I tweeted yesterday.
I was afraid.
There was a large ride planned, a trail I had never been on and one I had heard was a challenge to do. Needless to say, my brain occupied itself most of the day on ways to quit, give up and no show the club. It consumed me to the point where I cried as I drove to the trailhead.
This was what I was afraid of:
- not being good enough
Bears are a legitimate concern, I was riding a challenging trail in the heart of bear country. Bear sightings have been a daily occurrence on the MTB Trail reports lately, trail closures/advisories are frequent from bear activity and quite frankly the last thing I want to do is be mauled by a bear. I carry bear spray & make plenty of noise but I know it can still happen.
Not being good enough is a tough one. I honestly thought I was a good rider last year. Riding with this club this year has shown me I am barely worthy to show up. I am chunky, slow and awkward AF. For some reason, I keep showing up. Despite the looks I get, the eye rolls, and the anxiety my brain put forth with the stories it tells.
It took everything I had to pull my bike out of my car yesterday. I greeted my club mates with small smiles and a churning stomach. Fighting fear is hard. Departure time arrived, the group set off, I put my feet on my pedals and pushed forward. I walked. I pushed. I rode a little more before walking again. I thought about quitting almost the whole way. Luckily I could not find the breath nor my voice in order to do so. The group slowly separated. We were last, but we made it to the top. It was a struggle. At one point we had to carry our bikes up the face slab to the summit like mountain goats. Working together we got the bikes and our selves up there.
We did it.
We were rewarded with this.
Had I let my fear eat me I would have never experienced this. Had I convinced myself to quit I would have never seen this. I would not have known what that accomplishment felt like. I know I walked. I know I am slow. I know the numbers on strava were horrendous and a tad embarrassing (I know it is not about the numbers, despite their allure). I know I am chubby. I know all of those things, my brain reminds me constantly. We were left behind by our group, that sucked. I was disappointed but I understand why it happened. It was windy, cold at the summit, the sunset was starting to fade and the fun ride down was calling. Plus, nobody likes standing around for the stragglers. We were the last ones down but that didn’t matter to me, the others nor to the trail.
This experience & my rides drive me to do more, to ride, to get better to keep going and to keep pushing myself. It helps me silence that negative voice in my mind that tells me I am not good enough, that I am too fat, too old, too inexperienced and all the other awful things it throws at me. It gives me so much more, confidence, accomplishment and the ability to persevere, push through and overcome. I am determined to finish. That fear and anxiety will never go away. It will always be a part of me but slowly I will learn to control it, instead of it controlling me. Maybe one day, this trail will be nothing more than a warm-up before moving on to the days’ ride.
That smile and feeling of accomplishment is enough for me right now.