Feed Your Adventure
NYC is home to more than 8 million people and it’s not the first place that comes to mind when I think of outdoor adventure. That is until I had my day of adventure with Clif Bar making NYC a happening hub for outdoor adventure. I was lucky to partake in a fun-filled day being a tourist in my own city. My twelve hours included surfing, biking, bouldering and a legendary sunset atop the One World Observatory.
Though I don’t consider myself athletic, I've actually never turned down an opportunity to take challenging endeavors like NYC marathon, climbing Kilimanjaro or Crossfit for that matter. But trying or mastering any water sports has never made that list. (And I’m probably lying to myself if I say anything differently.) So when Will Yandell, regional marketing manager at Clif Bar approached me to try surfing, my initial response was NO. I tried surfing in Costa Rica almost two decades ago, and I vividly remember my heart pounding out of my chest and the fear of drowning.
At 4 am, we departed from NYC to Rockaway beach to start the day. Pushing aside my old fears and hesitation, I decided to embrace this new challenge in my life and try surfing again. Luckily, I had Will Skudin, who is a world-renowned surfer and owner of Skudin Surf at my side. First up: I and the other participants practiced paddling and popping up on land. Paddling's my kind of activity: You lie on your stomach and do a front stroke with the board under you. Popping up is the hard part: You're meant to go from lying down to standing up in one jump, like a burpee. Once standing, I made sure to reposition my feet so that they were sideways on the board for balance. That was everything—training complete. I cautiously zipped up my wetsuit and blankly stared at the ocean.
As we walked single file down to the beach to find beginner-friendly waves, I prepped mentally by channeling my inner wannabe athlete. When I got to the right spot, I strapped my board to my ankle and stepped into the ocean. As I paddled, my instructor hung off the edge and told me when to go faster (right after the oncoming wave crested), when to turn around (when there was a good one coming behind us), and when to try to stand up (as it was about to crest again). That's the condensed version.
The adventure continued as I popped up on a bike and geared up for a historic tour of NYC neighborhoods. In a bustling city with yellow cabs going at breakneck speeds, cycling is an adventurous undertaking. But it offers a breathtaking view of the water and with a guide accompanying us it’s a fantastic way to popping in and out of historic neighborhoods enjoying facts about the ethnic and cultural importance, all in one afternoon. It’s a real high zipping in and out of traffic and being a total tourist in my own city.
After the few hours on a bike, we were off to our next activity – bouldering. Bouldering is a short climb without rope using just your hands and feet to pull up your own body weight. It takes more than physical strength to master. For me, it was psychologically and emotionally, as well as physically, challenging—which makes it all the more rewarding when you get to the top.
I felt ready for this challenge and quickly strapped on special climbing shoes and chalked my hands. I’ve got this! The team from Brooklyn Boulders was there to guide us to the right technique and form to make sure there were no injuries. The first things I noticed were two large pads on the ground to help reduce the impact of any falls. Then I started making my way up the boulder, I almost gave up because I couldn’t force myself up any higher, the team yelled out words of encouragement and advice from below and I propelled my weight up to the top. I could hear and see everyone cheering and clapping from below. I really enjoyed bouldering, maybe because it has problem-solving or it helped me overcome a mental block to persevere. Whatever it is, there is something about the feeling of climbing that I love.
Our day ended with a spectacular sunset and drinks at the One World Observatory deck.
Aristotle believed courage to be the most important quality in a person, “courage is the first human virtues because it makes all others possible.” He was right! It takes courage to go into the unknown whether it’s facing a physical or mental challenge.
I completely forgot I woke up in Manhattan that morning! Lastly, adventure, it’s a way of life, anytime and anywhere you want it to be. Even in my own backyard in NYC. It’s wonderful to see NYC through a new set of eyes, I was reminded how much I love New York at that moment.
Thank you to the team at Clif Bar for the adventurous day.