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How to rock a summer trifecta in the Rockies

Ian Cropp

There are plenty of reasons to love Colorado.

This weekend, I found a new one ” I got to wear a bunch of different shoes. OK, so I didn’t wear as many pairs of shoes as Imelda Marcos has in her collection, but I did manage to sport a different pair three days in a row.

Saturday, I laced up my rugby spikes and played 80 minutes for the Vail Rugby Football Club.

Sunday, I woke up at 6 a.m., dragged my sore body to Beaver Creek’s Elk Lot, then put on my cycling shoes and biked 100 kilometers in the Vail Daily Colorado-Eagle River Ride with a few friends.

Then on Monday, I grabbed my golf spikes and played a round at Lakota Canyon in New Castle with Vail Daily Sports Editor Chris Freud.

There are an infinite number of sports combinations in the Centennial State; in one day you can ski, golf and still have time to mountain bike. For me, the summer trifecta was an affirmation of how lucky I am to live in a mecca for outdoor activities. And it also reminded me how much better it is to play sports with good company.

When I went to bed Friday night, I hoped I’d be able to escape from Saturday’s rugby match without any major injuries. Not that anyone ever wants to get hurt, but I had a bike ride and a round of golf on the calendar.

I never thought that rugby at 8,150 feet would be so competitive. Not many towns of less than 20,000 have high-quality rugby squads.

And much like Vail has an international feel in the winter, the summer is no exception. The guys on the rugby team hail from Scotland, England, Australia, South Africa and Kenya. One thing about rugby is that no matter where you are from or how new you are to a team, you always seem to fit in. I’d only practiced with the team once before playing, but by the end of Saturday’s match, I knew I had 20 new friends.

I didn’t think 100 kilometers was that far. After all, I’d done two 40-kilometer rides on my own before. When I reached the first of three aid stations and limped around for a few minutes, I knew the ride would be a bit more challenging than I had expected. What surprised me most, however, was how many people in their 50s and 60s completed the ride. I consider myself to be in pretty good shape, and my legs were filled with lactic acid halfway through the ride.

After climbing some of the hills on Colorado Highway 131, I realized why my car seems to have trouble doing the same thing. Nothing is as rewarding as making it to the top of a pass, and nothing is as demoralizing as rounding a corner to see you still have hundreds of feet left to go.

While cruising down the Colorado River Road, I thought about extending my ride and doing the full 100 miles. By the time I reached the 100-kilometer mark in Dotsero, the heat was taking its toll on me, and once I got off my bike and got in line for a shuttle bus, there was no way I was changing my mind.

When we loaded the bus, the driver notified us that the air conditioning didn’t work, and I squeezed behind a bike and squatted on a seat. As if the sweat pouring down my face wasn’t enough, somewhere along Interstate 70 my leg cramped up violently. At that point, I wish I had taken the longer ride home. I had no reason to complain, though. Only an hour before, I had been riding my bike along a river dwarfed by the mountains without a car in sight.

Colorado golfers don’t know how lucky they are. Most of the public golf courses here are country-club caliber in other parts of the country. But then again, mountain courses can gobble several sleeves of balls before you realize it.

The drive to Lakota Canyon was a good preview of the course with windy turns and spectacular views.

While there was an option to walk the course, I felt that I had done enough strenuous activity in the two previous days, and opted for a cart. Next time, if I feel like hiking the equivalent of K2, I’ll walk the course.

I do appreciate the extra yardage my shots get on mountain courses, but Lakota Canyon gave me some of the best bounces a mediocre golfer can get. There must have been five times when my approach shot caromed off a hill in the rough, only to make its way onto the green. On the back nine, I stopped aiming for the green and just looked for a nice slope nearby.

When I sunk a birdie putt on a par-4, I was pretty excited, but when I double-bogied the next two holes, I started to get upset. Then it occurred to me that even if I triple-bogied the next hole, which I did, it wouldn’t matter ” I had the Colorado member’s bounce all weekend.

Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or icropp@vaildaily.com.

Vail, Colorado


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