Ride your Fear

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Cycling is a great forum to face your fears. Nearly every aspect of cycling presents some barrier which must be overcome to succeed. For instance:

  1. For some, urban cycling is terrifying because of the stop-and-go riding, foot traffic, and chaos of cars.
  2. For others, cycling in the country can inspire fear because there are so few services and no one to aid you in case of emergency.
  3. The first time a new rider goes for distance, she can become intimidated by the sheer uncertainty about new stresses on the body or the bicycle.
  4. When that rider advances to clip-less pedals (the ones you clip into are called “clip-less”) there is the ever-present fear of not being able to clip out in time.
  5. Riding in a group can always inspire fears of inadequacy.
  6. But the number one fear which lingers even in experienced riders is getting up those long, steep hills — and then getting back down them.

Now fear is, of course, a good thing. It will keep you riding safely in traffic. It will keep you from leaving your house without your cell phone on long, lonely rides. It will help you to remember your limits, and inspire you to practice cycling skills before you have to use them.

That being said, its equally important to keep your fears in check for they will hold you back. And as with other aspects of cycling, you keep your fears in check by regular, routine practice.

One of the the thrilling things about cycling with friends is watching the fears fall away as they advance. Soon, things that petrified become things that excite, and cycling becomes about the adventure, the exercise, and personal goals.

Later in the week I’ll write about overcoming fear of hills. In the meanwhile, read my essay on cornering (which I need to update).

Love,
your Bear

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