Mountain Biking in Aspen

"Done!" Top of Rim Trail.
Mountain Biking the Snowmass Rim Trail
“Done!” Top of Rim Trail.
Mountain Biking in Aspen: No Pain, No Gain!

Cliche, I know but it is the only way I can describe this past week.

So, yes, the love affair with my mountain bike continues. So much so that I sent this tweet out the other day, “Me and my Tallboy are going to suck on the lollipop and chew the tootsie roll together.” Translated that means, “I’m going to ride Smuggler Mountain up to the single tracks and have some fun.”

If I had to mention the one thing that keeps me attached to my bike, it is that mountain biking makes you come alive. It also brings on the sassy (even if you didn’t feel so sassy while riding with your helmet askew and your lungs in your throat).

It’s not easy! Remember my gorgeous, beastly friends that I mentioned in my last post? Well I went riding with one of the long legged ones. The one who takes long solo rides with nothing more than a bottle of water, a light windbreaker, and her knife. I called her the second I got my bike and sang to her on her voicemail, “Pammmm, I got my bikkkke. When are we going???” We went the next day…straight up Buttermilk Mountain (don’t be fooled by the name. It hurt!). Nothing like breaking me in early. Oh, and I should mention that Pam had a broken toe, which one would think would give me a slight advantage, NOT!

We began by climbing up a jeep road for about an hour. The road wound its way back and forth from Tiehack to Buttermilk with a few steep single tracks thrown in along the way up. As we climbed I thought about a time when I biked the same ride back in 1997. A time when my mind was not on my aching legs but on the inconceivable fact that my father lay in bed dying from Melanoma. I remember wishing for my strength and prayers to somehow help him to get better. He passed away that November. There is no cure, yet, for that Cancer.

I’ll also never forget bonding with one of the owners from The C Lazy U Ranch over a conversation on mountain biking, when I stayed there last summer.  He told me that he had decided he was getting to the age where it was time to let go of certain friends, but the ones he knew he would keep forever were the mountain bikers. “They just have the best personalities,” he said, “And they love life.” I’m thinking that’s the general rule to mountain bikers, you’ve got to love living hard.

Riding Tiehack to the Government Trail

As we got higher, I began to lose my excitement and did my best to not project my exhaustion on to happy, broken-toed Pam who was trying to disguise that she was pacing herself for me. Voices were going on in my head, “You’ve never been an endurance trainer. You are not that kind of person to push yourself. You don’t have to go all the way to the top. THIS SUCKS. You’re going to get sick. Abort…abort!!!” But I forged ahead with Pam yelling back to me, “Five more minutes Jilly” and although, I knew this wasn’t true for I had biked up this hill many a time, I listened and kept trudging up, hiking my bike on the steep parts. FINALLY we made it to the top.

Now began the fun part, the single track down to the Government Trail, a long winding, fun trail that switchbacks down through the trees. Tallboy delivered, smoothly rolling over the tree roots that I used to have to get off of my bike for.

Now I know that many people do not have the kind of lifestyle that lends itself to spending time on a bike. I’m just saying….if you do, than you should try it. You’ll feel younger, unless you have a set back. And you’ll feel like a badass, well, maybe not immediately as shown in the video below, but I’m sure it comes if you stay on it because just like this picture says, “There is no elevator to success. You have to take the stairs,” I know, I’m still climbing them and I have a long way to go….but I’m getting in shape on the way up!~

“You never escape the presidency. It travels with you everywhere you go. And there’s not a moment where you don’t think about being President — unless you’re riding mountain bikes as hard as you possibly can, trying to forget for the moment.” – President George W. Bush, during the final moments of his final press conference as president (Never thought I’d be quoting this man, but found it telling).

(By the way, Tallboy needs a name. What should we call him?)


  1. Great post, and right on, badass! There is something so zen found in a steady uphill, and not thinking about anything but the moment. One of my favorite climbs is not far from you, above Ruedi Reservoir, Frying Pan Rd. to Hagerman Pass – cars are rare. I believe the road was a railway, so it’s a steady grade. And it’s Beeeautiful! Your Buttermilk excursion sounds more challenging, but for something different… I’ve been on my own badass journey these past 5 months, and I love it!

    • Greta, I’ve been following you on your journey! I’ll have to try that ride, since I’m going to try EVERYTHING. The only thing, I don’t want to have to drive first…just want to be on my bike!

  2. Fun story! For those who may not know, Sun Dog Athletics pioneered mountain biking instruction in the Roaring Fork and Grand Valley in 1996. We’ve instructed over 200 women thru our Fruita Mountain Bike Camps alone and currently offer both private lessons & clinics, in order to quickly gain new skills to improve safety, performance and maximize the mountain lifestyle! You’re invited to ride with one of our five passionate instructors; each living & cycling in Aspen for over 25 years, and save years of time (and pain) over the School of Trial and Error or tips from friends! Hope to ride with you soon!
    Erik Skarvan, Owner/Instructor, Sun Dog Athletics (970) 925-1069

    • Way to go with the promo opp Erik! If you want more publicity how ’bout inviting me up for a clinic. I’ll allow you to bring your video camera.

  3. Now you know how i feel when I hike, ski do anything for that matter that involves any kind of exercise with you, Michele and all those crazy Aspenite friends of yours! I mean really, the best workout for me is buying a pair of Jimmy Cho’s, a Gucci pocket book then going to lunch!!!
    I actually do love those very tough workouts, hikes, bike rides…they are hell while you are doing it but so invigorating when you are finishes. I loved how you wrote about the psychological drama of it all as well, how you though of Daddy, after all he was our original trainer!
    I remember once biking Maroon bells with you and Michele…I had just got in from the East Coast….We started going up hill…I’m mubbleing and swearing under my breath…completely hating you two as you were laughing at me….scooting up the hill and turning around to circle around me in peels of laughter…I tell you…pay back is a bitch!!!
    Butter milk easy!!! Ha!
    Love you

    • Mouse – I guess I have to write a funny post to get a funny reply from you!

      Judging from all of your highfalutin photos of you and all of your beautiful fashion statement friends party hopping around Nantucket, one would think that you were all about your Jimmy Choos, but I know differently and that you are more of a nut than I ever could be when it comes to being sculpted so put that in your pipe and take a deep inhale!

      For the record, I’m glad that your memories are so distorted.

      I’m looking forward to your kicking my ass, yes I swore on my blog…thanks to your coaching, in Pilates this summer.


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