There was a period of time not too long ago that I wanted a Life Instruction Manual. I wanted someone to tell me what to do and what was going to happen. I dreaded the unknown of the future, of truly being unable to imagine what was going to happen next. I talked of a real job, of stability, of shelving the wild streak, the wanderlust, the lack of moderation, at least for a little while.
Then I took a flying leap of faith and found myself in AZ on Christmas. And everything changed.
A similar flying leap was taken last week and I found myself with a boy and his clown bike on my doorstep. A boy who, for the record, is the definition of a desert rat, who wears knee warmers when it’s 70 degrees out, and has a reputation for disliking the cold about as much as I dislike fixing flat tires, which is to say, a lot.
They look skeptical of each other.
So we did the only logical, rational thing that we could do: We headed up to Winter Park to ride the Monster Truck Ponies with the only certainty of ‘Something is going to happen.’ I had no idea of the snow conditions, I had no idea if trails would be rideable, I had fears of our planned overnighter being executed entirely on dirt because many of the CO mountains haven’t exactly been graced by snow yet this winter. Something was going to happen.
And, as she’s been seeming to do in abundance for the past few months, the Universe smiled.
Day 1 brought an eye-opening exploration of the backyard trails, all moderately well packed from skier traffic and delightful to ride.
After hours of wandering the trails where I first really learned how to mountain bike on dirt, I breathed a sigh of relief. Another leap of faith had been generously rewarded. My worst case scenario fears of the unknown replaced by exclamations of giddiness, joy, exuberance. Could these trails really be this good?
Day 2 brought more of the same with the added excursion towards Tipperary, part of the King of the Rockies race course. Conditions went from well packed and rideable, to marginally rideable, to pushable, to marginally pushable, and then to ‘This is dumb. I bet descending what we came up would be a lot of fun.’ And so we did, and what is a wicked fast descent down Spruce Creek in the summer proved to be similarly adrenaline-inducing in the winter. Win.
With the warmup rides done, snowbike handling skills improving, we proceeded to the ‘reason’ we were spending time in Winter Park. Snowbike bikepacking. Would AK actually be survivable if I had to spend the night out on the ITI?
I’d camped on ski trips in the spring before, surviving freezing nights in a 30 degree sleeping bag, but somehow a full on winter camping trip seemed infinitely more intimidating, even with a -20 degree sleeping bag. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that there was rarely a spring ski trip overnighter where I wasn’t freezing the entire time…confidence of warmth was not high.
I could write about what happened, but really, Scott did a pretty stellar job of that already, so I’ll pass on it.
But now, over a week later, what really is proving to be the sticky point of the whole experience was with the ease that the unknown was handled.
Going from a pile of gear on the floor to a pile of gear on the bike.
From the comfortable sunny condo in Winter Park to near the top of Rollins Pass at 11,500 feet as the sun was casting it’s final rays.
Transforming from chilled when we first stopped for the night to realizing that -20 degree sleeping bags are nothing short of amazing.
To figuring out a dozen little things that I didn’t even know I didn’t know in terms of temperature management.
Learning that clownbikes really can handle an amazing variety of snow conditions.
There was an ease to it. An ease to facing the unknown with grace.
And we were rewarded. By being right there. Right then.
I still have no idea what the rest of ‘life’ will look like, but the leaps of faith seem to be working out for me, each new one better than the last. The Universe is smiling.