If I seem a little different this week, it’s because I’m working on my PMA.

No, it’s not some sort of advanced degree or obscure sports injury. As anyone with small children in the public school system knows, PMA is short for “positive mental attitude” – a subject in which I also could stand some schooling.

Being the mother of an impressionable, overzealous first-grader, PMA has become quite the household term. As in, “Mom, Scarlett is not having a positive mental attitude about (insert offending 4-year-old behavior here)” or “I think I’d really have a better PMA if I could have (insert sugary cereal or video game name here.)”

Anyway, as subversive as his motives sometimes may be, I must say I have found myself straightening up under the watchful eye of the PMA police. Needless to say, as a lifelong member of the NMA (which includes regular jokes about hoping they serve ice water in hell), it hasn’t been easy.

Take my current predicament. See, several months back, I duped myself into signing up for something that sounded good at the time (PMA) but in hindsight I have no business participating in (NMA.) That’s right, I’m talking about this weekend’s Singlespeed World Championships. Now typically, I shy away from anything with “World Championships” in the title unless it applies to margarita drinking or dishwasher organizing, both areas in which I tend to have an excellent PMA. Nevertheless, I allowed myself to be wooed by phrases like “totally casual” and “party on two wheels.” I was assured that the whole “World Championships” thing was purely tongue in cheek, sort of like a “Masters of the Universe” for the anti-Spandex set. Besides, all women were guaranteed a spot at the start line, irregardless of physical abilities or bicycling prowess, of which I have none. As a result, I dutifully decorated my registration sheet and paid my $35. I mean, how scary could anything requiring Elmer’s glue and macaroni noodles really be?

Let’s just say, I do not fancy myself some sort of bicycling beast capable of superhuman powers. Mountain biking with gears is plenty challenging, thank you very much. It’s just that after a couple-year hiatus from the sport (have you ever tried hunching over one of those things five months pregnant?), when I went to retrieve my beloved Rocky Mountain from the garage, it had disintegrated into a molehill. After pricing out a new ride – roughly a semester of college tuition or new braces for the whole family – I decided to go the cheap route, sans gears and full suspension.

Besides, not to brag, but I’m sort of the queen of the one-hour ride. See, with leisurely, all-day excursions into the high country a figment of the past, there’s really no better way to get the most bang for your exercise buck than slogging through the Gulch for a monocoganous quickie. It’s like boot camp without the public embarrassment of actually trying to coordinate my feet with my arms.

OK, so I knew there would be some suffering involved. After all, this is Durango, where we take our fun very seriously. But I’m no stranger to pain – I dare anyone to endure a several back-to-back screenings of “Beethoven’s Third.” (Judge Reinhold, I had such high hopes.)

Alas, when the “course” was announced, my PMA deflated quicker than a blown tube in a field of baby heads. Suffice to say, it is a far cry from my beloved Sidewinder or Star Wars. It would definitely be doable, given all day and maybe a couple of short naps along the way, but it wouldn’t be pretty. And that’s when I found out about the cut-off. No, I’m not talking about jorts (although I expect there will be a few.) I’m talking about the fact that not only will I need to refrain from breaking any bones, but I will also need to do it as fast as possible. What is this, a race or something?

Let’s just say, I do not do well with being cut-off in any form, be it talking (shocking, I know), all-you-can-eat buffets or open bars (hey, I always bring a wedding present). Unfortunately, there’s no backing out now – I already got my costume, which I’m pretty sure landed me on a government watch list.

“C’mon, mom, you need to have a PMA,” I was reassured by my wise-beyond-his-years 6-year-old (who strangely enough has shunned bike riding). Could it be that it all boils down to simple schoolyard wisdom? After all, if misery loves company, she’ll love a crowd even more – in this case 1,000 of my new BFFs. Let the badasses duke it out for the tattoo. There’s something to be said about being a back-ass, bringing up the rear and laughing all the way – even if you are bleeding through your eyeballs. (But just in case, I haven’t ruled out shin guards and heavy painkillers. If I get really desperate, I may even GU.)

And who knows? Maybe through it all, I’ll learn to heed the advice a wise biking guru once gave me: “Just hang on, and let go.” But if I do happen to lose my PMA somewhere along the way, can someone please pick it up for me?

– Missy Votel



In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
Bagging it

State plastic bag ban is in full effect, but enforcement varies

January 26, 2024
Paper chase

The Sneer is back – and no we’re not talking about Billy Idol’s comeback tour.

January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows