The 45-minute makeover of the epic bike ride | AspenTimes.com
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The 45-minute makeover of the epic bike ride

Roger Marolt
Cluster Phobic
Roger Marolt

The most underrated local summertime activity is the 45-minute mountain-bike ride. If you want to get out and get moving and not give up everything else in your life, there’s not a better way to recreate.

“Epic” gets the press and Budweiser blah, blah, blah around here. There’s definitely a lot to be said about an all-day ride to Crested Butte and back that includes breakfast at one of our bakeries, lunch at one of theirs and dunking your head into a creek for a drink of water on the way back because you are dehydrated to the point of delirium. Most of it’s hyperbole. If it’s a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, then that’s all you should do it.

I did that kind of thing before I had kids and a back with more bulging disks than the Michelin Man. The last epic ride I had was on July 4, 1994. I remember it well, and I remember it miserably, in equal measure.

It was about three weeks after my oldest daughter was born, and my wife and I had about 16 hours of sleep between us since the stork untied its bundle. My plan was to get up at 5 in the morning to meet my single buddies while my wife and daughter slept in. I figured to be back around 11 so that we all could go into town and watch the parade together. Did I mention that my wife hadn’t been very far from the house in a while and was really looking forward to the outing? Did I mention that I was going to be the guy who was going to take it all in stride and not let a baby change his lifestyle?

Everything went according to plan until the baby woke us up at 5:30. This meant that I was already half an hour behind schedule and my wife was not sleeping in, but the avowed imperturbable new father goes with the flow, and that current was still sweeping me out the door to my mountain bike. The new plan was simply to ride a little harder to still get back home at 11-ish and get to the parade at noon … -ish.

Unfortunately, 11 a.m. turned into noon. Fortunately, we were not lost. I stood on the ridge of a mountain looking down at Ruedi Reservoir, and I knew exactly where I was: only about five miles from home — as the crow flies. It was closer to 17 miles as the worn-out cyclist pedals.

Needless to say there was not an adoring crowd waiting at my doorstep, taking in the glorious onset of evening, anxious to absorb every detail about my epic, 11-hour ride. I was ready to play the suffering card because I really was suffering. I was bonking, cramping and blistering and felt like puking. But go ahead and tell all that to a new mother who has just spent the entire grandest day of summer entirely alone with a colicky newborn, and you will shortly feel a new level of pain.

She didn’t have to say a word. I couldn’t say enough of them. I never knew I could feel so lousy in so many different ways. Physically, nutritionally, emotionally, intellectually and even spiritually, I was completely spent. There are not enough endorphins that you could accumulate in 10 of those rides that could have numbed the misery. There were no fireworks of any kind that night. All she wanted to do was sleep. She earned it, so I took the baby and let her. The baby and I cried half the night before nodding off.

Three weeks into fatherhood, I learned that being a good parent takes lots of energy, as do epic rides. You don’t have enough to be good at both. You have to choose. That’s how I discovered the 45-minute mountain-bike ride.

The idea is to take a break from life, not put it on hold. You don’t need to take water because you’ll be home by the time you need anything to drink, and there are better choices there. You don’t need to take a pump and a spare because you’ll never be too far from the bus route. Heck, you don’t even have to take a shirt. You go like hell for three quarters of an hour and come back with burning lungs, smoked legs and sweat pouring off your brow. You recover so quickly that you actually feel like what you did was good for you. It’s an epic solution for a summer that offers so much to do and so little time to do it all in.

Roger Marolt knows that biking and life are all about balance. Contact him at roger@maroltllp.com.


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