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The misery of autumn


Autumn is bad. For the serious snow enthusiast, this nether period is a time of almost existential unease and longing. Even using a word like “existential” makes me a little queasy at this time of the year. French philosophy might have some of the answers in summer but once the leaves start to fall, it is pretty much useless.

 

The worst part of the cold-shoulder season isn’t the wholesale deciduous warfare or the tedious wait for opening day, but enduring tales of out-of-season ski trips told by frenemies, acquaintances and members of your extended family. Save yourself the mental effort of listening: the snow was always “epic” and they were inevitably the first foreigner to set foot in Chile/Japan/Aspen. Your brother-in-law somehow makes the transit lounge at LAX sound like the chase scene from Mad Max.

 

At this hideous time of the year, you just want to sit in front of a blazing fire drinking gluhwein out of a bucket and dipping chocolate biscuits in a mixture of hot fudge and caramel. Instead, you’re meant to get snow fit. The gym long ago lost its appeal: every time you move to a new weight machine your high-tech activewear slurps up litres of other people’s sweat. The gym offers all the risks of an extra-marital affair, just without the sex.


Mountain biking is God’s way of saying you are making too much money: a credit-card arms race where your safety is largely dependent on how much cash you spent on your suspension.

 

Surely mountain biking is the ultimate snow-sports off-season training? Mountain biking is God’s way of saying you are making too much money: a credit-card arms race where your safety is largely dependent on how much cash you spent on your suspension. The trails get just slick enough with soggyleaves to make you realise why North Americans call autumn, fall.

 

It’s a relief when it begins to snow. You race around the house collecting all the gear you should have looked after over summer. The batteries in your avalanche transceiver have exploded. The bases of your skis look like a diorama of the Battle of Gettysburg.  You didn’t know that fungus could blossom like an extra on The Last of Us until you unpack your ski boots from the back of the garage. ‘Maintenance’ is surely the least sexy word in the English language. It somehow manages to simultaneously convey uncertain and increasing expense, tedium, plain fiddly imperfection, and awareness of both your lack of time and knowledge of polyethylene base material.  Maybe some new boards will make everything ok?

 

I’m not going to suggest that the empty pit in the centre of your soul caused by the miseries of autumn can be made goodwith the purchase of shiny new gear. Just about the only bearable thing about this time of year, however, is the delivery of your season pass and mounting bindings on your new ride. Winter can’t come soon enough…

 

 


Excerpted from Ski Bum by Sam Masters. Limited edition print run available to order now from Powder Press.


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