Saturday, December 19, 2015

Characters of Encouragement

It started with an Asian gentleman, jogging in khakis.

That got me thinking I could do it.  Get out and do it.  


So I did.  As I rode, other characters became a part of this journey.


Cigar man.  
Truth be told, I have never seen him with a cigar.  I only saw a still lit cigar once in the gutter,  and then saw him.  I assumed they belonged together.   Every morning he leaves from his house to go on a walk (perhaps to smoke a cigar?).   Every time he sees me, he always smiles and nods.  I nod back.

Min Pin woman.  
She has never acknowledged me.   To be sure, she sees me and we make solid eye contact, but never a nod or a word. She walks her Min Pin with purpose and doesn't let anything distract her.  Not even me saying good morning.

Mini Dachshund woman (sorry folks... if they're walking a dog, that will be their identity... it's how I operate.)    
The Dachshund has a variety of sweaters and always seems cheerful. The woman always says some variant of good morning to me.

Cane Man.  
He is an elderly gentleman who walks with a cane.  I can't say he uses it much. Except perhaps to wave at me.  The first few times it was just the wave of the cane.  Now we're up to a wave of the cane with a smile, sometimes punctuated with a gravely "morning".


Rottweiler Man.  
His Rottie is old as dirt and  sweet as pie, extra long tail stump always wagging.  At first, the man gave me a smile, but we're up to a good morning too.


Labrador Retriever couple.  
A gentle yellow lab out for a slow morning stroll.   The couple often holds hands and the woman occasionally walks her alone.  Every ride, we share a good morning.

Black Lab Walking Man and his Wife Who Watches.   
It took me several days to figure this one out.  I would see the man walking a black lab who was really walking the man.  I would then see her in the driveway watching the man walk the lab.  It wasn't until one day that my ride was timed just right to see him returning to the house with the dog.   Then I rode back past their house and passed the two of them walking together, sans lab.  Whatever works I guess!

Old Husky Woman.  
Meaning the dog is an old Husky - the woman is neither!   I don't see her regularly - it will depend on the time of my ride. She is often engrossed in her cell phone, rarely, if ever, looking up.  She is the one I didn't think even noticed my existence.  Until one day she looked up at me and said  "You're doing great!" as I passed by.

Regular Walking Couple.  
I see them most every early morning ride. He walks in the street and she on the sidewalk. He has always been forward with good mornings, and she with a smile.  This is the only set of characters where conversation has evolved, albeit stunted and not terribly deep.  They have asked where 'my other half' is when she hasn't been able to ride.  Over the course of several passes - because our routes in this neighborhood will often take me past them two to three times - I was able to share that she was out of town on work. Or the next time that she had injured her back.  


Here's a funny.  It took me until just after Thanksgiving on a late morning ride to discover that Old Husky Woman is the wife in Regular Walking Couple.  I rode past their house with the two of them outside.  The three of them rather, as the dog was in the front yard as well.   Funny how context is so necessary for recognition sometimes.

All of these people have a purpose for being out there.  And out there regularly.  To me, it feels like we're in the same club.  A ginormous fitness club encompassing 8.5 miles. Some do it so their dog gets out. Some do it so they can keep moving.  Others do it for whatever reason that gets them out of bed and on to the street.  But we're all out doing it.  Whatever their reason, I take their nods, smiles, good mornings as encouragement to keep on riding and to do it again the next time. I know motivation has got to come from within, and it does, but encouragement helps stoke that motivation.



The Asian man that started it all?  That pushed me out on the bike to try to change my life? That I saw nearly every morning that I drove to work, steadily jogging down the sidewalk in loafers and khakis?

I have never seen him again.    Makes me wonder if he was all in my head.

73 rides   (plus 9 or so days on an indoor trainer...I really hate the cold!)
545 miles

235.6













Friday, November 13, 2015

Fear is a choice



"Fear is not real.  It is a product of thoughts you create. Do not misunderstand me.  Danger is very real.  But fear is a choice." (Will Smith -as Cypher Raige -After Earth)


My first post in August at the beginning of my bike riding journey talked about my fears. Other posts I have created since then have reiterated those fears and identified new ones. It seems as though a new fear has cropped up for me time and again.  I remember being a kid and being seemingly unafraid of anything.  As I grew up, fears started to creep in.

With fear comes obstacles.  If I am afraid of doing or experiencing it, I don't try.  I freeze in place.


Colonel Chris Hadfield has a phenomenal Ted Talk about fear.  He was an astronaut that flew space shuttle missions to the the International Space Station.   He talked about facing, and overcoming, your fears.  Experiencing them, sometimes over and over again, to get past the fear.  His example, initially, was about spiders and spider webs.  It boiled down to setting yourself up to experience going through as many spider webs as possible until they were no longer a 'thing' for you.  (The rest of his talk is truly amazing - you should check it out).

That made sense to me.  I thought about it over and over that day.  Apparently it made a really big impression on me.  I had dreams about spider webs all night that night.

His point was to experience the thing you fear (the danger you perceive) so many times that your response is fine tuned.  When you encounter that danger, you can choose how to respond because your experience has taught you what to do to make it through.

Without realizing it, I have been accomplishing this on my rides.  I used to be afraid of going downhill.  I needed to control the speed.  Not having that control made me afraid that I *might* hit something and wreck because I was going too fast.

Now I have a hill that I call my 'guilty pleasure' hill.  I hit it pedaling as hard as I can and shifting as high as I can to go as fast as possible.  It is just plain exhilarating.   To be sure it is dangerous.  I have nearly been hit by cars on that particular street while I was just trying to ride the road normally.  That sits in the back of my head as I turn on to that street.  I feel my senses become heightened as I am looking for traffic all around me.  But I am not afraid.  

Do not get me wrong.  I have not conquered my fears.  Not by a long shot.  

But I am learning that I can.

I have ridden 449 miles in 61 rides.
My number is 236.  (I have also learned to accept the scale's verdict at face value and not challenge it.)



Friday, November 6, 2015

What Did I Get Myself Into?


13 weeks
57 Rides
412.6 miles

All those weeks.

All those rides.

All those miles.

And I almost didn't finish today's ride.

I didn't think I could.

I wanted to give up.

We were on a new trail.  New is my nemesis.  Today was no different.

I spent the first couple of miles looking at the new surroundings and being in awe. 

I spent the next couple of miles enjoying the ride and the trail.

Then I realized that, for the most part, we were going down hill.  

You know that saying, what goes up must come down?

It works in reverse too.

For the next couple of miles I agonized over the idea that I would have to go UP hill to get back to the truck as this was not a loop trail.  I was terrified over the idea that I didn't know where this trail went and how much more of it was down hill,  which translated into so much more up hill to ride back.

At one point I was nearly in hysterical tears - what did I get myself into?  

I thought about how I could get picked up - making my wife trek back to the truck, by herself, and come pick me up.  

I couldn't do that to her.  

I didn't know how I was going to get back.  I was truly beginning to panic.

My wife tried to talk the panic out of my head.  She encouraged, urged, cajoled, praised, pushed and otherwise tried a million ways to get me out of my head and thinking of the possibility that this would all work out just fine.  

I couldn't see how.  It was going to be miserable.  It was going to take twice the time to get back as it took to get to where ever we were going to turn around.  I envisioned myself walking my bike back more miles than riding it.  I was devastated inside that I was ruining this ride.  That I was ruining this day.

We came upon a park - lucky for us since we both needed a restroom- and stopped for a, well, rest.  In a small room.  For a short time.

Then we decided to head back.

I breathed in.

I breathed out.

Off we went.


The first couple of miles, I was amazed.  It wasn't hard.  In fact, I felt like I was breezing right along with minimal effort.

The next couple of miles went swimmingly  as well.   Wow, I thought, this isn't hard at all. What was I worried about?

Then there was a hill.  A really long hill.  OMG it just kept right on going.  Not particularly up, but quite a long up.  I shifted.   And then I shifted.   And I shifted again. 

Then I was out of gears.  And there was still more hill.

Oh dear.

I kept peddling.   And peddling.  And peddling. And peddling.


Then I was at the top and heading downward again.

I made it.

I really made it.

Which got me thru the next hill.

And the next.

Then we were back at where we started, but I wasn't done.  

I wanted to ride a bit more.  So, we did.

I made the next several hills.   The last one kicked my ass and I had to walk it, but I wasn't sad or mad at myself.  In fact, I was laughing.  I asked for this and I got it.   So I took it.

The trek back to the truck was into the wind and no amount of crouching down makes me any less of a profile for the wind to hit so I really struggled for forward movement.  I was slow and plodding, but I didn't stop.  

Then we were done.  

I survived it.

I left there with the feeling of wanting to go back and wanting to do it again.



My best number this week was 238.4.   But today's number is 239.6.  Yeah, I know... that means I weighed myself more than my requisite once.  We have a new scale and it talks to my Fitbit app so I played with it this week.  

It has taught me I don't like playing with it.








Friday, October 23, 2015

Changes



It's funny how some memories stick with you for forever.  Some of those memories seem so very clear, it's almost like having a movie projector in your head.

I have a teenage memory that stands out incredibly clear for me. It evokes potent emotions each time it comes up.  It is so vivid that when I call it up, I feel very much like I am there again.

I can see the green and black zebra striped wall paper. (Who puts wallpaper in a mobile home?)

I can see the molding strip that comes down ALMOST to the top of the mirror.  It stops about one inch away.  It was that way from the day my parents bought the place, and of all the flaws they found that they had the company fix, this one they missed.  So it stayed.  Yes the molding had the green and black zebra striped wall paper on it too.

I can see the counter top, littered with soaps and lotions and potions all designed to make a teenage girl feel like a socially acceptable person.

In case you were wondering, no.  There was no make up.  Even then, I had no interest in that.

I can see the rugs on the floor.  They were all shades of blue.  Nothing to match the green and black zebra stripes surrounding me.

I can see my image in the mirror.  I was about 16, in the in the first iteration of a relationship that would be on again off again for a couple of years.  I was studying myself, trying to see what he saw in me.

I was disheartened at what I saw.

I began crying, tears streaming non stop down my face.

"How could anyone ever love me if this is the way I look?"  That phrase floated through my brain in a loop.  Sometimes quietly.  Sometimes so very loudly.

I hadn't put my shirt on yet, and only had a bra on.   I remember feeling horrified at what I saw.

I could see my ribs.

All of them.  

It looked so vulgar to me.  So disgusting.  So horrifying.






Now I look in the mirror and feel the same horror and disgust.  I can't see one single rib, but the horrified feeling is the same.

I get ready to ride my bike and feel pretty darn good.  Somehow the bike clothes, despite the over abundance of spandex, make me feel like I am this incredible athlete.   Sometimes as I ride, I look at myself move.  I feel my strength.  I allow myself a moment to feel like I am this incredible athlete, strong enough to accomplish anything.  Except maybe that hill over there.  That hill scares me.  (One day I'll try it though). 

I get home, put the bike away, still rather high on that 'you did it - WOW " feeling.

Then I take off my superhero suit.

And walk by the mirror.

It all fades away with that one reflection. 



I am trying to make changes in my life that will make changes in me.


I'd be lying if I didn't say that I sometimes look back on that day when I was 16 and think - what I wouldn't give to see that image now.






Now for my number.


237.2

I have made it a personal policy to get on the scale once a week and take whatever number is there at face value.

Up or down.

But today I got on the scale and it said 237.2    Which shocked me.  

So I got off.

And got on again.

This time it said 240.2.

So I got off.

And got on again.

240.2

Two more times.  Same 240.2

I think the universe was trying to throw me a bone.  And then got upset when I threw it back.

But there's my number.

240.2

Friday, October 16, 2015

I deserve it.


I am still going.

I started August 1st. 
I have gone 274 miles.
I have ridden almost 26 hours.
I have climbed over 21000 feet.
I am up to nearly 8 miles every day I ride.
I am trying to ride 5 out of 7 days each week.
My current average speed is about 11.5mph

I am now at the point where each ride feels good.  Even the hard starts, and the awkward moments, and the "well crap, blew that" and have to push the bike up the hill a touch are all ending with 'that felt good' and the next morning I want to ride again.

Now the days I don't ride, I have progressed from thinking "whew, glad I didn't ride" to wishing I could have ridden and truly missing riding that day.

I feel stronger.  My legs have more strength in them. I can stand and put my pants on without leaning on something.  My cardiovascular capabilities are noticeably better.  I can actually run after my dog when he gives me an alert - I am truly at the point where I am choosing not to run when running will kill me because I will fall - daylight, terrain, etc as opposed to not being able to run.  I will say, any serious length and I am still in trouble as far as trying to stay with him.  I am proud, however, of what I am seeing and how I am feeling.


I am still struggling.  


I want so much for things to change for me.  What does that mean?  In this context it means to lose weight.  I am putting out all this effort to make a healthier me.  Doesn't that mean I should be losing weight?  Look at those miles!  Look at that time in the saddle!  

Yet not much has changed.  I started at 245.   I have seen 246.

And not much has changed.  

If I am to be totally honest... that is a very true statement.

Yes I ride.  I ride more each week.  More miles, more time, more distance, more often.  And I am guessing that I feel that should be enough.   Enough to make a difference.  I mean, come on!  I am riding and riding and riding!  Why do I have to change anything else?

I love food.  That's not truly accurate.  I love some foods.  A lot.  

I also have a mind set of "I deserve it".

The morning was hard?  I deserve a snack.

The afternoon was hectic and crazy?  I deserve a snack.
(and yes.. I had breakfast and lunch too!)

What a long day!   I deserve dessert too!

I haven't snacked in a while!  I deserve a snack!

I truly do say that to myself.  A version of it anyway - I have earned it, I deserve it... anything like that.  So I go get my reward.

Now, I am not saying I am eating two dinners, 3 desserts and a whole pizza.   

But I have another soda. (Soda is a sincere addiction for me - but I think that's another topic for another day.  Maybe.)

And take another bite.

And have chips with the Red Bull.

And it adds up. Obviously.

Or at least, it doesn't subtract.      

So when not much has changed, I shouldn't be disappointed.

Yet I am.  I am disappointed in me.


I am not sharing this because I am looking for weight loss advice.  I am not looking for ways to change my mindset. 


I am sharing this for a couple of reasons.

One - I can't be alone in this.  I am certain I am not the only one who feels this way or struggles with this.  So I share to let them know THEY are not alone.

And two... sometimes, sharing the struggle takes the power away from the struggle. Verbalizing it somehow makes it real, but then makes it conquerable.  So I am hoping that by sharing it, it will become less of an issue and something I can overcome.



I will keep going.

I will get back on that bike and ride more.
I will likely have another soda too.

But I will keep going.

My number today is 239.8.

"You have to fully, completely, unapologetically approve of yourself."

I deserve that too.






Monday, October 5, 2015

Stranger Inspiration




I was going to talk about lessons after a rain.  Slippery places and puddles. My headlight playing tricks on me.  Riding in the dark.   But something happened.

It was a rough start this morning.  Shortly into the ride, my bike shorts' elastic waist band folded over and rolled down.  This happens because, quite frankly, there's a bit too much fat in the middle of me and it pushes on the elastic until the elastic cries uncle and backs off.  That made me quite sad.  That had happened to me all the time in the beginning.  Every single ride.    Only recently had I noticed that it hadn't been happening at all.  In fact, on Thursday, after a particularly good ride in a week of particularly good rides, I allowed myself to think that perhaps changes were indeed happening with my body, even though the scale was reticent to share the same good news with me.

When it happened again this morning, I was more than crestfallen.  However, as I rode, I tried to push myself and find the good feeling I had been having of late.  Regardless of the missteps with shifting gears that I seem to be doomed to repeat, each ride has felt better and better.  As I make it into my driveway, I am relishing the feeling of the ride before I look at the numbers.  Then the numbers only make the ride feel that much better.

Reaching for that good feeling, I got on with the ride despite the now fallen waistband.  I chose a tad bit of a different route.  It was a whim and I decided to just go with it.  In the end it still encompassed 99% of the normal ride, just a bit in a different sequence.  

As I turned down a street, I saw one of my now familiar, if only on sight, neighbors walking her dog.  She appears to be a quite fit woman and I suspect walking the dog is not her sole source of exercise as the dog appears older and not a good jogging candidate.  Intent on her cell phone,as she nearly always is when I see her on the street, she paid me no mind as I passed her going down the cul de sac, and then again as I came back up the street.  I turned and zoomed down the hill and hit my turn around spot.  I intended on pushing myself back up the hill.  I wasn't going to stair step it as I always did by turning onto the street mid rise to ease the length and steepness of the hill. 

I was going to conquer it in it's entirety. 

And then I saw her.  Fit, cell phone concentrating, dog walking woman.  She was crossing where I would be heading up the hill and I saw her hesitate, unsure of my path.  In an instant  a dozen thoughts came through my mind.

I don't think I can make the hill.

If I can't make the hill, she'll see it.

She'll see me have to stop and get off my bike.

She'll see me walk the bike up this insignificant hill.

She'll think I have no business riding this bike.

I will be embarrassed by my inability to ride up a truly simple hill.

I can't let her see that.  

Turn.  Must. Turn.


So I signaled to her that I was turning out of her path.  She nodded her thanks and continued boldly walking.  

As I passed her, I heard her say it.

Words that for then next 1/2 mile would bring tears to my eyes.  

"You're doing great!"

I simultaneously froze and continued riding.  Time stopped.    I processed what I had heard.

Fortunately, my politeness didn't wait.  I gave her a sincere, heartfelt  Thank You.


No, I didn't change course and challenge the hill, pushed on by the stranger's words.  

I continued on my path down my stair step street because I needed to mindlessly ride for a minute.  I needed to process what this stranger had said to me.

I needed to process that it meant so much to me. 

In just those three words, she told me that she had noticed.  She had noticed me riding diligently.   She noticed my effort.    She acknowledged that effort and the reasons behind it.

That I am fat, but I am trying not to be.  And that I was doing great. 

This woman's words were heard by my very core.  The core that the negativity emanates from.   I heard what she said, but moreover, I felt what she said.



Never underestimate the power your words have to change a stranger's day.  To maybe make them change their course, make them reevaluate the steps that they are taking, or to confirm that the path they are on is the right one and that one phrase will keep them going. 




I have gone 212 miles since August 1st, with an elevation gain of over 16,000 feet.  My average speed is 11.4 mph.



My number is 240.8






Friday, September 25, 2015

Something Wicked This Way Comes.... Or not.







When I was about 10 or so, I had just figured out that my personal space - my home - could be invaded.  I don't think anything happened, at least I don't remember anything happening, to cause that realization.  It was just there.

One night, with this thought fresh in my head, I went to bed. My bed was on the opposite side of the room from the door, with a good view of the door. I thought about how I wanted to go to sleep, knowing that at any moment, someone could come through my bedroom door and.... and... do what, I don't know, but they would be a stranger and they wouldn't belong and it would be bad.  

So I chose to sleep facing the door.  It frightened me to think of the terrible things that could happen, but I decided that I wanted to be able to face whatever was coming head on.  So with great trepidation, I rolled onto my right side and faced the door. Eventually, I fell asleep.  Nothing bad happened.

I survived.

Several weeks went by like this.  I intentionally faced the door to confront whatever danger might come.

Then one night,  I thought about it again.   I then decided I was brave enough to put my back to the door.  To sort of trust that no one would come though the door that would do... would do... would do something terrible.  It was a big decision and I fought with myself for quite some time.  It frightened me to think of the terrible things that could happen that I wouldn't see coming.  Finally, however, I did decide to do it.  Nothing bad happened.

I survived.

Why bring this up now?

The day I started riding, I was scared to go out the door and onto the street.  The thought of leaving my street was terrifying.  I don't know why.  I am a grown woman and our neighborhood and those near us are nice, with nice people.  I just was.

Nevertheless, much like facing the door, I got on the bike and I rode.

Nothing bad happened.

I survived.

And the next day and the next ...  I survived them all.

Then came the day that my wife was able to ride with me and again I was terrified.  I had never ridden a bike with her before.  What was going to happen?  I was really quite nervous.

Nevertheless, much like turning my back to the door and trusting, I got on the bike and rode with her.

Nothing bad happened.

I survived.

My childhood memory came back to me on Monday morning when, for the first time in a bit, I had to ride on my own.  I found myself transported back to that decision point in the bed that ultimately boiled down to "Could I do it?  Could I trust myself enough to do the thing that scares me?"

And so I rode.

This week I have ridden 5 out of 6 days so far, which is a new record for me. This week I have ridden 25.1 miles.   A total of 163 miles since I started, with over 12,500 feet in elevation gain.

My number is 242.8. 

And I will ride again tomorrow.

Friday, September 18, 2015

12 Weeks


Habit: a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.

I was recently told during a leadership class that it take 12 weeks to form a new habit. Truth be told, this same instructor at a different leadership class had said the same thing, but I ignored it. 

Now that I have something new that I am doing, something that I am trying to make sure that I keep doing, that 12 weeks has stuck in my head.

I started riding my bike on August 1st.  So if this woman is correct, by November 1st, this bike riding thing will have become a habit.  Something that is hard to give up.

It has been hard to continue.   Nearly every morning that I plan to ride, even though I try to make it a natural as possible, it is hard to get the clothes on, get the shoes on, get the helmet on, (not the gloves... I really like the gloves... they are an odd source of inner power for me), get the bike outside and go.   Those steps are all slow, awkward, and with anywhere from a touch of dread, to a decent amount of "I so don't want to do this."

But I do go out and do it.

I was settling in to a pretty good rhythm of 3-4 rides a week.

Then we went out of town for a search and rescue training weekend.


With these guys:



And I didn't ride for 5 days in a row.

My first time back riding hurt.  I didn't realize that 5 days off would make it so difficult. In my head it felt like I was starting all over, and my body protested an unbelievable amount.  The voices came through loud and clear.  Like loudspeaker or Bose sound system loud and clear.   There were a bunch of "you can't do this"s and "why are you even trying?"s along with a other very negative phrases that ran on a loop.  

My wife tried to help.  She was the most encouraging woman in the world, telling me I had this, I was doing it, I wasn't quitting.... and my head shut her down time after time after time.

Yet, when all was said and done, I rode 5.9 miles, at an average of 10.3mph in 34 minutes. Very on par with my most recent rides.  

Reality didn't reflect the words the voices were pushing on me.

So, this morning, I rode again.  6.1 miles at an average of 10.4mph.  

Nearly a week off hurt in other ways too.

My number is 243.   I have to tell you I really struggled with putting that here.  I really thought I could just skip it.  Ignore it.  Not share it.

But if I am not honest with you, it will be so much easier to not be honest with myself.

Again, I don't have the answers for anyone else.  I don't have magical words that will fix it and I haven't had an epiphany that means my life will change and move in a totally new direction. 

I am just trying to keep moving forward.

And hope that I develop this habit that will be hard to give up.





Saturday, September 5, 2015

Controlling Fear



There are so many things in my head.  So many different ways I want to go with this post.


Do I talk about control?

Do I talk about my fears?

Do I talk about what I want to do?

Do I talk about my accomplishments?


Maybe I can talk about all of it...

Control.

This has so many aspects in my life.  When the rest of my life is out of control, I rearrange the furniture in the house - because I have control over that.   Where it comes to light in riding is with hills.  This time however, in going down the hills.  

When I was young - I rode bikes with abandon.  I don't recall having any fear of hills, up or down, at any point.  I spent summers riding to and from my sister's house and the store.  A ride fraught with hills - up and down - and curves and even some traffic issues - although a short cut through a trailer park allowed you to avoid the highway.  I sped up and down those hills without a second thought.   Even after I crashed and broke my clavicle, once healed, I continued up and down that road without a second thought - although I never again tried to ride down the massive hill and make a 90 degree turn without ever using my brakes. (For the record - I made the turn without issue.  It was the hole in the road that caught my tire, stopping the bike and sending me flying that got me...) 

Now, a simple hill that I go down near my street causes me to brake like mad.

So I don't lose control.  

I get images in my head of a small thing causing me to swerve and crash.

Or a bump causing me to crash.

Or a car causing me to crash.

Or SOMETHING causing me to lose control.  

I don't like not being in control.


My fears.

Boy howdy have I developed a lot of fears.  Maybe they were always there, but now circumstances and choices have forced me to face them frequently making them stand out in my mind.

Fear of hills - this one I know is not new.  It existed in my walking life and carried over to my riding life.   Just when I think I have come close to conquering it... there's a new hill. Which leads me to my next one.

Fear of new things.  This feels like a new one to me.  My very first ride I was petrified to go out the door.  What if I fell?  What if I got hit?  What if I went X far and couldn't go any further?

As I continue to ride the route we developed by our house, I have grown comfortable and feel little issues with it now.   We chose a new route last night for today and suddenly I found myself feeling that fear all over again.  We had driven it.  We drove portions of it a couple of times.  It seemed good.  It seemed workable.
  
Then this morning,  we got there.  It was almost as if I was in a foreign country.  It made me ride slower.  It made me ride feeling rather miserable.  I feel quite like I didn't have any business being out there riding. I couldn't lead.  If I did, I didn't know where I was going or even if I could do it. On our second 'lap', when I did lead, by accident, I had a sudden panic and had no idea where we were. I thought I had missed a road or a turn or something and I was terror stricken.  

I had done none of those.  I was in fact, on the road we were supposed to be on, going the direction we were supposed to go.  Nevertheless, none of it looked familiar.

What is so odd to me is that I love to explore new places.  I love to drive down roads I have never been on... just to see what's there. 

I think the basis for this fear is knowing that getting down those roads is wholly dependent on my ability to do the riding.

And this innate fear that I can't do it.  

  

What do I want to do?

I want to ride without fear. Without the fear of losing control. Without the fear of the unknown.     Without the fear of 'what if'.   I want to learn to enjoy every aspect of the ride. The more I ride, I discover I am getting some of that.   I ABSOLUTELY enjoy when my wife and I ride together.   I also enjoy the alone time on the ride.  I enjoy the other people who give you a nod (or a shake of their cane or  two thumbs up) to let you know that they see you.  That they see what you are doing. 

I want to change the voices in my head that very definitively hold me back. 

All of the people who have told me "change the tapes in your head" or some other version of that...  I challenge you to look at yourself and tell me, honestly, that YOU have done that in your life.  Tell me that you have changed the voices that tell you all the negative things about yourself - that tell you you aren't worth it,  you are a sham, you aren't capable, you'll never be able to do it  - tell me you've fixed it and you have gotten past them.  

I believe that some have.  I believe it is possible.   I have had 47 years or so of those tapes in my head.  Those tapes were put there by so many others who held influence in my life, and reinforced and magnified, quite well, I might add, by me.  

I haven't found the "STOP" button yet.  I also haven't found the "EJECT" button either. It's not a switch.  I don't know exactly what it is, but it's not easy.  

I am beginning to feel that that's what's meant by "Do the thing you think you cannot do." (Thank you Eleanor Roosevelt).  

Even if you are afraid of it.

Even if others say you can't do it.

Even if it seems impossible.

You must do the thing you think you cannot do.

For each thing you do, it means you will be better able to do the next thing you think you cannot do.

My accomplishments.  

I am riding consistently faster - I am consistently seeing 10+mph over the last little while.    
I am feeling a distinct difference on the hills I am riding up.  I am trying to push myself more on those hills. 

I have ridden 99 miles over all.

My number is 239.

I think I am doing the thing I think I cannot do.