For me, moving to another country had always been a dream, and in 2015 that dream became reality when I sold most of my belongings and headed to New Zealand (Tip #1). The country contained every bit of adventure I had dreamed it would. The trails there venture to epic mountain tops, through dense jungles and are some of the best I have ever ridden, all without the mass crowds you find in other parts of the world (Tip #2). There’s something so freeing and peaceful about adventuring new and remote places consistently on a bike. Pedaling through uncharted terrain and with the excitement of the unknown ahead, I had a permanent smile on my face the whole time (Tip #3). Unfortunately, my time in New Zealand ended far sooner than originally planned. Towards the end of the bike season, March 25th, 2016, I went on a bike mission on the South Island. I was training for an adventure race and about 50k in I had a horrible accident that would be the beginning of a long road of hardship and pain (Tip #4).
I broke my back in three places and suffered a spinal cord injury after falling over 100 feet off the side of a mountain (Tip #5). The pain was so severe I barely could breathe or move, and I had fallen so far down my riding companion could not hear or see me if I yelled above. I remained calm, but with the rain and darkness looming, I knew I had to act fast if I was going to survive. Grasping tightly with my hands as my legs were not working well, I made it to the top where my friend was. With every bit of grit I had I biked the remaining 5 kilometers to the hut where I was heli-evacuated to the ER. Following the fall I sustained severe adrenal fatigue, nervous system trauma, as well as several months of rehabilitation to get back on the bike. I was in bed most of the time for the first 5 months, completely broken physical and emotionally (Tip #6). I now know what it must feel like to be 90 years old, and would joke as I started to make improvements that I was feeling a perky 80 years old today. I was in so much pain and had such a difficult time functioning, yet I would wake up each day thanking God for life and the ability to walk (Tip #7). I had purpose in still being alive, and that this would not go on forever.
As I eased back into healing, rehab, and biking I began to meet some amazing people in the biking community. Getting involved with organizations such as Colorowdies and VIDA MTB Series has been a great way to connect with fellow shredders and I have made some dear friends. My biking friends would go on rides with me as I was getting back into shape and help me build back my skills, confidence, and encourage me (Tip #8). I had to work through PTSD when I would encounter wet and step terrain, which was a progressive reintegrating back into the conditions that set it off rather than forcing myself to ride it. I would feel frustration creeping in each time I was on the bike as I was not as fit as I once was or couldn't ride a feature I used to be able to get (Tip #9). In moments like these I would take a deep breath in and exhale, reminding myself to never give up and focus each day on what I could do and that I would work towards my goals again. Opening my mind to patience, grace and perspective helped me through the frustrating moments on and off the bike each day (Tip #10). Support from the bike community as I got back to riding, racing, coaching, and starting leap2fly was encouraging and motivating to help me as I took one step at a time towards healing my mind, body, and soul.
Tip #1: Follow that dream you were meant to live out
Tip #2: Don't lose your childlike wonder, explore and be a goof
Tip #3: Living life to the fullest is about experiences, not things
Tip #4: Life is short, you never know what tomorrow brings, so don't take it for granted
Tip #5: If you're going to fall on a mountain, fall uphill
Tip #6: Be honest, real, and vulnerable with those who care for you
Tip #7: Keep perspective
Tip #8: Have patience and grace for yourself and others
Tip #9: Don't let fear, doubt, or negativity stand between you and the best version of you
Tip #10: Don't give up, the hardest times often lead to the greatest moments in life
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