“You can't learn how to mountain bike without making mistakes,” she says, “just like you can't be a parent without making mistakes. It's how you approach those inevitable mistakes that’s important. Rather than being defeatist, my attitude is more like, Next time, I'll try to do that better." She credits her Dirt Series instructor, the Durango community, her son, and other female riders for her progress. “So much of the messaging we give ourselves is that we can’t,” she says. “What Dirt Series teaches is that any trail is technically possible, it’s just a matter of what you’re willing to overcome to ride it.” The lessons from her first Dirt Series camp were so valuable that she enrolled in a second camp that summer. Whereas the idea of cleaning expert lines had once been unfathomable, Gisele now spends an hour and a half most days on the trail, riding at least every couple weeks with her son. And this, for Gisele, is the most precious part of it all. “I think riding with Derek is about connection,” she says. “It's a way to interact with him in a way that feels important, though it’s hard to articulate exactly what that means. The gift that the coaches at clinics like the Dirt Series have given me is the confidence to seize the opportunity to connect with my family on a whole new level, to see and be seen more fully as people with unique attributes. Mountain biking just serves as one mode for helping us make those connections.” Derek has spent nearly a decade of his 17 years in mountain bike classes through DEVO, Durango’s non-profit mountain bike program for kids. For his part, he’s remarkably encouraging of his mother, so much so that it’s easy to be awed by his patience, kindheartedness, and wisdom, especially because these qualities are so foreign to most teenagers. To see these two on the trail is to bear witness to something special. There’s a touching mutual admiration, fueled perhaps by their shared passion and an understanding of the strength of character it takes to set your mind on a goal and accomplish it. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell where the love ends and the friendship begins, except maybe in the car, where Gisele is motherly through and through—always slightly, sweetly, unnerved and quick to point out when he’s driving too fast.