Leaping With Leigh

Taking leaps has always been a passion of mine.  You could say I was born to leap off stuff.  As a small child, I jumped out of trees into piles of leaves.  In high school and college my favorite sport was “jumping off of things into bodies of water".  Some examples of this include cliff-jumping at a local ravine and train trestle-diving at a nearby lake in central Wisconsin.  In the Army, I signed up for a special course called Air Assault- the crowning achievement being a rappel-assisted jump out of a helicopter.  When it comes to those less tangible leaps, like choosing to go to grad school, getting married or moving to a new part of the country, I’ve always been more cautious. 

Fast forward a few years and I discovered mountain biking, and a whole new endeavor that allowed me the ability to launch myself off things.  I slowly became more and more immersed in mountain biking.  There were a lot of unintentional leaps, crashes, and plenty of moments of self-doubt.  It turns out that even for someone who dreams about finding things to throw herself off of, it’s not always easy to take leaps. 


The first real drop I ever hit was at Keystone Bike Park at a skills clinic.  I was only able to get up the nerve to hit the 3 foot drop after watching multiple people flawlessly execute the feature first, and then being “towed in” by my good friend Sienna.  After that first drop at Keystone, I thought I would be able to hit everything obstacle I encountered on the trail. Not true. 

These days I fancy myself a mountain bike skills coach and a professional enduro racer.  I’ve competed as a pro in 5 countries and occasionally even landed on the podium.  I may have been born with a strong desire to jump off stuff and a passion for mountain biking that has taken me to the highest level, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s easy for me to take a leap.  Despite all these accolades, I find that I often have to gain strength from the support of others when I’m looking at leaping into a new style of riding or a different career endeavor.  Just a few months ago, I sent my first road gap (squeal), but only after a kind stranger offered to tow me in and demonstrate the proper speed (thanks again, kind stranger).


I don’t always recommend taking physical leaps or falls off a mountain - they can be dangerous (just ask Christy)! But when it comes to those real leaps, like changing your lifestyle or conquering a fear, I do recommend that you: ask for help, practice and tell people.  This can mean you tell your boyfriend or your neighbor or the WHOLE INTERNET, and then LEAP!  Facing your fears and taking a leap is something that we can all get better at with the right tools.  Taking leaps is the key to learning to fly!

I recently decided to try something completely out of my comfort zone: the Colorado Trail Race. The CTR is a 500+ mile, self-supported bikepacking race.  My goal is to finish.  I asked for a coach to help me train and for other experienced bikepackers to help me plan.  I’m going to go on lots of mini bikepacking adventures for practice and I’ve made this leap public by deciding to race as a fundraiser for the Check-In Foundation, in memory of a dear friend and fellow mountain biker, Tricia Leigh Shadell.  I’m telling everyone about it and I hope that I’m able to help keep Tricia’s spirit of kindness with me as I fly across Colorado this summer.


Leigh Bowe

Race Manager /Board Member Colorowdies Mountain Bike Crew

Juliana Grassroots ambassador/SRAM ambassador

Instagram @elbowrides