Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Mountains

On July 4, yesterday, the Tour de France started. Just a few minutes ago, while thinking about how to compose this post, it occurred to me that the TdF has similar characteristics as most of our lives. You see, there are those connecting stages that never seem to really play into the grand scheme of it all, but they are part of the whole race nevertheless.
Organizers of UCI races resort to unusual means to appease the needs
I've just emerged from two weeks of such connecting stages. It all started with a Pro GRT mountain bike downhill race in Angel Fire (NM), a come-from-behind assignment that was a lot of fun and paid for a lot of gasoline (and then some groceries as well). I left Lubbock on Friday, June 19, and worked the race on Saturday and Sunday, as an Indian (which means you're not the Chief and your responsibilities are limited so that you sleep well.)
View from my "office" at the top of the mountain in AF
Honestly, there isn't much to report about the race. So, on Monday, after sleeping well and the race being history, I fired up the Z4 and headed north for Rico, Colorado. Judy's family has owned a vacation home in this tiny spec of a hamlet roughly 40 miles south of Telluride, and her brother and family and ours had always shared the tax and insurance for the place to keep it rolling. Mike and Candi have put a lot of money into transforming a "cabin" into a "home" over the past few years, but they are the ones with the two kids, four grand-kids, and a few more family members—so I just pay my share of insurance and tax and have squatter's rights.
One of the finest porches I know.
And so I squatted for a week.
This 48-miler damn near killed me...
Sabine and I had stayed in Rico two years ago, I believe, and it is definitely more fun to have a mate out there than to listen to the Dolores' murmur by yourself. But it wasn't to be this time around and therefore I put my thinking cap on while heading north. So, rolling into Cortez I made sure to pay a friendly visit to the local grocery store as I knew I'd have to feed myself for seven or eight days without the benefits of a grocerette any closer than about 40 miles. Well, I am happy to report that I still do know how to buy groceries! Forty-five minutes and $64 later (I shit you not!), I exited the Safeway in Cortez with a week's worth of meat, produce, lunchables, and milk, having applied every coupon, discount, and other trick in the book. I should write a book. I had brought half a case of CH wine from home, so I wouldn't have to slum it. And yes, there was an unbelievable Sauza and Triple Sec special that I had jumped on in Mora, NM, right after scoring 15 limes for a buck. You get the drift. Actually, you probably don't!!!!
Telluride, as seen from Bridal Veil Falls
For a week I enjoyed cool mornings and coffee on the porch, 25 to 48-mile bike rides up and down the valley, the occasional thunderstorm, a visit or two to the Enterprise (for beer and free internet) and the public library (for free internet, only), and scrumptious home-cooked dinners, all by myself. If the babes just knew what they're missing.... Holy Moses, they don't even know about the natural hot tub that sounds like a walrus a-snortin'.
5 seconds before I was in it all butt-nekkid
The Ritchey is not only a good-looking bike, but she fits into the Bimmer's trunk.
Rico. It has not really gone very far since the first miners came through. Well, let it be that way. Telluride is as artsy-fartsy as they come, and attitudes (in some of the nicer places) and worries (in the more mundane establishments) are evident. I went over there on Saturday—8 days ago—and went for a beautiful hike up to Bridal Veil Falls, and beyond. Beta blockers and 9,000-ft elevations seem to have a bit of a war with one another. Still, enjoy these views:

It was a wonderful time. Cool air, plenty of sunshine, non-plain topography, a spritzy car, and an equally responsive bike (just the body is lagging a tad these days—more on the upcoming ablation in a future post), and peace and quiet all to myself—only a soulmate (not the nagging kind) would have improved this vacation.
It's  bit like the top of the world, no?
Last Monday, Mike and Candi arrived for their 2-month stay up here in our vacation home and take over the torch. It was good to see them after not having had a chance to go down to the Hill Country for Thanksgiving or X-mas these past few years. I sure am lucky to have such a fine brother- and sister-in-law. Thank you, guys!
Judy's oh-so-beloved Free Box in Telluride.  Sometimes you can even pick up a brand-new baby!
Tuesday, the Bimmer and I left for the first leg of the journey home. But before hitting Albuquerque for the night I stopped at the Mickey D in Cuba, NM, to gas up on a Coke and a $1 McChicken. And holy, shit, wouldn't you know it but my old buddy Pete Imbs from Rohnert Park, CA, rolls in on his moto with two buddies to take a quick break from their 3-week cross-country trip. Who would have thunk! Pete used to be both Judy's and my motorcycle driver at the Vineman triathlon. I should have bought a lottery ticket on the spot!
Pete Imbs and his red Harley, in Cuba, NM
Reunions. On the way to Albuquerque (I had booked myself into the Doubletree so I'd be within walking distance of one of my favorite micro-breweries in the beta-quadrant, Marble) I had called my dear friend Liz, who had just returned from a trip to Montana with her BF Chuck. I had really hoped to meet him, but since he lives in Rio Rancho he bowed out. So, Liz and I had a wonderful Molta Carne cum Wet Mountain IPA dinner at Il Vicino and caught up with each others' lives. I can't tell you how wonderful it is to reunite with somebody who has meant so much to me in the past and whom I never want to lose. Well, I never have, as it turns out.

And on Wednesday, after a huge fill of red and green chile for breakfast at the Doubletree and many hours of baking in the sun under a dropped top, I returned home. Fourth of July fireworks have come and gone (I drove down to Snyder to celebrate with Wes and Susan's families), and now I have exactly a week to prepare to wear the chief's plumes at the US National Mountain Bike Championships in Mammoth, CA.

We'll talk about the ablation (Aug. 2o) later. No worries,


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