Maybe this isn’t relevant for the blog. Maybe it is. I don’t know. (Hint: it’s tangentially related to cycling. Barely.)
But I’m going to get back into snowboarding.
A long time ago, when I was growing up in Colorado (not really, but yeah actually kind of a long time ago) I snowboarded. It was the cool thing to do. At school, kids wore thick stacks of lift tickets on their jackets like badges of honor and said things like I went up to the mountains this weekend in a voice that made you want to punch them. For me, skiing was never even an option I considered. Skiing was for lame old people. Snowboarding was for badass youth with long hair, or, in my case, short hair that I was “growing out,” an endeavor I talked about with the somber sense of duty of a mother talking about raising a child with autism.
I took a few lessons, learned the basics, got a used board from somewhere. My dad picked up skiing again, a sport he had loved in the B.C. (before children) era, and we started going together. A handful of times each year, we’d make the drive to one of the cheaper resorts closer to home like Loveland and Keystone. Loveland was my favorite: small, quiet, tucked against the Continental Divide right next to I-70. In my memory, I crushed blue groomers like a boss and got big air in the terrain park. But memories aren’t reliable, not about stuff like that. But I do know I had a blast.
Then, shortly after receiving a new board for Christmas, I quit. Kids have the best timing, right? I was getting more serious about baseball and didn’t want to risk injury, so snowboarding was off limits. I don’t regret the decision at all. Had I gotten hurt snowboarding and impacted my chances to play in college or professionally, I would have never forgiven myself. I had a great baseball career and never really thought much about snowboarding after that.
But the other day, while watching a video about a hybrid bike-ski trip in the Sierras, I had a series of thoughts. They went something like this:
Damn, that looks really fun. I’d kind of like to do that.
I should learn.
Wait, I already know how. I used to do it.
Actually, it was really fun.
Why did I quit? Oh yeah. Baseball.
I don’t play baseball anymore.
I’m going to start snowboarding again.
One problem is that I don’t live in Colorado anymore. I know Pennsylvania isn’t a snow sports hotbed. But guess what? Roundtop “Mountain Resort” (my quotes) is only 20 minutes from Harrisburg, and it looks halfway decent, at least for a “mountain resort” in Pennsylvania. And some of my cycling friends ski/snowboard as well. So, I’m coming out of retirement.
Unfortunately my parents had sold all my gear, so I’m starting from scratch. I bought some boots and a helmet and a pair of snowpants on Ebay, and ordered a K2 Standard board with Flow bindings from Evo.com, the whole time telling myself these are one-time startup costs (as if) and trying to learn about snowboard tech so I don’t buy something that I’ll realize is stupid in two months. I kind of did that with cycling early on–my first kit purchase was a basic pair of shorts and unmarked black and white club fit jersey. “I don’t care how I look,” I said at the time. That didn’t last long. Same with my bike, which in hindsight I consider hideous and unbecoming of a serious rider (rest in peace, Felt Z85). Hopefully I didn’t make the same mistakes this time around.
Part of me worries that I won’t find it as fun, or that the small mountains here will get boring, or that I did all this just to have an excuse to get a dopamine hit from some more online shopping. It’s possible.
A bigger part of me is really excited because I think it will be a blast, because there’s a thrill in discovering (or rediscovering) something that you like to do, because now a winter snowstorm means more than just a few days on the trainer. This snowboarding thing continues a my path away from bike racing and training to a more adventurous and fun role for adventure sports in my life. Yes, cycling is still my favorite thing to do, and I’ll always spend way more time riding than doing any other endurance sports. But I also want to run and hike and, now, snowboard. There’s room for all of them.
That’s the beauty of stripping away the competitive/training focus–it opens up room for so many other things that can make you happy. For some people, that happiness is dwarfed by the happiness of winning a race or moving up a category. I don’t begrudge them for thinking that–I used to think that myself. But I don’t think that anymore.