A few weeks ago I was introduced to the podcast called The Dirtbag Diaries. I know you are probably thinking, “why would anyone want to listen to that?” The truth is, there are actually some pretty amazing stories. Many of the stories are about the climbing world, so not my cup of tea, but there are also many about other outdoor adventure stories. One of the first podcasts I listened to was called “What is Hardcore?” When you grow up in a place where everyone does everything, its hard to really understand what it means to be hardcore. The podcast is only about a half an hour and rather than regurgitating what it says, I just recommend taking the time to listen. I do, however, want to repost one quotation because it is really where the idea of this post came from:
Anybody who thinks they are hardcore isn’t. The first rule of being hardcore is not talking about being hardcore… Hardcore is not about skill or grace, but grit, guts and sheer force of will. Whatever makes ordinary people do something extraordinary when life gets desperate. People who don’t whine now matter what happens. That’s hardcore.
What I liked about this quotation was that it doesn’t just apply to how good you are at a sport, but how you face the obstacles of life.
As I have written about before, I joined a biking group to train for an endurance mountain bike ride in August. It has been an amazing experience for me personally; and as I get to know more about the people I ride with, the more I realized it is more than just a physical journey for many in our group. This past weekend our group went down to Pine, Colorado to the trail system called Buffalo Creek. The only reason this tiny little town would be remotely known to anyone who doesn’t bike or hike is because it has been in the cross hairs of two of Colorado’s largest wildfires. I digress. I rode down to Pine with my fellow Brute Squad member Catherine. Before this ride I knew that Catherine was hardcore. I know this mostly because of sitting around with her at the 18 Hours of Fruita and subsequently stalking her Facebook profile (her profile picture is of her skiing a glacier in shorts and three pin telemark bindings). Catherine would never tell you she is hardcore, but her modestly told stories prove that she really is. Halfway through our drive she asked me why I was doing the Brutes. I guess I wanted to prove to myself that after being hurt I could still be good at something. It turns out I am full of more self doubt than I ever have been, but I am aware of the negativity and have been trying to work on it.
In return, I asked Catherine the same question and her answer was surprisingly similar. Around the same time I was injured she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Unlike me, she has been a mountain biker for 20+ years, but she had one comment that almost made me cry: “I had a piece of my life taken away from me and I wanted to prove to myself that I am still capable.” This woman, who knows very little about me, was able to sum up my emotional struggle over the last few years in a sentence. *Disclaimer* I am not trying to compare cancer to an injury, but the reality is anyone with a long term illness or injury struggles emotionally. There were days when I would wake up in pain and tears wondering if it was every going to go away. Today, I am caught between that continued fear of waking up in pain and not knowing if I am just using that as an excuse.
I am not in love with mountain bike racing, but I can’t imagine not having joined the Brute Squad. I rode 30 miles that day and despite feeling like I had been hit by a truck the next morning, it was probably the best ride I have ever done. I rode REALLY well. I focused on riding well technically and tried not to think about how slow I ride compared to my fellow teammates.
Living in Colorado, especially in a place like Boulder, there is always going to be someone better than you. Catherine reminded me (even though I try to remind myself of this every time I get on my bike), you have to ride for you; do what is best for your body…your personal version of hardcore.