Confidence. It’s one of the biggest obstacles a rider can wrestle with. Conversely, overcoming self-doubt can be one of the most uplifting and empowering experiences that a rider can achieve. Building confidence and removing doubt isn’t easy, but it is doable, as snowmobiler and dirt biker Kirsten Patton explains.
“I put myself in uncomfortable situations to make myself more comfortable as a way to grow personally,” she said. “These sports are my passion and I am able to set goals for myself and actively work towards them during the season. I am able to push myself in ways that help conquer my fears, learn from failure and learn more about myself each time I’m out there. If you don’t take the risk, what’s the reward?”
Patton grew up snowmobiling from a young age. Her first sled was a 1974 Sno-Jet. Patton’s parents took her and her sister on many poker runs. That exposure to sledding led to Patton purchasing a snowmobile for herself and her addiction to snowmobiling only grew from that point on. Even though she didn’t learn to ride in the mountains, Patton gave it a shot because that’s where her fiance was riding.
“Once I tried it myself, I loved every moment,” she said.
As for dirt biking, Patton can thank one of her best friends for introducing her to the sport.
“She encouraged me to buy my first dirt bike—a Yamaha YZ85 with a big wheel kit—and from there I was hooked,” said Patton.
Patton lives in Malakwa, B.C., near Sicamous. When it comes to improving her powersports skills, she’s got her favourite places to practice, whether it be on two wheels or a sled. For snowmobiling, Patton recommends Eagle’s Pass.
“It’s great technical terrain,” she said. “I love to explore the vast mountains it contains.”
When it comes to dirt biking, Patton suggests Revy Single Track.
“It has numerous trails for all skill levels that are flowy and challenging,” said Patton.
Patton is always pushing herself to learn new skills and grow as a rider. This past dirt bike season, she refined her clutch control—how to hop logs, clutch pops and doing the occasional wheelie. For sledding, she loves doing cornice drops. This winter, her goal is to gain more confidence in the trees.
“I am the type of person who second guesses where I am going or my line selection,” she said. “This year I am going to push myself to trust my intuition and just do it.”
In the pursuit of becoming a better rider and building confidence, some riders may struggle to maintain their joy amidst the setbacks. Patton has an antidote for that too.
“I simply enjoy the time I get to spend with like-minded people who are just as passionate about these sports as me, and all the beautiful views along the way,” she said. “Just be who you are and don't let anyone else tell you otherwise. If you're passionate about it, pursue it!”