(photo courtesy of Aly Nicklas)
Meet Aly Nicklas. She is the director, director of photography, and editor of a stunning little year-old film named Blue that has already screened at more than twenty international film festivals. It features a four-year-old girl riding her bike in icy Valdez, Alaska as older girls ride in a thrilling glacial adventure. Is the little girl seeing her future? Or is she the girl inside each of us, no matter how old we get? All I know is this beautiful film made me teary because the little girl so full of adventure inside me almost disappeared when I was hit by that reckless driver recently while riding my bike. I needed this film. You may, too. See for yourself:
I also needed to talk with Aly, and with all the other women who’ve so generously allowed me to interview them during the month of August for my “You, Go, Girl” blog series. A survivor of road violence herself (and other forms of violence), Aly could not have been nicer and more inspiring. She grew up in Alaska the daughter of a ski bum and a wandering artist who encouraged her autonomy, trusted her capabilities, and nurtured her inner wildness. After dropping out of high school to snowboard competitively, however, she found herself at rock bottom by the time she was 21, with traumatic brain injuries from falls and severe depression.
Aly got up and started from scratch to rebuild her life. She adopted a dog, moved, started rock climbing, met an incredible community, purchased her first camera when she was 26, and never looked back. Aly told me:
“My tightly held secret dream was to be a filmmaker. I got sweaty palms from the storytelling. I was transfixed by how you could make a roomful of people feel.”
She learned filmmaking-on-the-job while promoting tourism for Boulder, Colorado, and has since then specialized in documentary-style films usually featuring women and sponsored by outdoor brands. She also bike-packed through China, married a National Geographic photographer and commercial fisherman with whom she’s working on a project about eagles, and had a baby boy. Now in her late 30s, Aly told me that biking is her newest love. She said:
“Biking activates the part of my brain that snowboarding did. It brings me to a timeless place in my body and mind, and it makes me smile.”
She’s also working on a project called Born Wild with cohort Alisa Geiser, which is intended to inspire parents to get outside with their kids. Aly said:
“It’s really easy to stop playing. Nurturing our inner wildness as adults is important. There’s both a science and a spiritual side to this. “
That little girl in Blue, and inside me, most definitely agrees.
Tap in every day in August for my “You Go, Girl” series showcasing 31 Women in 31 Days who are making it more welcoming to ride bikes in the USA. If interested, you may enjoy my book, Traveling at the Speed of Bike. All proceeds from the sale of my book help more women and girls ride bikes.
The complete series:
10. Meet Irene Lutts
14. Meet Jenn Dice
28. Meet Megan Ramey
30. Meet Aly Nicklas