At 65 and Legally Blind, ‘Sister Shred’ Has Never Met a Slope She Wouldn’t Ride


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 along with her head turned to the aspect, she will use her peripheral imaginative and prescient to make out individuals forward of her on the path and shapes and colours. And, for essentially 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 turns out to be useful.

When she encounters a very tough part of a path — for example, a rock staircase with jagged boulders that might snag a entrance wheel and ship a rider over a motorbike’s handlebars — she generally asks strangers for steerage. She carries a brilliant orange strap and politely asks different riders if they may use it to mark the trail of least resistance.

Scott Ehresman, Nordberg’s greatest good friend and biking buddy, leads her by means of such sections once they experience collectively. Whereas Nordberg exhibits no concern when tackling rock staircases, drops and boulders, Ehresman, who’s normally filming the motion, continuously frets that she’s going to harm herself.

However even when she does, it doesn’t cease her from getting again on trails. Ehresman mentioned he has witnessed her using over slender bridges and rocky precipices, alongside knifelike cliff edges the place one false transfer would imply a 2,000-foot fall, by means of 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 workforce, to attempt mountain biking.

“At the start, 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 expertise improved, their roles reversed.

“I used to be getting higher and higher,” Ehresman mentioned. “Sooner or later, it switched. I ended up teaching her. I began taking place stuff she had by no means finished.”

However Nordberg, he mentioned, was fearless.

“She was using some loopy stuff,” he mentioned. “She took some nasty crashes.”

Nordberg has liked biking for so long as she will keep 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 every 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 received under zero continuously 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 open air.

“I’d experience my bike to the lake, swim, construct tree homes and go shoot BB weapons,” she mentioned. “I used to be at all times that woman who appreciated hanging out with the fellows.”

She headed off to St. Cloud State College with goals of turning into a highschool trainer, however there have been no jobs to be discovered after she graduated. A good friend satisfied Nordberg to maneuver to Snowmass, Colo., the place she labored for a number of years as a housekeeper at a lodge and found mountain biking and snowboarding. In the future, 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 known as me the holy goalie. While you put on a nun costume snowboarding, individuals discover you. Some individuals began calling me Sister Shred.”

The moniker caught.

However after transferring to the Denver space, Nordberg realized there was one thing amiss along 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 slightly blurry. I had a bleed in my eye and double imaginative and prescient.”

She visited a dermatologist a few 12 months and a half later, who delivered a prognosis: Pseudoxanthoma elasticum, a progressive genetic dysfunction that, for Nordberg, has precipitated the lack of her eyesight in addition to ache and weak spot 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 by means of 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 motorbike park.

So long as Ehresman or one other one in all her using buddies — who’re all male and, usually, greater than 20 years youthful than her — are prepared to drive her there and cleared the path, she’s nonetheless desperate to experience any rugged single-track or backcountry snow line. Providing up her personal bikes, Nordberg has taught Ehresman’s teenage daughters methods to experience. They’ve identified her all of their lives as Sister Shred.

“She likes to cheer everybody on,” Ehresman mentioned. “She needs everybody to attempt issues they possibly don’t assume they’ll do.”

Though she won’t shred fairly as a lot as she used to, Nordberg nonetheless embraces the small wins.

“You recognize that feeling of victory?” she mentioned. “I nonetheless crave that. It’s important to do what you possibly can and never be upset about what you possibly can’t do. I’ve had extra journey in my life than lots of people.”