“There are strange folks who run across a continent, climb the highest mountain, swim the deepest ocean, take a solo ride around the world in a small boat and sail aimlessly aloft in a hot-air balloon.
I don’t know why they do it, unless it’s to extend the human capacity for impossible feats. They are, in a sense, explorers who seek the limit of human performance.” Sid Dorfman, The Star-Ledger, June 26, 2012
Dorfman, a veteran journalist for 79 years, died a couple days ago at 94. He started writing for newspapers at age 15, submitting high school sports stories. He kindly reviewed my book, On the Trail of the Ancestors: A Black Cowboy’s Ride Across America. The above quote is from his article that cites Miles Dean, the subject of my book, and others who have sought to accomplish unique physical feats.
Watching this year’s winter Olympics, often hiding my eyes and grateful I’m not a competitor’s mother, I’m wondering why sports seem to have become more and more extreme every four years. Downhill racing is no longer just that; it’s now jumping and free style and aerial. Sledding is no longer merely sledding; its two-person, four-person, and skeleton. And the list goes on. Each seems more dangerous and death defying than the last. Is this really necessary?
I guess I’m not about extreme sports or no-limit zone triumphs. I happily ski and cycle, hike and swim, and have no desire to break any records or attempt any solo journeys.
Maybe I’m just envious. Snow shoveling has become my major outdoor sport this winter, followed by some cross-country skiing and a little ice-skating. We took two of the grands ice skating and sledding. The four-year-old only trusted his grandfather to go down the hill with him.
Eager to feel that speed, wind, and burst of sunny, winter air in my face, I took a solo run in our thin, plastic sled. My right side now aches.