Learning how to mountain bike is totally re-shifting my brain. Attitudes and energy I accepted as totally normal for an extreme sport now become questionable. And not just are the attitudes questionable, but the sources of them are as well.
What do I even mean?!
Take this example: There’s a girl I know who’s a complete and utter badass. She’ll wake up and run 10 miles, work all day at a zip line, then go bike 9-11 miles after work with me. She gardens, she’s self-sufficient, and she’s a badass #girlboss. She is twice the biker I am, but sometimes (just sometimes), she’ll walk down the same stuff I do (ok, this has happened like once).
When I’m with her, I’m a little aware that she’s faster and better, but not really focused on it. Because she’s badass and confident it makes me feel badass and confident.
When I first started kayaking, I ran the Nantahala a thousand (maybe not, but you know) times with other people on my similar level. I felt confident, it was fun. I didn’t really know how hard or big whitewater could get, so in my little Class III bubble, I was stress free.
Once I started kayaking with better kayakers, I felt a lot of pressure to progress quickly and get to the Green Narrows, or the Upper Gauley. The fixation of everyone else on these runs caused me to start fixating on them as well.
I wish I could say, “Hey, guys, lay off on the pressure”. But the truth is, most of that pressure I was putting on myself. No one was complaining about going to the Ocoee with me and not the Green. No one was rushing me, pressuring me to run things I wasn’t ready for. The only one judging my skills was me.
This is similar to biking. My friend isn’t judging my skills; she’s not at the bottom of a long downhill watching her clock when it takes me minutes longer to get to the bottom. I’m the only one putting that pressure and expectation on myself. I’m the only one aware of the difference in our skills. (Except for a few instances; for real people, let’s stop with the whole “oh you run the Green, well do you run Gorilla?” It doesn’t matter!)
Here’s the truth I’m getting at: We are the ones who decide we have to kayak class V to be a badass.
I’m a total badass, and I’ve never run the Big Three.
What makes me a badass? I’m a badass because I get out there, because I work on my skills, because compared to where I started and where I am now, I’ve gotten better. I’m a badass because I’m comparing myself to me, and not to anyone else.
You are a badass because everyday you have the courage to go outside and get after whatever your heart desires. You are a badass because you are fearless, you charge hard when you want and take care of yourself when you need to. You are a badass because you are chasing your own dream, and no one else’s.
Really, whether or not we run class V, we’re all the badasses we dream of.