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The Expert's Guide to Being Average

I want to give a shout-out to all of us average explorers out there.

It’s equal parts inspiring and disheartening scrolling through photos of professional athletes pushing the limits of possibility. The next V16. Another documentary on an unprecedented bike-packing trip. Another record broken in ultra-running. All super cool, and all super completely and utterly unattainable to the 99% of us watching. Which I guess is what makes it cool... but I digress. I want to give a shout-out to all of us average explorers out there.

I am super average. On a good day I ride my bike 30ish miles. One time I rode it 160 miles over three days and it about killed me. On a good day I can boulder V5 indoors if the grades are soft enough. Every now and again I run more than two miles, but usually it's just a mile jog down to the park and back. Once or twice a year I can manage a backpacking trip, but I've still never spent more than 5 days in the backcountry. 

I'm learning to be okay with being average. I'm 26 years old - young, by all means - but I'm definitely not going to be the next climbing prodigy. I'm not running a hundred miles... ever. I'll probably never hike the PCT or bike across the country or put up a first ascent on any piece of rock anywhere in the world.

Nobody (truly not a soul) wants to see photos of my sweaty ass huffing to finish my one and a half mile jogging loop. Nobody wants to watch a documentary on my quest to lead that 5.10a at Malibu Creek that honestly is probably more like a 5.9 anyway. Nobody wants to read the column detailing every mile of my first century ride: "It was hard but I just kept going and a few hours later I was done and had pizza with my friends and then I was sore for a week." I'm just... average. Like most of us. 

Maybe being average is where it's at though. Maybe that's what keeps me doing it. Maybe the fact that I'm choosing to do this stuff when a paycheck isn't attached and I'm not even that good at it means I really, actually love doing it. That bike ride is for meThat 5.10a at Malibu Creek is mine as soon as I get the guts up to try it. 

I'm getting better at being average. Some days I wish I was above average, but most days I'm happy with the lack of pressure associated with being a grade-C-average athlete and adventurer. Average keeps me in shape. Average lets me see and experience new things, meet passionate and interesting people, and always manages to fill my weekends with plans. So here's to being average - there are tons of us out there. Keep shredding and celebrating our progress right here in the middle of the pack.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Aaron RickelExplorer

Climber. Cyclist. Hiker. Writer. Currently has base camp set up in Los Angeles, CA. Runs the Los Angeles Field Guide.