I’d moved here from Missouri with an eye on the mountains, the trails, running and hiking and climbing and skiing, to get lean and mountain-ready. To tackle my 40s with motivation and hell-no-I-won’t-slow. To get Colorado fit.

The elevation change took me — and my family — from living a few hundred feet above sea level to 6,412 feet up here in Manitou Springs. Awesome. But breathtaking.

I was slightly overweight upon arrival, but within reach of wrestling it down. I’d had years of occasionally running races up to marathon distance, but now lost my wind after one- to three-minute stretches of uphill, or even flat, running on nearby Manitou Springs trails. Perplexing.

“Hell-no-I-won’t-slow. But … maybe just for a bit, while I figure this thing out.” What was holding me back?

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Symbol of Success or Defeat

My black commuter bike had sat, waiting. First for six years in the back of our garage in Missouri. Then mostly protected from the Colorado elements, leaning up against the wall of our patio here in Manitou Springs for 18 months. It’s tires and tubes going flat, wasting away. Colorado fit, my ass.

Red Rock Canyon Open Space. The Manitou Incline. Barr Trail. Beautiful, life-changing environment, if you knock down your inner obstacles and plunge in. I don’t know what natives think of Manitou Springs and Colorado on a daily basis, at least if they don’t have elsewhere to truly compare to, but every day I know I’m in my paradise.

And then I found it, the motivation to slow no more.

My bike had sat in constant daily view of our kitchen table all those months, most of two years, a symbol of my nagging failure that would only take one tube, one tire, and one desire to turn it into a freeing success, an example of living the art of life with a mountain view.

In our time here, the most I managed with the bike was a trip to Colorado Springs Bike Shop, to replace the front tube and tire, and then ride it home. When I tried a second or third ride, I found the back tire and tube were shot.

I’d neglected my sidekick, the bike that once was my daily commuter to work when living in St. Louis. That time was a short, few-year pre-suburb driving commute, pre-kids personal era. My bike and I had shared daily miles and love of the two-wheeling freedom. Then I shelved her/him/it for seven and a half years.

No more.

This spring I made a second trip to the bike shop. With a new rear tube and tire, my bike and I have come back into balance.

With the start of Humanitou — this blog, and on Instagram — and of spring.

With having worked for months to lean up, shedding nearly 30 pounds and improving my daily nutrition with fewer calories, more fruits and vegetables, fewer carbohydrates, and less beer.

With more time on the trails and roads and mountains, hiking and running, skiing and snowboarding, and now cranking through the gears on my bike. Colorado fit.

If you see me on the road on my bike, a now-frequent occurrence, wave. Tall, lean, big beard gliding on a tall, lean, big black bike. And happy as can be to be riding in Manitou.

This post was republished in the July 6, 2017 edition of the Pikes Peak Bulletin newspaper.

Title photo credit: Alex Moore, via Unsplash | Video music credit: Twin Guns, free Creative Commons download via freemusicarchive.org.