Joel Reichenberger: Summer’s not to be wasted |

Joel Reichenberger: Summer’s not to be wasted

It officially came to an end Friday, but summer in Steamboat never really lasts until autumn officially arrives, so the fall equinox was merely symbolic to me.

For a lot of personal reasons, summer 2011 will go down as one of the all-time greats for me. But this summer, I also relearned a lesson I’ve been taught 1,000 times, and in at least one sense, the end of summer was symbolic of a season wasted.

The rule about such a short summer is you can’t waste it. I, however, can waste anything.

I spent my first three summers in town slowly learning the ropes of Steamboat’s deep list of summer activities. Last year, I rode my bike more than I had in the previous 10 years combined. As I was stashing the snow gear in April, I was sure I’d easily eclipse last year’s mountain biking miles.

It wasn’t to be. Whether it was for legitimate reasons like a busy summer at work or illegitimate reasons like sleeping in too often on my weekends, I only rarely rode my bike anywhere but downtown.

For me, it was a compounding problem. Missing a few early season rides made me less likely to hit the trail in June. Skipping rides in June made me less likely to go in July and August.

It was a little like a bad season of fantasy sports. You know how it goes: You get all worked up for the draft, and you scour rosters and make substitutions and offer trades. Then maybe your favorite player gets hurt. Maybe you inexplicably get off to a bad start. You forget to set your lineup, and the next thing you know, the season is 75 percent gone, and you’re too embarrassed to log back in and see how things ended up.

Sure, soggy early season conditions kept this from being an ideal summer of outdoor activities in Steamboat. Time in Routt County’s high country was limited severely by a late melt. But the lesson from the summer isn’t that things don’t always work out the way you expect or that weather can be annoying in the mountains. It’s that you have to make the most of what’s there, when it’s there, because if you give in to excuses, the days will be short and cold again before you know it.

It hasn’t been a terrible four months for me — quite the opposite, actually. I took the largest creative leap (and a considerable financial one) I’ve ever taken by entering some artwork in a summer craft show, and I was so overwhelmed by the response that the Art in the Park weekend always will be one of the most reassuring and inspiring experiences of my life. I took vacations and enjoyed every second of them, and I met people and friends I’ll never forget.

The lack of riding my bike didn’t tarnish any of that, but I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed Friday when summer finally slipped away.

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