Discuss subjects in which you excel or have excelled. To what factor(s) do you attribute your success?
I loathe and love sports. I despise the thought of being a team member on sports involving round objects, aka balls. As a young lad, my first sport was, ironically, soccer. I never found the appeal of it, that is excluding the snacks brought to practice. I was much more interested in looking for bugs and lizards during practices and games. But let's focus on the sports I love. My talents and passions lie in individual sports such as mountain biking, climbing, and skiing, as well as the rigors of bike packing; I attribute my success in these sports and pursuits to determination, ability to make my own fun, and willingness to suffer harsh conditions.
Very early on, it was clear I had a passion and natural ability for independent sports, especially biking, climbing, and skiing. While most kids learn to bike on smooth neighborhood streets, all I had was a steep dirt driveway. In defiance of my parents, I ran to the top, got on my tiny bike, and down I went, leading to the very unusual moment defining my passion for competitive mountain biking. The world went black for a brief second but I soon got up and looked at the giant dent in the side of our green pickup truck (thank goodness for helmets). My parents ran out expecting a screaming and crying four year old. They instead found me explaining to them how cool I was for doing so much damage to their car. And there began my love for biking. At about age three, I climbed a ladder to the top of our three story house and was filled with a feeling of pure amazement as a looked down to the ground. I told my dad, who is a climber, about it; despite being upset about me climbing a three story ladder at three years old, he saw it as a sign that I would enjoy climbing. So, that is where I began my climbing lifestyle. Today, I compete in climbing and mountain biking as a high school team member. These events demonstrate my determination and ability to make my own fun.
Another area where I excel is the ability to endure harsh conditions while pursuing my love of independent sports; nothing demonstrates this more than the many bike packing trips I have participated in over the years. A bikepacking trip that I will never forget occurred when I was a freshman in high school. It started on a warm afternoon in June, right after the last day of school. We loaded 40 pounds on to our already huge bikes and packed them up in the van. From there, we headed off to the deserts of Utah. Upon arrival at our destination, we unloaded our bikes and headed down an old rough road where we made our first night’s camp. It was not until the next morning we realized our water filter was broken. Luckily for us, we had tablets that you can put in water to make it fit for drinking, but hardly enjoyable; for the entire trip all of us would have to survive drinking thick, muddy water. But disgusting drinking water was just one of the harsh conditions I experienced on that trip.
A mile after we left our camp, we came upon the Dirty Devil River, where we unpacked our bikes and got out our single person rafts. There, we took apart our bikes and gear, strapped them on our rafts, and headed down the muddy river. As the sun hit the center of the sky, we stopped at a beach of solid slickrock. We plunged in the water and had a great time only to realize the water was so muddy it left our bodies caked in a thick layer of mud. Dragging ourselves out of the water, with 20 pounds of mud now a part of us, we headed down our final stretch of the river. It was then we found ourselves with an unexpected “gateway to Hell” right ahead of our takeout. Our jaws dropped open, but it was too late to turn back. Adrenaline kicked in as five kids and two adults went crashing over the unexpected rapid; the river was running at 500 cfs when normal for that time of year was 50 cfs! Our little rafts were not really built for this. As I was swept down the river, my foot jammed into a rock below, and I capsized. Others were in the same boat. We surfaced and, in a state of panic, swam to the shore, half blinded with the mud in our eyes. As we wiped the mud from our eyes, we realized something; the rafts can't swim back by themselves. The kids stayed behind while the coaches rushed down river and, with great effort, managed to recover all of the rafts. We camped battered and muddy, but thrilled at the experience. While that experience would have driven many away from bike packing, I was ready to sign up for the next trip! I thrive in harsh conditions.
I am an individual with a talent and passion for independent sports and backcountry adventures and attribute this to my determination, ability to make my own fun, and willingness to suffer harsh conditions. I plan to continue these individual sports as long as I am able and use these attributes in all aspects of my life.
How Did I Grow as a Writer?
I would say that I grew in many w