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Moxie Wild

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Survival & Improvisation

You know those times in your life when you get blindsided by something kinda major that you did not see coming? And stunned, you think – “Huh. I really did not see that coming.” And you turn it over and over in your mind while trying not to panic…or in my case, when this happened to me two weeks ago, panic and cry.  See, one of the Moxiest of all gals I know, my friend and Moxie Wild Co-Instigator of Adventure, Petra, asked to meet with me rather urgently and out of the blue. She was acting super unPetra like and I was anxious with worry – maybe she was sick. Or, maybe I had really pissed her off in some way on the Moxie Wild trip we had just run over the weekend.

Turns out, much to my relief she was not sick. Nor did I make her so angry it warranted a meeting. Instead, she would go on to tell me, with tears brimming her eyes that her husband had just received a stellar and well-deserved promotion and that they were moving ACROSS THE COUNTRY. IN A MONTH.

When we started Moxie Wild, we did a lot of due diligence. We took some super helpful and instructive business classes through Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women (GROW). We got lots of certifications and training and good insurance. We landed a top-notch financial/bookkeeping guy and an attorney. We planned a lot of  #%^&.

We did all of the things.

Except talk about succession planning.

FRIG!

For a week, my mind reeled. What was going to happen to Moxie Wild? This thing that we had started that we both felt so passionately about – was it going to fall apart? I mulled over how to move forward without her -she is one half of what makes what we do happen. She is knowledgeable about so many outdoor things, energetic and fun. As importantly, we work well together. Petra starts the campfire, I make the coffee. Petra does our social media, I do contracts and forms. In a wilderness first aid situation, Petra promised me she would reset any dislocated knee caps because she knows just thinking about it makes me faint, while I will manage any injuries involving feet because I know the thought of it will make her vomit.

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Petra barely stomachs having to touch my “sprained” ankle during an injury simulation in our NOLS Wilderness First Aid course.

As I was struggling to figure out how to move on, a Podcast I had been a guest on earlier in the fall on WANNABE Radio aired. As it had been some time, I listened to it in that way we all do when we hear our own voices broadcast for the world to hear, which is to say, cringing. Here’s something I did not expect: what I said blew my mind! The host, Sara Grey, asked me to talk about important lessons I’ve learned about charting a course forward to do something you’ve always wanted to do. I responded by stating that while it took meeting Petra – someone with the same passion and interest in empowering women by getting them outside – to finally realize this dream I had, I had discovered that I had actually had the tools and resources to do on my own all along. In short, I was fully capable of doing it years before I finally did. Something about hearing that suddenly helped me realize, while moving Moxie forward without Petra wasn’t ideal, I have the ability and the Moxie to do it.

Now, a few weeks later, I’m excited for the future of Moxie Wild. I will greatly miss having Petra along for the ride but also know that she’s not more than a phone call away if I need advice…or to scream, cry or whine.  I am so fortunate too that I am surrounded by a bunch of  equally spirited and knowledgeable women like Jill Martindale, Linda Thompson-Poeder, Lisa Rose, Kristen Aidif and Sarah Williams who have agreed to help carry the torch forward with me. And lastly, I am grateful for new and continued partnerships with Alger Bikes, Grand Rapids Bicycle Company, Kisscross Events, Michigan Coast Riders, REI, Skirts in the Dirt, Switchback Gear Exchange and the Michigan Women’s Bike Coalition.

2018 is going to be a stellar year. Check back regularly for the full schedule of trips and meet-ups here.

Now, let’s go!

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Featured post

Mind Over Matter.

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Each month, we feature a monthly blog post written by our one of our participants. This month, our guest blogger is Maria. Maria first participated in a mountain biking skills clinic we hosted over the summer and then came on our Winter Sports Weekend trip in mid-January. Her spirit and enthusiasm is indifatigable. See for yourself. 

I took up fat bike trail riding after seeing how much fun my husband was having on his new bike. I was feeling brave after having just lost 45lbs. Running regularly was no longer feasible after a foot injury. And although, I am not new to adventure (I’ve been riding motorcycles for 12 years), mountain biking still intimidated me.

Wanting so bad to get better at a sport that I found so enjoyable, it wasn’t long before I joined a group of women riders. Through this group, I met so many strong and wonderful women of all riding skill levels. These great women, offered tips and instruction, motivation and cheered my growth.

With my newfound confidence and the nudge of some friends, I entered a couple bike races. At my age…cough…nearing 50…my goals were simple and few: 1) don’t get hurt, 2) finish the race and 3) don’t come in last. It felt amazing to accomplish these goals!

I learned of the Moxie Wild group when Melissa and Petra put on a skills clinic for a women’s bike race. The mission of the group was so inspirational to me. Most recently, a Moxie Wild group of awesome women and I learned some jiu jitsu moves, went snowshoeing and beach riding. Three adventures I had never experienced before! I look forward to meeting other wonderful women and experiencing many more adventures.

Besides a gateway to other outdoor adventures, riding has become so many things to me…a way to connect with nature, an escape from a stressful job, the means to breathe fresh air, go on adventures, explore new places, get the heart rate up, strengthen my mental-self and improve my health. It also became a way for me to overcome challenges, have fun, express my individualism, feel a sense of freedom and hang out with friends or enjoy a peaceful moment alone.

 

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To be adventurous takes grit, determination and gumption. There are still days that I have to tell myself “mind over matter” to get me through. But I have realized through my journey that the rewards are powerful when you take the time to recognize the feelings you get when you experience something new or when you accomplish something you never thought you would. Whether it’s the stillness of nature, taking in the sun for a minute with your eyes closed, high-fiving a fellow rider, or the elation of finishing a race…you feel alive! I for one will take all that I have learned to empower, inspire and encourage other women to dig in and step outdoors.

Life Is Full Of Switchbacks

18952836_782252798619359_7737900657560248179_nIn September of this year my mom who was my best friend passed away unexpectedly. It took my breath away. She taught me about empathy for others, kindness, and appreciating beauty in every little thing. One of her biggest contributions of love she gave to me was how she encouraged me to lose weight so I would not develop diabetes like herself. I needed lots of positive words because I needed to believe in myself. I lost 75 pounds with her loving words and hard work in 9 months, and have kept it off for 4 years.

After the weight loss, I have stepped up and tried many new endeavors to push my mind and my endurance. I run and have accomplished many different personal goals. I also am a road cyclist and have completed a few century, 100 mile,  event rides and some Triathlon and Duathlon races.

Since my mom’s death, I have struggled with remembering who I am. Sometimes I found it hard to care about certain things I did before. There seemed to be a Pre and Post me, centered around my mom’s death. I lost myself and my drive for life that she instilled in me. I did a lot of endurance events for her because she physically couldn’t, but now it was hard to feel like things mattered.

Recently, I was introduced to the group Moxie Wild and to me it sounded like my answer. It was for women, celebrating women and I was tired of feeling weak, not myself..so I signed up for a mountain bikepacking adventure with my soul sister Vangie. I have never, ever, experienced mountain biking. So, I bought a bike, got tents and saddle bags from my bike Co-op and prayed. It was challenging because of the newness and trying mountain biking first with the bikepacking extra weight was rough, but the speed was exhilarating, and the endurance piece was tough but rewarding. As I looked around I found myself comparing life to this mountain biking trail. Life is full of “switchbacks”. Some beautiful experiences popping up around the bend, some frightening heart-stopping situations to conquer, and also some soul strengthening turns where you dig deep to get through. I didn’t know what was coming around the bend, just like life… and I grew out there on that trail.

I believe God showed me what I needed to see amongst the beautiful trees on that challenging trail; my mom’s love, her voice laughing with me through the beauty, and her strength pushing me forward and reinventing my drive.  Life is full of switchbacks, women can conquer them all…thank you Moxie Wild ♡

 

My Time at Owasippe

Sitting with my coffee on this gloomyish Saturday morning thinking back to the most perfect weather last weekend when I hung out with some super rad chicks at a boy scout reservation. I got to partake in Moxie Wild’s first adventure and it was awesome.

First off, Owasippe is a sweet place, I’d heard great things about the trails but hadn’t been there to explore yet. (It’s closed for the summer for scout camp so the timing has never worked out.) We had a cool little cabin on the lake and I already want to go back!

Friday night was super chill, we all arrived, made friends and hung by the fire until dinner. Then off to bed to dream of Saturday’s mountain bike camp!

I’m not one for a rigid schedule of events though I like to have a base plan, so the structure of the whole weekend was right up my alley. Yeah, we had an agenda that said we’d wake up at 7 for a little sunrise yoga, but no, we did not wake up at 7 and that was great.

The activities started with a mountain bike workshop that even some of us that have been riding for years and years learned a lot from. I for one learned how to do a front wheel lift! I’d been trying forever and what do you know, one weekend at mountain bike camp and I can do it now! That right there pretty much made it a successful weekend for me! After “class”, we took to the trails. I’ve been mountain biking for a long time but I’m still not super comfortable on really technical trails, (pretty sure it’s because of my incredible lack of coordination) but the trails at Owasippe were awesome! Flowy and beautiful and just my speed! Reminder.. go back before the boy scouts come for the summer! We rode, took a break for lunch and then rode some more. Also, major shout out to the 4 awesome ladies that had NEVER mountain biked before! You rock!

After everyone returned from the trails we had some time to relax by the lake in that perfect weather and finished out Saturday evening with another delicious dinner (let’s just say we were fed VERY well) and dessert (please feed me that again).

Then it was Sunday, how do the fun weekends always go by so fast?!?! Andrea Ketchmark was brought in to lead a backpacking clinic for us Sunday morning. I’ve done a bit of backpacking in my day but am usually pretty un-prepared, my plan is to put Andrea’s tips to use and maybe be a little more practical for future trips! She also answered all of our questions about pooping in the woods 🙂

Thank you so so much Moxie Wild for putting this weekend together. You guys are awesome and you’re doing awesome things! I honestly can’t think of a single thing that I would change. I’m super stoked and can’t wait to join in on more Moxie Wild times!

 

 

The story you tell yourself.

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My friend and colleague, Lori, has been riding and skiing since she was a girl and is an absolute bad ass on and off a mountain bike. She also loves a road trip, making frequent jaunts criss-crossing the country to ride trails from California to the tippy tip of Florida. So I was hopeful when less than a month ago, I asked her to join me on a trip to Arizona to visit my daughter. Of course, I had motives – I didn’t want to drive that far alone, I wanted company on the trail, someone who was a good rider, easy going, fun and admittedly more mechanically minded than I am (even though I later discovered we have a staunch difference of opinion about which gear to leave a manual transmission car in when parking it).

Lori, being the gal that she is, said yes. And a week ago, we struck off on our trip. We would take a 8 days – 3 days out via Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico and 3 days back through Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa and Illinios. The plan was to stop at least once a day and ride a trail that we would discover as we drove, utilizing the magic of the interweb.

On the second day, we were heading toward a little known trail system at an Episcopal Camp in eastern Oklahoma and listening to a podcast from Dirtbag Diaries. It was about an extreme alpine climber, Chad Kellogg who had died three years ago in a climbing accident. The podcast host, a good friend of his, kept repeating something Chad frequently said, which was, “Your life is the story you tell yourself.” Now, I am an adventure seeking riskophile to a small extent (my family might say more than small, but in comparison to Chad, small) and have strong kindred feelings and a whole heaping of pile of respect for people who are constantly challenging themselves. However, as a mother, wife, daughter, employee, coach, and generally responsible human being, I also know that I need to have limits because people rely on and love me. I sometimes get a little annoyed with extreme adventurers and the culture of Pursuit at Any Cost because I think their vision becomes tunneled and their motives too out of balance and self-centered. So honestly, when I first heard this quote I dismissed it as an annoyingly contrived and silly thing that cool people say to try to sound even cooler because they’re being interviewed by Outside magazine. But hey, sometimes I’m an overly opinionated ass, so there’s that, too.

A word here about the crazy cool trails we got to ride – none of them were gentle and flowy. All of them challenged me in new and sometimes very intimidating ways. I hope I alluded to Lori’s ability enough for you to understand that she is a very competent and experienced rider, seemingly on any type of trail. For me, the chance to ride with and learn from her on this trip was an added benefit. It was an epic mountain biking road trip. For her, the chance…err, mistake of taking this trip with me, was patently not. Constantly striving to stay on her wheel, I imagine for her it was not unlike taking an epic mountain biking road trip with a 4 year old. Each time I encountered something tricky I’d exclaim, “Uhhhh…I don’t like this!” or “This is scary!” and each time I’d make it over a rock garden, down a tricky drop or up a sketchy rooty climb, I’d yell out, “I did it! Lori, I did it!” and each excitedly expect her to return praise…and maybe even give me a lollipop or a sticker.

Fast-forward 5 days later. We were both super excited to ride Slickrock in Moab. Lori, because it is her “most favorite trail on earth” and me because she had gotten me so excited to ride it I thought I was going to pee my pants. I had hiked in Moab before but had never ridden there and couldn’t wait to roll along the smooth sandstone face of the valleys and tabletops. It looks like Mars.

As we made the climb up the road to the parking lot on top of the mesa, I began to recall other things Lori had said – a tale of a friend who had broken his face there a few years back or how she herself had crashed there and had the “flesh torn from her bones” because the rock is so abrasive. Because I also had two bad crashes over the past few years that resulted in two concussions, a sprained neck, and two broken ribs, I was overtaken with fear and began to panic. By the time we headed off on our bikes, my heart rate was through the roof and my breath short. My hands were shaking so badly and my arms so rubbery I felt like I couldn’t steer in a straight path, let alone down rocky descents and up tricky climbs. After 15 minutes, I was having a full on panic attack and started walking my bike up and down most of the trail. Lori looked back at me with the patience of a saint and kept saying, “You know, you’re totally capable of riding all of this.” I shot her a look that was part incredulity and part terror. “I’m not having fun.”, I asserted through gritted teeth. I then told her that I didn’t want to ruin her ride and encouraged her to go ahead of me, that we could meet up at the fork in the trail after a time. Once she left, I walked my bike up another boulder and stood on the top of it and started to cry. I considered calling someone to come get me. I vowed that I was going to sell my bike and return to road biking. I also took some pictures of myself freaking out and posted a confession on Facebook, as though that somehow might absolve me of being a chicken.

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Then, as I was standing there, on top of the boulder, looking out over the majesty before me, Chad’s quote popped into my head. “Your life is the story you tell yourself.” I rolled it over again in mind. Suddenly it took on a meaning that it did not before. Right then and there I profoundly understood that If I continued to tell myself that I was not capable of riding this trail, that despite being in that amazing place and not being able to arrest my panic, that the narrative of my story would be one of giving in to fear and the lie I was telling myself; it would be one of taking for granted an amazing opportunity to ride in an amazingly beautiful place and finally – and maybe most poignantly – of representing myself as someone I was not – it would be a story of fraud.

As suddenly, I turned my bike around. And I climbed back on. I competently rode down one descent and up one sketchy climb after another – whooping and laughing and of course hollering “I DID IT!” to Lori for the rest of the ride. When we finished, I lamented that we couldn’t stay longer or return the next day and declared that I was going to make a return trip as soon as I could. I retold my story.

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So friends, what story will you tell yourself?

#moxiewild #letsgo #bringyourmoxie #letsgomoxiewild #showusyourmoxie

Ride Stress

Ever get anxiety over the thought of a group ride? I totally do. I know it’s silly but it happens. It hasn’t happened to me in a while and I almost forgot what that ugly monster feels like. This past weekend I spent an epic weekend up north in Marquette, Michigan with friends.  The plan was to go fat biking, visit Black Rocks Brewery, ride our fat bikes some more, drink beer some more at Ore Dock, and repeat.

All of these friends are known as strong bike riders in these parts (Grand Rapids). Two of them are even bike race promoters.  As we pulled into the driveway of the rental house, and we all caught up over a beer and spoke excitedly over the ride plans for the next few days, I noticed an odd feeling that I hadn’t felt in ages… “Holy crap am I nervous?!?!?”… I thought to myself.  I was!! I literally felt anxious about riding my bike.  As we sat that first night over delicious beers at Ore Dock Brewery, in my mind I built up the next day’s ride as a hammerfest.  Then the pesky negative thoughts started… “Everyone is going to crank as fast as they can for as long as they can.  There was no way around it, Hammerfest 2017 was happening and I had to go. Am I going to be fast enough? Will I keep up? What if I get hungry and become even slower? They’re all going to leave me, I just know it.  I’m going to hold everyone up. I suck.”

Gahhhhhhh these thoughts are the WORST!

Inevitably, the next day came and it was time to spend the snowy beautiful day outside on our bikes on the awesome RAMBA trails.  We arrived at the trailhead and there was that ball of anxious nerves in my stomach.  “I am going to hold everyone back, I just know it” I thought to myself.

As we got onto the trail, which was an odd mix of ice and a fresh layer of snow which added to the nerves (how awful would it be if my tire pressure was too high and I ate shit in front of my friends on ice?!?!), I found myself in the first few minutes apologizing…  “I’m sorry, feel free to pass. Sorry, pass me when you need! Sorry, I’m going so slow!” It just kept coming out from my mouth. Apology word puke!  Each stupid sorry that came out was met with, “STOP apologizing!” from my friends.  It took me all of 2 minutes to realize, this was not Hammerfest 2017… this ride was all about being outside, being on your bike, giggling, and enjoying the outdoors with friends. Isn’t that what every ride is? FUGG YES IT IS! Why did I let my brain get the better of me? This wasn’t a training ride, it wasn’t a race, it was simply about being outside and enjoying the ride.  Everyone else was out there for the same reason, to have all the fun while being with friends!

Next time that obnoxious voice in the back of your head starts doggin’ on your capabilities, tell it to ‘shut up’ because you’ve got the moxie and are there to have all the fun!

#moxiewild #letsgo #bringyourmoxie #letsgomoxiewild #showusyourmoxie

LOOK! Snow and Merry Street!

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Falling In

I’m from California so I never in a million years thought I would find myself facing this fear: struggling while trapped under a thick sheet of ice and dying. Is this a totally unfounded fear? Yes, absolutely unfounded but it’s also a real one.  The thought of having to walk on ice makes me instantly anxious, my face becomes red with embarrassment, and I pit out causing my shirt to become drenched in sweat. After moving to Michigan 2.5 years ago and receiving multiple invites to go ice fishing to have a great Michigan winter experience, my answer was always a simple “Oh, hell no! NOPE!”

The amazing Melissa Werkman and I started talks of Moxie Wild awhile back, and I just KNEW this was something I’d have to eventually do. I would have to channel my own Moxie and prove to myself that I can get over the fear of falling through ice, being bogged down by my wet freezing clothes, and then die while people above the ice watched (and hopefully, tried to save me).  Just the thought of it right now makes my palms sweat and my stomach clench up.

Melissa’s husband and son run a fishing guide business Werkman Outfitters, so I knew I was in nothing but the best hands.  After multiple pep talks and reaffirming that “We’ll only go out if it’s safe”…  a date was set and Ice Fishing was in The Books. We headed out to Muskegon Lake on a beautiful Michigan February day  – it was a balmy 45ish degrees out! Safe? Yes, to my dismay it was deemed safe. Dang it! I knew I had to channel that inner Moxie. “Let’s go!  I got this!” I repeated.

Walking onto the lake in Sperry boots with yak-traks on, my arms extended outward like I was a bird and with heart pounding out onto that ice I went!! “I’m doing this dammit!” was my mantra.  After the initial few steps, Melissa’s husband showing me how safe the ice was (it was 6-7 inches thick), and seeing literally 50 plus people out on the ice, I then realized I was going to be OK.  I got this! Holes were drilled with the auger (I learned a new word and even got to drill my own fishing hole), I baited my pole, sat down in a lovely camp chair that was low to the ice and made me feel warm and safe inside. I was comforted by my thinking that at least my weight was spread out in case the ice cracked. BOOM… I was ice fishing!! After the 1st hour my nerves calmed and we enjoyed chili, beers, and catching the world’s smallest perch and bluegill. What I didn’t realize at the time was that we didn’t go far enough out to catch big fish – due to my fear, Tom (Melissa’s husband), set us up in the shallows to ease my nerves. Thank you, Tom! -But next time I want to catch a big fish!

Ice fishing was a blast… I am pumped to go again!! I’d even like to go when it’s colder out and sit in a tiny cramped shanty to get the full effect.  Channeling that inner Moxie and getting over this unfounded fear is a serious sense of accomplishment. I’m feeling pretty pumped right now and thankful for having a supportive crew to assist me in bringing my Moxie to world of ice fishing!

#moxiewild #bringyourmoxie #letsgomoxie #letsgo

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