ERICA – MAMIL OF THE MONTH – SEPTEMBER
This September it’s our great privilege to share the story of Erica from Sweden with you. She’s our September MAMIL OF THE MONTH and this MAIDEN is passionate about mountain biking. She has an amazing Instagram account with some of the most picturesque photos we’ve seen. Make sure you follow her and read her inspiring story below – thanks Erica !
Erica Writes: Everything started on Saturday April 18, 2015.
My brain was in a bad condition and still undergoing recovery. I couldn´t do anything about it but felt I had some energy for physical activities. I decided to put all my focus on my body instead.But first, let’s rewind the time a bit.
I have been biking since l was 3 years old and am now in early middle age. I have always loved to ride my bike. When l was younger, l fell in love with a boy who was addicted to bike racing. Of course l wanted to be like him. So l got a nice racer from my Father who had been an elite bike racer when he was young. My Dad was so happy that l had decided to get into road biking, of course, he never knew the real reason why. After a couple of years l picked up a few injuries and moved on from my boyfriend, my interest in biking dwindled.
Life went by and I met my husband and had a son. I’m a schoolteacher and had been working for many years with an ever increasing workload, sometimes it felt like I was working 24 hours a day. I’ve always been very committed and ambitious and applied myself to my career 100%. My work dominated my life and I didn’t make time for friends, exercising or hobbies. Things started to take their toll and it began to affect my health. I was diagnosed with stress related fatigue syndrome and was close to death. On the strict orders of my Doctors I was totally forbidden to work.
During my first year of sick leave I felt like I was paralyzed and could not really do anything at all. My brain didn´t work and it was all I could do to manage to get out of bed. Somehow I managed to force myself to walk in the woods every day. During my walks I would sometimes meet cyclists tearing through trails and would thing to myself that was crazy. Adults bouncing around on bikes in the woods? Could that be fun? I decided, probably not.
During this time, I also started an Instagram account, where I shared pictures from nature and travel. Photography has always been a great interest of mine. As a coincidence one of my followers happened to be one of the crazy cyclists bouncing around the woods on a mountain bike. I followed him on Instagram and started to get more curious about the sport. I began to feel inspired and one day I got the opportunity to test an old mountain bike. I thought, “Ok, I can try and when I decide I don’t like it, I will know that it was boring, crazy and not for me….“
For my first ride I chose a small forest path near my house. After 20 minutes on the trails I was speechless, euphoric, in love – I had a new passion! It was Saturday, April 18, 2015. After that day, I became obsessed with biking.
All I was doing was thinking about cycling. I watched bikes, read about cycling and was talking about cycling to anyone who would listen. Most importantly – I cycled. I cycled every day and, despite the scratches, blisters, bruises, bumps and sometimes cuts on my body, I was hooked.
I bought my first bike, a Scott Spark Contessa, and we were inseparable. I joined a bike community and made some great new friends. I took part in my first race, the Lida Loop, got run over by another cyclist finishing somewhere in the middle of the girls group. After that I signed up for a mountain bike course and learned a lot of different skills. I wanted to try jumping and felt that l could do it but I ended up with an OTB injury (over the bars) and the ambulance had to pick me up that day… and a few times more after that.
Family and friends, Doctors and physiotherapists tried to stop my new obsession as I was getting injured a lot but I was determined to carry on. One of the doctors said to me: “Well, next time l see you, l probably will be operating on your broken neck.” I didn’t feel that was particularly nice but I didn’t stop. I have a passion and have to follow my heart. It’s as simple as that.
My lnstagram account became a bicycle account and I now combine my passion for photography with my love of the outdoors and cycling. I love to connect and follow like-minded people and follow their cycling adventures.
During the past two years I’ve been biking in the woods a lot. I’m very lucky to live right next to a large nature reserve with varied trails in Sweden. The forest is like my second home. I often ride with my family and friends but l really enjoying riding all by myself. I bike all year round as we have 4 distinct seasons in Sweden. Riding in the snow and on frozen lakes is really fun. All the seasons have their charms but l absolutely prefer summer.
Last year l felt it was time to step up to the next level and try some proper downhill racing. I really hoped I would like it and, when I tried it, it was fantastic! I loved the technical challenges, the heights and the speed. There was so much adrenaline involved! After one of my crashes, when the ambulance staff thought I had broken my neck, I had to promise my family not to try jumping anymore. My husband said that IF!! I didn´t crash for 6 months we could do a “nice bike trip” somewhere. I managed to stay on the bike but l didn´t tell him what I had on mind as a reward. I wanted to go to Sweden’s largest bike park, Åre, and go downhill. He didn´t wasn’t impressed when I told him my plan, but a promise is a promise, so we went north to the mountains to check it out.
I love the mountains and having hiked in the Italian Dolomites before I had always wanted to back with my bike. In July this year we went back for a weeks mountain biking. It was absolutely stunning, a real dream come true. Being in the mountains makes me feel happy, free and content. As someone said once: “I’m not on the mountains, I have mountains within me” That describes the feeling I get.
For me, biking allows me to experience nature at its best. To be in all that fresh green with wildflowers, the smooth hills in contrast to the rough stones, twisted roots, big and small, the endless variations of trails, all the wonderful fragrances of grass, pine trees, moss and the rugged mountains with their views is so good for my heart and soul.
For me biking is a form of meditation. I am in the here and now and all other thoughts have to wait. Biking gives me energy and helps me recover. If I am stressed, worried or sad, a ride in the forest is the best medicine. It makes me happy.
Through biking I have found my way back to exercising, new challenges and it gives meaning to my free time. My biking passion has helped me in my rehabilitation; my recovery, my way back to life, and that makes me so grateful.
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