David Krause: Trying to get back to embracing that view from the saddle
Some days, I miss being back in the saddle. I miss making memories.
It started with riding on the crossbar of my dad’s bike rolling down Oak Street in Royal Oak, Michigan. I rode the same stretch solo for the first time with him running behind me after he let go of the back of my seat. (I subsequently ran into an oak tree.)
I did BMX and kept rolling through the streets of our subdivision in Oklahoma City through middle school. I really picked it up again in college in the late 1980s when mountain biking came onto the scene, and I was one of a handful of wannabe racers in Oklahoma spending nearly a thousand bucks on a Trek or Specialized (because the Gary Fishers and GT’s were even more out of our league) as we helped grow the sport in the red dirt and rolling hills of southwestern Oklahoma.
It was about then that my wife and I met. I really knew she liked me when in 1992 she and her BFF drove two hours to see me in a bike race outside of Lawton.
While we’re not a “biking couple,” we have had some relationship-building experiences on two wheels.
There was the time when we rented bikes and spent the day cruising around Mackinac Island (bikes and horses only) during a 1993 visit to my extended family in Michigan before we were married. That was a great day.
There was the time I thought it would be “no problem” riding our hardtail bikes from Lizard Lake down to the Crystal Mill back in 1995 just months after we moved to Colorado. While the destination was worth it, the out and back (which included me carrying both our bikes up the hill back to the lake) was not the greatest of days, but it’s a great memory now.
Then, more recently, there was the trip down the Rio Grande trail and up to Old Snowmass.
During the release valve of the pandemic last summer, we were invited to join The Little Nell’s Ride and Dine adventure. A great time, I thought. “No problem, you can do it. It’s all downhill,” I told her. Never mind you haven’t ridden a bike in about 10 years, it’s only 17 miles, and it’s almost all downhill.
From the frenzied start at Gondola Plaza, things quickly went downhill — and not just in terms of the grade on the bike path. Of the crowd, we were the only two not on e-bikes or road bikes. I was sporting my 1990s GT triple-triangle Pantera (now my townie); she was on our youngest son’s new mountain bike.
By the time we got to west Aspen, the electric peloton had left us in their dust. But the crew bringing up the rear could not have been any sweeter. They took a bit of joy in having a relaxing ride.
But the saving grace again was the destination. After that last uphill mile, we were the last ones to roll into the Mad Dog Ranch and Studios compound. After a wardrobe change and a few drinks sitting in the famed recording studio, the night ahead proved to be one of our most relaxing in the four-plus years we’ve lived here, especially so since we emerged from the pandemic.
“Thank goodness Champagne was waiting for me when I got off that damned bike,” my wife recently recounted to some friends. “I’d for sure do it again … but next time on an e-bike.” (I hear there are spots open for the last one this season, but we’re going to give it a little more time.)
The food and wine from the Nell crew was perfect for the outdoor patio, the company and table conversation with newly made friends was top notch, and the music history in that studio of some of our favorite bands from the 1980s and ’90s was insanely awesome (RIP, Glenn Frey). One of our first concerts together was the Eagle’s “Hell Freezes Over” reunion tour (and first time I paid $100 for a concert ticket, a memory that still burns).
If not for a series of nasty crashes one day two summers ago on the Snowmass trails, I’d be out there. It’s still in my head. I am hiking the Snowmass trails more than ever, but I’ve started to feel that need to be back out there in the saddle as I am in the winters logging snowboard days in my backyard.
Maybe absence is making the heart grow fonder as the thoughts of the crash-filled day fade and the memories of the joy of the view from the saddle return to the surface.
David Krause is the editor of The Aspen Times and has owned way more bikes than snowboards and cars in his past.
In 2019 Aspen’s electorate approved a contentious ballot issue by a 26-vote margin that paved the way for the 81-room Gorsuch Haus project. The hotel was to be part of a major redevelopment at the base of Aspen Mountain’s west side that is also slated to include a new ski lift and ski museum.
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