The love affair with my mountain bike has been enhanced since I was gifted a new brighter than orange Niner for my birthday in May, combine that with my new addiction for Strava as I track my gains for good with Brake the Cycle, I now have even more reason to perfect the switchbacks and conquer my mental blocks over roots and rocks.
In a time when the uncertainty for not just myself, but for each individual in my family causes overwhelming anxiety, I am doing what I can to rather than feel afraid, feel completely alive.
Sadly, many of my riding friends have not been available due to injuries or travel, and so I often find myself biking solo when I’m not biking with my husband and son. What keeps compelling me to venture out there on my own is the feeling I get when I do conquer that which was so difficult before, as well as the beautiful new terrain that Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association and Aspen Snowmass keep rolling out. So here are my five favorite rides for Intermediate riders:
Smuggler to Behind the Sign to Lollipop to Tootsie Roll to Hummingbird to 4 Corners and down Lenado for about 4 Margies at Woody Creek Tavern.
Buttermilk Mountain (don’t be fooled by the name. It’s a grunt!).
A steep uneventful grunt up a jeep road that winds its way up from Tiehack to Buttermilk with a few steep single tracks that are non-directional that one can veer off on to go through the trees if one is brave enough. As I climb I often think 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.
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.
About halfway up the climb steepens, and that’s when the abusive voice inside my head pushes its way in trying to make me quit, “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 forge ahead until finally, I make it to the top. That’s when the benefits come; the views, the single track down to the Government Trail, a long winding flowy trail that switchbacks down through beautiful Aspen groves.
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 then you should try it. You’ll feel younger. And you’ll feel like a badass.
“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!~ Zig Ziglar
“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).