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Boulder’s Best Pick Up Line - Cool Down?

by Adam Chase - from Rocky Mountain Sports

The April issue of Men’s Journal ranked my beloved Boulder the Best Overall Place to Live. Having spent more than 30 years in this wonderful place, I can really appreciate that this is truly a unique venue. Men’s Journal put Boulder at the top of its list of 50 places and called it the Gore-Tex vortex, outdoor fitness in overdrive, the likeliest place in America to get T-boned by a Ford Explorer piloted by a triathlete Ph.D. on her way to Pilates. Perhaps the more accurate description would be the likeliest place to be squashed like tofu by a Subaru-driving Naropa student lost in thought while contemplating the transpersonal psychology of adventure racing.

Living here since I was four months old—with the exception of some schooling in the East—I reckoned I had my finger on Boulder’s pulse. When at rest, Boulder’s pulse is a mere 34 beats per minute, but then again Boulder is rarely at rest. And yet, when trying to explain Boulder’s “dating scene” to someone from out of town, I realized that there is still a whole part of my hometown that remains a mystery to me.

It probably remains a mystery to many because Boulderites don’t really date. Typically, they audition prospective romantic partners to determine whether they might make suitable training mates. Instead of asking someone out to dinner or a movie, you hear Boulderites query, “Do you want to go for a ride after work?” The ride could easily be replaced with a run, bouldering session, paddle, hike, yoga practice, ski, snowboard ride, etc. Generally these “try-out” sessions aren’t scheduled to last very long because neither party would want to risk a “bad date,” read: an incompatible pace that forces one person to have to slow down considerably so much that they don’t get a proper workout.

When the quintessential Boulder “date” goes well, it progresses from a physical try-out session to doing dinner at Whole Foods, Wild Oats or a burrito spot, or perhaps grabbing some beers at the Mountain Sun, margaritas at the Rio, or hitting a coffee shop for some face-to-face time.

Once there, the conversation often diverges from discussing proper gear, favorite trails and VO2max comparisons to more substantial, getting-to-know-you topics. For example, it’s not uncommon for one to ask a prospective training partner/romantic interest, “What is your personal environmental position regarding transportation modes?” Which translates to, “I wonder if she’ll think I’m a swine because I drive an SUV?” Or, “How do you feel about the prospects for the local economy?” meaning, “I hope he doesn’t mind that I have a degree in electrical engineering yet eek out a living as a massage therapist and dog walker.”

None of this is to say that Boulderites have their priorities askew. On the contrary, we have chosen to live here—often at great cost in the form of increased rent or mortgage payments and/or decreased salary—primarily out of our love for outdoor recreation. Given that devotion to our passion, doesn’t it make sense that we would want to find a partner who shares our zeal and with whom we can appreciate these surroundings doing the same activities?

Couples that don’t share these fundamental drives and common athletic pursuits are hard-pressed to weather difficult times. There’s nothing more encouraging to all of us searching for that perfect balance of training partner and soul mate than to find someone of like sporting interests. And who doesn’t smile when they see a couple in their 60s or 70s out in the backcountry frolicking in one another’s company.

And yet, Boulderites often bemoan the lack of “normal” places where people can simply meet and talk, as they do at bars in most towns. A sit at a coffee shop or a bagel on a sunny day or a spinning class or group workout doesn’t cut it for some people. And then there are those who complain that the whole physical thing is utterly deficient in the romance department. I once overheard two of my women friends, both of whom are excellent climbers, trail runners and backcountry skiers, complaining that the guys they meet in Boulder are only looking for a training partner with whom they can regularly train with in the bedroom!

Well, approval or complaints aside, the past several weeks have given me cause to scratch my head and wonder all the more about Boulder’s mix of athletics and romance, which I am convinced is unique. The reason for this is that I have been sleeping in a Colorado Altitude Training chamber, which is certainly a hot topic for discussion. People seem to be interested in the effects of sleeping at a simulated altitude of 12-13,000 feet and then training at 5-6,000 feet above sea level. They want to know how that kind of conditioning improves athletic performance. They ask how the oxygen-reducing equipment works, what it feels like to be in the chamber, how big the chamber is, and they are fascinated to learn that it fits comfortably around a queen-sized bed. But the ultimate kicker is that quite a few attractive and extremely fit women have inquired if they might be invited to try it out, and that, of course, would be reason enough for Men’s Journal to rate Boulder the Best Overall Place to Live.

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