My First Published Writing

I just recently was hired to write my own column for The Collegian, the South Dakota State University newspaper.  I get to write about whatever outdoorsy thing I feel like writing. It’s pretty rad, here is my first article published last week.

Remember playing outside as a young whipper snapper? Whatever happened to those days? It seems like modern day youngsters spend more time indoors playing video games or watching t.v.  The days of the question “Can Timmy come out and play?!” are long gone.  Now, even 75% of our student body stays inside and plays video games (99% of all statistics are made up on the spot).

Not Ben Ekeren though, Ben Ekeren is 23 years old, and he’ll still play outside with you.  Ekeren is a 5th year senior Landscape Architecture/Environmental Management double major, but ladies, he’s also much much more.  Ben Ekeren is the Travis Pastrana of SDSU, his friends will be the first to tell you that he seems to be good at everything.  Ekeren grew up on a farm North of Yankton, SD.  This guy, however, is no ordinary farm boy.  He was the classic adolescent wannabe stuntman.  Except, when other kids hit age 16 and their Wal-Mart “Next” brand bikes started cobweb farms in the garage; Ben just biked harder.  He got a job at the Yankton bicycle shop in high school, and turned his hard earned greenies into the $5,000 worth of bicycles now chillin on his Subaru wagon.  Ben Ekeren is a prairie raised downhill mountain biking machine.

At the age of 17 Ekeren won the Terry Peak Downhill Race, making him the number one downhill mountain biker in South Dakota before he could even grown hair on his chinny chin chin.  Since that race, Ben has competed in downhill races all over the country, including major venues like Crested Butte, CO and the John Fisher in Fresno, CA.  Since his debut on the downhill scene in 2004, the popularity of the sport has skyrocketed, making the competition even stiffer.

Two weeks ago Ekeren once again made the two-wheeled plunge down Terry Peak with slightly different results, 5th place.  I sat with Ben at his SDSU Rockwall job the day after his race.  I asked him how he went from 1st to 5th, and he responded simply.  “Downhill’s gotten more popular now. Stiffer competition.  Oh, and I ate it on my second run; that doesn’t help.”  Ekeren came around a sharp turn and his front tire smoked a rock, throwing him to the dirt and adding 22 seconds to his time.  That rock dropped him from 3rd place on the stand, to 5th and an honorable mention.  When I asked him if he was mad he just smiled and said, “No, I just had fun man.”

Downhill isn’t Ekeren’s only hobby.  He’s dabbled in snowmobile racing, he’s easily one of the top 5 rock climbers in region, an avid archer and sportsman, an up and coming mountaineer, a slackliner, and shreds double black diamond powpow on his snowboard.

Why am I promoting Ben like a contestant on a bad tv dating show?  Because Ben is a good example for all of you who put down a video game controller to read this.  There is a whole world outside of your flatscreen t.v. that has endless possibilities. If youre content with youre mediocre life then continue living it.  If you want more out of your life.  If you want to look back on your life with a smile.  If you want to experience the world like never before.  Then Go Outside.

Whether you hunt, fish, bike, run, paddle, climb, hike, or camp; get out and do it.  If you don’t participate in outdoor sports, then follow the word of Christopher McCandless when he says, “The core of man’s spirit comes from new experiences.”  If you don’t know what to do or how to do it, keep reading and I’ll introduce you to a lifestyle you never knew possible.

Ben and I gearing up for a climb near Moab, UT