As I survey the first half of 2017 I realise that my Gram account has done an excellent job of covering up the reality of how things have actually been panning out on the bike. But of course, that’s its whole job right? “May your life be as awesome as you pretend it is on Instagram

What doesn’t always come across is that in amongst the lowest volume of riding I’ve done for the first 6 months of a year, I’ve also managed to weave in being the sickest I’ve also been in a year, quite a cunted combo when both are peaking. But don’t worry, this isn’t just some bleeting ‘poor me’ post, as in amongst feeling ENDURO privileged sorry for myself, it occured to me that I have actually lost something else even more important than record kilometres on Strava:

I’ve lost my Hardcore

And no, I’m not talking about not having a ‘Ride or DIE motherfucker‘ tattoo on my neck/penis, or failing to wear ilabb clothing or even living out the back of a old Taliban Toyota Landcruiser in the mountains, eating what you kill and riding your tires until you wear them through to the canvas. While those are all respectable pastimes, I’m thinking more along the lines of what makes up your riding lifestyle.

To start with, in a world where everything, now including day to day rides, are either ‘Epic’, ‘Lit’ or ‘Savage’ its obviously becoming harder to distinguish what exactly I’m talking about when I refer to The Hardcore, so allow me some rope to either explain myself, or blog hang myself while trying.

‘The Hardcore’ is not a scheduled or regular event… And nor should it be. It may happen at any time and it can be infrequent, or potentially happen a couple of times in a month. You also may not know its coming, but you certainly know when its happening and motherfucker, you know that’s its been after its finished with you. Its not something you want to have happen all the time, but its something we all absolutely need in our lives to keep shit real, push us to another level or in my case: Just harden us the fuck up.

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Herr Doktor explains 2017 to me with a clear prognosis

You’ll realise that moment when The Hardcore arrives… It could be when you look around at the riders next to you and realise they’re all stronger and you’re only on the second climb of a long day… Or perhaps that hike out of this valley is going to take 3 hours instead of an advertised 1.5… Or what you thought might be a 4 hour days is on its way to 7 and the people around you suddenly have the same looks on their faces as the extra’s in Saving Private Ryan…

Its when all you can think about is how much longer you have to keep tapping out this pace for until you can have a coke, or trying to brake different on this downhill to ensure your arms don’t fall off. Its the kind of day which should definitely have its own Hans Zimmer sound track and where you get to the end and not being able to feel your genitalia is like a badge of honour. At some point hopefully a fellow riders dead eyes will lock with yours and they will mouth “Dude, this is fucking hardcore man” and you will definitely complete The Hardcore with the dull deep ache in your legs that wakes you at 2am, but which you aren’t upset about because you’re still basking in the weird internal glory of doing something massive. Its something a little bit unique and special… Its not your daily driver ride.

Yes, The Hardcore comes in all different shades and sizes, so let me try and montage my way to relevance here:

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Past glories indicate a stricter diet of Hardcore

Its when you turn up to France having no idea what you’ve actually signed up for with your homeboys and it turns out you get subjected to pretty much the biggest 6 days you’ve had on a bike on terrain that blows your mind and pretty much changes your life…

Its when you wander into the Italian Mon-tons and have days so big you wonder how your legs manage to keep turning as you actually end up in a war with your first gear and the insane gradients as you add names like ‘Stelvio’ and ‘Mortirolo’ to your roadie Hor spank bank….

Its when you arrive in Japan for a week at Hawk HQ and without any script in place end up riding insanely awesome terrain, to equally mind blowing locations with such volume that by the end of 8 days you can barely turn the cranks to get more fried chicken… Or bother to clothe yourself before blogging…

Its when, on a 215km day in a 5 day stage race you decide to break away and spend an unhealthy portion of the day solo up the road into a head wind, building up a 5 minute lead as you empty your soul all over the road, only to be gunned down as you can sniff the summit of the major climb and almost taste the downhill run to the finish… Then having to spend the rest of the day/week re-arranging your central nervous system trying to pay for the debt of that effort…

Its when you wander into the Japanese alps after a big day already under the belt and without any warning end up having one of the biggest and most special days you’ve ever had on a bike… Anywhere and any time… 9 hours and 3,500m of climbing later you somehow arrive back at the hostel as the rain sweeps in and darkness smothers something that was the absolute definition of hardcore…

Its when you rock up to Whistler with your crew and proceed to ride the fuck out of those brake bumps to the point where your arms fall off and it hurts to piss… Shunning the rest day to the point where on the last day actually trying to hold on to the bike appears to be a medical emergency. More LAPZ cunts!

Its when you go back to France two years later to race something you felt like you could barely ride the first time around, with an Evoc loaded with anxiety (mainly about staying in a tent) and have a life experience that forever cements the importance of bicycles and Good Cunts in this world… When you come as close to snapping in half as you possible can and still make it to the beach, it feels somewhat like the personification of The Hardcore…

Its when you turn up to La Thuile and find out that pretty much most of the race stages feel like World Cup DH runs and even the PRO’s are like “Holy fuck bruh“, thus ensuing 4 days of holding on to your bike like a rodeo clown until it eventually smashes you into the Italian deck and reminds you just how hard this game can be…

Or its rolling into the Pyrenees with not a whole lot of planning or thought and having a 8 hour day banging Hor’s that you’d only ever seen on TV… 4,200m later and both sides of the Tourmalet where you happen to be pretty much the last person on the Mon-ton as darkness begins to get its creep on and yeah, the scent of The Hardcore is filling your nostrils…

The Hardcore isn’t about machismo or slapping your cock on your riding buddy’s face, its more elegant than that and its exceedingly necessary in order to build the mental toughness that cycling so often demands. The obvious trap of course is that the less Hardcore you ingest, the less you’re able to handle… Something that has become uncomfortably obvious to me this year. I’ve almost been at risk of becoming the type of cyclist I fear the most – Those that ride simply to justify having a massive sugary breakfast.

The distinct lack of The Hardcore in my diet of late helps to explain why 2017 has resembled an ENDURO Dunkirk at times. Melted down like Olaf getting a lap dance from Kate Beckinsale on the crazy NZ Enduro Day 2. Somehow scraped through Rotorua EWS on an insane day which was more Somme than ENDURO, struggled like a motherfucker in Madeira and then finally paid the price for my lack of The Hardcore in Millau, which definitely had a strong penchant for however you say ‘Hardcore’ or “I want to skull fuck you” in French.

Whilst all those aforementioned events have indeed been Hardcore in their own right, its somewhat self defeating to rock up to ingest your Hardcore on race day itself, one must build up a resiliency to two wheeled armageddon instead of just wandering into being the first guy onto Omaha Beach. Far too many pathetic coffee rides or tiny little mountain bike rides does not maketh the rider…

Dirty tip - if you're going to follow someone along the traverse of death, pick an experienced campaigner... @garyperkin getting it done on Day 1 of #MavicTP2015, while I attempt to not look down into the vortex #gladihadenduroshoes #sofuckenendurorightnow #prepareforthegoproflashbacks #EuroEnduro #justdowhatgarydoes #dirtynomad #longwaydown

Possibly a good example of things getting slightly Hardcore

So – My new mid year resolution is to get some more Hardcore in my diet immediately… To seek out some days and rides that are indeed too big, to ride with people who are too strong and to ensure I get some solid grit back into my soft cHub watered down chassis.

Are you getting enough Hardcore in your diet? 

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