Fifth place: ahead through the S-curves, last at the finish
July 6, 2006
I’m a loser, but I guess in this instance it’s a good thing.You see, I am the walker. Not the runner, nor the jogger – the walker. As such, I just put one foot in front of the other from the front door of The Aspen Times to the Aspen Business Center, a 3.6-mile stroll down Main Street, across the Castle Creek and Maroon Creek bridges, and along the pedestrian/bike path that connects downtown Aspen to the ‘burbs on its outskirts. My walk begins during rush hour in Aspen: people running to catch buses, bikers flying past, buses cruising down the bus lane, cars jockeying for position in the daily commute home. It’s July 5, clearly not the worst traffic Main Street has ever seen, but by Third Street I’m passing cars, no problem. I mark my progress by a beat-up Honda. I’m way ahead by Fifth Street and still in the lead by the S-curves. I’ve got my eye on the prize and my iPod blasting Cake’s “(S)He’s Going the Distance.” I ignore the fact I’m breathing fumes and push ahead.
Alas, my winning ways don’t last. I’m pushing 15 minutes in the S-curves, and I’m pretty darn sure Stewart, on his bike, has already finished; Janet’s got a seat on the bus by now and is likely to pass me soon; and the beat-up Honda is gaining ground, so I can only surmise that Abby and Allyn – both in their cars – are just moments behind (or ahead).Oh well, I’m helping the environment and getting some exercise. I still have two-plus miles to go …Snaking along the golf course, it’s an enjoyable walk. I share the path with other like-minded folk: joggers, Rollerbladers, bikers. A commuter on a Segway (one of those electric “human transporter” things) passes me. I want to jog, but what commuter would jog home from work, lunch box and briefcase in tow? Just keep walking. I pass the roundabout and Truscott, and realize if I lived there it would definitely be quicker and more enjoyable to walk to and from work. Biking would be even better.But I’m the walker, so I keep walking. And by the Maroon Creek bridge, my fate is sealed: The downvalley bus carrying Janet whizzes by me at about the same time Stewart and I cross paths (he’s on his way back to town).
But I’m in the groove now. The walk is rote, and there’s hardly another soul on the path. Hmmm … I guess not too many people actually commute on foot. Another half-mile and I’m wishing I was done; Green Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” comes on my iPod and I can’t help singing along, “I walk a lonely road …”I pass the Owl Creek stoplight and pick up the pace. The clouds are ominous and the wind has blown off my hat. Rain begins to fall. I cheat, but only for a minute. I’m the walker, so I slow back down to a fast walk. A half-mile or so to go.I find The Eurythmics “Here Comes the Rain Again” and turn up the volume. It makes me laugh, so I march on. Stewart’s gotta be home by now; Janet’s warm on the bus; Abby or Allyn is, hopefully, waiting at the ABC to give me a ride back to town.
Because, after 49:30 minutes of walking, I am the loser.