How to overcome your fears.

I wish I had the answer to this, but unfortunately I don’t. Do you? I’d love to hear your strategies for overcoming your fears, as nothing I try seems to work.

I was really looking forward to this past weekend. I thought it was going to be epic, with TONS of mountain biking and lots of fun with friends for Memorial Day weekend.  While the second half did come true, there was very little biking involved for me, and this was due solely to my inability to get over my fears.

We drove up to Coyote Hill to pre-ride the race course early Saturday morning. We hit the course, shortly after arriving, and I soon realized the weekend was not going to go as planned. We hadn’t even gone a mile in and I already had to get off my bike a handful of times and walk over stuff, even with bug spray, I was getting eaten alive, and my head was in 1000 other places. The worst part was, I was not able to get into any sort of rhythm to distract my mind and build my confidence. Every time I was able to get back on my bike and begin to focus, I would feel like I was losing control of the bike or see something “scary” and get off again. Also, this course was known for its “climbing”, which I had been looking forward to, yet early on I realized it was just little ups and down, with no real sustained climbs.

This crazy on and off continued until I finally just gave up. I decided just to walk my bike the rest of the way out bc all I was doing was making myself go crazy. I had a lot of time to think walking for something like 5 miles (while pushing a bike), and one thing I decided was I love biking in the woods but I do not love mountain biking. In other words, I love being out in nature, off the roads and away from people, but as much as I try I cannot seem to get over my fear of obstacles and other stuff that makes mountain biking, mountain biking. I may have gone over something 20 times now, but I still tense up and am afraid each time, which I decided can’t be healthy.

The problem is I can’t seem to figure out what I am afraid of. Most people are afraid of falling, but that is not my fear. I’m not going to say I WANT to fall, but I definitely don’t mind if I do. So I guess to answer my opening question, the first thing you must do to get over your fears is to figure out what they are in the first place.  One thing I do know, is my fear of heights. I have been deathly afraid of heights for as long as I can remember, and there are definitely parts of mountain biking that bring this fear out.

So back to this weekend. After I emerged from the woods, I still had time to kill while Rich and Tracy finished their second lap and frustrated that I had gotten no workout in, I went out to battle the dirt road “climb” that led to the camp. I really didn’t enjoy going down, as I was afraid of wiping out in the middle of the road, but I had a great time going up and even laid the hammer down on a tractor.

Since I obviously was not going to race (aka push my bike for 12 miles), I decided to play photographer. This way I could at least feel like I was doing something beneficial )even if it wasn’t physical activity. Race day was beautiful, though a little hot for me, and the team had a great showing of people who had come up to race. I’m still learning how to use the DSLR I got for christmas (yes, I need to spend time playing with the settings), but here are some of my favorite shots:

Monday, I was very excited to go pre-ride Pat’s Peak. This was one of the few races I had done last year, and although it was a mudfest, I remembered really liking the course. I was looking forward to finally getting some miles in, after two days of basically nothing. I had heard they changed parts of the course, but I wasn’t too worried bc being on a ski slope, I knew this course had to have some good long climbs and even if I had to get off my bike in sections, I should have no trouble getting into a rhythm in between. Boy was I wrong again.

I probably made it about 1/3 of the way into the lap before I again got overwhelmingly frustrated. I was swelling up the size of a balloon from all the mosquito bites, and I kept getting off my bike for stupid things I knew I could do. Also, the change they had made, eliminated the long climb up the ski slope. Right there I decided to throw in the towel and just do what I wanted and climb the ski slope. It was a mix of sand and gravel and actually was kinda sketchy in sections, but for the first time all weekend I was truly enjoying myself as I pushed myself up the climb. I was almost to the top, when I hit a rock which knocked me just enough to have to unclip. I was determined to finish the climb, however, so I found a section down just a couple feet which was a little less steep so I could hopefully get back on my bike and continue up.

Usually, I am not able to get going again on an incline. I feel too off balance and have trouble getting on the seat, clipping in, etc without falling over. It took a couple tries, but I managed to get back on my bike and continue up the slope. I made it to the top and felt great, so I decided to do it again. The only bad part…I had to get back down the mountain in order to climb it again. At this point I was thinking, wouldn’t it be great if they had a lift going DOWN the mountain, just like they do up? This made me realize, unlike most people, I force myself to go down hills so I get the chance to ride up them. Obviously even if they did it wouldn’t have been running, so I made myself ride down the slope. I tried to work on my descending skills, while also trying to control my speed by hitting patches of grass on the side or doing the “paper boy” as much as possible. Once down to the bottom, I quickly turned around and began climbing again. I would have been content repeating this all day, but I was worried I would miss Rich and Tracy, so after two trips up I decided to wait at the bottom for them.

So all-in-all, I learned that I can’t mountain bike, much less race, until I find a way to get over whatever fears I have. I need to gain (and keep) confidence for going over things and dealing with situations where you don’t feel like you have control.

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About Crystal

I'm a professional archer who also enjoys participating in mountain biking, cyclocross, swimming and running races. I race more for the fun and excitement than for top places and awards (or at least I try!), and my true passion is coaching others. I have a weakness for ice cream and a good espresso. I love being outdoors, and my dream is to one day own 100 acres.

Posted on May 29, 2012, in Biking, Mountain Bike, Racing, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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