It is difficult to know nowadays if a person is a badass or simply highly skilled with #socmed, The Stravver, Instabag, and etcetera. Actually, it’s not that difficult. You can simply assume that they aren’t, because true badassery is real, real rare.
Moreover, badassery typically doesn’t become apparent until a lot of time has passed. The first people who raced Paris-Roubaix were nobodies, idiots riding through rain and mud to a provincial Nowheresville on the Belgian border, itself a veritable Nowherenation.
Only after a hundred years are they now heroes. Forgotten utterly, but nonetheless heroes.
I ran across a book called Southern Sierra Mountain Bike Trails, published in 2001. I can’t recommend it. The content has been replaced and completely updated by The Stravver, Ride with GPS, or my own favorite route-finding app, Gaia GPS.
Even if the content were still fresh, I wouldn’t recommend it.
The author is an 8th Grade science teacher in Bakersfield, and he cannot write. Even with his wife and friends as editors, or maybe because of them, his understanding of grammar is only the vaguest kind of thing, a set of loose and confusing rules that basically follow how he presumably talks. Its vs. it’s. There vs. their. Taut vs. taunt. Semicolon vs. comma. Period vs. run-on sentence. Capitalization of proper names vs. idgaf. Possessive plurals vs. I never heard of apostrophes.
And all that’s in just the first couple of pages. The book is a mess and the writer is an engaging wanker who compensates for carelessness and ignorance by not taking himself seriously.
This of course makes him a potentially great writer and possibly a great person, too: NOT TAKING HIMSELF SERIOUSLY. I need to sit at his feet for a few years. Perhaps one day I, too, will dispense with silly things like speling.
But back to the author, Jonathan Frank, because he’s the subject of this post. He is an engaging and humble Freddie and he is also a certifiable badass. Like, a real one. He badly describes about 32 trails in the southern Sierras, all of which are near where I live, and many of which I’ve personally ridden or pushed my bike up.
Most of these trails are no fucking joke to ride. A few of them are as technical and challenging as anything you will encounter unless you compete professionally, if then.
Simply having ridden all these routes, and then having taken the time to mangle them in a crappy book make Jon a badass. But what makes him certifiable is his recounting of a ride-gone-bad at the end of the book, which I’ll summarize below with the appropriate badass annotations.
- He started off about half an hour before nightfall, in the Sierras, in spring, heading for Sherman Pass at 9,200 feet to “start” the ride. [Badass annotation: Have you ever started a ride at night to go up a 15-mile climb into guaranteed snow without a light, or rather, not worried about a light because you had a full moon?]
- This was in the late 1990s on a bike with rudimentary rear suspension, 26″ wheels, 32mm tires, caliper brakes, no seat dropper, inner tubes, and was about four sizes too small. [Badass annotation: I will ride whatever the fuck I have.]
- He pulled over on the side of the road to sleep. It started to rain. He covered himself with a plastic garbage bag. [Badass annotation: Who just sleeps on the side of the road? Who sleeps in a garbage bag? A fucking badass, that’s who.]
- The next day he ran into deep snow, hiked through it, then turned around, found another trail also covered with snow, hiked through it, and then got completely lost at 9,000 feet. His one-day trip was now two days. No food or water. [Badass annotation: Who keeps riding when they hit snow? Snow means “go home.” Who keeps riding without food or water, aside from imminently dead people? A badass, that’s who.]
- After losing the trail he slept on the mountain again. A whiteout ensued. His bivouac was on a 10-degree slope. [Badass annotation: None needed.]
- The next day he drank from some stream and bushwhacked, carrying his bike for ten hours, getting sliced to pieces by the underbrush. Totally lost. Still hadn’t eaten since the day before. [Badass annotation: Who keeps the stupid bike when you’re fighting for your life? Guess who. Yup. Badass.]
- Espies a trail high on a ridge, climbs boulders (bike in one hand, other hand hanging on for dear life), scales a wall, finds the trail, rides back to his truck. [Badass annotation: Come on, rock climbing with a 40-lb. bike? You fucking kidding me?]
- Instead of rushing home, hangs around and watches a whitewater competition. Eats a hamburger. Goes home to Bako and mows the lawn. [Badass annotation: Res ipse loquitur.]
This kind of stuff reminds me what life is all about, that is, simply going out and doing things and doing them for the love of doing, not to showcase, to curate, to snobify, to broadcast, or earn the twin evils of approbation and supplication. Just doing it. I wonder if there’s a marketing slogan there somewhere?
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