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...


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.