My inner child lives for summer
One of the best things about living in the Vail Valley is that it’s absolutely gorgeous here in the summer. Nature, nature everywhere. It’s fabulous! Aren’t we lucky?
Sometimes I get so caught up in the day-to-day grind that I forget to stop, look up and appreciate it. Like when I’m making a daytrip to Denver for a marathon shopping excursion with a list of 1,001 things to do and I hit the road with the mantra, “Go! Go! Must get there!” repeating in my head. I’m almost always caught off guard by the sight of the Gore Range looming over East Vail, snowcaps contrasted against the clear, blue sky, the fresh, new green leaves of the aspens, vibrant along the hills. It takes my breath away every time.
It happened again last week when I went for a walk after I dropped my boys off at Vail Mountain Bike Camp. There they were, looking stunning, as happy for the warm summer sun as I was. As I walked the path along Gore Creek enjoying the view and the first taste of summer, I started thinking about what the boys were doing at camp.
Vail Mountain Bike Camp is, I dare say, my favorite kids summer camp in the valley. Mia Stockdale and Shane Sluder put together a great group of coaches to run these amazing three-day sessions. And they teach them everything about mountain biking from the basics (“Keep pedaling! Remember, your back brake is your right hand.”) to the most technical skills for conquering the trails and developing a passion for the sport. My boys love the camp and the people. And it’s the only camp that actually wears out my Energizer Bunny kids.
Don’t think the kids are the only ones having fun. Mia and Shane run several adults’ skills classes throughout the summer, as well as Women’s Weekends lead by Mia. I took a class several years back when I got a new bike, thinking I should sharpen by skills and learn what this new bike could do. It had been quite a while since I’d spent any time on a bike and I’d kind of lost some confidence. Also, it was the first time I’d had clip-in pedals, which, I have to admit, still make me nervous every time I get on my bike.
It was an awesome evening starting on a soccer field with basic maneuvers, getting the feel for the bike, learning the basics, building confidence. I was starting to feel a little badass when the cycling gods knocked me down a notch. After an, “Oh, crap! I’m going down!” moment, I finally released my feet from the clips and did an awesome volleyball roll out and away from my tumbling bike. Oh, so smooth.
But once we were on the mountain for our coached ride, it all came together. I climbed the trail with strong, even strokes. I powered through the sprint section with, well, I wasn’t the fastest in the group, but I wasn’t the slowest either. I was balanced and fast on the downhill, and only hopped off on one really technical section because it was steep and narrow and had lots of rocks. And I was still a little freaked out by having my feet attached to my pedals.
As we finished the ride, we went through an easy treed section and I started remembering things from childhood. Memories of biking the old logging roads that wound through the woods of my Oregon Coast neighborhood. I remembered that sense of freedom, my love of speed, feeling so comfortable on the bike that it was merely another part of me. I remembered the smell of summer, the grass under my wheels, the salmonberry bushes and ferns along the sides of the trail, the towering trees above my head.
I remembered what it was like to be a kid on summer vacation. And it gave me a renewed perspective on my boys. I hope they get that same feeling of joy from something they do this summer, too. I need to lighten up; it’s summer!
Linda Boyne is an Edwards resident and a regular columnist for the Vail Trail. E-mail comments about this column to firstname.lastname@example.org.