Katherine Donnelly | 08.06.2018

As part of Outdoor Project's Women In the Wild series this summer, I have had the honor of working with outdoor women from all over the industry to dig a bit deeper into who they are, how they got to where they are now, how they approach the outdoors, and more. These women are all rad in their own right, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, or how "badass" they might be. Whether they're mothers, daughters, sisters, professional athletes, beginners, weekend warriors, "instafamous," or anywhere in-between, their unique stories, journeys, opinions, and perspectives are incredibly valuable and insightful as Outdoor Project - and the industry as a whole - progresses and evolves to become more inclusive to every type of outdoors person. 

Through in-depth and often thought-provoking interviews, I aim to highlight these women's stories, their work, their adventures, and so much more with an eye toward giving them their well-deserved share of the spotlight while inspiring and empowering even more women to get outside!

In this feature we talk to Lisa Land.

This Woman In The Wild calls the trail her home, whether she's biking, running, or building more. And just recently she completed the infamous Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike Race with seven other Liv Trail Squad women. Get the full scoop below.

Photo by James Q Martin.

OP: When did you first know that you were going to spend your life in the outdoors?

Lisa Land: It's hard to pinpoint a first memory...for me it was a compilation of memories and moments that had me fall in love with the outdoors. It truly started when I began trail running...and then my husband and I got into camping and mountain biking. One of our first MTB/Camp trips involved an off-road trip to Colorado where we traversed the Alpine Loop by day and camped at different locations along the way. That beautiful trip really made me realize that I was missing out on so many amazing views and experiences by not getting outside more.

OP: What does it mean to you to be a woman in the outdoor industry? 

Lisa Land: I am proud to be a lover of the outdoors, and I have a mad respect for my planet and the beauty it offers. Some people claim to love the outdoors, but they are seekers of crowded campgrounds and amenities. When I seek the outdoors, I value the serenity of a sunrise cresting the peaks of ancient buttes and the the solace of being away from the city.

OP: What has the outdoors done for you, and how do you pay it back?

Lisa Land: Being “outside” has given me freedom, and with that freedom has come confidence and a true belief within me that has made a stronger person both mentally but also physically. When I'm not working, I tend to be running, biking or hiking a trail. If I'm not doing any of these...then I'm planning the next adventure!

I give back in small ways...by doing trail maintenance and learning sustainable trail building through programs such as IMBA (International Mountain Biking Association). My leadership team and I teach Girlz Gone Riding (GGR Mojave Chapter) girls the value of respecting the trails and how much work goes into building them. This knowledge is also carried on to my family and friends. We (my husband and I) are diligent recyclers and try to repurpose items that we can. I am a firm believer that “small changes make a big difference.” I can’t change the world, one but one person can create a chain reaction that makes an everlasting ripple.

OP: Who has inspired you along the way?

Lisa Land: My great grandmother and grandmothers...my great grandmother used to recycle paper towels!! She would wash them and hang them to dry and reuse them, the same with paper plates. I grew up in a small impoverished town in Oklahoma. I spent many summers with my grandparents. We lived off of government subsidies then, and I remember when the food truck would come and many people in town would go and get their rations. These were simple cereals, flower, lard,  cheese and milk. My grandmother made up for the lack of food by having her own garden and chickens. My grandfather would fish, and sometimes we would trade goods with his sisters who lived “down the road.” It was a simple life...but honestly those are some of the best memories I have. I loved helping my grandmother can her vegetables and snap peas. I saw my grandfather kill a chicken once, and although it was terrifying then, I learned and understood the value of what they had to do to live. I was happy and content and never felt I was without.

OP: What does adventure mean to you? 

Lisa Land: Adventure to me is an opportunity to create or have moments and memories that forever change you or make you grow somehow or someway. That's what I call an adventure.  

OP: What does the term "badass" mean to you?

Lisa Land: When I think of this term, the words that come to my mind are fearless, brave and humble. I don't think of people, I think of what makes a badass...and to me, anyone can be a badass in their own way.

OP: How have you managed to align your career with your passion for the outdoors? And do you have any advice for someone who is looking to do the same?

Lisa Land: I worked hard to obtain a career that offered me the freedom to pursue my passions. I have always been a Work to Live and not a Live to Work kind of girl. It takes being smart with your finances and learning to balance your career and your passion. When you’re at work, work... when you’re at home, have an adventure. If it happens that work and adventure are one and the same...then that's pretty amazing! 

Don't look at others for your purpose...know yourself to know what you really want to do, and then make a plan to get there. By doing this, you are truly making yourself happy and not chasing a dream that isn't even yours. Hard work always pay off...and anyone who is truly happy didn't wake up that way. It always takes work. Also, health is your best wealth! So, take care of yourself. Eat right, exercise, meditate, and do routine check ups...you only have one body and it's your job to take care of it. Don't place that responsibility on someone else...hold yourself accountable. 

OP: We are seeing a shift in what the term woman or female might bring to mind (LGBTQ), both in the outdoor community and throughout the world. What does being a woman mean to you? Femininity? 

Lisa Land: Being a women means life...we are special in that way. By this I mean we are purposed to give life, raise life and have a sense of compassion within us that is ingrained in our DNA. However, at the core we are all human...and humans are complex and beautiful creatures that have to learn to respect one another, no matter our differences.

OP: What mantra or set of words do you live by? 

Lisa Land: It's super cliche...but it's what I really am yelling in my head when I am struggling with any task, whether it be work or sports…“You're better than this Lisa...breathe and get it done..”

OP: In a perfect world, what does the outdoors (the people, the places, the community as a whole, etc.) look like to you? And what can outdoor brands and media companies, such as Outdoor Project, do better to help get us there? 

Lisa Land: The perfect outdoors to me involves a mutual respect and love for our lands and our world. When communities truly respected the land because they understood the value it possessed. Many do not understand the journey of the precious soil they walk on today. Items of life are easily accessible, and we forget to cherish the lands we live on. We are all guilty of this. I believe that education is invaluable and everlasting...this is why I believe that outdoor brands and media companies should encourage this and provide resources to learn and understand the history of our lands and how to preserve them.

OP: What is one thing that you never leave home without? 

Lisa Land: A watch! I'm always running behind, and it helps to know how late I really am…

OP: Let’s talk gear - what are your thoughts on women-specific gear? Love it, hate it? Are there any companies out there doing it right? And how so? When does it matter to you most to have gear specific to women versus unisex products?

Lisa Land: I love it!!! I am petite and relatively small...and I absolutely believe there are companies out there nailing it. Liv Cycling for example...a complete separate women's division completely devoted to women's cycling. My first bike was a Liv Giant because at the time (six years ago) it was the only bike that I could fit. Now, within the last six years I have owned several Liv bikes because I appreciate the amount of time and engineering that goes into their women-specific gear. Having gear and bike that fits is important to me in all aspects...I recently just finished the Cape Epic with the Liv Trail Squad. I have never had gear that fit me so well...but it makes a difference..especially when putting in long hours in the saddle when you need to be comfortable!!

OP: What is the greatest piece of advice or direction that you’ve ever received, and what’s the story behind it? 

Lisa Land: Always choose the hard right over the easy wrong. My college crew coach would always say this to the team as we did our break after Saturday morning practice. We had one day off from training per week, and I am sure that he knew that one night of freedom could create a lifetime of regrets. I have always remembered this phrase and would say this to my siblings. It's absolutely true...the right decision is never the easy decision...but it's the right decision.

OP: If you could give one piece of advice to yourself when you were just starting out with biking, what would it be? 

Lisa Land: Ride your bike to the beat of your own drum, Lisa.

OP: In a world seemingly run by online personas, how do you approach social media and how does it play into your lifestyle - both work and play? 

Lisa Land: I have to admit that social media is still something I am trying to understand. Some people just get the hashtags and posting at the right time or the right content. I am still working on that...and honestly, I don’t know if I care enough to get it nailed down. I enjoy my small following and the intimacy it provides. I enjoy making connections with people and developing those relationships. For me, social media is an opportunity to make those connections, but not for the sake of getting followers. I enjoy the personal messages that I get from those asking for advice, words of encouragement, or those just sending me some love. I don't want to lose that!

OP: What’s next for you in the coming months and years? 

Lisa Land: Hmmmm, an Iron Man..possibly another degree...learning a new sport...another EPIC challenge. I am always terribly indecisive and sometimes I just go along for an adventure.

OP: The title of your autobiography would be...

Lisa Land: She May Be Little...But Mighty.

OP: In your next life, you will come back as...

Lisa Land: My husband says a honey badger.

OP: Tell us one thing about yourself that no one knows.

Lisa Land: I was on an episode of Walker, Texas Ranger called “The Plaque” when I was 12 years old. Really, no one knows this. But if you want to see subpar acting skills...there you go. 

OP: If our readers were to take one thing from this interview, what would you like it to be?

Lisa Land: Take control of your destiny….

Learn more about Lisa by following her on Facebook and Instagram, and make sure to check out her work with the Liv Trail Squad.


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