“If you worried about falling off the bike, you’d never get on.”
Yeah, it’s easy for this guy to say that - he’s a pro!
What about little old me - 23 years old, re-learning how to ride a bike after 10 years in pot-holed San Diego with my feet attached to a contraption that gets blown over by a big gust of wind?
I’m afraid of falling. I’m afraid of being hit by a car. I’m afraid of going to the hospital. I’m afraid of dying.
But more importantly: I’m afraid of not being good enough. I’m afraid of not being fast enough. I’m afraid of looking stupid.
Yeah, there are risks when riding your bike, or swimming in open water, or driving your car, or walking down the street. I keep trying to remind myself that millions of people do these things, keep on doing them without problems, and sometimes even have fun.
That’s life, right?
So why am I still so afraid to ride my bike alone?
I mean, I’ll ride my bike. I do ride it (contrary to what my friends may think). I take it for a few laps around Fiesta Island (a completely flat, low-traffic area). If friends invite me for a ride, I always say yes.
But sometimes, I get off my bike and I walk the hills. The downhills, to be exact. I’m terrified. I guess I’m not a speed-junkie (which could explain why I’m not a very fast runner, too - right? right??).
And I’ve fallen. I’ve fallen stopping at a light because i forgot to put my foot down. I’ve fallen because when I do remember to clip out, I try to step down with the wrong foot. I’ve fallen because I forgot to go to a lower gear before I went uphill. I’ve never injured anything seriously (except for my pride), and yet I still worry that impending doom is just a pedal stroke away.
Why does fear overrun our better judgment?
I know that all those aforementioned fears are rational yet unlikely and still my reason can’t trump my overwhelming sense of impending danger the moment I clip in.
Perhaps, I’m holding on to this fear too much. Perhaps I’m giving it too much focus.
Perhaps I’m just so competitive that I can’t bear to be a beginner. I want to already be advanced. I want to be bombing hills at 30-40 MPH, look cool doing it, and then after a 60 mile ride get a coffee with my friends and revel at our kits.
When I started swimming in open water over a year ago, the same kind of crippling fear would overcome me. I would start to swim, but then visions of great white sharks meeting my eye before viciously devouring my body parts would overwhelm my sympathetic nervous system and I’d been high-tailing it back to shore. And all this happened in shallow, secluded bay water. Not exactly high-traffic area for any marine life bigger than me. Yet over a year of consistently making a point to swim a littler farther, or a little longer, I’ve become more and more comfortable in the water. I hardly think about being eaten out there anymore (although the irrational though still creeps up every once in a while), and even if I do I don’t let the fear send me into an anxiety attack me like before.
So maybe the answer is to just bike more.
How do the sayings go? “Face your fears!” “There’s nothing to fear but fear itself!” and what not.
Does anyone out there have some advice on how they’ve overcome fear before??