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.