Skiing! It’s something I haven’t properly done in years. Partially because the snows been bogus and partially because I’ve been trading ski tracks for bike treads in NZ. 2015 was a hectic travel year for me and instead of jumping on another plane I decided to stay home to take in the best snow year we’ve had in ages. One of the greatest things about growing up in a small town is the relationships you’re able to build. Insert Red Resort. Whether it was ski racing in my younger years, or tossing myself off anything and everything on route to becoming a big mountain skier, the mountain has served as a babysitter, playground, and training centre. Since arriving home from Christmas in the UK, I have skied everyday, and it’s been Awesome! Everybody needs that thing that takes your mind off life, and for me skiing is it. You might say I have once again caught the bug. I love this skiing stuff and being able to do it in my hometown makes it all the better. So as I gear up for another day on the mountain, here’s to getting stoked! Candide Thovex has been a bit of a consistent in my winter eyes since I first saw his antics in the film “13”, and somethings never change. His bio-pic “A Few Words” is sure to stoke the fire. I know it’s working for me. Definition of Style.
This is the story of my amazing girlfriend and it’s one hell of a tale. Traharn and Sealskinz have come together to show us the power of strong will, and passion for sport. Her story is not a light one but it is real. Determined, she left abuse for sport, and has never looked back. I couldn’t be more inspired and proud. She is the most unbelievable and genuinely beautiful person in my life, so sit back and let her tell you how she overcame the adversity that occurs behind closed doors.
Every one has their own story… and this is mine.
It’s been one that I’ve wanted to share in order to help others for a long time; I’ve been waiting for the right moment and opportunity to do it properly. I feel very lucky to have had the support from Sealskinz to make this the story it deserves to be.
Domestic abuse is depressingly common. Most people are forced to suffer in silence only making the perpetrator more powerful. Hopefully by sharing my story, I can help some people see the light, get stronger and escape.
Growing up I had an idyllic childhood and was always happy, caring and sensitive. At the age of 17, I started my first long-term relationship. I loved the idea of having a boyfriend and at first everything seemed fairly normal.
Before I realised it, I had become a victim of domestic abuse and was slowly whittling down emotionally. I had daily remarks putting me down, being called fat, ugly, told I was lucky to have him and no one could love me like he did. Never cushioned with a compliment it’s not surprising that the bubbly girl I was began to fade away.
He controlled everything I did, he took my money so he could go to the pub (but still look like he’d paid) and tried to stop me seeing my family and friends. When that didn’t work he would cause friction between them by telling lies and trying to turn them against me. His attitude was aggressive and my family never liked him.
After 3 years we moved in together. I know you’re thinking, ‘that was a silly move’, but by this point I felt trapped, alone and worthless. As soon as we lived together the abuse became physical.
There was no pattern to what triggered him or when he would snap. I was constantly on edge waiting for him to attack me. After nearly two years of being pulled down the stairs or across the hall by my hair, kicked in the stomach and even having my jaw dislocated once, I didn’t care what he did to me anymore; I’d become numb.
He then started threatening to kill my family, going into detail of how he’d do it. I was terrified, genuinely believing him and felt I was protecting my family by staying in the relationship and not telling a soul about the abuse.
While I was at the lowest of the lows, my younger brother, aged eighteen, was kick-starting his life in Canada. He’d gone to Whistler to work as a ski-instructor over winter and ride his bike during summer. I suddenly thought, if he died tomorrow, he’d be happy with the fulfilling life he’d chosen; if I died tomorrow, I’d regret everything and have nothing to show. I was nobody. I felt I’d let my family down by being in this abusive relationship and I’d let myself down. Things had to change.
I’ve always been close with my brother, and although he’s younger than me I admire and look up to him. Even though I tried hard to hide it, he knew I was unhappy – everyone did – so he suggested I grab Dad’s hard-tail bike and go out with his friends. So that’s what I did.
I sucked at first. My butt was sore, my shins were battered and I wasn’t very fit, but I loved it. For the first time in what felt a lifetime, I was free. I was happy, it made me laugh and slowly started bringing joy and control back into my life. I’d found something special, and my love for mountain biking and the great outdoors grew rapidly.
When I was outside, whether on my own or in a group, on Dad’s bike or running, I felt content. Something inside me lit up, and that flame is still burning strong.
I was persistent with biking and quickly improved in every aspect, I could feel myself getting mentally stronger and my self-worth was coming back. For me, being outdoors soothes the soul more than anything else out there. It’s so powerful and healing. I know this probably sounds very ‘airy fairy’, but it’s the truth. There’s something about being a part of nature: it’s raw, you can’t hide, it knows your feelings and problems, and accepts you, encourages you, challenges you and rewards you. I get a really warm and comforting feeling even just thinking about being outdoors. Whether it’s blustery conditions or a glorious summer’s day, I feel safe. I respect the mountains and hillsides, lakes and forests, and together they push me to be a better version of myself.
After a few months of running and cycling I gained so much strength that I finally felt I could break away from the relationship. My brother was home for just a few more weeks before heading to uni; I felt stronger when he was around and knew now was the time to leave. It was hard and, as predicted, things turned ugly. With each attack I feared for my life, but this one felt different, somehow worse. It seemed for the first time like he’d lost control. With the other attacks, even if I thought a switch had gone inside him, he always knew what he was doing. But this time he was seeing red. Holding a kitchen-knife, his eyes wild, he backed me in to the corner. My friend didn’t realise what she was about to do that day, but she saved my life. As he stepped closer she knocked on the door. It startled him and snapped him out of it. If it wasn’t for her I truly believe he would’ve killed me.
I finally left, it was still a long progress afterwards, but I remained strong. Six months after I’d left him it was still a secret as to how violent the relationship was. He was still very much in my life, stalking me, harassing me, hanging out with my friends and family. I felt ashamed, embarrassed and weak that I’d let this man disrespect me and treat me the way he did. I felt I’d let my family down by not being stronger.
Then, one day, my mum found out by mistake and it was the best thing that could’ve happened. I wish I’d told people sooner, the support out there was overwhelming. When he discovered people knew, he ran a mile and I have not seen him since.
I now realise that I was not weak and pathetic. Instead, I was strong because I endured that terrible relationship and still gained the strength to get away.
It was a horrible time of my life, which I often block from my memory. However, I don’t regret it. It’s made me who I am today. I am more determined, motivated, happy and confident than I could’ve ever imagined. I know exactly what I want from life. I appreciate my friends and family more than ever and each day brings a new opportunity.
I now travel the world doing what I love, exploring and competing internationally in mountain bike and running events. I’ve seen more than I believed possible and I’m thankful for each moment.
I like to think I went through this for a reason, so I can help others. If there’s a lesson to be learned here, it is to not suffer alone. Tell someone, even if they can’t immediately help you. Them just being there to help build you back up, letting you know you’re not alone and that you are worth something is a huge step to breaking free and being happy and loved the way you deserve.
To read Traharn’s full story, head over to Freedom Shropshire
New Zealand is a pretty wild place. I have spent the past 3 winters there, bouncing around islands with my girlfriend. Riding, running, climbing through canyons, saying “hell yeah” to everything that came our way. After a collective nine months in the country we covered our fair share of ground but we still hadn’t made it to the infamous Milford Sound. The Fijordland tourist trap. Normally you’d try to avoid these places at all costs but Milford is not easily over looked. It’s too damn Amazing.
We had 4 days. Flights home were set, our trip was coming to a close. But there sat our bucket list starring at us with the satisfaction of incomplete. One last location. 4 Days. Typically this would be a no-brainer but after traveling for 3 months, I gotta say we were beat. Yeah, that sounds a bit ridiculous but when you spend that much time hopping from project to project it wears you down. Even makes one entertain thoughts of kicking the shoes and flopping on a couch. But decisions had to be made… Two options, take a couple chill days, put the feet up and hangout in Queenstown, or… pull our heads out of our asses and go see one of the countries craziest landscapes. Naturally, not wanting to be rude we hit the road.
Most of the time you’d say rain or shine, but we took the Rain and Shine approach. Day 1 was blue bird, and we spent it scrambling up ridges, hiking through forests that shouted green, and kayaking under waterfalls as we covered the 18km from the Tasman Sea to the head of the fjord. Needless to say it was a killer day.
The plan was to stay the night in Te Anau and head back to Queenstown in the morning. But plans are mere guidelines. They are there to be changed. Over dinner, we talked about the two faces of the Fjordlands… blue and beautiful, and the mystic world of mood where waterfalls leak from the clouds. One location, two very different experiences. Waking up to clouded skies and heavy rain, we jumped in the car and headed straight back into the park. It was hard to believe that we had been in the same place the day before. It was incredible. Waterfalls actually looked like they where falling from the sky, mysterious peaks made brief but commanding appearances, the places just dripped saturation of a world before our time. Basically it was Awesome!
Trade the couch for an experience and if you get a chance make it Rain and Shine, rather than a Rain or Shine.
Yesterday I flew in from the UK and was jones’n to get back to Rossland so I can kick off my ski season, but got a last minute call and had to head to Seattle for a couple days. According to my brother it’s “snowing like gangbusters” at Red Resort right now, and this guy below isn’t helping the situation. FOMO’s approaching a critical level. I just gotta keep it together till Sunday.
Sean Pettit doing what he does… having a time and making skiing look all sorts of awesome.
Well 2015 is slated, in the books, and what a year it was. The past 365 days easily made for the busiest season I have ever had. I sat down the other day and calculated the number of days I was on the road and it fell just shy of 300. Pretty damn mental when you actually think about it, but looking back at the amount of ground I managed to cover and the experiences I had along the way it makes all sorts of sense. My plan was to do a photo heavy post to give you guys a little slice of what the year entailed but as I scrambled through a pre-christmas pack job I forgot two of my hard-drives. So it’ll have to wait till the 14th when I get back from Christmas with my girlfriend in the UK. In the mean time let’s Roll into 2016 with a little style. Above is one of my favourite images from the year. Last March Traharn and I had two days between trips in New Zealand, so we snagged a car, ditched the bikes in Rotorua, and made our way to the Bay Of Islands for a 48hour escape. A coastline of white-sand beaches, twisted trees, and not a soul in sight… pretty close to perfection. Here’s to 2016 and the adventures that lay ahead! Happy New Year!