Women on the Edge: Interview with Jamye Chrisman
If you don’t know Jamye Chrisman, you should. She’s one of those gals that you instantly want to be friends with and sit around the campfire with swapping life stories. I first met Jamye as our wedding photographer (she’s an amazing photographer) and since then we’ve followed each other’s adventures over the past year. Jamye is frequently found outdoors, fat biking and cycling her way around Teton Valley.
Jamye lives an authentic life in the surrounding Jackson Hole area. She spends ample amounts of time in nature cycling (all types of cycling – she’s done everything from mountain biking to bike touring to fat biking) and taking beautiful photographs. Jamye’s story of discovering cycling and her love for the outdoors is pretty inspiring. I was lucky to be able to interview her for our Women on the Edge series featuring inspirational outdoorsy women.
KB: If you could briefly describe your lifestyle, cycling experience and what you do.
JC: I have a pretty laid back outdoor lifestyle here in Victor, Idaho. Our town just got a second stoplight! I am a photographer specializing in outdoor weddings as well as shooting for local magazines. When I’m not working or biking I’m usually found at home with my husband and three cats.
I didn’t start biking until I was 30 years old. I bought a cheap bike thinking I just wanted to ride the bike path and maybe some dirt roads. The first week I owned it and my friend took me mountain biking. She told me that “it’s just like riding a bike, but your going downhill.” Also that “speed is your friend!” I really believe that ride changed the course of my life – it was incredible and I was hooked. Shortly after, I took my husband to the same trail and he was shocked I rode it – there is no way he would have taken me on that trail!
Biking seems so natural to me and I realized it was the sport I’d been searching for. I love being outside, but hiking or skiing aren’t really my thing. Biking was the vehicle to get me deeper into the woods. Beyond the beautiful places I could ride my bike created this energy inside me I have never felt – it feeds my soul and makes me feel empowered. Look what my body could do! Needless to say, I quickly out performed my “new” bike and it was time to get a real mountain bike.
After a couple of years mountain biking I did my first (and only thus far) XC mountain race. I did the Pierre’s Hole race at Grand Targhee and it took me 9 1/2 hours to ride 50 miles with 7,500 feet of climbing. I was one of the last few racers to cross the finish line and my husband said I got more cheers than some of the top placed finishers! In the end, the greater reward was the strength I found within to finish the race and not what place I finished.
A month later I took on my next challenge – I did my first long-distance bike tour. We rode from Durango, CO to Moab, UT following the San Juan Hut System. This experience changed my life! We rode 215 miles with 26,000 feet of climbing over the course of 7 days. I was amazed that my body could ride that far (at that time most of my bikes rides were 10-15 mile mountain bike rides)! I was hooked on bike travel and we soon added an adventure bike to the bike collection – a Salsa El Mariachi 29er mountain bike. I love this bike! It is fast and can be loaded up with all I need for a bike adventure!
KB: You’re into all types of cycling, why fat biking?
JC: Fat biking was my next evolution of cycling – I love spinning and was always sad when the season was over. Plus, as my business grows I get less and less time in the summer to play. Once fat bikes started appearing I immediately wanted one! To think I could bike year round… We are very lucky that Grand Targhee is the first resort to have groomed single track. We can also ride on the groom trails in Teton Valley or on the endless amounts of snowmobile trails.
I recently added a new fat bike to the quiver and got another favorite bike! A Salsa Beargrease carbon fat bike, this has been a game changer for me fat biking. It’s quicker, lighter and overall more enjoyable to ride!
KB: So, you had your first fat bike race recently – how did it go?
JC: It was amazing! I raced the Togwotee Winter Classic near Jackson Hole. I was pretty intimidated, because I am not a racer, but the weather and trail conditions were perfect. I was able to finish the 25 miles 30 minutes sooner than I expected. It was the longest I had ever ridden on my fat bike and it’s was so fun! I honestly loved every minute of it. When I rolled into the finish and saw my husband I started crying, a mixture of relief and excitement overtook me.
KB: What’s your favorite biking trail?
JC: Red Creek on Pine Creek Pass in Idaho or any of the numerous country gravel roads around Teton Valley. Another favorite would be the Fisher Creek Trail near Stanley, Idaho.
KB: What about the outdoors inspires you?
JC: I have been thinking about this a lot lately. It’s hard to believe not everyone loves it outside, for me it seems so natural. While out riding yesterday I was really pondering why I love being outside. The activities that we do outside make it fun and rewarding, but it’s so much more then that. Being in nature is peaceful. It doesn’t care how much you make, what clothes you wear, what your body looks like. It accepts you exactly where you are and it creates a space where I can find acceptance for myself. Plus, it’s incredibly beautiful in all seasons with any type of weather!
KB: What do you do when you’re not cycling around Teton Valley?
JC: Drinking lattes and hanging out with my three cats!
KB: You’re a pretty amazing photographer, what inspired your craft and to start your photography business?
JC: Thanks! I started taking photos when I was a little girl. My mom gave me a camera when I was eight for Christmas – I immediately set up a photo studio with lamps and shot photos of my other presents! I remember thinking that someday that I was going to be a professional photographer. We camped a lot growing up in Colorado, which fueled my love for the outdoors as well as taking photos.
When I went to college I tried a more traditional route and quickly realized it wasn’t for me… I then went to the Colorado Institute of Art for a degree in Photography. Funny thing is that I avoided portraiture when I was in school and focused on architecture and nature shots. Fast forward 12 years and a move to the Jackson Hole area, I discovered my love for weddings!
Once we moved I was trying to figure out how to use my love for photography and actually earn a living. I slowly did a few weddings here and there then came to find out that I love wedding photography. I get to capture an intimate moment in people’s lives – I love the realness of this. Plus, my office is outside most of the time in Grand Teton National Park. I’m pretty lucky to have a childhood dream come true and to get to live, work and play in such an amazing place!
KB: What’s your favorite thing to do in the Jackson area?
JC: Paddle board on String Lake in the summer and ride my fat bike in Cache Creek Canyon in the winter.
KB: Any fun plans for the summer?
JC: Yes! This spring we are planning on doing the Kokopelli Trail on our bikes. It’s a 142 mile self supported bike packing trail that goes from Loma, Colorado to Moab, Utah. This has been on the bucket list for awhile after many biking trips to Fruita, Colorado.
Also, I would like to do the “Around the Rock” ride. It is a series of roads that go around the Teton Range, through Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park. It’s around 150 miles, but I would like to knock this off in one day! Last year we bike packed it over 3 days. My husband just wrote a blog article about both the race as well as our trip.
It looks like I am gearing up for another amazing wedding season, which will fill most of my time. I plan to squeeze in as much biking as possible!
KB: Anything else interesting you’d like to talk about?
JC: I have to give a shout out to my husband Gary! Biking has not only changed my life, but has provided a passion that my husband and I can share together. I started biking on my own and he quickly got inspired to join me after a long break from his mountain bike.
I feel blessed that his passion for biking matches my own. I love that we can both be pushed and ride together. I can honestly say that our life and relationship has been enriched because of cycling. A perfect day to me is a good cup of coffee, a fun bike ride with my husband and snuggling with my kitties after a tasty dinner.
Follow along Jamye’s cycling and photography journey!
Find her wedding photography at http://jamyechrisman.com/
If you know of any inspiring outdoorswoman or would like to nominate yourself for our women’s series, please contact us! We love to hear unique and inspiring stories of women who love the outdoors.