Charles Agar: Riding into spring
March 5, 2009
With just six weeks of lift-accessed skiing and riding left this year, it’s a time to grab on to this season and ride it to the end.
I’ve been hearing a lot of grumbling among the ski bum proletariat about not enough snow or comparison with places where things might be better, and I’ve got a simple message today: Life, like a ski season, is fleeting.
Don’t stop and smell the groomed runs or enjoy your days of cramped living quarters, multiple jobs and plenty of time to ski and ride and the next thing you know you could be living on flat land and be saddled with all kinds of goals and responsibilities, pining for those halcyon days when you lived the ski bum dream in the Rockies.
Time does not fly, like they say; it uses a jet pack and leaves nothing but a skid mark. So look to today, young seasonal dudes and dudettes.
When I was just out of college I went to Vail for a short time and remember those days fondly. I was 8-foot-tall and bullet proof ” skiing, hiking and biking constantly. I bagged fourteeners, raced mountain bikes, learned to paddle whitewater and drank in life with a reckless abandon.
But there were things I didn’t do because I figured I’d get to them next season. Then I got into grad school and wouldn’t come back to a ski town for a lot of years. My advice: Do it now.
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That girl/guy you always see on the slopes or at the bars ” go talk to him or her right now. That backcountry line you’ve been eyeing from the road up Berthoud ” go get it. And don’t scrimp on any gear you need to get there. No one ever has enough money in a ski town, so barter, borrow or do whatever you can to get that much-needed toy (I’m about to add alpine touring gear to my debt).
This is when life in a ski town is at it’s best. March madness means the guys are growing that smudge on the upper lip to compete in Mustache March, the girls start skiing in bikinis and everyone sneaks out to go hit those delightfully soft, slushy bumps in the afternoons.
And it’s not all about spring conditions, either. The ache in my elbow and a tertiary glance at the weather charts tell me we’ve got a few more big snow dumps to come and I’ll be sure to take advantage of any freshies we’re blessed with.
The bad new is that spring is also the best time of year to go and get yourself hurt.
We get complacent. Maybe you’ve been dropping cornices and hard-charging for months now and think you can do anything, but that’s when we start to ski or ride the easy stuff too fast or without focus and get splatted.
Just the other day I was laying big giant slalom turns on the groomed skier’s left of Cranmer at Winter Park. I think I was pondering a grocery list at the moment I caught an edge and pancaked at high speed, twisting my right thumb against my pole as I spun out of control for what felt like half a football field. I’m OK ” just have an achy thumb ” but it could have been worse.
Freeze and thaw conditions on the slopes mean quick transitions from thick stuff to slick stuff, so be careful, and in area parking lots the changing temperatures create ample opportunity to slip, fall and rack up workman’s comp. A tweaked knee or broken bone just aren’t worth it. You’ll miss all the fun.
So, in short, I wish you all a wonderful spring rush to the April 19 final lift. Live life with reckless abandon, take all the chances you can, but stay safe, wear a helmet and take good care of your knees ” you’ll need them for years to come.
” Charles Agar finds himself eyeing his mountain bike and kayak these days, thinking the fun doesn’t stop when the lifts do. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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