Parrott: Patrick the Painter | Opinion

I have never been inclined to mechanics. I can suffer with a smile through pretty much any “Type 2 Pleasure” adventure that becomes an ordeal on my feet, bikes, skis or motorcycles for unreasonable time and energy expenditure. I will do this by saying infuriating things that my mentors have passed on to me, such as, “This reveals character, not character development; “” Will it be a social, relaxed, pedestrian or all day rhythm? And the fan favorite, “We’re almost there.” I have a stinging optimistic attitude and aptitude, perpetually fueled for alpine adventures, with no sense of navigation or time.

This is the positive part of me.

Mechanically, if I were to, say, change a punctured road bike tire at mile 19 in Glenwood Canyon where there is no cell service, my first attempt at using a CO2 cartridge could put me in a dive. frantically away from the “snake” hiss that is clearly about to explode as a disgusted friend from Aspen cycling club listens on the other end of the sporadic connection. You get the picture.

For this reason, I have found it helpful to befriend the mechanics. They tend to understand maps and engines, and have a dry, sarcastic sense of humor that sits somewhere between jaded and disregarding lives spent dealing with lookouts like me, many of whom have the common sense not to. not live here. Alas, I have no meaning, much less a meaning that could be qualified as “good” or “common”).

This summer, I befriended one, maybe two of my mechanics for the first time: official friends, Instagram, pillow-text-for-adventure friends. Friends as if I am standing in the bike shop and a tourist is under unnecessarily high maintenance, my friend will point out the offending party to me as an “expert local resource” for information on trails to answer the question of whether I think the Denver family of five who are “really fit” will enjoy a cruise on the Rio Grande or Animal Crackers more. Aspen Valley Hospital should pay me a commission.

This is how Patrick the Painter and I started cycling together, and he became a real friend. I’m pretty sure we’ve both seen the foresight in Lo Semple’s hilarious defense of e-bikes in his September 28, 2019 column titled “Get on Your Wrong Scooter and Ride”. Suddenly, Patrick, in Aspen form in his early sixties and possessing the charisma of a delinquent teenager, could “make curls that I had not been able to do for 20 years” while combining this new range with silly ideas from a 37 year old man. -old drug addict of ultra-endurance who lives his life “in convalescence”, relapsing daily. Because my inability to lubricate a chain or change a tire made Patrick own his condo, he graciously fitted me with a free electric bike for our weekly trips, from Lenado to Express Creek and Taylor Pass. We started exploring the possibilities and the Jeep roads and the endless bandit trails of the valley, planning rides in Crested Butte and talking about life and love.

Knowledge of Patrick’s love is limited to the things he did with my mom that he would love to do with my girlfriend, but I admit he speaks well. His knowledge of life is astonishing, however. Patrick has a trajectory that I have heard many times in Aspen (paraphrase): he “woke up one morning after another night of substances with a partner who I had been with for over a decade and fell apart. realized that I hated my life ”. What sets Patrick apart from other stories, however, is his courage to change and his persistence over the decades. “I got out of my front door, bought a bike and never looked back,” he concluded. I asked him what had happened to the woman. “She’s married to another guy now, and he’s really lucky,” said Patrick, seemingly wistfully. I noticed that his compassion was admirable. “He’s REALLY LUCKY, Andrew,” Patrick corrected. Then he answered his work phone, without breaking his pedaling pace uphill or seeming out of breath, and told the caller that he could help him on his return from his bike ride in two. or three hours, maybe four, but in the meantime they could call any other store in town. It was 10 a.m. on a Tuesday in July. High season. These are just two of the endless reasons Patrick and I are friends.

Patrick, like many mechanics in Aspen – from Aspen Motoworx to the legend who operates from his parents’ house in the valley to a friend in Salida who knows agave, bikes and skis as well as Tomas Estes , Marco Pantani and Shane McConkey, respectively – is hardcore, authenticity personified, with zero f —- s to give. Patrick is a craftsman, like all these individuals. My bike never came back from him anything less than perfect, better than the factory shipped it, and he still wants to ride it with me to make sure “it works just the way you like it until the moment you screw it up again “.

One day, as he crossed the West End, his hands free to wave to traffic while doing the “West End sneak”, politely suggesting what they could do and where they could go while his hands and fingers exasperated flew as his legs cycled furiously through stop signs, Patrick pointed to a charming Victorian and told me that decades ago when he painted houses he lived there. The problem was that Patrick is an expert painter, which took him a long time to ride a bike, so he started refusing to work or doing it secretly, anonymously, as if Banksy was Peter Pan. I love – I love – the local legends, the occasional crushers, the humble heroes and sarcastic assholes cut from this cloth. They should not be underestimated, undervalued or exceeded. They are the fabric of cities like Aspen, even though they temporarily live in Salida. These are my friends. Some of them. The others are my enemies because we are “too alike to get along”. For now, Patrick is a friend, on probation, but with potential. I’m sure I’ll screw it all up before he does.

Patrick once told me that he had a simple and elegant solution to the traffic problem in Aspen and that I should write a column outlining his one-point policy to ban all traffic from the roundabout to North Star. Preserve. Instead, I wrote this, but I think it’s on to something. Call him if you need paint; I’ll give you his number.

Andrew can be contacted at [email protected] or @andrew__parrott (Instagram).

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Margarita B. Bittner

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