Joanne Palmer: Rest for the weary

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The problem with living in a Colorado ski town is that most everyone is a jock, thinks they're a jock or tries to be a jock. Women have buns of steel, bulging biceps and zero body fat. Men come shrink-wrapped in little black lyrca pants, shave their legs and are obsessed with biking uphill. People around here like to sweat, except, alas, for me. Sometimes I just like to sit down and do nothing.

Monday at 5:30 a.m., the lights are blazing at Health and Rec as locals begin their quest for the ultimate hard body. Rumor has it some folks even have their own key so they can start earlier. Friends do yoga in lieu of lunch, sprouts instead of TV dinners and carbo load Friday nights to prep for a half marathon Saturday morning.

Conversations at the supermarket, laundromat or post office are not about money, movies and music. Instead it's all about how far, how long and how many. This "how many" conversation is one I could participate in if I was discussing my consumption of chocolate chip cookies (made with real butter). But my get up and go for exercise seems to have gotten up and left.

There is an unwritten local code of ethics that goes something like this: up is better than down; extreme is better than easy and ski until you drop is better than quitting before there's blood in your boots. The fact that the mountain is closed does not deter the hardcore local. They simply skin up, ski down, and head off to work.

Locals love to entertain around exercise. It's not uncommon to get an invitation to a party that begins with a snowshoe up Mt. Werner or a 10K up to the Hot Springs (note the invite reads up, no mention of down) followed by veggie chili at someone's house. No need to bring a change of clothes or go home to freshen up. It's perfectly acceptable to appear in fleece layers and smelling of l'air d'endorphins, Eewwwww.

Sales of sporting gear in Steamboat Springs per capita must be the highest anywhere in the United States. Residents lucky enough to have a garage don't park their cars in them. How could they? Every inch of their garage holds rock skis, tele skis, powder skis, shaped skis, last year's skis, this year's skis, mountain bike, road bike, fly rods, waders, kayaks, snowshoes, snowmobiles, shelves of water bottles, backpacks, a gross or two of Gatorade, Camelbacks, 619 Cliff bars and coffin-like cases for the top of their cars to haul some of this gear around in.

Woe is me, I don't have a garage.

Closets bulge with heart rate monitors, running shoes, jog bras, Smart Wool socks, polypropylene underwear, fleece socks, fleece vests, fleece jackets, fleece hats, Gore-Tex and neoprene.

A weekend getaway for ski country folks does not involve going to a five-star hotel, sleeping late and having brunch. It begins by driving half the night to a trail head, sleeping in the car and starting out at 4:40 a.m. to climb a 14'teenr.

I like to exercise, I really do. But I almost always have to go by myself as I'm not able to keep up with half the people in town. I like to amble along looking at flowers and admiring the scenery. I'm not on a quest to get my heart rate up. And if the truth be told, this summer I'm daydreaming about a La Fuma lounge chair, a good book and a pitcher of iced tea.

There needs to be some rest for the weary.

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