Monday, January 21, 2013

Beautiful Sports

Tongue and horns ready to climb
 I spent my Sunday in the Church of the Great Outdoors with an old high school buddy, Dave.  We took in an awesome day at Powder Mountain resort, one the best (and last) real places to just ski.  Its a low key joint with a rustic couple of lodges, very few lifts, but access to about 7,000 acres of skiing.  Not to mention a lift ticket is only $65, a true bargain in today's reality if $100 lift tickets.

Among the unique amenities at Pow Mow is all natural snow and a $15 add on ticket for a ride on the snowcat.  The cat ride takes you to lighting ridge and its steep chutes and gets you access to the 25 minute hike up to James Peak.  From James Peak you can ski a good 3000 uninterrupted feet of quality, mostly untouched snow.  Its well worth the hike and the $15.

After a few warm up runs and waiting for the snow to soften in the sun a bit, we made our way to the cat and started our morning adventure.  My friend, who now lives near sea level, was a bit nervous about the hike.  It looks steep from afar, and in reality, it is.  Some people skin to the top but there's usually a well stepped boot pack as well.

Brand new Bontrager RL Road Cycling shoes, size 43, $140 (self sponsored ad)

We started the boot pack and Dave started to really feel the altitude.  Dave's in great shape, he's a cyclist and triathlete and an expert snowboarder, but 9,500 feet is a lot of elevation.  But he kept on, kept telling himself "the next tree".  We had caught up to one skier skinning up and he told us the summit wasn't worth climbing to because the snow off the top was in poor shape.  We were darn close to the summit though and with all the effort we had put in, especially Dave, we weren't going to stop our climb and bug out early.  we figured if the snow sucked from the top, we could always traverse over to the next face where the snow was better.

Dave on the summit
Once we got to the top, we quickly realized just how worthwhile the climb really was.  From James Peak you can see 3 Utah borders, the Uintah Mountains, the Cottonwoods, the Wellsvilles and the expanse of the Great Salt Lake.  On this day though, we could only see the top of Antelope island poking up out of the smog.  But we were high above it all, in the warmth of the inversion with bluebird skies above.  At that point, it didn't matter what the snow was like, it was the climb, the view and the company that made James Peak great.

There are many reasons why I do the sports I do, but one of the biggest ones, is just simply being out there.  The rewards of a long hike up a peak; the thrill of a big downhill line; the joy of sailing along under your own power in the middle of the ocean; the whine of your freshly home tuned turbo charged engine; and the sheer thrill of riding your bike in the open air.

With so much focus this last week on Lance Armstrong and his confession, I had to remind myself of why I do what I do.  I was a cycling fan long before who I knew who Lance was.  I had my first pair of spandex even before Lance's World Championship win.  Yes, I was a huge Lance fan once he started winning the Tour, but he was never my reason for riding.  Lance did great things to grow the popularity of cycling, but you know what the fastest growing sport in the world is?  MMA!  A world that has nothing to do with cycling.  Cycling was awesome before LA and it is awesome after.  I really think the non-cyclist fans of LA will look past his cheating and bullying and move on.  For the cyclist, I believe the love of the sport transcends one super star or multiple doping scandals.  While I love bike racing and putting on my kit filled with generous sponsors and col designs, what I love most, is simply being out there.  Its why I put on races, so others can experience that joy.  Just finishing the 157 mile Tour de Park City or the grueling Powder Mountain Hillclimb is a feat unto itself.  Add racing others in that journey and you have a beautiful thing.

I'm over Lance Armstrong.  He has his own bed to lay in now and his own problems to sort out.  I hope he does right by making amends to all the people he's hurt directly and indirectly, but I'm over it.  Its time to look forward to the next training ride, the new racing season, the next sail across the Pacific and the next epic powder day.  There is so much beauty in these great sports that to let the professional athletes dictate how we feel or participate would be wrong.  For those who love the stick and ball sports, are you going to give up your Thursday night pick up games because Kobe's an unfaithful husband, or give up your next golf outing because Tiger's a DB?  No.  And I will not give up riding my bike and helping others do the same because some of our heroes have falling.

So, here's to your next big thing, here's to your next epic and your next mountain to climb!

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