Hear Her Sports: Liz Sampey

April 27, 2018

This is a guest post by Elizabeth Emery, host of Hear Her Sports Podcast. We are thrilled to be teaming up with her as she interviews female cyclists and women in the industry. 

Liz Sampey talking on Hear Her Sports

Liz Sampey

What draws me to so many, if not all of my guests, is their sense of adventure. But what does that mean? Liz Sampey’s version is extreme. She plans grand, multi-sport expeditions usually centered around cycling of some kind. A recent trip that we talked a lot about was to Puerto Rico where she rode a fat tire bike on sand for 14 days and spent the rest of the month doing relief work and visiting friends. She’s also ridden volcanoes in Guatemala for three weeks and made a movie riding in Iceland.

The same day I started editing Liz’s episode, I spoke with Ambreen Tariq who founded Brown People Camping. Superficially, the two have totally different versions of adventure. However, each said strikingly similar things to describe her relationship with the outdoors and how she got to where she is today. 

Being able to make such comparisons is what I have liked most about hosting and producing Hear Her Sports. In the almost year and a half since launching the podcast, I’ve talked to close to 60 fantastic athletes including many cyclists. Of course, each woman tells her own story but there are concerns and topics that come up frequently — from meal planning to searching for equity in pay for female professional athletes.

What’s exciting for me and what I’ll share in blog posts will be both the individual stories shared and the confluence of ideas, explorations, and search to become a better person.

Liz is most definitely amazingly adventurous. She has a long of history of successfully competing, coaching, speaking, and writing about her work in movement and her adventures. She is also a Doctor of Physical Therapy.

And yet, what keeps returning to my thoughts is “I’m NOT special. I’m a farm girl from Minnesota.”

And this is important. Adventure can be part of all of our lives. Adventure is what pushes us beyond our comfort zone and allows us to learn more about what we are capable of, and as a result gain more confidence.

“I didn’t grow up running up mountains.” No, Liz didn’t spend her formative years in altitude running up hill. What Liz did do was head immediately to Colorado after high school and started learning skills to become an adventurer. First up was avalanche training. Then there was gaining fitness in those mountains, lots of schooling in physical therapy, and bike racing turned to endurance racing. Nothing was quick or easy. “For me that’s been the biggest thing … is just building these skills and this confidence gradually.”

As I was thinking about Liz and contemplating the benefits of adventure, I visited San Francisco for my mom’s 80th birthday. I’ve been to SF many times and have spent a lifetime using public transit. However, I now commute by bike and don’t travel often on my own. So using SF’s transit system was unfamiliar. Being in the position of figuring out something unknown by myself was a forgotten feeling. Sure, I learned to get from point A to point B using BART, buses, and the Ford GoBikes (Sadly, I didn’t discover Jump Bikes until late in my stay.) Really though, the biggest lesson was remembering how to be ok with not knowing. That is adventure. Even as I write, this sounds silly. Maybe. It’s also exactly what Liz talks about. One small step at a time and confidence is built with success. Sometimes that success is navigating the unknown. Other times it’s learning to box or doing an endurance gravel grinder.

“For me adventure is really a catalyst for every other area of my life — personal growth and my career or my business or my relationships. I learn so much about myself and about the world when I’m out there. It really doesn’t take much to achieve that where ever you go. Every adventure is similar in those ways – physically challenging, mentally and emotionally challenging and a learning experience, but, just a little different depending on the different sports I’m utilizing when I’m out there.”

Ambreen’s method of being adventurous is different. She and her husband often car camp. Her outdoor experiences are not about aggressive, full-day hikes. Food, developing outdoor recipes, and experimenting with cooking her native Indian foods as she remembers her mother doing when she was a kid become essential to the adventure. And yet, here’s the beautiful thing; Ambreen, like Liz, defines adventure as learning more about herself, gaining confidence and feeling a sense of accomplishment through extending her limits.

“For me adventure is not about anything extreme, but more about conquering every time I doubted myself to not be able to do something. Literally, I always think I cannot hike that distance. My body is not meant for that. I just cannot take on this level of discomfort. And so, for a lot of people I think adventure is this trip far away, and for me it’s literally just pushing myself outside of my comfort level and challenging my own ‘I can’ts’ and ‘I don’ts’.”

Many times I’ve said, I’m a better person now from talking to the exceptional women I connect with through Hear Her Sports. Yes, they are exceptional. And I too, and you too can up our game. I leave with wise words from Liz Sampey: “I wasn’t born this way. I didn’t get here overnight. Anybody can achieve whatever they want.”

Listen to the Episode NOW!

Links from the episode:

Liz Sampey
“Off The Beaten Path” adventure cycling film featuring Liz in Iceland
Liz on Instagram
Liz on Facebook
Liz’s online coaching
Fatback bikes
Kokopelli Packraft
Blackout: What Darkness Illuminated in Puerto Rico, by Frances Negrón-Muntaner, Politics/Letters, 3/2/18
Avalanche Training Course
Google Earth
Gaia GPS Hiking Map App
Liz training with a rock


As always, feel free to comment below or shoot me a message with questions!

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