Harden the F#$k Up

The thing about bike racing, touring, being a weekend warrior, or anything that pushes limits is how humbling it is. Get spit out the back of a peloton going 34 MPH or dropped on a climb and you get in touch with yourself and what you can do right quick. You either give up, keep going, or collect yourself for another day. @BenKing89 was in a pile up and raced 140KMs with this


and is now heading to the hospital for stitches. Likely was forced to do that by his Team Manager or he’d have just tended to it with superglue.

While we spend most of our time here talking about popularizing the bike and it’s culture, there’s an underlying hardness about it and what keeps me riding. You may never pedal in anger with a number on your back, but we’re programmed to compete and there’s a commuter challenge waiting for each workday. Riding Tweed? Sure and undoubtedly thinking abut how you could’ve taken that corner smarter in those fancy shoes.

It’s also about clearing the head, destressing, and pushing the body. Today we’re riding in China? Damn straight and everywhere else.

A few years ago, Stuart O’Grady brought Australian comedian Chopper’s humor and Aussie attitude into cycling with Harden The Fuck Up wristbands.

That’s still topical today when you see a photo like that from Ben King. What’s your most epic story on the bike? When have you had to harden up? This one time, I rode 60 miles in a Tri-Cities, WA windstorm, sick as I’ve ever been, on a teammates wheel. No cellphones, no support cars, just put my head down and sat on.


It’s not the least bit epic, but your post made me think of riding in to work today.  I nearly chose to ride the bus instead of slogging through the elements on the bike, but then thought, “F%#@ it, it’s just a little wind and water.”  Thirty minutes later, I’m sitting at my desk, feeling invigorated and just a little smug.  Plowing through even a small amount of adversity can give a little fix of whatever that good stuff is that “hardness” is made of.

I’ll never forget the second day of our honeymoon. We woke up at the Last Dollar hut above Telluride to nearly a foot of snow. We had to mountain bike to the next hut b/c people we arriving behind us. Riding in the snow was fine. Once we got below the snowline, though, there was hell to pay in that sticky Colorado mud. We spent hours cleaning it out of the frames (so the wheels would actually roll) and our drive trains (so we could actually shift).

Once everything was more or less cleaned up, it started hailing on us. We kept going…and made a wrong turn onto a road with more of that blasted mud.

After bike clean #2, we were way behind schedule and it was getting close to dark. Without lights, we decided our best option was to try and hitch a ride up the road until we were only a few miles from our destination. Did I mention that we were on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere Colorado? Drenched and covered head-to-toe in mud we didn’t have much chance.

After about a half hour, a white pickup truck with a canopy over the bed pulled over. The bed was filled with painting gear, so we squeezed one bike in and tied the other one to the roof (rope went from the front bumper, through the frame and tied off on the latch that kept the canopy window closed - not so secure). We hopped into the truck only to find a case of Bud between the driver and passenger seat with a few empties.

We drove with him anyway. How much trouble could we get into on dirt roads?

Turned out okay. When we finally got to the next hut, we sacrificed one of our toothbrushes to clean the derailleurs and other small moving bits on our bikes. The derailleur housing for the brake cable on the bike that was tied to the roof broke, so we had to jerryrig a patch (zip tie + electrical tape). The other bike just stopped shifting in the rear, so we had to grab it and physically move it with our hands at the bottom and top of each hill for the next day. It magically started shifting again after that. Go figure.

The remaining 5 days were entirely uneventful.

Sleeping under the tin-roofed outdoor eating space of a (thankfully closed-for-the-season) bar in Brooklyn, WA.  That day getting a dozen flats before my pump broke and I ran out of patches.  The tire was too old and riddled with countless little holes and got a flat every few hundred feet.  Trying to sleep with rain pounding the roof like millions of ball-bearings.  At least ten miles of muddy, rain drenched logging roads to get phone service and another five after that to get to town.  Not wanting to make dinner for fear of being discovered and kicked out into the cold, we night.  Waking up at 4:30am to try and hitch a ride out and watching every logger drive on by.  My wool pants started ripping and ripped from crotch to knee.  Pushing my loaded bike up the hills.  Loggers making fun of me before they kept driving.  Finally getting a ride to Oakville.

The worst part was that I rode my bike on the downhills on my bare rim and destroyed the wheel.  For no other reason than that I was panicking about how it had taken me five hours to get halfway out.

God, that sucked.

Together with other two friends I rode the 192 Km that connects two cities in the middle of the amazon forest. No cellphone signal on the road, no support cars and nothing but trees across our way. We relied only on what we could carry with us (camel backs, cereals bars, etc) and half of the way was under some serious torrential rain. Ah, we were riding mountain bikes :)

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