I’m camping with 5 women and one guy in a densely wooded grove of conifers looking out into a meadow of blooming columbine in Crested Butte, Colorado – mecca for mountain biking, skiing and general escapism from urban life. In this town where the ratio of men to women is 7:1, the ratio of my trip is 2:5. These women are serious riders – most of them race for sponsored teams and they’re ready to put the hurt on me on long ascents through 12” wide singletrack that undulates through the forests and open slopes densely blanketed with wildflowers. The snow had just melted from the higher alpine trails at 11000 ft. and we are there for primetime.
I love biking. In many parts of America, hiking purists don’t want people on mechanized objects ruining their placid trails, but in CB bikes rule. I have two legs full of scars and scabs to attest to the many crashes I’ve taken this year piloting my steel horse through rock gardens and narrow trails.
My mostly female camping companions beat me up on the trails and kept up with my scatological and sexual humor by the campfire. Something about crapping in the woods and being covered in dirt, sweat and campfire smoke is a great equalizer between the genders. One evening we reached a concensus on the most appropriate female pubic shaving pattern: a complete laser job was out – it evokes pre-pubescent girls (and for me the first time I played doctor with two neighborhood girls at age 11, amazed at my first gaze into the pink conch shell depths). In "Get Him To the Greek," the outrageous send-up of rock star excess and narcissism, Jonah Hill's character finds himself in front of a girl in Vegas with her pubes shaved in the shape of a microphone. She invites him to sing "hairyoke." Classic. But as a guy, you just don’t want to go down there and get slammed in the face with a 1960s hippie jungle or have to become a licensed Alaskan bush pilot to find your way around. I did not address my recent manscaping adventures in which I attempted to create separation between my nether regions and the Jewish rug that I hide beneath my polyester bike jersey.
The conversations inevitably turned to relationships, and at one point one of my female friends noted that all of us around the campfire were single - we all looked at one another with knowing smiles and proceeded to share our war stories with each other. The topic of “what was your worst date ever” rendered one tale in which a guy showed up without his wallet and forced my friend to pay for the entire $100 meal. Apparently this was his modus operandi with all women. You’d think that would catch up with him someday. Although he promised to repay her, and even apologized to her when they ran into one another post-date, he never ponied up for his half of the meal. One woman complained that you can’t get a guy in Boulder to buy you a drink at a bar – that’s because they already spent every last dime on climbing or biking gear and their low rent crash pad. She’s just dating the wrong dudes.
As for me, it’s been since the Pleistocene era since I’ve dated, but back then in the mid-90s my worst date was with the beautiful coffee shop girl who initiated some above the waist intimacy with me - then at 4 a.m. suddenly announced that she “didn’t want to hurt me” and went home. I wanted the kind of hurting that could have followed, but apparently her self-image was of some kind of succubus who would drain my soul of all life force and leave me spiritually dead. The next week she went on to seduce one of my co-workers who descended into the depths of hell with her – I suppose I was spared. The topic of coffee shop girls arose in another conversation. Seducing a captive audience behind a bar or a café counter is uncool. Attractive young women slaving for tiny wages are easy targets for lonely guys who happen to be regular patrons at your local coffee joint.
My weekend with this posse of women ended in forging some new friendships and bonding more with an old friend on the gorgeous 5 hour drive to and from this mountain mecca. If I could get a sex change I’d probably join the Tough Girls (not these Tough Girls) racing team and qualify to race in the expert class, but as my current gender I would be low on the totem pole among male racers. Before we left town, we shared beers with a local couple who were planning their autumn wedding. The bride-to-be mentioned that in Argentina when you raise a glass to toast someone and you don’t look them in the eye, you will be relegated to having 7 years of bad sex. I was already scolded for my lack of toasting etiquette the last time I failed to meet someone’s gaze – god forbid I suffer the Argentine curse.