Thursday, April 6, 2017

Cycling for the Terrified (Me)

So... many of you out there probably have an idea of what it's like to be anxious. At least, occasionally, anyway. Maybe some of you do suffer with more regular anxiety in your life. Maybe it just pops up when there is something particular stressful happening in your life.

Then, there is the lucky type such as myself who gets to shoulder generalized anxiety disorder with a hefty side of social anxiety. It's pretty great. For one low price, you get to constantly worry about every little detail of your life - the safety and well-being of the people you love, every pain/ache/unwell feeling in your own body, the safety of the roads, the safety of the car seat straps, the strength and function of the locks on all the exterior doors of the house, the quality of life of the dogs, the balance between structure/learning and downtime for your active child, the damage Trump is doing already as "President", the global warming crisis....

Okay, wow, that was just the current top-of-mind stuff.

So... after many, many, many years of trying to work through a lot of that, here I sit! It seems to be a part of me that has no intention of waning or leaving.

Nowadays, especially since having Baby D, I realize that I need an outlet. Exercising seems like as good as any option (mind you, if you read this blog or know me in real life, you know that never seems to work out very well because my body seems to enjoy injuries and illness far far more than being active and healthy....).

But then creeps in that motherfucking anxiety.

Baby D is in a class so I can bike. But... I don't know how to change a flat tire. I don't even own an extra tube. I have a portable pump, but I don't know where to attach it to my bike frame so it's been a fixture in the back seat of my vehicle (Pro-tip: super helpful to have a pump somewhere inaccessible and useless!). I also fear speed. I clocked just under 40km/hr downhill yesterday and I nearly had to change my bib shorts. I see any twig or uneven surface as a possible Stephanie-launching enemy. I AM that person that would hit a branch the wrong way and break all my limbs while landing on a dump truck.

I worry that something will happen with her and I won't hear my phone ring. Or that I will end up too far from my home or car and not make it back in time. I set an alarm on my phone, but also fear it's set wrong or won't be audible. Seriously. I set an alarm yesterday, and it never went off while I was riding. Turns out I somehow set it for 1:50pm but specifically for Friday. It was Monday.

Riding on the road means certain death. Drivers in BC are terrifying, even moreso when all there is between you is some air and a helmet. If I pull the kid in the trailer, you bet your ass we're on a trail without traffic.

So I try to live life. I don't want my fear of all things to keep me down and hiding behind drawn curtains. For someone without anxiety, that only seems logical. I feel like those readers who also suffer, either openly or privately, will understand just how much more daunting trying to get out there and bike, or swim, or run, can be when you fear a thousand scenarios beyond just getting yourself out there and moving.

I know I can fail. Or just really suck at the sport. That isn't where the fear lies. I was raised to assume I will fail. But I recognize that it'll take work to really see gains, and there's no way to improve unless I keep trying. And the chronic pain? It can just STFU for a little while because I will hurt whether or not I exercise.

I've been told that I am foolish to keep training or exercising when I get hurt so easily. While I see the truth in that when it comes to things like obstacle races (I can't effectively train for some of those motions/movements, and I've been injured at them repeatedly, so I'm done with those for the next few years, anyway), I am still working towards racing. Having a goal of something that really scares me, even keeps me awake some nights, is something to really work towards. I take it seriously and know I have to put in several workouts a week if I really want it to happen.

Riding can feel so freeing. It's awesome to be able to physically climb some of the badass hills around here. I need to take breaks, but I don't quit. I feel fear but also excitement, which is pretty amazing. I AM capable.

I fear stupid shit AND big shit. So I might as well still aim high. 

I watch Baby D, and although she is just finally starting to show more signs of apprehension and hesitation before some activities where she can get hurt, I also see her total zest for life and willingness to try something. And she usually LOVES it once she gets out there. She's inspiring. She's everything I want to be when I grow up. Ha.


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  1. Lets just say up front that I don't understand anxiety as a general way of running day to day life. As a precursor to various events, of course there's anxiety. I suppose I shouldn't tell you the first real ride on my (then) new road bike I hit 80 KPH, going down a hill I'd never ridden a bike on before. Yeehaw!
    But I completely understand fearing the drivers. Any one of them loses their concentration for whatever reason, and the cyclist is a messy smear. Oops, maybe shouldn't have said that out loud.
    But regardless, keep at it. Fear is no reason not to do anything. Take the reasonable precautions, keep telling yourself you've taken the reasonable precautions, and dammit you are not going to let fear run your life. I admit, your definition of reasonable might be different than mine or other people's, and that's fine. But I'm pretty sure we can agree that getting struck by lightning while riding your bike is not something you need to take a reasonable precaution about. Neither is being eaten by a shark. Trampled by cows or a mama bison, we could seriously discuss; I've had to worry about that.

    1. 80 km/hr?!?!??!? Oh my goodness. I'd pass out mid-ride!
      That's amazing.
      Yes, my fear is completely and totally illogical in most scenarios. But it is one steadfast, persistent motherfucker that is ALWAYS there.

      Fucking sharks. You just can't trust them Keith.

      There have been many sightings of cougars in the neighbourhood, as well as bears. So I will beg you to keep your eyes peeled for cows and bison and I will do my best to not be eaten by a cougar.

      I'm trying to live with the fear since it won't go away. I'll keep trying. I promise!
      Thanks for stopping by!


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