You are now about to read, gloss over, or altogether ignore Part II. Then, tomorrow, I will conclude the series with Part III, since Wednesday* seems like the perfect day to finish a story about a trip to Colorado.
*[And no, I did not use marijuana during my trip to Colorado, because I do not like experiencing feelings of paranoia and psychosis while completely surrounded by hairy strangers and giant mountains. So stop asking.]
After Wednesday, if history is any indication, it will be Thursday, at which point I will post on a subject "TBD." Finally on Friday I'll put a bullet in summer's head, fuck off again for a bit, and then we can all come back here after Labor Day and start getting depressed about autumn and making fun of cyclocross.
Sound like a plan?
You bet it does.
Looking at my blog, my dirty bicycles, and my slovenly appearance, you might make the mistake of thinking I'm a lackadaisical barnacle on the jetty of life. Not so. In fact, in anticipation of my trip to Steamboat Springs (and specifically something IMBA had billed as an "Epic Ride"), I embarked upon an intensive training program. Of course, it's tough to approximate Colorado when you live in New York City, so first I rode a mountain bike with a balled-up sock in my mouth to replicate the effects of altitude:
Rest assured that as I did I was not the only turkey in the forest:
(Apologies for the blurry photo, it's difficult to urinate and take pictures at the same time. Especially when you're using the same hand to do both.)
Then I rode one of those bikes with the curved-type handlebars like they use in the Tour de France:
Just to give you an idea of how hard I trained, at first I set off on my plastic bike. As I mounted the first ascent (a short, steep climb from an elite prep school to a garden and cultural center) with the confidence and determination of Mario Cipollini mounting his housekeeper, I heard a clicking sound from somewhere between my legs. Ruling out my scranus (it rarely makes noise now since the repair), I narrowed the source of the sound down to my bicycle, and when I finally found a chance to pull over a cursory inspection revealed this:
No, I'm not referring to the bicycle's shocking state of filth. I'm talking about this:
I'm reasonably certain that's a crack, and if so it's got to be the source of the noise. Believe it or not, hitherto this bicycle was as quiet as a Prius sidling up to you at a red light, so don't try to tell me it's noisy because it's dirty. If anything, the grime is probably the only thing holding it together at this point.
I'll strip the parts from the frame, investigate more thoroughly, and report back just as soon as I get around to it, which could be anytime between tomorrow and never.
As you can imagine, this development put quite the Zertz insert into my ride plans, because obviously my massive wattage had caused the frame to fail and it was only a matter of time before the ferocity of my pedal stroke rent it in twain. Surely I could not continue on the same bicycle. So around I turned and did precisely what I should have done in the first place, which is grab my metal bike:
Off I went again in blissful silence and structural integrity o'er hill and dale, and if I used Strava I certainly would have obliterated their entire network with my crushing power.
I was ready.
On the appointed day, at 5:00am, a car service driver drenched in eye-stinging cologne whisked me to LaGuardia Airport--which, if you've never been there, is a complete shithole. In fact, the passenger in front of me was checking a rat:
I imagine that as Eden the Rat made his way down the conveyor belt and into the bowels of the airport like a frightened prince in a sedan chair, he was roundly taunted by the many, many free rats who inhabit LaGuardia.
Some hours later I arrived in Denver, and IMBA Communications Director Mark Eller (to whom I am most indebted) drove me all the way to Steamboat Springs. Once there, our first stop was Moots Cycles (to whom I am also most indebted), where I picked up this:
(By the terms of our agreement I had to ride with that Moots sculpture attached to the bicycle at all times.)
I actually took these photos upon returning the bicycle, not when picking it up, which explains why it is dirty. You can be sure that when I accepted delivery it was as clean as virgin chamois. As a sarcastic bike blogger I generally do my best to remain aloof, but that's hard to do when you're confronted with bike porn of this magnitude:
(It if ain't perfect it's damn close.)
Here's another picture of the bike's dirty rear:
In anticipation of the "Epic Ride" I'd packed a suitcase full of excuses, but clearly having a lousy bike wasn't going to be one of them.
Next we continued on to the Steamboat resort, which in the winter is a ski area but in the summer is a bike park:
Some kind of mountain bike race appeared to be wrapping up, and young kids were schluffing about with the insouciant poise of professionals:
This further eroded my confidence, so I attempted to rebuild it by reminding myself I was a world famous semi-professional bike blogger who had cracked a crabon bicycle mere days before. It didn't work. Instead I had visions of crashing out of the "Epic Ride" almost immediately, at which point a dozen or so preternaturally fit and talented Colorado children would ride their bikes right over my face.
Fortunately, there was not much time to dwell on this fear because I had a soirée to attend. Unfortunately, the soirée was a long way up the mountain and I had to ride a gondola to get there, which meant I had a new fear on which to dwell because I'm sort of afraid of heights:
Passing over the rooftops of the condos, I attempted to mask my apprehension by making conversation with the affable Canadians (barring Robs Fords, is there any other kind?) who were riding up with me:
However, I doubt I fooled them, because Canadians can smell fear in Americans like it's back bacon.
As we climbed higher I stared in awe at the landscape and the trails I would soon be riding:
And by the time we'd reached 9,000 feet or so I'd successfully faced one of my greatest fears, which is being trapped in a gondola with Canadians.
Here's the view from the soirée--or, in mountain biker parlance, the place where beer is:
As the sun began to set I felt profoundly tired from my long journey, and so I took a stroll in a futile effort to clear my head. Trails slithered up the mountain:
And stragglers slithered down it in a race against nightfall:
Meanwhile, I perused the signs:
I was looking for the legendary double-black diamond "Scranus Blaster Run," but alas, it must have been on the other side of the mountain.
Here's an evocative shot of an IMBA Subaru:
Nobody asked me to take this photo, but I feel like Subaru should give me money for it anyway.
Maybe I'll send them an invoice and see what happens.
In any case, I was really tired now, and it was becoming increasingly clear to me I had to get my body onto the business side of a bed immediately. So I got back onto the gondola and headed down:
Let's just say going down a mountain at night in an empty gondola is even scarier than going up a mountain during the day in a gondola containing Canadians.
Then, as I disembarked at the bottom, my eyes alighted on this notice:
I may be a city slicker, but I don't need a notice to tell me not to approach a moose, because the presence of the moose itself is more than adequate to convey this message to me:
(Who the fuck would approach this?!?)
I was now eagerly anticipating doing a swan dive onto a duvet and going to sleep, but there was just one problem: I was staying in a house a little over a mile up a steep mountain road. My bike was already up there, I had no car, anyone I knew was up at the beer thing, and it was getting dark. It seemed crazy to call a taxi just to drive me a few minutes up the road. So I did what any New Yorker would do in a situation like this:
I decided to walk.
Unfortunately, I'd forgotten something very important, which is that when you're not in a great big city it gets dark at night. Very dark. Like this dark:
The above is an actual photo I took about 15 minutes into my walk as I shook in terror and wondered if moose were nocturnal.
It soon occurred to me that I should probably turn on the flashlight in my smartphone before I either got hit by a car or assaulted by a moose, but I hesitated for a few moments because I fully expected this to happen:
Finally I mustered up the nerve, and here's what it looked like:
Every step felt like an eternity, and when I finally reached the house I was so ecstatic I kissed it right on the doorbell.
The next morning, feeling rejuvenated, I hopped on my Moots and headed back down the hill for some IMBA World Summit smugness:
The hill, it won't surprise you to learn, wasn't even remotely scary in the light of day, which made me feel twice as stupid:
Then I watched the day's keynote presentation:
After which I rode back up the hill again:
And got ready to go for a ride with Mark from IMBA.
The only thing more difficult than taking photos while climbing three thousand feet on a mountain bike is taking photos while descending three thousand feet on a mountain bike. Therefore, I didn't. Granted, I did bring my Fly6 taillight video camera to Colorado with me, but I was saving that for the "Epic Ride." Consequently, precious little photographic exploits exist of this ride, but it shouldn't surprise you to learn I never got closer than 50 bike lengths from my riding partner, and in any case this photo of me getting whatever the opposite of "rad" is at my local trail should cure you of ever wanting to see a picture of me riding a mountain bike ever again:
Nevertheless, I can assure you the ride was breathtaking in its beauty as well as literally breathtaking, because that's a lot of climbing for a schlub from sea level.
As for the Moots, you'll no doubt be shocked to learn that immaculately made titanium bikes are extremely fun to ride, especially on mountains in Colorado:
Who would have imagined?
If this bike had bigger wheels there's absolutely no way I wouldn't have stolen it.
Where I skipped the "Fast, Affordable, Fun!" Greek cuisine in favor of a sub-epic burrito:
Which I carried in a plastic bag with one hand as I once again schlepped up that hill with 3,000 feet already in my legs:
By this point I was nearly in tears and well on the way to putting the "Sissy" in "Sis(s)yphus."
As for the rest of the evening, I spent it at the opening ceremonies taking pictures of people taking pictures of people who have won awards:
And then I went to bed.
Tune in tomorrow for the exciting conclusion of Some Douchebag's Trip To Colorado, including what happened (or didn't) on the "Epic Ride."
("I can hardly wait," he murmured sarcastically.)