Author - Pamela Schmitt

The Magnificent Joys of Being a Novice

It’s hard to imagine that “winter” is coming to an end. Since Christmas day we’ve been in a deep-freeze around here for more days than not. But today, the sun is shining and it’s starting to warm up! As we hearty Northeastern Minnesotan’s start to thaw out I challenge you all to one last hoorah before the Spring Equinox. Will it be a XC ski? Broomball, curling or ice skating? Maybe you’ll fat bike a frozen river…

Try Out a New Sport

Wait, don’t click the back arrow just yet! Hear me out.

As we get older and mature, with our thoughts getting heavier and the urgency of our responsibilities nagging at us, I can almost guarantee that if you approach this with the right mindset you’ll rekindle something inside your soul akin to those times when the world was a much more simple and brighter place!

You Don’t Always Have to Be the Best – Find an Enthusiast

In fact, asking a friend that’s already experienced and you trust to have patience is a good first step. I thoroughly enjoy taking out first timers (the ones with a positive attitude who leave their ego at home). Borrowing gear can be tricky sometimes depending on the sport, but we’ve got a ton of great rental programs in Duluth. When thinking about asking someone to show the ropes don’t be discouraged if you don’t have that person in your immediate circles. Duluth has a plethora of passionate and organized groups, formal and informal, that love to help out the newbies!

Approaching a new activity is a great way to freshen things up and factoring in your “natural” ability along with the learning curve is critical to make sure your expectations are grounded. If you want to learn to snowboard and haven’t been to a ski hill in 10 years, it’s not going to happen on your first day. Snowshoeing under a full-moon at Hartley is entirely within your reach though!

That being said, no matter what the subject, listen to instructions and break it down into bit-sized pieces. Every sport has a set of foundational aspects that will set you up for success if you practice them!

Looking Good or Having the High-end Gear is Not Yet Important

I have been snowboarding for 15 years and have an insane amount of gear that goes along with that longevity. I am a huge proponent of spending the money (within your budget) if it’s going to improve your experience and/or safety. A fat bike from a local bike shop is going to be a lot more fun out on the single track than a Mongoose from Walmart, it’s a fact.

The greatest part of being within the rookie ranks is the sheer bliss of oblivion! You don’t know any better or different. Sure, I am completely aware that my shell snow pants, vest, and a flannel are not the standard getup for a XC skier, but I am still in that sweet spot of just enjoying myself and not being conscious of if I look like a legitimate partaker of the sport.

My favorite example is bringing a friend on her first mountain bike ride. I gave her some tips, told her how sore she would be sitting down for the first few days after (it really goes away after you’ve been riding a few times, I promise). We met up at the bottom of Spirit Mountain to ride the fairly easy DWP trail to re-familiarize her with her bike she hadn’t ridden in years. She got out of the car with her chamois on the OUTSIDE of her leggings. As I let out a snort of laughter she was completely clueless to the gaffe. Looking back now, I’m sure she has a good chuckle about this J

The Sweet, Sweet Feeling of Conquer

Of a new skill that is! Give me some chemical free examples that compare to the feeling of linking your turns together down a slope for the first time or scoring your first goal. There is nothing like it and I think different strokes for different folks, you will find what you like and you will certainly find what you don’t like. The fun of having a massive outdoor playground here in Duluth is that you could literally take your pick of DOZENS of different things to do on any given day, regardless of what the weather is doing.

Follow your feel-good and get out there!

If you’re interested in getting into a new outdoor sport contact us at [email protected] and hopefully we can set you on the right track.

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