Author Archives: Jenn Sheppard

About Jenn Sheppard

Moto/Photo/Journalist. '10 M.A. - Magazine, Newspaper and Online Journalism, Syracuse University. Off-road racer. '10-14 Florida Trail Riders Magazine Editor/Publisher

More lucky than good

I taught my students last week about photojournalism and how, a lot of times, it’s a matter a luck more than anything else. Sure, you can learn the visual language with rule of thirds, leading lines and filling the frame, but in my experience it’s all about luck and being in the right place at the right time.

One of my childhood heroes Scott Summers was recently honored in the 2014 American Honda AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony for his number of national championships, which he credited to luck more than anything else.

“I have to admit though, 95 percent of what got me here tonight is luck. My story is all about luck,” Summers said. “I’m so grateful though to have lived this life that I have. What I realize now, more than ever before, is that I have been blessed with an amazing amount of luck. We lived the dream.”

I’m in North Carolina right now at my dads’s place and we’re getting ready to head off to Brown Mountain OHV Park in Collettsville so here’s hoping I am lucky enough not to crash today!

It’s been a busy fall semester so far for The Seminole Scribe student newspaper staff. The first issue is always the steepest learning curve for them: they’re learning how to write without opinions, interview sources while taking notes, set up quotes in their stories and design the newspaper. We also went with a new look this semester, a smaller glossy format magazine-type publication, which a lot of people say looks a lot better. Plus none of that nasty newsprint residue is leftover after reading it. Score!

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Left to right: Spring 2014 issue of The Seminole Scribe and Fall 2014 issue of The Seminole Scribe – Medical marijuana made it on the ballot so we thought it newsworthy to feature on the cover.

In my “spare time,” I’ve been trying to improve on my design skills in Florida Trail Riders Magazine by using more of the Photoshop filters and tools that I’ve been ignoring for years. This year’s cover story features a 24-year-old Vermont native who moved to Florida after “retiring” as a professional trials rider. He taught me some new lingo like “splatter” and “jap zap,” which are terms familiar in the trials world for certain techniques they use to climb over obstacles. I

I’m gearing up for a trip to Pop’s Place this weekend for a little R&R, which will mainly consist of anything but since I’m taking the dirt bike along with my running shoes.

Bad day

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

The best thing about yesterday’s 60-miler, besides not breaking down like I did last year, was the amount of calories I burned while racing my dirt bike for 3.5 hours.
The worse thing was…everything else…I toughed it out when I wanted to quit after the halfway point since the course, although tight, fast and technical in some spots, was a lot more of the deepest whoops known to Florida, which were a constant strain in my neck that still hurts from a car accident two years ago. It probably didn’t help that I smacked my head on the ground more than a few times when I hit a stump going too fast and the back end came around sending me down. I hit my head so hard in one of the crashes that it gave me a migraine that’s still hanging around this morning.
Something I learned is that I need to be a little less courteous to the fast riders behind me because I would move over for them when they passed only to get caught in between logs on the side of the trail or end up in a ravine going down the side of the trail getting way off course and losing precious time.
Afterward, I can’t really say I had that much fun besides getting to see all my friends because of how bad my neck hurts today, how terrible my results were and how embarrassed I was crashing on the hill after the last reset in front of everyone but I AM thankful to be walking though I didn’t even unload my bike last night when I came home. All I was looking forward to was getting a massage at noon today. I keep seeing people’s posts online about how awesome the course was and how much fun they had and I’m left wondering, “Did we ride the same race?” I guess when everything’s going well for you, you tend to overlook the negatives and when things just suck and you have a bad day, it’s easy to overlook all the good stuff and wallow on the dark side. The worst thing was having people ask me what happened and that they just didn’t understand why my score was so bad. But I was due for a bad day.

Necessity

Since moving twice in the last five months, I’ve tried getting rid of things that I don’t need, use or want, anymore. Clothes and knickknacks top the list but I’ve also shed a few people from my life who I could stand to do without.

Yesterday, the college was closed for convocation, which is basically a teacher work day that gives students the day off. I spent all day attending workshops ranging from learning about lobbyists in the Florida legislature to becoming a better public speaker. In one session, I listened to advice about going the extra mile from the book the Fred Factor. One of the speaker’s quotes reminded me to write this blog:

“Necessity is the mother of strange bedfellows.”

In the past, I might have made a bad habit of surrounding myself with people who need my help because I make them better. But I started noticing that these people might not necessarily be good for me in return. I’ve tried giving others complements but I often hear that I’m wrong because they don’t know how to accept my accolades. It’s draining. I enjoy giving gifts of inspiration and try to let others know I appreciate them but not a lot of people can accept a complement and I wonder, why does it feel bad to receive one?

The vision I have for myself believes in the impossible and I want to sit around and daydream with people who won’t talk me out of thinking positive.

Woods racing

I crashed only three times today in my 30+ mile race through tacky mud and seriously slippery technical trails, twice in the wide open turns within half a mile right after the start and once again on the beginning of my second lap in the fields while reaching for my Camelbak and losing focus through the sudden muck. The lack of traction snuck up on me and I almost crashed about 17 other times hitting slick spots without warning and I had to use all of my concentration to get myself in the lead. I came around the first lap after 11 miles and I got the “wide open” sign and few cheers along with a thumbs up and I was just happy to not crash in front of everyone.
A problem with being in the lead is not being able to stop and fix my bars that I’d bent in the first crashes. I learned to ride with it and tried riding smart even though I wanted to go faster; I did not want to crash more.
I tried not following ruts in the wide open wet grassy straightaways and want to thank my new friend Andy Wallace for his advice before the race about riding into the grass on the sides of the trail. He said there was about a tire’s width of space that was not in the mud.
That advice saved me a lot of times and I saw others getting squirrelly riding right in the middle of the ruts.
Andy also held my bike and kickstarter tape, which he had never seen before. I showed him where I liked it on the lever to keep it back and somehow grabbed the overall holeshot in front of at least 20 bikes, which pretty much made my race right there and I started hooting and hollering around the first corners unable to control my adrenaline.
I can’t wait to see what, if any, my GoPro captured. Before today I had not ridden my bike since August. But I’m starting to think that the less I ride it, the better I love winning.

Girl power

I recently read a report by American Express OPEN that an estimated 1,288 new women-owned business have started each day over the past year and women-owned business now account for 30 percent of all enterprises! 

Last week, my friend and racing buddy started our own business and race team to help support our racing habit while helping other women racers (but more on that later). We’re keeping things pretty much under wraps right now, including our name and the logo that we designed last week since our doors are set to “virtually” open on October 1. We’re still working on our mission statement and we’ve already incorporated with the IRS, purchased a domain name and created a Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We’ve also come up with pen names, too, to help market our team. I’m excited to have a place where I can BE MYSELF since I sometimes censor my thoughts on this blog because I want to try and remain professional. We’re determined to venture out and believe this could turn into something big even though we’re not exactly sure what will happen. And maybe our purpose is yet to be realized but at least we can dream!

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Writing 101: Unlock the Mind

You write because you have an idea in your mind that feels so genuine, so important, so true. And yet, by the time this idea passes through the different filters of your mind, and into your hand, and onto the page or computer screen — it becomes distorted, and it’s been diminished. The writing you end up with is an approximation, if you’re lucky, of whatever it was you really wanted to say.

Author Khaled Hosseini, “How to Write,” the Atlantic