Monday, June 1, 2015

Mountain Biking on the Colorado Trail: Personal and Professional Connection

This post is mostly intended for our little girl, Anna, as a record of her father's favorite hobbies, but there is a professional message behind it, too.

In 1959, I was born and raised in Durango, Colorado, now a mountain biking mecca. At the time of our childhood, it wasn't called mountain biking, but that's what we were doing with our bikes, mostly Stingrays. There weren't very many trails at that time-- literally only a handful of man-made trails, but mostly they were wild animal game trails or trails used by the local ranchers to move their cattle and sheep from pasture to pasture in the forest. We would ride our bikes as far as we could on these rough trails, then push them to the top of the next hill, and repeat the process until our little legs were exhausted. We'd pause at the top to admire our achievements, then plunge downhill, as fast as possible. Wrecks were the norm. Helmets were non-existent.  Shocks were non-existent. We routinely broke seat stems, handlebars, and front forks. A few of our friends, like Everett Berry, benefited from the welding skills of their fathers and older brothers, and would reinforce their Stingrays with various metals, Mad Max style. I weighed my Stingray one time, without any of these metal reinforcements-- it was 33 pounds. I weighed 75 lbs at the time.

Times are much different now. There are miles and miles of incredibly well-made, man-made trails all around Durango, thanks in large part to Trails 2000. If my math is accurate, I counted 19 trailheads in the city limits of Durango itself, not to mention the trailheads that are immediately outside the city limits.  The mountain bikes of today are from another planet in comparison to what we rode as kids.

I'm not entirely sure what impact this sort of upbringing and on-going hobby have had on my professional life, but one would think the impact has been significant. Camaraderie, balancing risk and reward, an inner life that is firmly anchored to the permanence of Mother Nature not the fleeting impermanence of Mother Business; and nurturing a sense of fun... all of these things come to play.

I'm incredibly, endlessly grateful for the health-- and friendships, like Steve Harmon shown in this video, and David Waller and Dan White not shown-- that still allow me to enjoy mountain biking, now into the 55th year of life.


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