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Tales from the Land of Awesome

Holiday gift guide for mountain bikers

Is it my sunglasses making everything so beautiful, or am I in love?

This is what I was wondering as I gazed across the blossoming summer fields of the Wasatch Mountains from 9000 feet of elevation, clutching the handlebars of a 5.7 Pivot mountain bike that company reps were encouraging me to borrow and ride. I wasn’t even exhausted from climbing because there wasn’t any – I rode the ski lift.

It’s easy to be in love with Park City, Utah. It’s just difficult to determine from where exactly my bliss began. Was it the buffalo burger I ate last night, garnished with chipotle mayonnaise and jalapenos, accompanied by a high-gravity, locally crafted beer? Was it sleeping through the morning without being snatched from my coveted slumber by the screeches of a frustrated 3-year-old? Perhaps it was the delightful cup of coffee made in a cozy bookshop. Or maybe even the new ultra cool cowboy shirt for riding that I bought from a guy in Idaho who started an apparel company called Club Ride. Maybe it was being surrounded by beautiful biking boys, tattooed, scarred and grinning through a veil of sweat and mountain grime. It could have even been the way the clouds floated across the sky, raining on nearby ranges.

We are at Bike Dealer’s Camp, which is a much more fun and relaxed version of Inter Bike – the yearly bike convention held in Las Vegas, of all places. I mean, really, nobody can even ride a bike there without heat stroke. But here…there are bikes for nearly everyone, and trails that make you giggle or bleed, depending on how you read the map. Tomorrow will be a road ride on a Cervelo or Felt and another downhill scare on something a little more like a lazyboy on wheels.

The first time down the peak was on an intermediate trail that wound its way down tight trails of sage, peppered with large rocks – every turn sprinkled with loose scree, rendering the rear brake useless for anything more than skidding. It alternated between open fields of purple thistle and tall stands of Aspen. The challenge was keeping the six inches of front travel from diving in and out of the turns, and keeping a good flow through the mental game of fear that coming off of the narrow trail will result in a lonnnnnng and bumpy tumble down the steepest bits.

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