I never thought I would be fast at anything that required physical ability. Before I started riding a road bike, I had no idea that I had an athletic side to me. I spent a good part of my life completely uncomfortable with my physical being. I wouldn’t have dreamt that I would be pedalling hard, sucking wind, and pushing my limits to keep with the wheel in front of me. There was a time when I couldn’t possibly have imagined feeling fast and fierce. What I didn’t realize that the seemingly impossible things can become reality.Riding a road bike didn’t come easy to me. I was terrified when I went outside for my first spin. After over a decade of bike rides, there are still days when every part of me is nervous and scared as the wheels start rolling. One of the most challenging types of rides for me is the flat, fast, time trial style riding when I try to keep the wheel of my very strong husband, James. He will never stop pushing my limits. He will also never stop believing in me.
My only goal on these rides is to keep with him for the duration of the ride. It does terrify me. The pace is so fast, there is so much to watch, and it simply feels like anything can happen. Something could go wrong in a split second. I have to push my physical limits to stay with him. If I focus on these things, then the fear overtakes me. If, however, I am able to focus on the wheel in front of me, the glimpses of the road ahead, and putting my effort into physically exerting myself, then I am able to find a place of pure exhilaration. It isn’t always easy. Sometimes I have to remind myself to breathe. Sometimes I have to talk myself into it, one pedal stroke at a time. Sometimes I have to convince myself that I can do this.
The moment when I realize that I am there is absolutely amazing. My entire being is completely within an ebb and flow of its own. The world whizzes by me in a blur. The wheel in front of me is in complete focus. I am tuned into every tiny movement that James makes. I take in glimpses of the road stretched out ahead. My soul is equally relaxed and exhilarated. It is one the single most freeing moments I have ever experienced. It takes a lot to get there, and before you know it, it is over. I am left longing for more.
My husband and I have had the wonderful opportunity to spend some time in sunny San Diego. The long stretch of dedicated bike path that weaves along the Silver Strand beach became one of our regular routes. It presented the perfect riding conditions for me to face my fears of fast paced cycling on James’ wheel. Today, we biked this route for the last time before we head home.
It was one of those rides where I had no doubts in my head. I was confident and comfortable. Before I knew it, we were flying along, and I realized my head was very clear. I found myself deep into the moment, enjoying every bit of it, even on the gruelling parts into the wind. I felt so much appreciation for this Silver Strand. It provided the perfect place for me to truly learn how to ride along side James. We have done a lot of these rides since being here. I have learned how to not be afraid, how to use positive self talk to change my frame of mind, and how to believe in myself. I have had many moments of feeling free and fast.
As afraid of these rides as I sometimes am, I have discovered that I am much more terrified of not trying. I don’t think I can live without finding out whether I could do it or not. I don’t think I could stand not knowing what the outcome would be if I had put myself out there. I have definitely learned that I would rather be left completely broken, disappointed, and even in tears than left completely in tact but empty with the thought that I could have done it, if only I had tried. It may take a lot of work for those few moments for my spirit to feel elated and free, but every bit of work is always more than worth it.
By the time the ride was over, and the end came far to soon, I was overwhelmed with appreciation both for my surroundings, and for James. Time after time he was patient, even when I couldn’t convince myself that I could do this. He was always there to give me another chance. I am learning day by day that, yes, I can do this. I think I have much more potential that I realize. I think that if I could truly believe in myself more consistently, then I might have a chance of realizing it.