Beckwith: Finding a ski season stand-in
Setting a 100-day mandate (that I did not reach) had an interesting side effect that’s left me with a void now that ski season is over: An affinity for a routine. Instead of lounging around, playing video games and watching TV until work, I forced myself to get a few laps in before work. When you start work at 2 p.m. most days, it’s nice to be somewhat productive prior to clocking in because my post-work level of usefulness is somewhere in between “‘Daredevil’ just dropped on Netflix” and “First day off after being suffocated by X Games for 70 of a possible 96 hours.”
The only thing keeping me from reaching that brand of slothfulness in the upcoming offseason and summer months is an activity worthy of my devotion. However, that’s difficult with snowboarding being so readily available (A seven-minute bus to the base of Ajax), cheap (I got my season pass for $150, respect my methods), easy (Skinning is for overachievers, all hail chairlifts) and awesome.
I’ve narrowed potential snowboard substitutes down to three different ventures: Downhill mountain biking, kayaking (ducky-ing, technically) and golf (ball and disc).
I would love to have basketball on the list but it’s unpopular for Aspenites because it’s A.) Not conducive to humblebrags*, B.) A real sport* and C.) Devoid of any acceptable outdoor court even though a summer heat-wave high is 80.
Personal pet peeves aside, I’m going to evaluate each according to the metrics I used to rate snowboarding — availability, cost, ease and awesomeness — in order to have some scientific method rather than subjectively demeaning each until I pick one at random. I’ll rank each category out of 10 and then add the results to figure out a winner.
Downhill mountain biking
Cost: 3 (10 is cheapest)
Ease: 5 (10 is easiest)
On the surface, this would be most like snowboarding from an availability and adrenaline standpoint. With lift-served riding at Snowmass, you’re riding the Elk Camp ski area with wind whipping at your face at high speeds.
The downfall is the ease and cost. From what I gather, you can only buy a single-day pass ($44) or a three-day pass ($114) for the Snowmass bike park — which, if you noted my aversion to uphill travel, would be the ideal spot. Sure, you can pedal uphill like a Lance Armstrong stan, but that’s not my bag.
Also, I would have to buy a bike and learn the intricacies of downhilling. I have a $500 budget, which would get me the Huffy of mountain bikes, and that’s before buying all the body armor necessary to hopefully help mitigate inevitable bodily injury.
Certain categories could be higher. Awesomeness would be in the eight to 10 range if I were the type of person who enjoys wearing a helmet while on the river. I don’t even like wearing a helmet on the mountain and, if I’m in a position to get a concussion while on the river, something went terribly, terribly wrong.
The same goes for availability. I could float North Star but a ducky is almost too much boat for such an easy float. (Stand-up paddle boarding would be an option if it was more beer-friendly.) The downvalley stretch from Ironbridge to the free Glenwood concerts is a ton of fun, which I will try to do, just not every day.
The ease and price are the kickers, though. A ducky is in my price range, and after that initial purchase, water access is free. The ease is pretty self-explanatory because I’m not trying to rip Class 4 rapids, if I even venture into Class 3.
Golf (Ball and disc)
There are more elevation changes for $40 in Omaha than you’ll find for $80 at the Aspen municipal course. I can play Aspen Glen for a $25 cart fee (again, respect the hustle), but sneaking in 18 holes in Carbondale before work is a once-a-week occurrence, at best. While the par 3 is all-you-can-play for $20 after 5 p.m., it’s also located in Carbondale.
The disc golf course atop Aspen Mountain is good for the first nine holes but worthless after that. The course at Colorado Mountain College, which I frequent weekly with some degenerates to get clinical, presents the same accessibility issues as Aspen Glen and the par 3.
What golf offers in ease, it lacks any kind of thrill, other than a hole-in-one or an extremely liberal golf cart driver.
Alright, let’s look at the standings and pick a winner. *Checks standings* A tie? Dammit, so much for the scientific process. Whose idea was this? The whole point of the metrics was to objectively select an activity. Wait, it was my idea? In that case, why not try to do all three and add a little variety to the routine.
*A humblebrag is when you complain while on your way or actively participating in a something most people would love to be doing, like whining about airplane food on your way Paris or bitching about snow conditions when you’re skiing some of the best mountains on the planet.
*I’m not sure why Aspen embraces cycling, rugby, sand volleyball and snow polo but can’t figure out a day for pick-up basketball similar to Tuesday Cruise Day. It could be due to a lack of venues clear of even, ankle-preserving pavement and not located at a day care center.
Sean Beckwith is a copy editor for The Aspen Times. Reach him at email@example.com.