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Kayakers find a paddling mecca in Colorado town

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(Read caption) In this May 2010 photo, two people kayak down the San Miguel River, in Telluride, Colorado.

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• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

A grueling session of cartwheels, orbits, and loops in a white-water park can tire even a seasoned kayaker. Fortunately for paddlers playing in the Buena Vista, Colo., standing waves (created by strategically placed boulders in the Arkansas River), they’re a short stroll from a town’s amenities.

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Wave-shaped porch railings, river-stone masonry, and a white-water kayak park a pebble’s toss from the walkable streets are a few examples of how waterways inspire every detail of South Main, a new neighborhood developed by champion kayakers here.

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Siblings and professional kayakers-turned-developers Jed Selby and Katie Selby Urban began the project so they could live and play in their community without having to drive to a kayak park. Selby found a 42-acre parcel alongside the Arkansas River in 2002 and persuaded his sister to collaborate on building the perfect kayakers’ community.

US Freestyle Kayak team member Dustin Urban (Katie’s husband) notes what makes South Main unique: “I’ve traveled the world and been to a lot of white-water parks... They are often built in the middle of nowhere.”

Colorado Kayak Supply relocated its headquarters and storefront here in 2004 after two decades of operating 10 miles south. Says owner Earl Richmond, “You can tell it’s completely designed by river people.”