Adventure

Gillian Schair - Founder of Ladies Adventure Club

What is Ladies Adventure Club? 

The Ladies Adventure Club is a membership group of like-minded women in Maine who have come together with the purpose of adventuring in community. Many of our adventures are outside, but we do have a handful of inside adventures too.

How did Netflix show, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries lead to the inspiration and creation of LAC? 

While watching a particular Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (a fantastic TV show about a feminist Australian detective in the 1920s) episode featuring an all-women race-car driving club with pool playing and general awesomeness, I realized that I wanted a club like that in Portland. First off, I’d love to be Miss Fisher, just as I’ve always wanted to be Nancy Drew and if I can’t be one of those fictitious women, I’d like to embody some of their strengths. I thought that there were possibly a good number of women in Maine who would like to find an avenue for adventuring and it turns out that there are.

Eleanor Roosevelt once stated, “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” Where would you be today without adventure in your life? 

That’s a great quote. But I actually think that reaching out with fear is more powerful. If we’re afraid and we challenge ourselves, we grow in great ways. Without adventure, without pushing myself, my life would be staid and somewhat dull. With challenge and adventure, there’s an excitement and a bit of fear, which helps me feel vital. I’m reading a book now about the health benefits (mental and physical) of being outside and that resonates for me as well.

Scarborough Beach State Park - "Adventurous surfers on a wet and chilly morning." -LAC

Scarborough Beach State Park - "Adventurous surfers on a wet and chilly morning." -LAC

What is one challenge and one lesson you’ve learned from your experience as a founder?

A challenge would be finding ways to engage all of the women who have joined the LAC. There are many different interests and thinking up adventures that satisfy everyone is tricky. A lesson is that at the core people are kind and want others to succeed. In our small groups of adventurers, people are exceedingly supportive of one another.

Can you give us one invaluable resource that has helped you in the development and growth of Ladies Adventure Club?

The state of Maine is the most amazing resource. We have so many places to explore and adventures to embark upon – it feels limitless in a wonderful and exciting way. Additionally, communities of other adventurers have helped promote and support the LAC.

What are your top two LAC memories so far?

Our first LAC two-night overnight in March 2016 to West Branch Pond Camps is a fabulous memory. We were a group of 12 and we snowshoed up a mountain, played some very funny card games, ate extremely well and had a great adventure in the northern part of the state.

And most recently, we had a fabulous hike up Rumford Whitecap Mountain and then my 80 year-old friend Walter treated us to a BBQ at his camp afterward and for dessert served homemade blueberry pie made with fresh wild Maine blueberries.

What is your proudest personal accomplishment?

I recognize that this might sound like a cliché, but I count the birth of my children as a very powerful accomplishment.

"Without adventure, without pushing myself, my life would be staid and somewhat dull. With challenge and adventure, there’s an excitement and a bit of fear, which helps me feel vital." -GS 

"Without adventure, without pushing myself, my life would be staid and somewhat dull. With challenge and adventure, there’s an excitement and a bit of fear, which helps me feel vital." -GS 

What is your favorite inspirational/motivational quote? 

I don’t have a favorite, but I read this last night and it resonated for me:

Annie Dillard, “How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.”

In one word, describe yourself:

Adventuresome

"We’re a group of Maine women who seek adventure in our lives. We all have different definitions of what an adventure is. What does it mean to you?"  BECOME A MEMBER! 

"We’re a group of Maine women who seek adventure in our lives. We all have different definitions of what an adventure is. What does it mean to you?" BECOME A MEMBER! 

To Connect w/ Ladies Adventure Club

Website: Ladies Adventure Club Maine

Instagram: Ladies_Adventure_Club_Maine

 or Email: gillian@ladiesadventureclubmaine.com

Rod Nadeau, Ph.D. - Adventure Therapist, Avid Cyclist & Maine Guide

What is an Adventure Therapist? 

An Adventure Therapist facilitates activities such as rock/ice climbing, kayaking, backpacking, mountain/road biking, skiing, snowshoeing, rafting, winter camping, etc. to foster personal change and growth needed to achieve therapeutic goals.

What inspired you to become a cyclist? 

My cycling roots run deep into my childhood tricycle that I literally rode into the ground.  Evel Knievel was popular back then so later when I could ride a 2 wheeler I built jumps on a daily basis.  So I guess I’ve always been a cyclist because I just love the sensation of riding a bike!

What are one challenge and one lesson you’ve learned from your experiences in your practice? 

An ongoing challenge I face while leading adventures with disaffected youth is the “Leave No Trace” ethic.  During trips, they might say they don’t care about the earth and may even lash out in anger and leave their mark. I’ve had countless debates on whether or not a gum wrapper constitutes as trash or not (the answer is yes, BTW).  What I’ve learned is the change process in disaffected youth is frequently very subtle and barely perceptible as they don’t want others to know they are being influenced so they wear a mask of indifference.  Subtle as it may be, I do see the change process happening and sometimes the change doesn’t manifest until days, weeks, months, even years later. Numerous times I’ve had students visit me years later and they rush up to excitedly tell me they went camping and carried out all their trash!!! 

What are one challenge and one lesson you’ve learned from your experiences as a cyclist?  

There are so many challenges I’ve faced:  100+ mile rides, racing up Mt. Washington, crashing, etc. I think the best lesson I’ve learned is that by embracing my weakness and that which I loathed the most, namely - climbing up long steep hills, I was able to turn my nemesis into my passion and strength as a cyclist.  I did this by focusing my training rides on all the steepest hills I could find. After much pain and suffering, I can now say I love hillclimbs and it’s my strength as a cyclist!

What are your top two favorite cycling Memories?

First:  I’ve helped organize and ridden the 100 mile Dempsey Challenge since its inception in 2009.  This event has raised about a million dollars each year to support the Dempsey Center for Cancer, Hope, & Healing so that cancer patients, their families, and caregivers can get support services free of charge.

The 2017 #DempseyChallenge Two Day ride: Oct. 7-8  For more information visit:  The Dempsey Center , "a leader in quality of life care for individuals and families impacted by cancer."

The 2017 #DempseyChallenge Two Day ride: Oct. 7-8 For more information visit: The Dempsey Center, "a leader in quality of life care for individuals and families impacted by cancer."

Second:  It was my first time climbing Mt. Washington on a bike.  The climb is about 7.6 miles ALL uphill at 12% grade with extended sections of 18% grade, 2 miles of dirt road, and the finish is an S turn up 22% grade!  Translation:  So steep that every year cyclists flip over backwards.

In hillclimb training, nothing compares to the actual experience of riding up Mt. Washington.  Everything is either a shorter climb or not as steep - even Mon Ventoux & Alp d'huez in the Tour de France are easier climbs.  This means all your training is on hills that really don’t compare to the magnitude of Mt. Washington which makes race day a true mystery and adventure in how your legs will perform!

I started out in sunshine with temps in the high 50's.  Then ascended into a cloud covered, 39 degree summit with visibility of~100ft.   At about the halfway point when I reached 4000 feet, the winds were blowing at 35-50 mph.  I almost got knocked down a few times.  At one point I was a foot away from tumbling down a 1000+ foot ravine, but was able to make a last second correction leaning into the wind.  The finish has a back breaking S turn with a 22% grade (that’s as steep as a staircase).  I had enough in the tank for a sprint finish and made it to the last corner about 50 feet from the finish line when I got blown off course so far I had to do a U turn and came about two inches from going off the road and crashing!  Wind chill on the summit was 11 degrees.  The climb took everything I had and to say it was a max effort the entire 7.6 miles up would be an understatement.  I was toast at the finish but overwhelmed with a sense of accomplishment.  After finishing I was hot and sweaty from the sustained max effort, but within a few minutes after I got off my bike, I was chilled and shaking so badly I had trouble getting warm clothes on.  I could not zip up my jacket because I was shaking so violently – that was an unexpected challenge!

Overall, Mt. Washington is said to be the most punishing hillclimb in North America and Europe (some say the world, but I doubt that), and then you add 35-50 mph winds blowing you DOWN the mountain - can you say pain & suffering?

How do you motivate yourself to get back on the bike the day after a hard ride?

I tell myself I will feel better and enjoy the ride as soon as I glide down the driveway.  I tell myself after 15 minutes I will feel good.  If I don’t feel good after 15 minutes, I can turn back.  I also know and tell myself that active recovery is one of the best ways to recover.  99% of the time I feel so much better after I roll on the bike! 

Addendum:  When I reflect on my bike rides up the Mt. Washington auto road - I recall searing pain and suffering like an animal while contemplating the stupidity of choosing to torture myself in the midst of hovering on the brink of puking in the type of effort so horrific both mentally and physically in a ride up the mountain that even Sisyphus would find insufferable in comparison to his lament - meanwhile luxuriating in the true existential angst of knowing that putting a foot down on pavement (quitting) or dirt (yes, there's 2 miles of 12% gradient dirt! Translation: steep as anything you’ve ever ridden a bike up) I not only fail in my goal of not putting a foot down (quitting) but realize that I might not be able to get going again as most racers who stop lie agonizing on the side of the road unable to continue.  As I climb, turning myself inside out and tasting blood in the back of my throat, I pray that I am spared the wrath of those who cramp up and scream in agonizing pain on the side of the road, retching in utter torment.  There is also a historical aspect in the amount of training and time needed to minimize the duration of this exquisite horror, and the sacrifices my family endures while I’m away on the bike for countless hours while their father/husband is absent. You ask why do I crave this unbearable hell? Like George Mallory said not long before he died on Everest when asked why does he do it? Because it's there…  As absurd as this may be, as soon as I finish, the profound sense of relief from pain and suffering along with a flood of positive feelings of accomplishment, I have an exhilarating feeling that it was an awesome ride, so glad it’s over, but can’t wait to do it again!

What is your favorite inspirational/motivational quote?

“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”  -Edmund Hillary

“It’s not a Challenge if it doesn’t Change you”  -Rod Nadeau, Ph.D.

In one word, describe yourself:     

Bodacious

If you would like to connect with Rod:

Email: Rod@maine.rr.com

Or Add on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/rod.nadeau

For more information on The Dempsey Center

Website dempseychallenge.org | Facebook Dempsey Center | Twitter @DempseyCenter | Instagram @theDempseyCenter