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Live, Play

Puppy’s First Hike

April 9, 2016

(Look at that happy guy in the picture above! I swear he’s smiling.)

It’s hard to believe that it’s been less than a week since Cash (a/k/a Ears, Cashmob, Cashbar, Kelpie, Moneymaker, Payday …) entered our lives. He has settled in so well that I feel like he’s been here forever. He’s a good boy. He has loads of energy but it is good, happy energy. He’s playful and sweet and just kind of rolls with the punches. And he and the kid are best friends already.

Introducing him to the chickens hasn’t gone well (he really, really wants to eat them …) but other than that I have zero complaints about this guy. He’s fit into our lives so perfectly that I swear it was meant to be.

Wednesday morning I decided it was time to take the pup for his first hike. I was itching to get out and god knows that Cash has energy to burn. I debated whether or not to take Spotty too, since I thought I would have my hands full, and in the end decided to give it a go. I was kind of hoping that maybe Cash would stay with her if I tried letting him off-leash. Plus she needed the exercise too.

We decided to head for Mt. Sanitas. Sanitas is one of the major “peaks” (these are still the foothills – but it doesn’t make the hike any easier) that form the backdrop of Boulder. It’s a relatively short hike but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It goes straight up the side of the damn mountain and then straight back down. It’s not long, but it’s kind of an ass kicker. It’s also one of Boulder’s most popular hikes (although fortunately we went on a weekday) and seemed like the perfect way to break my guy in.

When we got on the trail I let Spotty loose right away. She’s awesome off-leash and her recall is rock solid. As Cash and I started making our way up the infinite steps that are the Mt. Sanitas trail I started to wonder how he would do if I let him off. He loves his canine sister so I figured maybe he would stay with her. Since the trail was mostly empty that day (by Boulder standards – no trail here is EVER empty) I decided I’d find out.

I unclipped his leash and watched him trot up the trail with Spotty but when I called her back he kept going. I sped up to keep him in sight and planned to put the leash back on as soon as I caught up to him. Then he heard people down in the valley and decided to go bushwacking. He was halfway down the damn mountain before I was able to get his attention and get him to come back to me. Needless to say, he went back on a leash and I signed him up for training classes the second we got home.

Aside from his unauthorized jaunt in the valley, the hike went great. It was a warm day and at first I wondered if maybe I should have started him on something easier but he rocked it! Having him on his leash was actually no problem at all. He didn’t pull and had really good manners. He wagged his tail happily at every dog and person we saw and didn’t bark or jump on anyone. I couldn’t be happier with how he did.

We hung out on top of Sanitas for a while and enjoyed the views and the perfect spring weather. I like to think that as he looked down on his new kingdom he felt like he hit the jackpot. Just over a week ago he was at a shelter in Texas and now he’s romping in the mountains of Colorado. I’m pretty sure this guy was made for this kind of life.

Live, Play, Travel

Raising Rippers, Boulder Style

May 26, 2015


Several years ago my husband and I volunteered at the first “clean up” day at the weed strewn tract of land that would later become Valmont Bike Park. While we had been racing triathlons and casually riding mountain bikes for years, we were still fairly new to the cycling community, and we were definitely still new to Boulder. So on a sunny Saturday we donned some work gloves and spent an afternoon pulling up weeds, picking up trash, and trying to imagine the world class cycling facility that was being promised. I don’t think either of us truly bought in to the hype.

Fast forward six years and it’s hard to imagine that I ever had my doubts.

Here are the stats, for the uninitiated: A 42-acre world class urban bike park that is absolutely free to the public. Trails and features for everyone from total newbs to the folks that love nothing more than flinging themselves off wooden structures that are many, many feet off the ground. Multiple pump tracks, a dual slalom course, big ass jumps, a sandpit, two sets of stairs for cyclocross, many rock and log features, and several miles of rolling trails make this a place that is fun for just about everyone who has any interest in riding a bike. Valmont has been home to everything from the weekly short track mountain bike series to cyclocross nationals and it served as a gathering ground when the Boulder cycling community lost one of its own.

But for me, it’s something very different than all of that.

When I was growing up, learning to ride a bike meant making laps on the sidewalk between our house and the neighbor’s while my dad hung on for dear life behind. Once I was off and pedaling, my two-wheeled adventures mostly meant trips around the block or to the 7-11 up the street. I didn’t wear a helmet (no one did back then) and my tires never left the pavement. I loved riding, but I had no idea that there was a whole other world of adventure beyond the confines of the neighborhood.

Compare that to my kid, who at two and a half years old has spent more afternoons cruising around on dirt than many adults have in the entire course of their lives. I started taking him to Valmont when he was around 20 months old, back when “riding” his Strider meant walking slowly along, his feet never really leaving the ground. Now, he flies. And every time I watch him fearlessly ride up to a new feature or pick up his feet and go cruising around berms, I feel grateful all over again for this community that puts such a premium on keeping all of it’s citizens – from the very youngest to the very oldest – happy, healthy, and active.

I love that my kid has a place to rip it up in relative safety, a place that is enormous and far enough from cars that I don’t have to worry about him getting hit. I love that he has a place to learn the rules of the trail and to practice yielding and sharing his space. I love that he can ride around with his little toddler buddies while pros do hot laps on the XC trails just a few feet away. I love that he sees both kids and adults being active and having fun in the outdoors. I love living in a community that thinks these kinds of things are very, very important.

I know that Boulder is somewhat of an anomaly and that not all communities have the desire, or funds, to give their kids (and their adults, for that matter) this type of environment in which to learn some new skills, stay healthy and active, and have a hell of a lot of fun outside. But I also hope that it can serve as a model for other places. With sky high obesity rates and electronic devices constantly begging for our attention, sometimes we need a little push. Give people a rad place to come together and play outside, and chances are they will … or at least that’s the thought that’s going through my mind when I’m chasing my little ripper around the trails at Valmont.

[A housekeeping note: My Facebook button is broken. I’m working on getting it fixed! In the meantime, you can follow along on Facebook by clicking here and liking my page. Thanks!]