Time to shake off the cobwebs and hit the road | AspenTimes.com

Time to shake off the cobwebs and hit the road

John Colson

It’s been a long year, and it’s barely past mid-March.The next presidential election is still a year and a half away, and already we’re under withering attack by a pack of wannabes who seem to have little relevance to our lives down here on the ground (with a couple of notable exceptions).Global warming still in doubt? Check out our local ski hills, where we’ve been losing an inch a day of snowpack as temperatures soar into the 50s during the days and barely dip below freezing at night.Socially, we continue to delve the depths of depravity as the tabloid mentality drags everyone it can through every kind of mud it can find, and the reality-show culture goes to desperate lengths to keep our eyes locked on the small screen.On a personal level, there have been friends dying, friends and relatives dealing with life-threatening illnesses, and nearly everyone wrestling with wracking doubts about how to meet the rising cost of simply staying alive, let alone thoughts of planning for a future that seems to get darker every day.But, hey, that’s life. And if we didn’t exactly sign up for it, we’re here and we’ll deal with it.On a cheerier note, and as one positive spin on the unnaturally warm spring temperatures, it’s time to dust off the two-wheelers and dance into the distance.I’ve been a two-wheeled junkie all my life. As a kid growing up in Madison, Wis., my first bike was a solid-rubber-tired red rocket that carried me into previously unknown territory. I think I was around 7 or 8 when it came into my life, and the limits of my exploratory wanderings had until then been limited to the woods behind our house, the lake at the bottom of the steep road that ran by our house, and wherever my parents chose to haul me for visits, vacations and other excursions.Once I got my own wheels, though, it was party time, and no horizon seemed too far away.I remember scaring my mom into early gray hairs with tales of crossing the busy South Beltline highway at the southern end of Esther Beach Road, the semirural street where we lived, and exploring the country lanes that crisscrossed between the cornfields on the other side.Or there were the moments when I decided that my bike could fly if I just pumped the pedals hard enough and used any nearby incline for a launch. I even tried out its submarine capabilities, hurtling down the hill in a friend’s backyard and out onto the pier at the bottom, zooming off the end into space, into the lake and what could easily have been a watery grave.As I grew, and my bikes grew with me, I would go for longer and longer jaunts, though for some reason I never found the nerve or the resources to take a cross-country bike tour until I discovered motorcycles. With a motor beneath me, it seemed more reasonable to head for the long road, which I have done countless times.And spring always gets me thinking about that horizon out there, tempting me, teasing me with unknown destinations. I’ve been making plans already, gazing longingly at my trusty old Moto Guzzi and dreaming of roads not yet taken.Of course, we’re just getting into mud season here in the valley, and the roads over the local passes remain either closed or speckled with treacherous gravel, so the horizons we have to seek involve a little more planning than just heading over Independence Pass for lunch in Twin Lakes.Or perhaps I’ll revive what once was a springtime ritual, rack my mountain bike onto my truck and head for Moab, Utah, to do my part in the annual invasion the red rock canyons and slickrock vastness. Though, truth to tell, it’s already a little warm for such shenanigans. If it’s in the 50s up here, it must already be in the 80s down there. Guess I’d better hurry.Whatever the route, the conveyance or the company, it’s definitely time to shake off the winter cobwebs and head out on the highway, looking for adventure. The problems and the worries are still there, and they’ll be there when I get back, but there’s no rule that says we can’t take a break and enjoy the world for an untroubled stretch of time now and then.John Colson can be reached at jcolson@aspentimes.com