Nerd of the Week
Meet Adrienne, a Gear Nerd
Interview by Terra Olsen
What are you nerdy for?
Gear! Outdoor gear: bike gear, snowboard gear, backpacking gear, bouldering gear, etc. I’m fascinated by complex and simple gear; big and small tools that enhance our experiences with nature and help us enjoy life more fully through sport.
How did you discover your interest in outdoor gear?
I grew up skiing, so ski and winter products have always been a part of my life. In late high school, I began snowboarding and really tuning into the latest gear on the market, as well as anticipating forthcoming products. All-important gear influences our enjoyment of our sport. And the more you know about a piece of gear, how and why it was created, and how it achieves its benefits, the more you appreciate it all.
What about outdoor gear sparked the nerd in you?
My father’s a mechanical engineer. I spent a lot of time with him in the garage growing up. (I can’t cook.) I think the reason I find gear intriguing stems from the lessons and presentations my dad would give me about the internal workings of things. I find outdoor gear fascinating for a few reasons: 1. That the human imagination can conjure ideas for new products and solutions to improve our recreation; 2. that they can develop the structures, forms and systems to bring those thoughts to life; and 3. that they can do so in the ever-changing environments of the natural world—in harsh conditions, the nuances of which are hard to define, let alone account for.
The advancement of technology transcends every industry and the outdoor industry is arguably near the front of that force.
Wow, where to start? My love of the outdoors and participating in mountain biking, snowboarding, hiking, backpacking, recently bouldering, makes me a user of myriad pieces of gear in any one activity. So my world revolves around the way it helps me pursue my passions, my way of life.
As a copywriter at a large outdoor gear company, I actually have a dream job, day-in and day-out writing about gear. I have the luxury to continuously get insight into new, exciting products and their technology working directly with product developers. It’s my job to translate those esoteric concepts into tangible experiences for the consumer. So, for me, the spark is constantly reignited.
Also, it impacts the friends I have and the communities I associate with. Not to mention, the injuries I’ve suffered and witnessed; the places I frequent, the movies I watch, the clothes I buy, the list could go on.
Where do you want to take your interest in gear in the future?
Farther up and faster down mountain sides. Farther from home, deeper into new environments, experiences, personal challenges; into the hearts of new friends and new understandings about myself. Just like anyone who’s found a way to achieve letting her passion drive her life, I want to continue to become better at my craft and enjoy as many life-enriching experiences as I can cram into this one.
Any advice for others interested in finding a profession in the outdoor industry?
Keep at it. The people who will make it are those who know it—and have professional skills to wield that are valuable to a company.
Favorite moment/memory involving gear?
I’ll give you a favorite and a recent. The recent: At Whistler Bike Park’s closing weekend this summer, I suffered the biggest crash of my life (on a mountain bike). Slammed my head into the ground with significant force. I should have been concussed; decently messed-up. I walked away with a huge adrenaline rush, a few scratches and a sore left side, but no brain injury. I credit the helmet. It proved itself worthy of however much money I spent on it. The thrilling part for me—besides retaining my cognition—is the fact that I’m sending the helmet back to the maker so they can cut it apart and research the damage it either sustained or resisted. Pretty cool, huh?
Favorite: Last time I visited my (graying) parents, we went for bike ride along river path in Spokane. It’s obvious they love their old, clunky bikes—for the freedom and exercise they provide. But I was surprised to have my dad pull up beside me at the crest of a hill before its descent and tell me that “in this section [he] could get up to at least 30 miles an hour.” Then he took off at a full sprint down the hill, tucked, pedaling madly. At the bottom he was aglow in triumph.
That bike had made my 67-year-old dad 12 again.
Originally from California, Adrienne Schofhauser graduated from Washington State University with a degree in English. Now living in Seattle, she is a copywriter for Cascade Designs Inc., where she breaks down technical ‘gear speak’ into tangible experiences for consumers. Prior to working at Cascade Designs, Adrienne served as an editor and staff writer at Thomson Reuters. She is also the founder of Mountain Tracks Media, a blog that features her adventures in the outdoors.
Do you know a self-proclaimed nerd we should interview? If so, please contact Terra at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us about them.