Marolt: Getting loopy over my wife’s 30th birthday all over again
Baseball is a game of perfect proportions. That’s why I love it so much. The pitcher’s mound is the perfect distance from home plate. The ball is the perfect dimension to hit it just far enough for a outfielder to be able to throw it back. The bases are spaced so precisely that a fielder has a chance to throw out a base runner and also cover a base to receive a throw from another fielder when necessary. It is nicknamed the “game of inches” and that is an acknowledgment of its genius design.
In athletics we like this element of scale. We have a tendency to invent symmetry in sports we play for recreation. I noticed this in middle school when our coach — because we didn’t have gym teachers then — set up the challenge of doing enough pull-ups to corresponded with our ages. That age is the sweet spot for pull-ups. When you are younger, you are too underdeveloped physically to meet it.
In high school, you are stronger, but your years and weight have increased to where it is impossible for most people to do the number of pull-ups matching their age.
There are all kinds of made-up challenges like this. Good golfers eventually grow old enough to where shooting their age is a possibility. The sweet spot for most seems to be between 75 and 85.
A dedicated runner can start thinking about running a 10K in a time under heir age at about 40. Gym rats strive to bench press their own body weight. Tourists used to like to get in one ski run for every dollar their daily lift tickets cost until that became impossible in about 1961.
With this in mind, many years ago, being the romantic and thoughtful husband that I am, I planned a birthday party for my wife when she turned 30 where we would circumnavigate Snowmass Village on our mountain bikes across single-tracks trails. I roughly figured the circuit would be about 30 miles to match her age. And, come to think of it, remembering that my wife might actually read this, it wasn’t really all that many years ago, after all.
At any rate, I hired a babysitter, invited about a dozen friends to join us and grilled in the backyard after everyone made it back. It was a really good time and nobody complained anymore than you would expect they would riding all day in the hot sun at high altitude over rough, narrow, dusty trails on a saddle about as wide and hard as a redwood two-by-four on edge.
In the spirit of the occasion, everyone who participated went along with the idea that we, in fact, rode a 30-mile loop around our town in honor of Susan’s 30th birthday. The idea of believing in my orienteering skills and estimations to come up with this age-matching challenge was appealing and, because of that, nobody bothered to measure it on an odometer to see if it was legit.
It wasn’t out of the question. It was a laundry list of trails for people who, when not wearing Lycra, cover their cycling club t-shirts and Patagonia shorts with greasy aprons and wash their hands with Lava soap.
It is a list that many don’t cover in a summer: North Rim, South Rim, Nature Trail, Sled Trail, West Government, Cross Mountain, East Government, Aerobic Nightmare, Stark King, Highline and and Ditchline.
I have wondered ever since whether we actually hit 30 miles in that day, but have valued a normal size prostate too much to go out and test it.
Then, on July 14, the stars lined up, if that’s even possible in broad daylight. Unbeknownst to me, a power outage fried my automatic sprinkler control box. I thought it was odd that my grass hadn’t grown in two weeks but, hey, I didn’t want to question the gift of two July Saturdays free of lawn mowing only to find out it was stolen or bought on credit. On top of this, the gas can was empty, anyway.
I took the opportunity to ride. I had a few things still weighing on my mind by the time I finished the Rim trails, so I kept going. When I finished Nature Trail, I realized I was on route. I rode like Forrest Gump ran. I finished the birthday loop! Sadly, my GPS came up short — 23.6 miles. Dang! If only we had Seven Star trail in those days. Finishing with that made me an honest man at last.
Roger Marolt is still resting up from the big bash. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.