No one, not even those living up here in the bubble, believe they will live forever. This tribe just understands that if it was possible, it wouldn’t be a bad thing for most of us given the amazing place and what it offers: incredible beauty and nature, copious amenities and deep community that are all top notch if you like small town mountain living.
So, when one of our neighbors transitions to the other side unexpectedly, there comes a melancholy to the general community. As of Monday afternoon, a big melancholy descended on the community.
Mitch Hoffman made the crossing on one of the finest November days the valley can experience. Clear blue skies and with the temperature closing in on 50 degrees, Mitch was doing what he seemed to do every day of the year no matter how fine a day it was or wasn’t — he was riding the clear mountain air on two wheels. Seeing him on the road (and we all have) it was evident he was in his sweet spot, happy and content while riding.
As word spread of a bad car-bike accident near CB South early Monday afternoon, the hope was that it was not as bad as it looked and certainly not horrible. It was horrible, as it became evident Mitch crossed over to the other side quickly on two wheels.
I was fortunate enough to run into Mitch and his new wife last week while walking the dog in his neighborhood. He was as happy as I’ve seen him in a while, and he smiled his impish grin and laughed and was insightful about the place he loved that was changing so fast. He was no doubt in a good place. That is why the transition feels more tragic than it would be anyways.
A Mountain Express driver, Mitch understood the road. A good friend noted that like an experienced backcountry skier’s knowledge of the mountains, local road bikers know the risk that comes on an ever-busier Highway 135. But with his hunched, slightly tilted riding style, his fellow road bikers said he was smooth and aware. Perhaps that is why his transition was so quick. Mitch was smooth and aware.
We will all follow Mitch to the other side at some point. No one here really knows when, and for so many here that get out, no one knows how it will come. Few of us living here sit around eating Cheetos waiting for the heart to give out while watching Ice Road Truckers or Judge Judy. At his time of crossing, Mitch was out in his place on a gorgeous day doing what filled him up. That may not be much consolation for the rest of the tribe, but it can be a lesson. Get out there. Understand the risks of living here and playing in the high mountains. But do what you love and embrace the things that fill you up in a place that provides opportunity for awesome beauty, great joy, deep community and contentment.
Be smooth and aware.