Skiing and Mountain Biking Helped Me Find Empowerment

Skiing and Mountain Biking Helped Me Find Empowerment

How I have gained confidence through adventure sports.
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I have always loved being outside and in the woods. The smell of the Maine woods was one of the things I missed the most when I studied abroad in Cuba. For years and years, I was a runner. I ran cross country in both high school and college. After seven seasons I quit. In the past two years since then, I have run around five times. I finished cross country and went right into ski season and working as a ski instructor at Sugarloaf mountain.

I quickly realized that I enjoy being outside and skiing more than I did being inside to work on my running. Last ski season I was able to be full time at the mountain while still being a student. In that one season, I went from an advanced skier to an expert. At the beginning of the season, I was timid skiing in the trees. I enjoyed it because I love being in the woods, but at first, I didn’t trust myself in them on skis.

My goal for the season was the feel comfortable in the woods, and I did more than that. I fell in love with skiing in the glades. I found power in believing in my ability to make to quick turns I needed to through the trees. I believed in my body and my strength, and I let go. Every time I went skiing, I felt more empowered by the confidence and strength of my body. I have had the most fun I had ever had skiing, and I was skiing the best I ever had.

This fall I gained another adventure sport, mountain biking. What I loved about running in the woods I got with mountain biking while also gaining much more. I started out as a timid biker when I was little and learning to ride. When the bike would wobble, I would just jump off. It took me until I was 7 to learn how to bike without training wheels. Learning to mountain bike was something I thought I would never do, the idea terrified me. Going downhill through switchback turns seemed completely impossible.

My skiing had improved so much that my trust in my body and my abilities were suddenly a lot stronger. I got my bike for $50 off of Craigslist and didn’t bike on any actual trails for over a month. When I finally got the nerve to go, I quickly realized that I found it fun. At first, I was terrified of any rock, root, bridge, sharp turn, or steep downhill. It limited me and what I could ride. Then my boyfriend took me on a couple of trails that were a little above what I thought I could do, and my options started to open up.

I am now biking on the trails right by my house that I had run on for years. The first day I walked a few downhills, some big rocks, and took my feet off the pedals on most bridges. I had this fear of the bridges that would make me wobble my handlebars for no reason. Every day that I bike those trails, I go over more roots and rocks than the last time, and I stress about going over them less. The last time I rode the trail I rode confidently over every bridge. I gain confidence not just in my biking ability but in myself and what I can overcome.

The roots in the trail are the bumps in the road or life. Every time I bike the roots and rocks become easier to bike over. Every time I bike over a larger root or rock I know that I can handle what life throws my way. Mountain biking has given me faith in my legs again. It has given me freedom, resiliency, and self-confidence. I have gained more than I ever would have guessed. I am so glad to have gained such a fun lifelong sport.

Cover Image Credit: Self provided image of Sun Valley Idaho

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An Open Letter From The Plus-Size Girl

It's OK not to be perfect. Life is more fun that way.

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To whoever is reading this,

My entire life has been a juggling match between my weight and the world. Since I was a young girl every single doctor my family took me to, told me I needed to lose weight. The searing pain of those words still stabs me in the side to this day. I have walked past stores like Hollister and American Eagle since I was 13.

Being plus-size means watching girls the same age as you or older walk into a store that sells the cutest, in style clothing and you having to walk into a store that sells clothes that are very out of style for a young girl. Being plus-size means being picked last in gym class, even if you love sports.

Being plus-size means feeling like you have to suck it in in pictures so you don't look as big next to your friends. Being plus-size means constantly thinking people are staring at you, even if they aren't.

The number on the scale haunts me. Every single time I think about the number I cringe.

Can I just say how going shopping is an absolute nightmare? If you haven't noticed, in almost every store (that even has plus sizes to begin with) plus-size clothing is closed off and secluded from the rest of the store. For example, Forever 21, There are walls around every side of the plus "department."

Macy's plus department is in the basement, all the way in the back corner. We get it that we are not what society wants us to look like but throwing us in a corner isn't going to change the statistics in America today. That being that 67% of American women are plus-size.

My life is a double-digit number being carved into my jiggly arms and thunder thighs. It is me constantly wanting to dress cute but turning to running shorts and a gigantic sweatshirt instead so that people don't judge me on my size.

It is time that the American society stops making plus size look like a curse. It will never be a curse. If every person was the same size, what would be the point of uniqueness? I will never despise who I am because while I was growing up multiple people told me that I needed to be a size 6 in order for a guy to fall in love with me. I will never hate myself for getting dressed up and being confident.

To all the girls reading this who may be plus-size,

It's OK! You're beautiful and lovable. If you want to buy that crop top, buy it. Life is too short to hide behind a baggy T-shirt. We are just as gorgeous as the girls that we envy. Be the one to change the opinion of the world. Fat rolls don't need to be embarrassing. Your stretch marks are beautiful. Don't ever let the world tell you not to eat that cheeseburger either.

In the end, this earthly life is temporary. We are on this earth for a blink of an eye. Don't let anything stand in your way. Wear the bikini, the crop top, and the short shorts. Post the sassy selfie you've had on your phone for 6 months and you won't post because you have a double chin or your head looks "too big." Who cares. BE YOU and love yourself while you're at it.

I'll start.

Cover Image Credit: Victoria Hockmeyer

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The Rejuvenating Qualities Of Panama City Beach

There are definitely some healing properties in these ocean waves.

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We have gone to the beach quite a few times this summer season. We live around 2 hours away and try to make it to Panama City Beach at least once a week. It's a venture for sure, but compared to the 7-day drive from The Rockies of Colorado to the Peanut Capital of the World, Dothan, Alabama (a time in which no one has heard of) we can't really make any excuses.

Now, I am sitting here typing away in the early morning while watching a summer storm blow in over the sea but, make no doubt about it, the ocean and its shores are one of the most healing, rejuvenating places on this planet. There is a calm in the break of the waves on the shoreline, and yet it pairs with an unspoken knowledge that the ocean is this uncontrollable force.

This isn't a speech on saving the planet and being eco-friendly, recycling and watching out for our beaches, which is a topic I am very passionate about and a post I would totally create. This is simply an open letter to those who might need to get away in order to revive their souls.

If you are anything like me, you have emotions pulsing through you at all times, ideas about everything under the sun, a longing to explore and adventure, and a deep need for rest, all at the same time. There are not many things in this world that truly satisfy me. There is a lot of disappointment. There is a lot of wrongdoing and suffering. It's overwhelming.

That is why I come to the beach. It removes the overwhelming things.

You see, there is nothing complicated about the waves (unless you make it complicated, but we stay away from people like you). They are simple. They are peaceful. And 99% of the time in my life that is what I need, simplicity and peace. I over-complicate things myself, I make excuses and I feel hurt in most moments of my life. I lived an exposed, vulnerable lifestyle that drains me.

That is why I love the ocean. It replenishes my drained soul. It energizes me. It is motivating and inspiring, relaxing and unwinding.

I don't pass out advice. I never have. I do, however, try living an honest life, always in the moment, so I can share my experiences in hopes that others might find them helpful. That is precisely why I am writing this. Because if you could just get to the beach, to a shoreline, it might change you. Seeing this vast landscape changes your perspective on the situations in your life you thought might overtake you.

The ocean speaks. It heals. It tells your worries to cease and your mind to rest. It tells your body to relax and your busy schedule that there IS time to take a moment. Don't forget to take a moment for yourself this summer season.

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