Vision Quest competitor rides a grueling two-wheel race

SHE HAS A VISION QUEST (Joseph Espiritu)

Joseph Espiritu
The discovery of dirt, dust, and gears began the journey into the world of two-wheels for former Saddleback College student Rachel Schmidt.

Schmidt had her first taste of mountain biking when a friend took her for a mountain-bike ride through O’Neill Regional Park six years ago. Since then, Schmidt’s appetite for riding has grown, and so has her love for anything bicycle-related.

“What started off as a mellow ride through the trails of O’Neill Park sparked a different outlook for life,” Schmidt said. “The trees, and the sun, and just enjoying the ride. It was beautiful.”

Fast forward a few years later, and Schmidt found herself at the starting line of one of the most challenging mountain-bike endurance event in the nation: the Warrior Society’s Vision Quest.

Schmidt was now racing against time, the elements, and herself. Just a year earlier, she made the commitment to participate in the event, and kept true to her goal – she was going to finish, no matter what.

The Vision Quest course, which consists of over 56 grueling miles and 11,000 plus-feet of elevation gain, not only tests both rider and equipment, but also the limits of determination and perseverance.

“It took me almost 10 hours to finish the event,” said Schmidt. “I made it an objective to try and beat my time by at least an hour the next year.”

Before she knew it, the year was up, and she was once again at the starting gate, waiting for the signal to begin.

“My second time doing the Vision Quest was a lot more demanding since I really wanted to beat my previous time,” Schmidt said.

With more experience and training under her belt, Schmidt was able to do just that, cutting her previous time by over an hour.

When asked what element of riding had her hooked, Schmidt said “Riding shows you that not everything is as serious as you make it out to be. It gives you a totally different perspective.”

From her first mountain-bike ride through O’Neill Regional Park, to conquering the grueling Warrior Society Vision Quest twice, Schmidt’s love for two-wheels has only grown.

Outside of riding, Schmidt is a registered nurse with her associate degree in nursing from Saddleback. She also contributes her time for trail maintenance with the SHARE Mountain Bike Club of Orange County, along with volunteering for other Warrior Society ride and trail events.

(Joseph Espiritu)