Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Facing fear

This has been a year for facing fears: fear of cancer, fear of the unknown, fear of needles, fear of surgery. Last weekend I faced another fear: the fear of riding a bicycle.

I have been afraid of riding wheeled vehicles longer than I can remember, starting with my Tyke Bike tricycle when I was three. When later I learned to ride a bicycle, I didn't take the training wheels off until I was twelve. TWELVE! 

I did eventually learn to ride without training wheels, and even rode it to high school for a year. But I stopped riding it once I went to college. I haven't ridden a bike since I was 19 or 20.

Until last weekend.

Earlier this year my husband and I moved to an area of town near a very nice bike path. He has a bike, and enjoys riding it on the weekends in nice weather.  I would like to find a form of exercise that my husband and I can enjoy together, and since we live so close to the bike path now, I no longer had an excuse not to learn to ride again. I had been planning to look into getting a new bike this year, but then...cancer, and the bicycle was postponed (along with so many other things).  

A few weeks ago, I told a friend of mine that I was looking for a comfort fit bike. Last week she tipped me off to a used one that showed up at a local Trek bicycle store. I went to check it out on Christmas Eve day. The used bike ended up being much too big for me, but I told the salesman what I was looking for and he sold me a new bike that actually fits me quite well. It's a Trek Verve 1, a hybrid style bike with a straight, mountain bike style handle bar.

Saturday was warm enough to take it out to try. I was terrified, but determined to learn to ride that bike! To make sure I didn't back out, I told all of my Facebook contacts, as well as several of my coworkers, I was going to learn to ride this weekend. 

I practiced on our street for a bit, until I was comfortable getting on and off the bike, steering, shifting (sort of), and stopping. I did not fall over. Whew! Next step: the bike path. Lots of other riders, walkers and runners were out also enjoying the fine warmer mid-40's weather on the bike path. I had some difficulty navigating around the other bikers and pedestrians, but I did not fall or hit anyone! Go me!

I'm really proud of myself for overcoming my fear.  I'm still a bit unsteady and unsure of myself, but I'm sure biking will get easier with a little practice, and it's great exercise.