Monday, June 10, 2013

Ode to The Crested Butte Townie

A version of this piece is published in the Summer 2013 issue of Crested Butte Magazine. It's an honor to be a part of that wonderful publication again.

Stoked to visit Crested Butte on Friday, July 5th for a book reading from Climbing Out of Bed at Rumor's Tea and Coffeehouse/Townie Books. The book is also available for sale there now!

Once they are awakened from winter hibernation, the townies rule Crested Butte. In no other place on God’s green earth are they respected more than here. Watch how they command traffic: a seasoned CB driver will slow down from their already crawling pace to let one cross the street, waving the townie on to its destination. Its as if the normal rules of our industrial society were flipped upside down. Human powered transportation is given priority. Nearly everyone has one, some use their townies more often than their cars. Certainly within town limits CB is better experienced at the slow pace of the townie.

Some are a bit flashy; others are equal art and mode of transportation. The best will stop someone dead in their tracks, to just admire its uniqueness and beauty. Some townies barely function for more than the few blocks they are needed. Rarely locked, even in front of a bar, which increases the chances it might be stolen, and they are occasionally stolen, followed by a plea in the newspaper to be returned. And, they are even often returned, found discarded by the drunk in someone’s yard, who may know the owner, or read the plea in the paper and recognize it. This is a connected community, and the townie is one connection we all share.

Like many who are a part of this community, I don’t actually live in Crested Butte. I used to, but even when I did CB was basecamp to bigger adventures, to the backyard, the rocks and the trails. A couple years ago, my last summer living in CB, I saw the townie in a different light, that of the night.

With some friends we’d signed up for the 24 hour Bridges of the Butte endurance townie extravaganza. This was an extreme idea; see how many laps around Crested Butte you could do in the hours of a single day. Our warm up was the Chainless Race that took place earlier in the week, an equally insane event involving a couple hundred costumed freaks, descending seven miles into town without a single stroke of a pedal. Physically it might have turned out to be much of a warm up, but metaphysically it was.

 Our team was the Chihuahua Chasers, named after a harrowing incident where we chased a tiny dog around the town of Gunnison for several hours as it cheated death by running across the highway and nearly every major intersection of town. We draped ourselves in costumes, and assembled several townies that we hoped could last for several laps around town.

The daytime laps were fun, being cheered on by bystanders, fueling our stoke for this ridiculous test of stamina. The nighttime laps were unforgettable, bikes lit up like spaceships, not recalling what lap we were on, and not caring because what mattered was our presence on the townies, and the stars looking on in approval.

Our team traded townies, and my personal favorite was a lowrider, borrowed from a friend of a friend, mine for the moment, smooth flowing, sitting comfortably in the saddle, I felt like a kid lost in play, enjoying the simple pleasure of riding a bike for what it is, one of man’s finest inventions.

On the east side of the course, where there were no houses, and the town turns into dirt roads heading to the mountain, another crew had stopped. Decked in a hundred lights with townies of all variations they had obviously spent some time preparing for this moment. A small stereo played tunes that softly serenaded us more into the moment. It was a classic moment, very out of this world, but very Crested Butte. No words needed to be exchanged; we just soaked it in, and then pedaled some more. 

The full Crested Butte Magazine can be read for free online, or in the printed version found everywhere in Crested Butte. 

1 comment:

Al Smith said...

Super gay picture! ha. Smiles.

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