Colbert: The mystery that is cycling | AspenTimes.com

Colbert: The mystery that is cycling

Aspen Times sports editor Austin Colbert, left, and local guide Erik Skarvan take a photo together after riding a short ways up Castle Creek Road in July.

I have long been a wannabe cyclist.

Well, I take that back. Outside of maybe paying some attention to Lance Armstrong back in his heyday, I've only followed the sport closely over the past few years. My interest in it coincides with me moving to the mountains of Colorado, where cycling is to the summer what skiing is to the winter.

I've been riding a mountain bike long before I moved to the Rockies. However, cycling is about as foreign to me as successfully orchestrating a smooth pickup line at the bar. It's exhausting, depressing and clumsy to a fault.

Am I talking about cycling or my dating life? Yes.

In steps Erik Skarvan, a local guide in Aspen, to help me with the cycling (he didn't offer much advice for the other thing). A few weeks back, Skarvan took me up Castle Creek Road for a morning stroll, which was essentially my maiden voyage on a road bike. Maybe it wasn't my first time on one, but it was the longest I've spent on a road bike in the mountains in my lifetime.

Basalt Bike & Ski in Aspen hooked me up with a loaner that day, a sweet Giant that I'd happily take home with me. Our out-and-back journey didn't last but 90 minutes or so, but it was exhilarating in so many ways.

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Since I've lived in Aspen (I'm fast approaching my two-year anniversary), the idea of becoming a cyclist has grown on me. Maybe it's the freedom of the open road, the insane amount of miles you can put in over a short time, or the amount of calories it burns, but there is something about cycling that is slowly pulling me in.

Although the downsides certainly push you back out. Like the chaffing, spandex clothing and general suffering that comes along with the sport. Nothing about pedaling up Independence Pass seems remotely exciting at this point in my life.

When I first accepted the position as sports editor for The Aspen Times, I tweeted at Armstrong suggesting we go on a ride together. I was joking, of course, as I want nothing to do with trying to keep up with Lance on a bike. To my horror, he responded with a simple, "Let's do it," and since then has owed me a ride, one I have been hesitant to cash in on.

At some point I'll probably reach out to him and say, "Let's ride." But that'll be after a few more practice laps up Castle Creek on the bike I don't yet own. Cycling is a bit maddening at times and feels daunting to get into when starting from scratch, but it comes with an addiction that can only be cured by putting two thin wheels to the pavement.

If anyone wants to loan me a road bike and push my addiction to another level, I'm in. Although, I'm not sure how I feel about the spandex suits quite yet.

acolbert@aspentimes.com