mountain bike overhead sarah

Fear Is Not The Boss Of Me (shouted in my best 5 year old pouty voice)

I am a mountain biker. I love to ride my Giant Anthem 29’er. I am not a bike geek but I do know what it feels like to climb on my bike when everything is working perfectly, the gears glide like butter, the seat is fixed at the perfect height for high power and no knee pain. I know what it feels like when the weather is perfect, dry but not too dry. Hot but not too hot with a slight cool breeze as I pedal through the diamond and black diamond trails of Alafia State Park or the Vortex of Santos near Ocala.

It wasn’t always that way. I remember 15, 16 years ago, my hubby would take me mountain biking. He took me many times to a place called “Florida’s Gran Canyon.” Just he and I. Now, Javi, having been on bikes his whole life was absolutely crushing the trails. He was fearless (and still is!). He would drop into a gnarly descent and yell back something like “get your weight back” or “get your feet in neutral”. But honestly, I could not hear a thing. I was so far back, it’s possible we were not even on the same trail. My approach was much different. Upon arriving at a drop, I would stop, get off my bike, look at the drop, walk the drop, review the line I needed to take. I would climb back on my bike reviewing phrases like “I can do this” or “what the hell am I doing” or just flat out deciding to get my bike and walk it down instead of riding it.

Javi was great. He was patient, kind, considerate and yet I always felt like I was holding him back. I felt like I was a failure because I could not ride with his fearlessness and finesse. I could never see myself becoming a mountain biker. Part of it may have been the shitty Wal-mart type bikes we were using which were probably more dangerous than the trails themselves. But the real problem was my mindset. My actions on the trail were all fear based. Like my life growing up, I was reacting to the fear and panic of each new challenge on the trail. I was afraid of getting hurt, falling, breaking an arm or leg, hitting my head. I was afraid of being in pain. All valid fears, right? Right. But here’s the thing. I kept showing up. I climbed on my crappy bike and attempted to tackle the trails. I sucked. I was slower than molasses. Oh my gosh, my poor hubby and how long he must have waited for me at every drop and climb on a given trail. Slowly, and I mean slowly, I gained some confidence. I remember the day I rode Javi’s new Giant Trance. I felt like a queen. I felt like I could do anything. THAT was the day I decided to do the “big drop” on the trail Bridges at Alafia. I DID IT. I got to the top of the immediate ascent, jumped off my bike and cried. CRIED. I was so proud of myself. That kind of pride can only come from stepping away from fear and manifesting a different story. In the moment of deciding to go for it, I was tired of my same fear driven story. On a subconscious level, I realized NOT attempting the drop was more painful that attempting the drop and failing.

Maybe you are like me. I was raised with fear as a guide for decision making. I don’t blame my parents and my grandparents. They all did the best they could with the tools they knew. It is time to take personal responsibility for our thoughts and actions. Jen Sincero says it best in her amazing book “You’re A Badass”: “If you want to stay stuck in the same places and keep getting spanked with the same lessons, be negative, resentful and victimized. If you want to get over your issues and rock your life, be grateful, look for the good and learn.” In other words, if you do what you’ve always done, you will get what you’ve always gotten. That is great if you are living your life with joy and freedom. If not, it is time to do something different. It is time to start looking at how you talk to yourself. Your thoughts and beliefs dictate your reality. The moment after I crushed that “big drop” on Bridges I became a mountain biker. Not because I tackled the descent. No. Because I DECIDED I was capable. All of the little successes led me to that moment. Often, it is hard to see our progress until something huge slaps us in the face. The magic is taking time to recognize our small successes that accumulate and guide us to the life changing ones. (Side note in case you missed it- I was a mountain biker before that, I just didn’t believe in myself. People who are not mountain bikers do not drive an hour to ride gnarly trails, whether they have to walk to some sections or not.)

So, just for today, pay attention to the things you do right. Give yourself a break. Notice and be grateful for the abundance of love, support, material possessions, nutritious food, kindness, wealth, opportunity, joy you have in your world. Some days we have to look really, really hard to see those things. That’s ok. They are there. Make that your reality.