The Outsider: Would you give up mountain biking for a wedding?
It’s funny how life tends to impose on playtime. For a few weeks now, one of my co-workers has been taking it easy on the singletrack, softball field and just about everywhere else she can get bruised or battered, all in the name of her wedding. She’s kind of a klutz — aren’t most of us when it’s playtime with Mother Nature? — and so her fiancé simply asked that she avoid any cuts, scrapes, bruises, black eyes or other clumsy war wounds until the day is done. Black and blue and red just don’t pair well with pearl white.
There’s now light for her at the end of the long, meandering tunnel to marriage. The wedding is today (congrats to both of you kids), and, after the honeymoon, I’m sure she and her now-husband will be back to business as usual — no half measures.
But, that single half measure was one hell of a way to begin their life together. As the old saying goes, “Marriage is about compromise,” and when both of them recognized that biking hard spelled certain doom for a picturesque walk down the aisle, they found a happy middle ground: Instead of biking, she hiked just about every 14er in and around Breckenridge with her family. Compromise.
I’ve never been married, but I imagine dozens of brides and grooms in Summit County have made similar deals before their wedding day. And why not? To use a teenage metaphor — the only other time hormones are running as high as a wedding reception — getting married is a little like senior prom: you, your date, your friends, your family and a bunch of faces you vaguely recognize get gussied up for a few sweet hours of mature hobnobbing between rounds of chicken dancing. You alter daily habits and routines to make the most of something special.
This feels especially true in the mountains. It’s one reason we all live here: so we don’t have to wear suits and ties and cummerbunds every day, so we can play like teenagers before and after punching a clock, so we can get right back to mountain biking after hanging up the monkey suit. We compromise bleached whites and tailored button-ups for parkas and hiking boots, or Chacos or bare feet.
Every once in a while, though, this mindset makes me feel uneasy…guilty even. Why does recreation seem like a God-given right around here, not a luxury? Our mountain bike columnist, Mike Zobbe, was wondering the same thing a week or two ago: Why does he feel entitled to frustration and even anger when he can’t find time for a ride, despite the fact he went the day before, and, most likely, will ride the next day?
It’s easy to write off a resort community as Neverland, where no one grows up and everyone lives in a perpetually clean, blue, endless bubble of adventure. And, at times, it feels true, the kind of truth that makes me feel guilty about choosing the bubble over the routines and habits of the “real world.” (Which, at least for me, also includes marriage.)
In the mountains, life and play tend to cross paths more often than not. This is the land of career ski patrollers, lumberjacks, triathletes and professionals who aren’t content to work eight hours, drive home and plop in front of a TV or computer or whatever. Our daily routines might look different than the majority of the world, sure, but that doesn’t make them any less viable. They’re just…different. And, for those of us who make peace with long winters and never-quite-warm summers, it’s the only way we can imagine living.
That said, I think it’s important for us mountain folk to replace guilt with gratitude, especially when questions of very real entitlement seep into the picture. We might not get as much freetime as we want — or think we need, even — but it’s no reason to rage against work or weather or anything else that keeps us off the trail for an afternoon. Life, like marriage, is about compromise, and we compromised little by settling in the mountains.
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