On a day like today I was feeling really good about the State of Colorado. When I write about the "State of Colorado", I'm referring less to its natural resources (which are incredible) and more to it's policies and people. After today's ride I got the impression that Coloradans were doing a nice job playing the unique hand that they were dealt.
I was first blown away by the fact that my 40 mile ride over Vail Pass was entirely along paved bike paths. As I weaved North towards Frisco I came across several junctions. Studying the trail maps, I realized that the 40 miles of paved path connecting Breck to Frisco and then Vail weren't the only paved miles. There were proper bike paths connecting all of these mountain towns. Today I would only ride 40 of those miles, but in reality there were hundreds of paved, safe miles for me to explore. My friend Liz had told me that the State of Colorado had been making a big effort to promote cyclotourism. Today I finally witnesed what she was referring to.
So on this beautiful day of blue skies and towering peaks I coasted downhill to Frisco, shot across to Copper Mountain, then climbed to the top of Vail Pass at 10,600 feet. After the Pass it was all smooth sailing. I blazed down this mountain for about 17 miles, achieving decently high top speeds due to the steep grade of the hill.
During the ride I couldn't help but to have some self-defeating thoughts. As I blissfully glided down Vail Pass, some subversive side of me kept reminding myself, "Dude, it's gonna suck to climb back up this." You know what, that was true. It was going to suck climbing up Vail Pass during my Eastward trek to Denver. But, on second thought, there are many inevitable things in life which, simply put, are going to suck. It's really not going to improve my quality of life by obsessing on those ugly things which lay beyond my control. So to silence the thoughts I decided to just be in the moment and enjoy this exhilarating rollercoaster ride. Yes, there would be times when this ride, like life, would suck. But no, now was not one of those suck times, so there was no need to torment myself.
I arrived in Vail early that afternoon with my riding partner. We had arranged to stay in the home of Sarah, a laid-back, welcoming Couch Surfing hostess. She lived in a place in West Vail along with her boyfriend and two roommates. Despite working two jobs, she somehow found the energy to regularly receive Couch Surfing guests. When we arrived at her home she wasn't even there. We were instead received by Alec, her terribly friendly roommate who was also a great artist. He and I spent that afternoon on the back porch of the home, he painting and I writing, both of us listening to the steady rumble of Gore Creek in the background.
That night was a continuation of the celebration of Colorado's awesomeness. In addition to Celine and me, there was another Couch Surfer, Meg, staying at Sarah's home. Since all three of us Couch Surfers had stayed with Carlos and Kain earlier that week, we invited the two of them to come over and chill. The night somehow morphed into an impromptu Couch Surfing party. Nine of us, plus two dogs, spent the evening in Sarah's home, enjoying the company of friends both old and new.
It was a cooky night. It's sort of hard to order everything that was going on, so I'll just kind of dump my disparate memories of the drag-on night here. At any given point in time, Andy the roommate was either dancing or juggling. Alec was busy composing a Escher/Mandelbrot-influenced painting of an elephant and a dove. Kain was shaking his head in disappointment as his golden retriever, Bell, was getting violated by Meg's little Jack Russell terrier. Carlos was helping to fix Jason's bike for his birthday pub crawl the next day. All the while I was just sitting there, enjoying the eclectic, open vibe that felt uniquely Coloradan to me. I don't know, perhaps it was the marijuana that brought it all together, but there was definitely something Coloradan about this party. Sometime around 3:00 or 4:00 I finally hit the hay, strewn across Sarah's floor with about four other couch surfers.
Man, Colorado rocks...pun intended...