Fear, we need it, but boy it can be challenging!
The first race of our local mountain bike club’s winter championship series was held yesterday afternoon. The chatter in my head that went on in the lead up to the race and even now, post race, was incessant.
I‘m learning to embrace the fear. It takes you to amazing places.
Mountain biking is a new sport to me and I’ve been racing at a local club level for about 18 months. I’ve participated in a 4 day mountain bike event and been part of a trio in a 12 hour overnight event outside the local club stuff. Fear is always there and it’s mostly a result of comparison to others and worrying about what other people think, you can read about that here.
As a female mountain biker, I am part of a minority. At yesterday’s race there was 16 ladies in a field of 65. In the 4 day event I entered, there were 150 ladies in a field of 1200! The men can be intimidating, if you let them, but it’s all in our heads. There must be so many people who don’t attempt to do something different, because they are afraid.
You can have changes or excuses, but not both!
My mantra continues to be ‘moving outside your comfort zone is where the magic happens’. It is so true. If I had never challenged myself to get on a mountain bike and then face the fear and try a club race, I would not have experienced the wonderful things I have. Improved fitness, time alone with nature, time with friends surrounded by nature, travel to beautiful places to race a mountain bike, new friends and the exhilaration of racing.
Excuses are plentiful and once, last season, I found an excuse not to race because I was scared. It was a technical course and I felt intimated (in my head). I used the excuse of not feeling well and didn’t even go to the race to watch and socialise.
My conclusion is, it really is ‘mind over matter’.
This season, the ladies don’t have an individual category as they have done in the past. Ladies are a sub-category in 4 levels of racing that have a set number of laps in a course that changes every race. I chose to ride in the elite category, as the length of the race is longer and I enjoy the endurance. Making this decision was a big challenge! The what-if’s were prevalent in my thoughts. What if you get lapped? What if you’re the last in? What will other people think? Am I good enough? Can I do it?
I raced and I didn’t come last, but who cares if I had? I was out there, challenging myself and riding as hard I possibly could at the time.
I had fun (despite the hard work) and the sense of accomplishment at the end was fantastic.
This morning when I woke up, I smiled at my achievements and thought of everyone in that race that pushed boundaries and faced their fears (more on facing fears here).
A friend of ours raced for the first time, we’d tried to talk him into it for the past year. His comment after the race; “I enjoyed it alot more than I thought I would. I didn’t get passed by loads of people and I had fun’. His excuse for not racing sooner was that he wasn’t fit enough. I am so impressed that he found the courage to face his fears and just did it!
Managing the ‘self-talk’ is possible and it makes life much more enjoyable. I am so grateful I discovered mountain biking and the journey it has taken me on, in less than two years, has been remarkable. Physically and emotionally. I’ve made some fantastic friends and seen some awesome sunrises and sunsets. I’m in awe of nature; kangaroos, lizards, snakes, birds and stunning flowers too.