Summer vacation

Eszter asked me a few nights ago, “does your life always feel like summer vacation?” I’d never thought about it that way, but in a way, it’s something I’ve always striven for. Summers are for playing, right? That’s why there’s no school. I’ve never heard a good reason for not continuing that tradition into so-called adulthood. As a grad student I always refused work and classes in summer, preferring to go play in cooler climates than Arizona. (The only exception being a ‘job’ backpacking in Idaho for the Forest Service, which hardly qualified as work). It’s not a stretch to take the next step and realize we all love summer, and we all love to play. So, why does summer have to end, just because it snows and gets cold? Can you say winter in the desert? Tucson!

If only it were that easy, and if only I didn’t get dozens of emails a day, didn’t have a half dozen blogs and forums to keep maintained and fight spam on. If only I didn’t have new code to develop and the future of a ‘business’ to help steer. Truth is I love all those things (except maybe the spam fighting part), and that goes a long way to them not feeling like work. And when Eszter and I get tired of sitting at the computer, we look up and say “it’s time to ride, time to get outside!”

It really does feel like endless summer vacation sometimes.

Moving around makes life feel like a vacation, too, even when you spend hours at a computer. New town, new trails, new people. We’re into a good groove here in Salida, but it took a little adjustment. I was tempted to jump into the Banana Belt bike race, going on just a week after Vapor Trail. But I knew it wasn’t a good idea. Eszter’s experience with health of late has made the ability to simply ride and feel good become an even more valued commodity. Feeling good has been an overriding goal.

So I volunteered to help marshal a spot, and clean up course markings as a sweeper.

Rainbow Trail! Now where are the unicorns?

I even got Eszter out to do the full loop which included a big climb she had turned around on a week or so earlier. Things are looking up. And it was nice to have as many hands as possible to untie flags as we went.

I met up with Mr. Mike and Ms. Jeny for a re-run on a brilliantly chunky and nearby trail.

The riding is slow, contemplative and always challenging.

It’s *on the ground* and (pretty much) rollable, which is good for a boy that has been away from desert and chunk for a month or two.

I needed a good day of playing on rocks with good friends, badly.

It’s just one aspect of a sport I love so dearly.

No aerobic ability or fitness needed, just a wee bit of power and lots of finesse.

photo by Mike Curiak

But more than anything, it was great to see my friends, doing what they love, happy and full of life — like I have not seen them for some time.

Eszter headed to Boulder for a DR. appointment, dropping Rebecca Barfoot off to start her CT ride along the way. Literally every trail was closed in Boulder. I stayed in Salida, where the evening fireshow watching was off the hook.

Salida has my favorite recovery ride anywhere. Rural roads where you’ll see more deer than cars, with little bits of trail and dirt thrown in.

It’s time spent not focusing on where your bicycle is going, but where *you* are going. Lost in thought, or wondering at the mountains, the fields, the trees, the river, the ever deepening sky.

They say it never rains in the Banana Belt of Salida. That is, of course, a lie. I got wet more than a few times, and pretty much loved it.

Pretty much just love everything about this town. It happens to be fairly proximal to a certain desert town where a certain guy builds awesome wheels and even more awesome bikes. It’s been my pleasure to benefit from the work of Devin Lenz, egged on by Mike Curiak, through the years. Both of my bikes were starting to get tired, so I figured it was time for a new one.

Yes, new bike! Mammoth time!

We rolled into town, helped Mike complete the build, then went for a sunset spin where I forgot my camera. My next couple rides were solo, and eye opening on the new bike. 5″ cross country bike? Yes, please! Pretty cool to have ridden many Lenz bikes and see how he is continually improving and refining, everything. As someone who has been building and refining a couple things over the last 10 years myself, I can begin to appreciate all the work put into these bikes.

We planned to leave town and bounce back to the Arkansas Valley through a ride and camp or two, but Eszter joined me on a Lunch Loop ride and felt good.

So we planned more, but got shut out by an impending statewide 24 hour blitz of moisture.

We just barely squeaked in a loop out at Hartman’s in Gunnison, where the new bike felt exactly at home. Just too much fun.

We watched the window wipers all the way back to Salida.

Getting a new bike was exciting and all, but having Eszter riding with me, not getting wiped out by it and talking about future rides was the best result of the weekend. We woke up to a fair bit of snow in the upper mountains, but were determined to not that let that slow down the continuance of summer vacation.

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