On the Asphalt | AspenTimes.com

On the Asphalt

Tim Dudley

Aspen’s ski season and off-season make for somewhat of a tale of two cities. Except it was the best of times, and now it’s still the best of times – just with different toys.On the Hill laced up its running shoes and turned its attention from hills to hard-top this week and discovered there’s stuff on the north side of Highway 82. Namely the Rio Grande Trail, which hit its stride this week with snow-free asphalt and sunny skies.It takes a little sleuthing to suss out the Rio Grande’s best access point from Main and Sixth, but once across the bridge the asphalt runs like an untracked groomer – fast and smooth. And surprisingly easy with a fantastic season of skiing kicking the legs along.Gorgeous spruce and aspen guard the cool Roaring Fork on the right, gorgeous trophy homes slide by on the left, the miles tick by. There’s ACES, there’s the art museum, there’s Theatre in the Park, John Denver Sanctuary, the skate park, Hunter Creek, the end of the line. Time to turn around.Fellow runners wave or nod, new moms and dads with babies serve up greetings, bikes whiz by. Dogs of all sizes keep pace with their owners, sporting those goofy, happy looks they all get when turned loose on the run.Off the trail and back on the road, now breathing hard – maybe too hard – an old motorcycle with a sidecar approaches. Perhaps a tired On the Asphalt can snag a ride in that sidecar? But no, a golden retriever’s already snagged that seat. No other choice but to bring it home, making mental notes of the side trails included in plans for the next route.There’s a certain freedom in it all: no fretting about snow, no liftlines, no boots, poles, skis, jackets, helmets, mittens, layers, passes. Just shoes and clothes. And a little clean air and asphalt.

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