Even when Sister Shred isn’t donning a nun Halloween costume, she doesn’t match the everyday mould of a daredevil dropping off boulders on a mountain bike or carving steep slopes and deep powder on a ski bike.
However any likelihood she will get, Kris Nordberg, 65, often known as Sister Shred, will do precisely that, regardless of a uncommon vascular situation that has rendered her legally blind.
By using together with her head turned to the facet, she will use her peripheral imaginative and prescient to make out folks forward of her on the path and shapes and colours. And, for probably the most half, that’s sufficient to maintain her searching for adrenaline-fueled adventures.
As a result of she now not drives, Nordberg pedals to her neighborhood trails within the foothills west of Denver when she needs to go for a experience. There are just a few instances, although, when an help from different riders is useful.
When she encounters a very difficult part of a path — as an example, a rock staircase with jagged boulders that might snag a entrance wheel and ship a rider over a motorcycle’s handlebars — she typically asks strangers for steerage. She carries a brilliant orange strap and politely asks different riders if they might use it to mark the trail of least resistance.
Scott Ehresman, Nordberg’s finest pal and biking buddy, leads her via such sections once they experience collectively. Whereas Nordberg exhibits no worry when tackling rock staircases, drops and boulders, Ehresman, who’s normally filming the motion, consistently frets that she’s going to damage herself.
However even when she does, it doesn’t cease her from getting again on trails. Ehresman mentioned he has witnessed her using over slim bridges and rocky precipices, alongside knifelike cliff edges the place one false transfer would imply a 2,000-foot fall, via deep powder and avalanche-prone terrain on a ski bike in Colorado’s backcountry.
Ehresman, 42, met Nordberg within the Nineties, when she was his supervisor at UPS. They started car-pooling to work and discussing their hobbies. Nordberg satisfied Ehresman, an avid climber and a former member of the U.S. climbing crew, to strive mountain biking.
“Originally, I used to be terrified,” Ehresman mentioned. “She was taking place super-steep dust hills.”
They started taking journeys collectively three or 4 instances per week — and, as Ehresman’s abilities improved, their roles reversed.
“I used to be getting higher and higher,” Ehresman mentioned. “In some unspecified time in the future, it switched. I ended up teaching her. I began taking place stuff she had by no means performed.”
However Nordberg, he mentioned, was fearless.
“She was using some loopy stuff,” he mentioned. “She took some nasty crashes.”
Nordberg has cherished biking for so long as she will bear in mind. Rising up in Buffalo, Minn., about 40 miles northwest of Minneapolis, she bought her first bike when she was 12, utilizing it for a day by day paper route.
“It was a type of Schwinn five-speeds with a banana seat,” she mentioned. “I had my paper route from ages 12 to 17, one year a 12 months. It obtained under zero consistently within the Minnesota winter, however whenever you’re a child, climate doesn’t hassle you a lot.”
Nordberg used the cash she earned from her paper route to purchase a snowmobile when she was 15, then a 10-speed Schwinn when she was 17. She spent all her free time outside.
“I’d experience my bike to the lake, swim, construct tree homes and go shoot BB weapons,” she mentioned. “I used to be all the time that lady who preferred hanging out with the fellows.”
She headed off to St. Cloud State College with goals of changing into a highschool trainer, however there have been no jobs to be discovered after she graduated. A pal satisfied Nordberg to maneuver to Snowmass, Colo., the place she labored for a number of years as a housekeeper at a resort and found mountain biking and snowboarding. At some point, on a whim, she determined to hit the slopes carrying a nun costume she had from a previous Halloween.
“It was only a enjoyable factor to do,” Nordberg mentioned. “I’d put on it enjoying hockey, too. They referred to as me the holy goalie. If you put on a nun costume snowboarding, folks discover you. Some folks began calling me Sister Shred.”
The moniker caught.
However after shifting to the Denver space, Nordberg realized there was one thing amiss together with her imaginative and prescient.
“It was my fortieth and I used to be going for an I’m-not-old birthday experience,” she mentioned. “I checked out an indication and it was a little bit blurry. I had a bleed in my eye and double imaginative and prescient.”
She visited a dermatologist a couple of 12 months and a half later, who delivered a analysis: Pseudoxanthoma elasticum, a progressive genetic dysfunction that, for Nordberg, has prompted the lack of her eyesight in addition to ache and weak point in her legs. In 2012, she had three femoral artery substitute surgical procedures in a three-month interval.
In 2009, Nordberg stopped driving as her imaginative and prescient continued to deteriorate. And after so many surgical procedures on her legs, she added a pedal-assist electrical mountain bike to her storage a few years in the past. Whereas she doesn’t experience as many death-defying trails, she nonetheless loves rolling via jagged rock gardens and shredding powder on her ski bike. On her sixtieth birthday — clad in her nun costume for the event, after all — she jumped over her first tabletop in a motorcycle park.
So long as Ehresman or one other certainly one of her using buddies — who’re all male and, typically, greater than 20 years youthful than her — are prepared to drive her there and prepared the ground, she’s nonetheless desirous to experience any rugged single-track or backcountry snow line. Providing up her personal bikes, Nordberg has taught Ehresman’s teenage daughters how one can experience. They’ve recognized her all of their lives as Sister Shred.
“She likes to cheer everybody on,” Ehresman mentioned. “She needs everybody to strive issues they perhaps don’t suppose they’ll do.”
Though she may not shred fairly as a lot as she used to, Nordberg nonetheless embraces the small wins.
“You realize that feeling of victory?” she mentioned. “I nonetheless crave that. You must do what you’ll be able to and never be upset about what you’ll be able to’t do. I’ve had extra journey in my life than lots of people.”