Stoke

Most of the people I know in the bike industry and then in the wider outdoors world try to avoid speaking Bro, a language used mainly by white guys who wear boardshorts a lot, or flat brim caps. This should not be construed as an indictment of either of those articles of clothing. Correlation is not causation. And actually, Bro, as a language, has in its roots a way of living that most of us aspire to, simpler, more enthusiastic, more open.

People who speak Bro start their sentences with ‘Bro’ or ‘Dude,’ although that’s a more classical form of address. Common adjectives include: gnarly, heavy, tight, sick, and huge. The word ‘way’ takes the place of ‘very’ in English.

My favorite word in Bro is ‘stoke.’ Stoke is a measure of excitement, as in “Bro, I couldn’t be more stoked.” But it can also be a noun, as in, “Everybody was going off. The stoke was super high.” You can reference the ‘stoke level,’ or say, “I’d be stoked on that,” for something you’d like to do in the future.

As with any foreign language, I think it’s respectful to try to use Bro when you encounter bros, just as you would try to speak French in France or Swahili in Zanzibar, and the good news is, if you speak English, there are many cognates and the grammatical structures are similar, although Bro takes advantages of many simplifications that English eschews. For example, in English you might say, “My friend, you are demonstrating superior skills,” whereas in Bro, you would just say, “Bro, gnarly.”

There are more exclamation points in Bro than in English.

In my work I have encountered many Bros, most of whom also spoke English, making communication straightforward. More amusingly, I have addressed some new acquaintances in Bro, only to find, after a good laugh, that they were not Bros, though equally proficient in the language. Sometimes this discovery takes several minutes, which makes the ensuing, shared laugh even better.

In a lot of ways, if I’m honest with you, the whole point of Dirt Soul Search is to chase the stoke. If you read this site enough, you’ll know I often take myself too seriously, and I have an urge to over-intellectualize things. It’s probably insecurity. The beauty of Bro and Bros themselves its that they and it brook no insecurity. Bro, as a language, is a sort of surrender to the amazingness of things. It is, in many ways, a more pure way of speaking about and understanding what we all want from life, lives that are way gnarly, high in stoke, and short on bummers.

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