It’s mud season. What should we do?
There you are. On your bike, in Blue River or halfway to Kremmling. It was 60 degrees an hour ago but now you’re blinking snow off of your eyelashes and wondering if your feet are going to permanently freeze onto the pedals.
You’re wishing you had burdened yourself with the extra weight of that fleece in your Camelback because, right now, even that tarp covering the sand pile on the side of the road is looking pretty warm.
Scenario No. 2: You’re at Arapahoe Basin wearing four layers of clothing and all charged up because it’s the end of April and there’s eight new inches of snow and not many people are here because they’re all out cycling and freezing their butts off or in Denver where it’s 90 degrees and most people have locked their boards away for the season. Then, you hike to the East Wall and the sun comes out. Those four layers of clothes are soaking wet and now collectively weigh about 60 pounds and that eight inches of snow is a crispy brownish glaze.
Thank God for The Beach and barbecues and hopefully an ample supply of sunscreen.
It’s a time of limbo in Summit County. Thankfully we have a name for such an event. It’s not spring. It’s not winter. It’s mud season. And we might as well make the best of it.
When Breckenridge, Keystone and Copper Mountain close for the season, I’m always gripped by a sudden longing: “No!” My mind says. “It can’t be happening. It’s too soon!”
Six months of winter has passed in one lightspeed streak of routine: Getting up, calling the snow hotlines, scrambling to the mountain with the most snow for fresh tracks, coming to work, getting up, etc.
I’ll have to hand it to this winter. It was a pretty good one. However, those hazy days of routine have left me wondering when it was, exactly, that I was hit by a train. There were isolated incidents of injuring myself while trying to be cool on my snowboard and those days of forcing myself to stay on the mountain for six hours even though I was exhausted, just because it was a powder day.
Then, getting on the bike to rehabilitate doesn’t go so well the first couple of rides. You figure, hey, biking: It’s low-impact, good aerobic exercise, you can rekindle the strength in atrophied muscles, allow others to heal …
The first thing you notice is that no amount of skiing, snowboarding or hiking to fresh tracks prepares you for sucking wind on your bike (especially along Hwy 9 with a head wind from both directions). Also, six months of no biking passes and suddenly your butt doesn’t know what to do with the bike seat. You’d be in less pain sitting on a metal fence for two hours.
And sitting on the fence is really what results. You’re not sure what to do. On one hand, you’re telling yourself, maybe I should soak up the last few days at Loveland or the Basin, or get some backcountry turns in. My body can take a few last beatings.
On the other, your commando voice sets in and you tell yourself you best start getting into biking shape before kids with training wheels start passing you on the bike path.
Mud season is here, and it’s a time of indecision. We might think our recreational options are slim this time of year, but really, we have too many choices. Lift service might not be one of them for very much longer, but that’s when the real possibilities become clear. Whatever you decide, just make sure you’re prepared for changing weather and that you have enough wind in you to make it home.
Shauna Farnell can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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