should stay out of this election,” spokesman Brendan Buck said in a statement.

Trump, whom Democrats have accused of having cozy ties with Putin, repeatedly declined to condemn the actions of Russia or any other foreign power of trying to intervene in the a U.S. election.

“No, it gives me no pause,” the celebrity businessman said. “If Russia or China or any of those country gets those emails, I’ve got to be honest with you, I’d love to see them.”

He also said, “I’m not going to tell Putin what to do. Why should I tell Putin what to do?”

The Clinton campaign immediately denounced Trump’s call.

“This has to be the first time that a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against his political opponent,” senior policy adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement. “That’s not hyperbole, those are just the facts. This has gone from being a matter of curiosity, and a matter of politics, to being a national security issue.”

Trump also suggested that Clinton should not receive any security briefings due to the hack that would ensure “that word will get out.”

Trump has said that he has “zero investments” in Russia and insisted that his company had not received any significant investments from the country. He also has downplayed his affection for Putin and said he would treat the Russian leader “firmly,” though he said he wanted to improve relations with Russia. Some Democrats and security experts have said that Trump’s proposal to set conditions on NATO allies could risk Russian expansion in Eastern Europe.

President Barack Obama, meanwhile, said “anything’s possible” when asked during an interview whether the Russians could be working to sway the election toward Trump.

“Donald Trump has repeatedly expressed admiration for Vladimir Putin,” Obama said during the sit-down with NBC News that aired Tuesday. “And I think that Trump’s gotten pretty favorable coverage back in Russia.”

Manors ready to proceed with $4M in upgrades

The Manors low-income senior housing apartments in downtown Glenwood Springs are finally on track to see $4 million worth of much-needed renovations over the next few months.

However, some of that work will require that tenants who have limited mobility be relocated for a period of time while elevators in the two, six-story Manors I and II buildings on Blake and Bennett avenues are under repair.

Denver-based Steele Properties, the development arm of the Monroe Group, which manages the apartments, was recently awarded tax credit financing and bonding through the Colorado Housing Finance Authority to do the renovations, said Jennifer Cloud, acquisitions manager for Steele.

An attempt was made last year to obtain the credits without success. But the long-awaited project is now scheduled to begin by late August, Cloud said.

The renovations will include a variety of upgrades for each apartment unit, including new doors, flooring, kitchen cabinets, energy efficient appliances, bathroom fixtures, a new paint job and security/call system upgrades.

The buildings will also see repairs to the parking areas, a new fire sprinkler system, electrical upgrades, new lighting fixtures, new air-conditioning units and elevator retrofits.

Tenants can remain in their apartments for most of the work, although they may want to find someplace to be during the day when construction is going on, Cloud said.

However, the elevators will be off line for a period of time in both buildings, meaning tenants will either have to use the stairs or arrange through their HUD Section 8 rental assistance to be temporarily relocated. Those with mobility concerns in particular may want to consider that option, Cloud said.

“Our tenants at this property in particular do have a lot of mobility issues, and we are aware of that,” Cloud said.

During the repair work, HUD will arrange to pay for a hotel room and provide a stipend for food and other necessities. Tenants can also arrange to stay with a friend or family during that time and also receive the stipend, she explained.

“We know this will be tough for them,” she said. “But in the end they will see a lot of improvements, and this is a good investment in the property that will extend its affordability for many years.”

The CHFA financing also ensures that the property will continue to operate as low-income senior housing for at least the next 20 years, Cloud explained.

The Manors were built in 1978 to provide 78 one-bedroom units under the Section 8 housing program. A small renovation was done in 1988, and repairs have been made over the years. But the property is now in need of a large-scale renovation, according to a news release issued by Steele and the Monroe Group.

Steele obtained a 4 percent Low Income Housing Tax Credit and tax exempt bond financing from the CHFA. The Garfield County Housing Authority also transferred $2.5 million of its federal tax exempt bond cap funds back to CHFA in support of the local project.

The Monroe Group will continue to manage the property throughout renovation and after it is completed, while Steele Properties will be responsible for hiring a general contractor and overseeing the work, Cloud said.

Michel (Mike) Gafford Jocelyn (7/3/1943 — 7/20/2016)

Michel (Mike) Gafford Jocelyn, 73, died peacefully after a valiant fight against brain cancer at Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, on July 20th 2016, surrounded by those who loved him most.

Mike was born at St. Francis in Wichita, Kansas. An alumni of Wichita University, Mike lived every day of his life to the fullest and touched many people’s hearts. He shared his passions with friends and family alike. His many adventures included being a pilot, race car driver, captain at sea, banker, engineer, restaurant owner, entrepreneur, and ordained minister, officiating the marriages of his son Brandon Jocelyn, and loved ones Rachel Baumgardner and Tim Dowdeswell. He owned and operated a property management business with his wife Elizabeth in Breckenridge, Colorado. Mike was a stranger to no one and had a special knack for befriending everyone who had the privilege of meeting him.

Mike is preceded in death by his sister Shirley Farley.

Mike is survived by his wife of 24 years, Elizabeth Ann Jocelyn (Grimes); sons Taylor Jocelyn (wife Lydia), Brandon Jocelyn (wife Valerie) and Zachary Jocelyn (wife Tia); daughter Jami-Leone Denise Jocelyn; brothers Steve Jocelyn and Steve Price; grandchildren Shelby and Cameron Jocelyn; and Life mentor to Rachel Baumgardner (wife Nikki) and Tim Dowdeswell (wife Wendy).

There will be a celebration of life held at the Jocelyn Ranch on July 30th at 2:00 pm.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Calaway-Young Cancer Center (1906 Blake Ave, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601) and/or the college funds of Mike’s children Zac and Jami (PO Box 7492, Breckenridge, CO 80424).

Nederland band plays Summer of Music

The Center for the Arts presents Summer of Music Concert No. 5 tonight at Two Rivers Park.

Gipsy Moon from Nederland will deliver its version of indie-folk, Latin rhythms, jazzy vocals and gypsy swing.

Here’s what they say:

“Gipsy Moon is a four-piece group of artists on an endless musical journey, sharing songs with the hopes of planting inspiration into the soul, starting a fire in the heart, and building community that invokes love in its wildest manifestations.

“The four members, Silas Herman (mandolin, guitar, vocals), Mackenzie Page (guitar, tenor banjo, vocals), Matt Cantor (bass, vocals) and Andrew Conley (cello) write all original material about nature, sunsets, mountain rain and love. With soothing harmonies, soul-stirring poetry and instrumentals that make the hips sway as they blend the genres that hippies and poets, lovers and dancers, freaks and families alike can all come together to sing and dance until the sun comes up.”

Opening for this ensemble is the guitar, bass and percussion of local band Valle Musico, which combines classical, Latin and jazz. This new collaboration consists of guitarists Pat Winger and John Ramo, percussionist Brett Gould and bassist Bruce Imig. With a musical mission to bring new interpretations of classical, jazz and worldbeat music to audiences, Valle Musico has a focus that explores the confluence of these genres.

Here’s how they came to be: “Valle Musico was inspired by John Ramo’s meeting the musical icon Paul Simon in his apartment in New York City when ‘Graceland’ was first released in 1987. His conversation with Paul Simon inspired John, especially when Paul Simon stated that music, for him, was essentially about ‘guitars and percussion.’

“This theme forms the basis of Valle Musico’s musical collaboration — an exploration of guitars and percussion, the improvisational and notated aspects of classical, jazz, world beat musical genres and how they blend, combine and fuse.”

The evening of music starts at 6:30, rain or shine. No smoking, no pets and no glass containers. Aug. 3 is the Summer of Music finale.

Food column: Your taste buds are yours alone

I took an interesting tour and did a wine tasting with Hendry winery in Napa, California, and was reminded of one thing that I’ve always known: You will never have two people that have the same taste buds or react the same way to any flavor. Next time someone tells you how things should taste or what you should find in a bottle or in a dish, remember that it’s only what you taste that’s important, and no one can tell you any different about the textures and flavors you experience.

One of the major things that we must learn is that food changes wine. For example when you’re drinking chardonnay you should have a fatty component to allow the wine to come out. When having a albariño, you should have clean flavors with absolutely no fat. Cabernet sauvignon will always do the talking at the table, so a rib-eye will go perfectly.

There are countless wines out there, and it’s up to you to choose what you love. There should really be no rules when it comes to wine as long as you love what you’re drinking. Here are a few recipes that you can make to help you pair your albariño the way that I found it inspiring and interesting.

Walleye Fish Tacos with Sesame Cabbage Slaw

1 pound walleye filets, cut into strips

Cabbage Slaw

1 small napa cabbage head

1 jalapeno, chopped finely

2 scallions, sliced thinly

1 cucumber, diced

¼ cup cilantro, chopped

1 tablespoon sesame oil

Spiced Tomatillo Sauce

8 tomatillos

1 roma tomato

1 jalapeno

2 chile de arbol

2 garlic cloves

¼ cup cilantro

Garnish & At the Table

2 limes, cut into wedges

12 corn tortillas

In a bowl combine all the cabbage slaw ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Adding a little cumin always adds an earthy taste. Place on the bottom of a platter.

Place all the ingredients for the tomatillo sauce in a sauce pan and place over medium heat with ½ cup of water. Cook for 8 minutes and remove from heat. Blend for about 2 minutes, add ¼ cup of cilantro. Place in a bowl on the same platter as the slaw.

Season the strips of walleye with only salt. Bring a non-stick skillet to medium heat, then add grapeseed oil. Add the strips and cook for about a minute with skin down, flip and cook for another minute. Place them on top of the slaw.

The last thing you should do is heat the tortillas in a skillet over medium high heat until tender.

Now all your guests can build their own tacos. Garnish the platter surrounding with lime wedges so they can squeeze themselves. A perfect margarita and walleye tacos is all you need to bring smiles to your guests or family.

Nicoise Salad

4 4-ounce sushi grade tuna steaks

1 tablespoon each: cumin, coriander, paprika and fennel seed (aka Susie’s Spice)

2 eggs, boiled and quartered

2 baby red potatoes, boiled and quartered

20 french greens beans, blanched

12 nicoise olives

2 roma tomatoes, quartered

4 hearts of palm, sliced diagonally

Herb de Provence dressing (see recipe below)

salad and arugula mixture (desired amount)

This amazing salad has something for everyone at your table. You can add other ingredients or substitute any of these, but you must have the nicoise olives in order to call this amazing salad just that.

I like serving the tuna at room temperature, so I wait until the salad is assembled, then sear this part. You want to keep each ingredient together so that you can just keep turning the platter around and everyone can grab their favorite thing.

Give one side of the tuna a nice coat of Susie’s Spice. Get a non-stick skillet over high heat and add a tablespoon of olive oil once you see the pan smoking. Add the tuna immediately and allow it to sear for about 2 minutes. Turn off heat and remove tuna. Place the steaks right on top of the salad.

I like to drizzle the dressing on the entire thing, but since it’s family style, sometimes it’s better to just have a nice bowl of it and have everyone dress as they desire.

Herb de Provence dressing

2 tablespoons herb de Provence

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon agave

¼ cup red wine vinegar

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

In a bowl place the Dijon mustard, agave and vinegar and whisk for about a minute to let the flavors marry. Then add the extra virgin olive oil slowly so it emulsifies. Add the herb de Provence and season as desired. Place in a bowl with a spoon.

Sopa de Lima

serves 10 to 12

3 chicken breasts

1 tablespoon olive oil

6 garlic cloves

1/2 yellow onion

2 limes, zested and juiced

2 celery stalks, sliced thin at an angle

3 carrots, julienned

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

In an 8 quart saucepan bring chicken to a boil in 4 quarts of water. Reduce heat to a simmer for 15 minutes. Remove chicken, shred and return to reserved stock. In a skillet saute garlic, yellow onion, celery stalks, lime zest and carrots for 10 minutes. Combine vegetable mixture with chicken and broth. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Add lime juice, cilantro and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with diced avocado if desired.

Shrimp Orzo Risotto

4 portions

2 cups cooked orzo pasta

1/4 cup peas

1/4 goat cheese

1 each lemon, zest

1 sage leaf, shaved

12 shrimp, deveined and peeled

1 cup vegetable stock

2 tablespoons Parmesan, grated

In a pan add vegetable stock over medium high heat until it starts to boil. Add all ingredients and fold slowly, turning heat down to a low-medium for 7-8 minutes. Season and serve.

Super School rally planned at tonight’s Summer of Music concert

Tonight’s Music in the Park will include a brief Super School promotional rally.

Glenwood Springs’ Yampah Mountain High School is a finalist for a $10 million grant spread over five years, with the winners to be announced Aug. 4.

“We’re going to record it and promote it on social media for one last-ditch effort to grab headlines for us to be considered for the $10 million next week,” said GlenX Super School project organizer Altai Chuluun.

“On stage at 7:30 p.m., I’ll introduce what we’re trying to accomplish, then get everyone to stand up and participate.”

Chuluun said he would urge those who are social media savvy to record the rallying cry and post it on social media with hashtags #rethinkhighschool and #xqamerica.

Yampah’s proposal, which is being developed in partnership with area business and civic leaders, as well as Colorado Mountain College, involves the creation of a campus-based, learn-work program that can help students follow their passions into college and the workforce.

The goal is also to develop a broader model using an online platform that can be shared with other high schools locally and abroad.

Grand Valley gets athletic facility upgrades

Thanks to a $30 million bond signed in the fall of 2015, the Garfield County School District 16 is going through a large number of improvements for facilities this summer. Through that bond, the Grand Valley High School football field, track and baseball field will see marked improvements this coming season.

Throughout the summer the school, tucked along the Colorado River on Cardinal Way, has undergone many changes, including major improvements to the athletic facilities that will now rival some of the best on the Western Slope.

Going from grass to artificial turf, the football field is an impressive display of these improvements, while the track is brand new. Upgrades on the irrigation system for the practice fields were included, as well as upgrades to the baseball field. Along with that, the visiting side of the stadium will now have restroom facilities, as well as a concession stand so that fans don’t have to walk the entire way around the track to get snacks and drinks.

While in the process of making the upgrades to the facilities, athletic director Dave Walck — who leads the facilities board for the school district — realized that the school needed to upgrade the locker rooms due to size restrictions, among other things. Unfortunately, the upgrade to the locker rooms wouldn’t fit under the budget for facilities, so through the help of the Owner’s Rep and the district administration, a grant was written to free up some money to build a field-house between the track and high school, where there will be more space for the locker rooms.

The field-house won’t be connected to the school itself due to structure issues, but it will provide the student-athletes with changing rooms for sports, as well as officials for games.

According to Walck, the field-house won’t be completed in time for football season, but it should be finished in December in the middle of basketball and wrestling season.

“We had all the plans and everything drawn up for the field-house, but once we started the process we realized we wouldn’t have enough money for it,” Walck said. “Once we got the extra money for it, we were able to get the project started. There’s going to be so many upgrades to our school system this year.”

The work on the athletic facilities started right after the conclusion of football season, so workers have been tearing up the ground around Grand Valley High School for about 10 months now. However, the hard work is finally showing a clear picture of just what the Cardinals set out to accomplish with the upgrades as the football field stands out to travelers along Interstate 70 heading east and west.

“Obviously I’m overjoyed at the prospect of these new facilities for this program,” Walck said. “A friend of mine put it to me best, saying ‘it’s great to see all this hard work put towards academics and student achievements, and now you’re giving these kids and this community a reward for all their hard work with these new facilities.’ When he said it to me it kind of summed my feelings up in a nutshell. I’m really happy to see this as a great extension of what we’re trying to do at our everyday work at Grand Valley High School and Garfield 16. It’s so nice to see the community notice this and help reward us with these great facilities.”

Completion of the track and field facility will happen in the first week of August, which will be just in time for the start of football camp on Aug. 15. The Cardinals will open the season Sept. 2 against Vail Christian for the first home football game on the new field.

Carbondale’s Rohrbaugh qualifies for U.S. Amateur with win at Columbine CC

Carbondale native Tristan Rohrbaugh, a junior golfer at Boise State in the Big 12, clinched a spot in the 116th U.S. Amateur Tournament in Oakland Hills, Michigan, on Aug. 15-21, by winning Monday at Columbine Country Club in Denver by three strokes with a 10-under-par 134.

A former 3A state high school champion and a junior at Boise State, Rohrbaugh captured medalist honors Monday, shooting rounds of 68 and 66. Rohrbaugh holed out from 97 yards for eagle at the par-4 17th hole in the morning and racked up a dozen birdies go along with four bogeys.

“It’s pretty cool [to qualify],” Rohrbaugh said. “It’s cool to even go play that place (Oakland Hills), let alone going to the U.S. Amateur there. I’m pretty excited. It hasn’t really sunk in.”

While he will be competing in his first United States Golf Association championship, Rohrbaugh is certainly not a stranger to being inside the ropes at such prestigious events.

The Carbondale native has caddied at three U.S. Senior Opens for his dad, three-time Colorado PGA Professional Champion and Ironbridge Golf Club pro Doug Rohrbaugh.

However, caddying in a big event for his father likely won’t compare to playing in a national championship — and arguably the most prestigious amateur tournament on the planet. That’s a big reason why Rohrbaugh had to work to keep his emotions in check on Monday at Columbine.

Staying calm seemed to work well for Rohrbaugh, as his double-digit-under-par total would indicate.

Rohrbaugh won the 75-player tournament at Columbine CC and will get a chance to play on National Television on Fox Sports 1 and FOX during the six-day U.S. Amateur tournament.

Eating Local column: Beef on the lam

On Colby Farm, our new yearling steer Buttercup seemed content to lose himself in the deep grass, nap in the shade of an apple tree, and while away the days in the peace of his own company. At least for the first three weeks.

Ed and I left town to attend a meeting of a new association of commercial Colorado beekeepers in Broomfield. We arrived home late from the bee meeting. Early the next morning Ed went out to check on the steer. Returning to the house, he announced breathlessly, “Buttercup is missing. I think rustlers came and got him.”

We’d heard about modern-day cattle rustling right here in Garfield County from Al who helped us bring the steer home when Ed bought him. It must have fired Ed’s imagination.

We searched the 2-acre farm — Buttercup is pretty big, but the grass is high, and he does disappear — then Ed came inside to call the brand inspector.

By then he’d spotted a 6-foot stretch of ordinary wire mesh fence spanning a gap between an electric fence and our neighbor Eldon’s towering impenetrable deer fence to the west. It was bowed down by some great weight. Buttercup had found the one flaw in Ed’s fence.

I took Pepper the cattle dog and headed up to the ditch. There was Buttercup, under a juniper tree on the other side.

Soon Ed, Eldon, Pepper and I gathered to drive Buttercup back to Colby Farm. The heeler and I crossed the ditch and gingerly approached the enormous animal. Pepper has tenacity, but he weighs in around 40 pounds.

It was Pepper’s finest moment. He circled the bovine and closed off his escape routes. As I eased him closer on a long lead, Buttercup stepped toward us menacingly and dropped his big horns. I was torn between sending Pepper into the fray and holding him back to protect him. But he rushed in and nipped at Buttercup’s heels, who turned tail and kicked as Pepper dodged. Buttercup moved toward Eldon’s driveway to cross the ditch with Pepper nipping and feinting behind him.

This is where I lost control of Pepper, who rushed straight at the steer instead of flanking to turn him back onto the other ditch bank. I thought for a moment Buttercup would trample Eldon. Next thing I knew the steer had reached the big unfenced field on the other side of Eldon’s place. Pepper was wild with desire, leaping like a trout out of the deep grass to get a glimpse of his quarry. Then he slipped out of his collar and tore off after the steer, chasing Buttercup across the field to the next house down the county road, where Dawn rushed her 4-year-old grandson inside and flew back out to face down the marauding beast.

Pepper was retired, and soon we gave up on herding Buttercup home.

“We need a cowboy,” Ed said.

“And a good dog,” I said. “Pepper can watch.”

I looked up the number of a cattle rancher I’d heard of near Carbondale named Tom Turnbull. It was an auspicious name. Buttercup is castrato, but a man who can turn a bull should be able to steer a steer, right?

I explained the situation, and Tom said, “Sounds like you need a cowboy!”

He asked where we lived, and I could hear his wife in the background chiming in with advice. Tom said, “Call Ed Colby! He’s in Peach Valley.”

“He’s in the next room,” I said. “This is Ed’s steer.”

The next day, from my house in New Castle, I thought I heard lowing on the banks of Elk Creek. Could Buttercup have followed the irrigation ditch around the mountain? I walked down to Rita’s house closer to the creek. Rita was sitting on her porch. I asked her if she’d heard any cattle lately.

While we chatted, she gestured toward the ridge of the Grand Hogback above her house. A steep patch of bare ground marks where infernal flames smolder inside the mountain after a coal mine exploded a century ago. Sometimes wisps of smoke escape.

“A sheep lived up there all by itself. We’d see that woolly figure up there all the time, summer and winter,” Rita told me.

“Really?” I asked, incredulous. I imagined her grazing the hillside, drinking at the ditches below in summer, scrapping with predators, cantankerous and free. So unlike a sheep. She ruled her domain from on high.

Eventually our neighbors the Matthews hiked up the mountain and found her remains, killed by coyotes. “She lived up there for three years. Two years ago they found her,” Rita said.

I could scarcely believe my ears. I was remembering the ewe that escaped Colby Farm the first year we tried grazing animals here, the one we never saw again. That was four summers ago. Three escaped, but like bandits, they split up. We heard word of two together roaming the Hogback. Eventually the pair crossed I-70 and put themselves into a corral on the Colorado River.

We always figured the one who’d struck out on her own was a goner. Now I wasn’t so sure.

Ed was pleased when I told him what I’d heard. “Three years? For a domestic animal gone wild, that’s a happy ending,” he said. “As good as it gets.”

Marilyn Gleason writes Eating Local for the PI’s Good Taste pages.