Riding Beyond the Podium: A Journey of Community, Growth, and Giving Back

December 21, 2023

"Ride for the Soul, not the Ego."

These words echoed profoundly in my mind as I reflected on my summer mountain bike season. Sure, I stood on podiums, but the victories that truly mattered weren't about rankings or trophies. They were about the personal growth, shedding self-destructive thoughts, and embracing the essence of what riding truly meant to me.

Juniper Bozeman Dispensary Bike Ride
Juniper Belgrade Dispensary Bike Ride
Juniper 1/2g Pre-rolls are the perfect trail pick. Kelsey like to stash some fresh lavender in her tins for aromatics.
Juniper Bozeman Dispensary Bike Ride
The ladies crew mid-ride on the ladies bike-packing trip this summer in Montana

Reflecting on My Race Season

The Montana Enduro Series was a rollercoaster of crashes, mechanical issues, and a constant internal struggle. Racing started to feel like a battle against myself, stealing the joy I once found in riding. Looking back, it all seems so trivial now.

Juniper Montana Dispensary Bike Ride
Kelsey Kradel, Juniper Athlete takes 3rd at the Montana Enduro Series
Juniper Bozeman Dispensary Bike Ride
Kelsey Kradel, Juniper Cannabis Athlete - Big Sky Biggie Bib 2023

Yet, amidst the chaos, I found a new appreciation for competition - one centered not on self-worth but on the collective spirit of pushing each other. The real thrill was exploring backcountry trails with friends, not chasing podium spots. Next season, I aim to focus more on big adventures and less on standing atop podiums.

Cultivating the MTB Community

I used to find solace in riding solo. But as time passed, I realized the true joy of these pursuits lies in sharing them with friends. It's the shared laughter, the camaraderie, and the unspoken bond on those trails that truly ignite my passion.

Juniper Belgrade Dispensary Bike Ride
Kelsey getting ready to lead the Big Sky Women's Mountain Bike Clinics

Today, I embrace being an active part of this vibrant community. It's not just about the ride; it's about the people who join me on it.

Coaching and Giving Back

Mountain biking was once a selfish escape, purely about my own enjoyment. I used to hesitate riding with those whose skills didn't match mine, afraid it would inconvenience me. But that changed when I began coaching this season.

Juniper Bozeman Dispensary Bike Ride
Spreading the stoke to the littles at Big Sky Resort's Mountain Bike Camp

Coaching showed me the incredible value of giving back. It's about empowering others, sharing my skills, and encouraging newcomers to embrace this thrilling sport. The reward isn't in personal achievements; it's in nurturing the next generation of riders.

Taking Action for a Shared Passion

Looking forward, I'm determined to expand the horizons of mountain biking beyond personal victories. Plans are brewing - organizing women's bike-packing trips, envisioning Big Sky picnics, and curating meaningful group rides and clinics, all supported by Juniper.

Juniper Belgrade Dispensary Bike Ride
Juniper Bozeman Dispensary Bike Ride
Bike-packing the burn zone with a group of Montana women.

It's not just about riding; it's about creating spaces where friendships flourish, confidence soars, and the love for mountain biking becomes a shared journey woven by the community.

In this vast tapestry of mountain biking, it's not the victories that bind us; it's the connections we forge, the experiences we share, and the mentorship we offer that truly define our triumphs.

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