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.