Why Denise Ward O’Connor Refuses to Watch from the Sidelines

Eight-year-old Aksel and his 51-year-old mom are adventure buddies. They hit the trails together and ski the slopes side-by-side. But it was a conscious decision on Denise Ward O’Connor’s part that made this mother and son relationship play out this way.

After years of trying unsuccessfully to conceive a child, Denise and her husband turned to motorcycling as a distraction, a way to “get on with their lives.” It wasn’t long after they started riding together that Denise found out she was pregnant. Later that year, she gave birth to her son.

“I suddenly had a little one at home and I was so nervous that something was going to happen motorcycling—it’s so dangerous with cars—so I stopped riding.”

But as Aksel started to get older, he started getting involved in outdoor adventure—skiing at three, and getting his first dirt bike at age seven.

“I was not going to be the mom sitting in the lodge reading books. I wanted to be with him every step of the way.”

And she is. They ride together often. However, what Denise started to realize, was while she loves riding with her son and spending time with him, she started enjoying dirt biking for herself as well. In order to up her game, she attended the Dirtastic Main Event, a weekend-long dirt bike festival for women by women.

“Just knowing there are organizations that cater to all levels of abilities is so great. Moms with little guys and girls can learn. Even if you have never done it before, they teach you all the basics, like how to get on the bike. I felt overwhelming excitement to be doing something for myself. I was equally excited to go and ride with my son.”

Not only has this relationship with her son been great for Denise, but for Aksel as well.

“It’s good for him as a boy to see girls doing the same things he can. He’s really excited about that. He always asks, ‘Are you going to come riding? Are you coming skiing?”

Denise's determination to participate alongside her son isn't just a great story—it was the inspiration for Mountainist's mission: to get 10,000 women off the sidelines.

For all the mammas (younger and older) out there looking for a little fun and adventure, you too can shred, ride, climb, and adventure to your heart’s content. Check out Mountainist for new ways you can get off the sidelines and into the game. 


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