Hartley: Mountain biking is much better without a mountain | AspenTimes.com

Hartley: Mountain biking is much better without a mountain

I have a confession to make, and it’s probably going to brand me as a bit of a pariah here in the high country, but having spent 43 years not really caring what people think of me, I’m not sure why I would start worrying about it now.

Anyway, here’s the thing: I don’t especially like mountain biking. I know, I know: If you live in Colorado and consider yourself active, it’s more or less assumed that you love mountain biking, right? But it’s just not that enjoyable.

The problem, as I see it, is with the whole “mountain” part of the equation. Riding up a mountain involves nothing but unmitigated pain, and riding down a mountain — when one is as bad a biker as I am — is a terrifying, white-knuckle experience.

I have found, however, that if you remove the mountain from mountain biking, it can actually be rather pleasant. That’s why on the rare occasions when I ride, I like to go to the relatively flat terrain of Fruita, out at the edge of the desert by the Utah border.

In all fairness, it’s probably not correct to say I enjoy all the terrain in Fruita. You see, I’ve gone mountain biking there three times now — most recently last weekend — and each time I’ve done exactly the same ride. It’s called Prime Cut/Kessel Run, and if you’ll indulge me, I’ll explain why I keep going back to it.

First of all, I’m kind of a sci-fi nerd. Those of you who are similarly inclined no doubt remember that in the original “Star Wars” movie, Han Solo bragged that the Millennium Falcon “made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.” For me, that’s reason enough to choose such a trail.

Second, it’s a short ride, making for about a one-hour loop. Anyone who has endured Moab’s Porcupine Rim, which requires hours of riding and an interminably long car shuttle, can likely appreciate that kind of brevity. Oh, and there’s very little chance of dying on Prime Cut/Kessel Run, which is not true of Porcupine Rim and many of the other rides in Moab.

Third, Prime Cut and Kessel Run both parallel a road and are never more than about 150 yards from it. If you’ve ever crashed, damaged your bike and had to walk out of the woods for four miles dripping blood (yes, that has happened to me) you know what an unpleasant experience it can be.

Most importantly, though, Prime Cut/Kessel Run is fun. On Prime Cut, you go uphill, but you don’t actually go up a hill, and on Kessel Run, you go downhill, but you don’t have to ride your brakes the whole way in order to maintain a manageable speed. You get to let it all hang out and weave your way down a narrow arroyo with cool banked turns and smooth single-track.

I do have to admit that Prime Cut and Kessel Run are easy trails. If they were ski runs, they’d probably both be green circles. Normally, I would make up some lie about how difficult they are to make myself seem cooler, but on my last trip I encountered a 4-year-old biking Kessel Run (seriously), so there’s no way I can delude myself into thinking I did something hard. Fortunately, when it comes to biking, I have no ego, so admitting that I was riding the equivalent of the bunny slope doesn’t bother me.

Some day, I imagine I’ll go down to Fruita and ride some other trail. I’ve heard there are a bunch of good ones there. And who knows? If I get my biking skills up to a level where I can outperform a toddler, I might even step up to an intermediate ride, as long as it’s short, flat and close enough to help that I don’t have to learn how to change a flat tire. Then, provided I don’t crash too hard, I might actually get a little ego about my riding — at least when I’m talking to 4-year-olds who can’t handle the ride I just dominated.

In the meantime, however, my ego will have to be content with this: A parsec, which is measure of distance, not time, is equal to about 3.26 light-years. At the speed of light, 12 parsecs converted to a time measurement would be about 39 years. I did the Kessel Run in an hour.

You know what that means, right? I can bike faster than the Millennium Falcon.

The farce is strong in budding Jedi knight Todd Hartley. To read more or leave a comment, please visit zerobudget.net.

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