Can’t we just meet for coffee? | AspenTimes.com
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Can’t we just meet for coffee?

Janet Urquhart

When did mountain biking replace dinner and a movie as the standard date? Why does everyone I meet have a single-track mind?Can’t I link up with someone who just wants to get coffee instead of riding up Everest or some damn thing? I mean, get real. Are you really putting on your best face when you’ve got scary helmet hair, the salt of evaporated sweat caked on your upper lip and chain grease mingling with mud on your shins?I think not, but meet someone intriguing and right away, they’re popping the question: Do you mountain bike?”Sure,” I fib.I tell the same lie when someone asks me if I ski and I don’t have the heart to tell them they’ve just met the only mediocre skier in all of Aspen. What are the odds?Nonetheless, I’m grinding my way slowly up Smuggler these days, trying to get in sufficient shape to avoid the ultimate humiliation: stopping to barf over my handlebars. Ah, there’s nothing more exhilarating than a sport that gives you dry heaves.I might as well get good at the uphill grunt, because I’m not going to impress anyone on the single-track descent into the Hunter Creek Valley. I’m off my bike more than I’m on it. Sorry, but pitching face first over my handlebars, with my bike coming along for the ride because my feet are still stuck on those stupid pedals, doesn’t register on my fun meter. That’s why I headed to Snowmass last weekend in search of an intermediate trail – you know, something wussy – that I might ride with a semblance of proficiency. A friend recommended the Tom Blake Trail.I climbed about 20 yards past the trailhead before I ran out of gas. I came to a standstill faster than outbound traffic in the S-curves on a summer afternoon. Mountain biking is certainly good exercise; it’s like hiking, only you have to push a bike along with you.After about a quarter-mile of walking the bike, punctuated by short sprints that left me awkwardly gasping and gagging at the same time, it occurred to me I shouldn’t be practicing to keep up with someone who wears a wristwatch that doubles as a heart-rate monitor.My heart only has two rates – resting and about to burst. I was definitely experiencing the latter state, and I hadn’t even taken the turnoff onto a trail called Anaerobic Nightmare. Jesus, does anyone?Finally, the trail flattened into a reasonable series of roller-coaster ups and downs as it twisted through the forest. Now this was more like it! I crossed a wide, shallow stream like a pro and popped out into a sun-dappled meadow.I found if I loosened my death grip on the brakes for the dips, I actually had some momentum for the invariable short climbs that followed. Damn, I was actually having fun. By the end of the ride, I was brimming with confidence. I can actually do this. I went from überless to überchick in the course of a morning.Then I fell over at a stop sign on a city street. Stupid pedals.Janet Urquhart isn’t clicking in. Her e-mail is janet@aspentimes.com


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