Surviving the Teva games |

Surviving the Teva games

Summer afternoons dozing in a warm, leafy, mountain meadow or lazily holding a book while mesmerized by the fluid patterns and vocal waves from a bustling stream. It’s ideal to combine both and Vail can provide these in spades, but dawdling around smelling the roses is tough to do these days. Vail has packed so much into its short summer that you’d feel too guilty about maybe missing something.

The weather may not always realize it but summer kicks off with the Teva games at the start of June. These games have evolved from a local river race into a giant social event for all types of mountain athletes; sort of like a giant Tupperware party for those with lithe limbs, low heart rates, cool technical clothes and the odd scar of courage, stupidity or both (there’s a fine line).

Usually I wander around trying not to get greedy for useless swag I don’t need and go “wow!” at how good the best athletes are.

About a month ago a friend talked me into actually participating and doing an event with the intimidating word “ultimate” in the title. Cobbling together kayaking, mountain biking, running and road biking ” all activities we dabbled in over the summer ” he thought it’d be fun to see how one compared to the best.

Late at night on the computer this sounded OK, but by dawn, official entry confirmations and serious rules brought a new light.

Still what tennis player hasn’t wondered just how good Roger Federer is? Teva events are kind of unique in that they give locals a chance to find out, though a good number of mountain-sport Roger Federers apparently live here anyway.

I like sports but hate training. I much prefer my dogs’ “off the couch” approach to outdoor activity and it works well for them. Still I’m an active guy; walking the dogs, shoveling snow, squeezing the toothpaste out of the tube, etc., and with the entry confirmation staring accusingly from the kitchen table I even started to work out after neglecting any aerobic activity for months.

My friend had to drop out at the last minute leaving me feeling dangerously exposed to humiliation. Fortunately the great thing about the Teva games is the huge amount of citizen participation and range of skill levels allow you to find your comfort zone. Except for the mountain biking, because the “ultimate” competitors had to compete with the professional racers. After spending four laps being a moving speed bump to the pro and semi-pro men and women I have to commend all of them for how pleasant they were while passing someone who has no right to be in their way.

These guys are racing and show none of that road rage you see too often on our roads where impatient drivers would rather risk killing someone rather than waiting a few seconds for a safe place to pass.

I’m guessing if you ever watch Roger Federer’s serve or ground strokes fizz past you in person you’ll have an even greater appreciation for his ability. Same with the Teva games, the best are quite impressively good. Skills are the ultimate possession and in this valley athletic skills are an enjoyable part of the lifestyle and valued more than most places.

Competition is addictive, seductive and a good if harsh teacher. You want to be better, you want some of those skills; the hook is set and training plans take over the summer. Then my genetic reality eases back in. Somewhere there’s a wife, dogs and bucolic stream bank all begging for some company ” ideally all together.

Exhausted, I’m now competing with the dogs for couch space and understand their recovery strategy better, too. Teva’s motto of “Go Do Be” allows a wide range of lifestyle interpretations as one inserts the adjectives and nouns of your choice. Soon the dogs will tell me, “Go to the park, do play with us and be happy.”

Sometimes dogs are hard to argue with. Wonder if they’d be up for a run too?

Alan Braunholtz of Vail writes a biweekly column for the Daily. Send comments or questions to

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