By Wayne the Disgruntled Tourist
So earlier this week, I had to go to Winter Park. I guess I should have known the whole thing was gonna be messed up just by the name of the town. Here I am going to a place called Winter Park and it’s the middle of the god damn summer. At any rate, nomenclature issues aside, the point of the trip was to go biking. Simple enough. I love biking. Had a bike when I was a kid. Shoved a queen of spades in the spoke, and I’d come down the street sounding ike a locomotive. If you were a blind guy you’d have thought I was a Hell’s Angel. Loved that shit. Bike was a Schwinn… But hey… who gives a shit what kind of bike it was. Point is… I know how to ride a bike.
Anyway… Winter Park. Or Summer Park… or whatever and I’m gonna be biking. So that’s the deal. Next thing you know, I’m in some kinda bike shop that smells like rubber and half the periodic table of elements. Should have known something was afoul when I walked in and they’re bunch of hippies playing The Grateful Dead on the loud speakers. Then the Beatles come on; as if we haven’t all heard that band a million times. The 60s were in the 60s. Let it go.
So everybody’s real nice and smiling and I tell them I need my bike. Next thing you know, some chick with a moose tattooed on her leg puts me some kinda armor before you know it I look like some kind of thing from the bowels of a Phillip Dick novel. Chest plates like a futuristic gorilla coming to warn us all. Helmet like the Lord Vader himself. All that was missing was a glow in the dark sword and a cape.
What’s with capes anyway?
So I’m like “Lady, I’m going on a bike ride. Not to Neptune. What’s with this get up?” and she smiles and tells me it’s “Just in case.” “Just in case? Just in case what?” I say back and then I remind her that I used to drive a schwinn with a card in the spokes back in the day and she just keeps smilin’ and tells me “Just in case,” like I didn’t hear her the first time. “Lady, I know how to ride a bike. Six year olds know how to ride bikes. Mentally challenged six year olds at that.”
After I’m properly prepared to absorb radiation from solar flares, she tells me its time to get me a bike. “Hope you got a queen of spades, honey. That’s the only way I ride,” I tell her. She didn’t laugh at my joke, but Trust me with a capital “T, ”she thought it was funny.
So we get my bike and if my techo-armor was a little excessive, this bike looked like some kind of overgrown prehistoric arachnid made out of beryllium. It’s got springs and pistons coming out of everywhere like an unkempt old lady and I’m standing there all constricted from my armor and thinking “what the fuck is this?”
“A bike,” she tells me. Apparently, according to Moose Tattoo, this thing costs a few grand and if I scratch it at all, I gotta pay for it. What Moose Tattoo doesn’t get, even though I told her a half dozen times. I know how to ride a bike… or at least bikes how they were made before NASA got involved.
Then some guy with all kinds of energy starts running his mouth about a lesson. At this point, I’m thinkin’ I’ll just play with him. “Sure,” I tell him. “Why don’t you teach me how to ride my little bike..” Next thing you know, he’s shoving me on skilift and we’re heading to the top of a giant hill. And let me tell you this. Not a road to be seen. Anywhere. Am I supposed to ride this thing through all these conifers?” I ask the guy and he looks at me all chipper and goes… “Yeah, bro.” Bro. Fuck you, Bro. Don’t even think the guy knows what a conifer is.
“First off,” I tell him, “I’m gonna get eatin’ by a damn bear. Bears scare the shit out of me.” He tells me there are no bears. Well, Dingleberry Hound, bears live in forests. Below us are trees. Do the math, Jerry Garcia. This has to be a joke I tell myself but for now, I’m stuck with the hippy, hanging five hundred feet or so above the damn ground and as scared as I am of bears, let me tell you this. I hate heights. With the fury of a score of burning matchboxes.
We get off the lift, and this guy tells me to ride down this little hill. But I shouldn’t sit. I should always stand on the pedals. “Stand on the pedals?” I ask. “Yeah,” he tells me. “And get your butt low. And lean on your heels.” “I ask the obvious question. “If you’re supposed to stand, then what the hell is the seat there for?” “In case,” he says, as vague as Moose Tattoo back in the shop. After that, he tells me that instead of turning the handlebars to turn, I just lean to the side. “Then why do the handle bars turn?” I ask, “and don’t tell me in case!” I say, my blood boiling. “In case you need it to turn,” he says.
So I ride down the hill and lower my ass, lean on my heels, turn the thing to the side a couple of times and that’s that. Now give me my queen of spades and let’s do this thing. He warns me about some shit called “Burms” which are like turns and says let’s go have some fun as if that’s possible.
Next thing you know, he takes off down some path and we start going kind of fast, then BAM! A root. BAM! Another root. BAMBAM! Rocks everywhere! “This ain’t no road!” I yell, my coffee breath stinking up the facemask of my helmet. BAM! Another rock and then we’re going straight down! I’m riding this thing like a cat lady on a dryer. No wonder he told me not to sit. This seat would sodomize me. We’re in a damn forest on a path an inch wide and tree branches are smackin’ me and I’m sucking wind like an asthmatic. My hands hurt from gripping the handlebars so damn hard. I catch up to Jerry Garcia and he’s grinning like some kinda circus monkey on free banana day and I wanna wring his neck. “What the hell was that?” I ask, expecting an answer. “That’s no bike ride! That’s suicide,” I tell him. “You almost killed me,” I say, waiting for my brain to stop shaking.
“You don’t like it?” he asks. “Like I said,” you almost killed me!” I tell him. Then he’s got the nerve to say to me… “You sure look like you’re having fun.” Then he gets on his bike. “Let’s go.” And takes off. That little son of bitch.
I jump on my bike and go after him. The faster he rides, the faster I ride. Before I know it, I don’t even feel the bumps. I just smash over the damn things so I can catch up with this kid and skin him and tan his hide with his beloved patchouli. But he’s way ahead me so I just start focusing on what’s ahead and let me tell you something. Regular biking compared to this? Not the same at all. This? This is a sport. What I’m doing ain’t for every man. I take another burm. And another. I’m like a downhill skier on a bike. I’ll tell you this. You couldn’t do it. That’s a fact.
So I get to the bottom and I’m all out of breath. Adrenaline is pumping and Jerry Garcia’s there all smiling and sweaty. “What’d you think?” He asks. “I think next time you go tearing away from me on top of that hill, I’m gonna catch you.” I tell him. And I mean it, too. Then he looks at me all cocky and says “It’s not a hill. It’s a mountain.” Hill/mountain. Winter Park/Summer Park. Relax, Jerry. Moose Tattoo sticks her head out of the store. “You still want to stick a card in those spokes?”
“Only if you’re watching,” I said, and again, she didn’t laugh but she was smiling on the inside. “She’s got a boyfriend,” he tells me. “I put on my helmet, ready to go again. “Not for long.”
This is in no way a reflection of any company in Winter Park, Colorado and should be taken in jest. Look for Matt’s many extra-ordinary musings on his trip to Colorado in the week to come.