Author: Kathryn Spoor
Every story has its own starting point, this story starts well before I had touched down in Phoenix, Arizona. Mine is particularly the story of my experience at the Ladies Offroad Challenge Top 10 weekend. I had just turned 30-years-old and realized that whatever I was doing at this stage in my life wasn’t working for me. I needed to make a change and I would attempt to do this by challenging myself to say “yes” to more opportunities, no overthinking, no “what if” nonsense, just “yes”!
Around this time, Angela Hinkley, who I had met through the Ladies Rock Off-Road Club, made a post on Facebook linking to the Ladies Offroad Challenge. I don’t remember exactly what the post said, but it was something along the lines of “put yourself out there”. Knowing that this could be a great opportunity, despite not knowing much about Ladies Offroad Network or Ladies Offroad Challenge, I clicked the link and submitted my application. No questions asked. . . no overthinking. . . just “yes”. A few weeks later I learned that I was selected as one of the Top 10 and would be traveling to Arizona.
Just days after the Top 10 announcement, the fact that I would be one of at least 10 women under one roof who would be put through 4 days of challenging situations sunk in. As a person who has spent many years as a lone wolf, to say I was a bit intimidated would be the understatement of the century. After all, it did sound a little bit like a reality TV show pilot. However, I kept reminding myself not to overthink things and go with the flow. I am glad I did because the experience was one that I would have never expected!
When the big day finally arrived most of my doubts had been replaced with excitement. I had already made an amazing friend in Kris, another Top 10 finalist from Minnesota. We really connected thanks to the Ladies Offroad Challenge, and I was open to whatever else the Top 10 weekend was ready to throw at me. It’s a good thing too because we hit the ground running! Shortly after arriving at the house, introductions, a sandwich and then we got down to business. Charlene gave us a rundown of expectations and prepared us for the challenging weekend ahead. There was a lot of information and it had already been a long day, but it was clear that everyone was ready to make this weekend a memorable and rewarding one.
Now, as I sit here writing this recap of the weekend I have to be completely honest with you. Remembering exactly what we did and when we did it is a challenge in and of itself. From the very first time we piled into the van on day one until we got dropped off at the airport on Monday morning, everything happened so fast and there was so much that we did. I can barely keep it all straight! The learning opportunities, chats, challenges and excitement just kept coming. In fact, looking back at the live videos on Ladies Offroad Network Facebook page to gather my thoughts for this recap, I could barely believe we managed to do so much in one weekend. . . . but we did!
Every experience that we had during the Top 10 weekend, from getting our hands dirty at LetzRoll Offroad and Fly-N-Hi Racing to whipping around in UTVs with PJ from JP's Performance UTV Rentals then soaking in the Verde River, had a valuable lesson to offer. In some cases, the lesson was straightforward, such as how to mount tires on beadlock wheels. Other lessons were not so obvious; some of which I didn’t even realize I had learned until well after the weekend was over. Although there is no denying that I walked away from the Top 10 weekend with a wealth of new knowledge, I’ve come to realize that the most valuable lessons I learned weren’t the ones about gears, tires or the offroad industry. They were the ones I learned about myself.
Although I could likely fill an entire book with the numerous lessons I learned about myself over the course of the Top 10 weekend, I think that most everything can be watered down to two basic points. First and foremost, I learned that I am capable of much more than I give myself credit for. The second major lesson that I took away from the Top 10 weekend is that despite the challenges that I have faced in the past and the people who have made it a necessity to have a thick skin, it’s ok to let down those defenses once in a while and open yourself up to new experiences and people. It would be disingenuous for me to say that I’ve always been open to playing on a team or doing things like the Ladies Offroad Challenge. Asking for help? Nope. Not me! I am pretty much the poster child for fierce independence. However, stepping (ok. . . more accurately leaping off a cliff. . . . blindfolded) outside of my comfort zone and taking on this challenge allowed me to see what awesomeness you can achieve if you only let yourself have it.
At the end of the day, the experience I had at the Ladies Offroad Challenge Top 10 weekend was one I will never forget. Thanks to not only Ladies Offroad Network, but also the sponsors and supporters that made it happen. I learned so much and I started relationships that will undoubtedly last a lifetime.
Photo Credit: Rachel Speir - RS Marqueting
Author: Kathryn Spoor