One of the first things anyone from Colorado Springs will tell you is that this is one of the healthiest, most physically fit cities in the country.
There are statistics to back this up, but you don’t need them. You know it’s true because everyone here always looks as if they’ve just finished a workout or are on their way to one. Before moving to the Springs, I would never have contemplated leaving the house wearing neon blue cycling shorts. Now I do it all the time.
“How was your ride?” people will ask, seeing my bright blue shorts. Usually this happens in the vegetable section of King Soopers where, like the rest of the Springs, I can often be found browsing through the leafy greens.
“The best!” I’ll say, and then we’ll spend 20 minutes discussing our respective workouts. The ride I’ve taken is usually fictional. It doesn’t matter. Eventually, we high-five and go our separate ways.
That sounds like an exaggeration. It isn’t. And here’s the thing—it can cause you to lose perspective. You forget that outside of Colorado, people are just not that committed to their physical fitness programs and protein shakes. Think about the last time someone came to visit you here. What did you have planned? Did you take your visitors on a perilous mountain bike plummet down the Chutes? Did you torture them with a slog up the Incline? An eight hour jaunt up a 14er? Yoga?
The truth is, for the most part, visitors to the Springs want to relax. They’re not obsessed with physical activity, and—I’m just going to say it—neither am I. It’s not an allergy, but that’s what it feels like. For instance, I’m allergic to zucchini. Although I don’t die immediately if I ingest some, I do get alarmingly red in the face and perspire vigorously. The same thing happens when I exercise. In other words—no, I do not want to go up the Incline with you. I am, in short, one of the Dis-Inclined.
I know I’m not alone. So I offer you a postcard from the planet inertia, an example of my ideal, lazy day in the Springs. A day devoted not just to the avoidance of physical activity but to deeply questionable nutritional decisions. Call it “A Lazy Day for the DisInclined in the Springs.”
5:45 a.m. Wake up and note that the sun is beaming with impossible high-altitude brightness. You’re at 6,500 feet. It’s depressingly sunny all the time. Try to remember what made you want to move here in the first place.
5:46 a.m. Close the shades. Go back to sleep.
8:00 a.m. Wake up; contemplate working out. Instead, go for breakfast at King Chef’s Diner. Order the steak and eggs, and instead of toast, substitute the breakfast burrito. You’ll be told you must pay for a second entree, and it’ll be like ordering two breakfasts at once. There’s nothing wrong with this. Don’t hesitate.
9:00 a.m. It’s time for a nap. Don’t fight it. Remember, you’re wearing bright blue cycling shorts, and no one will judge you.
9:10 a.m. You’re awakened by the sound of your cellphone. Answer it without opening your eyes, and realize it’s your neighbor saying it’s a great day for heading up the Incline. Say you were just thinking the same thing. Agree to meet there immediately, and tell him not to start until you arrive.
9:30 a.m. While driving through Manitou Springs, notice the arcade and decide to stop because 35 years ago you were the high scorer on Galaga for a week. Tell yourself that you will play a single game and then leave. Ignore this. Play for almost an hour and then, just before an hour has elapsed, leave abruptly before finishing your game on the grounds that you want to make the most of the day.
10:15 a.m. Head to the Incline and spend an hour and a half looking for parking before giving up and paying $30 on Ruxton Avenue.
11:45 a.m. Walk to the Incline, and decide you are going to take the Cog Railway instead.
1:00 p.m. Arrive at the top of Pikes Peak and have a doughnut. You’re not that hungry, but this is America’s Mountain and you’re at the top of it. You’ve earned it.
1:15 p.m. While eating the doughnut, notice the weary, sweaty, red-faced folk who have managed to crawl to the top of the mountain via Barr Trail. Taking the train was the right decision. Reward your good judgment with another doughnut.
2:15 p.m. Walk to Adam’s Mountain Cafe for lunch, and order the Man Pan Special. Concede that it’s your third breakfast of the day. You have no problem with that.
3:00 p.m. Walk back to your car and take another nap—right there, in the car. It’s your parking spot after all, and you want to get your $30 worth.
3:30 p.m. Wake up refreshed, and head off to hike Garden of the Gods.
3:45 p.m. Follow the signs to Garden of the Gods, and find yourself in a 2-mile-long traffic jam, caused by a stoplight that turns green for just five seconds at a time.
4:30 p.m. Arrive at Garden of the Gods, and conclude that your earlier decision to hike was a mistake. Do a Segway tour instead.
5:00 p.m. As you glide through the park, find yourself wondering why you don’t go everywhere on a Segway. Shout at those who stare at you: “Walking is overrated!”
6:00 p.m. Time for dinner.