Fear of bicycles is something you have to overcome if you’re going to do a triathlon. There’s that little bike ride right in the middle of it. So this week I’m face to face with bicycle. After many years of not riding after my big fall, I’ve conjured up all kinds of images that seem to repeatedly end up in disaster. It’s like one of those corny slow motion scenes in a movie. I see myself hitting the rut in the road, turning and falling, yelling “Oh no!” in that slow, painful voice.
I don’t know how other people get over this kind of stuff, but I put myself on retreat for a couple of days and brought my bike along. I’m spending two days away from friends and family, TV and internet, and other distractions. I’m spending my days walking and thinking, slowing things down. And part of this slowing down is coming face to face with bicycle.
The room I’m staying in has a long driveway leading up to it. It’s my pathway back. I thought it would be too much pressure to take my bike out on the road when I was still afraid of just getting on, stopping and starting again. So I set myself up a little biking rehab course. Twice a day I get on the bike and just practice getting on and off, using my breaks, starting and stopping. It sounds a little like I’m five again, but I don’t care.
After all, when you’re in rehab—learning how to walk or talk again, you start over, don’t you? So I’ve started over. And it feels so great!! I have applauded myself for little accomplishments along the way. Things like leaning more fluidly into the turn, stopping nice and easy, and easing myself off the saddle. I’ve avoided using the toe straps for now—no restrictions that will make me feel more nervous.
Each day I see progress, to the point where I finally got on the road and biked the six miles my training schedule asked of me. I didn’t care if there was a twist in the road that made me nervous and I decided to walk my bike for a bit. I didn’t care if I braked more than most sane people would on a small hill. I’m taking it at a pace I can handle emotionally, because that is where the repair must be made.
How freeing it is to overcome a fear like this! How wonderful to allow myself the luxury of taking it at my own pace. It won’t be long now, I can feel it. The ease will return, the joy of riding again. And if I can do it on my bicycle, I am now ready to face other fears.
What one tangible fear can you take steps to overcome? Start with something concrete, something that you can easily see your progress—like riding a bike. The boost of seratonin it will give you will lead you to the next important task of your life. Guaranteed.