Full disclosure, I am going to be intertwining “Stress” and “Fear” within this post as I feel as they will go hand in hand.
I’ve had several women approach me lately about the stress/fear that comes along with riding. I wish I could send them words of encouragement allowing them to swiftly toss those feelings into the trash and move forward in their cycling journey. However, I am in their stress/fear club as well and instead, I am going to let them know that they are not alone, nor are their feelings unjust.
You’re probably wondering what the hell I am even talking about. Within the past month I have received inquiries about the following concerns and I’m briefly addressing each one…
- I want to be a commuter, but I fear for my safety. – Buddy up! Recruit friends to join you on your commutes. Riding in pairs/packs always makes you feel safer and makes you more noticeable on the road. Test ride your routes in the car as well as by bike to see how traffic is during your ride time, as well as what side roads you may be able to take instead.
- I want to feel more comfortable riding on the road, but since having children my confidence in doing so has all but diminished. – Man how my riding has changed since having a baby! I’ve noticed that my group riding hasn’t been greatly affected, but solo riding, this fear is pumping through my heart the entire time. My suggestion for this is much like the one above. I’d also like to add that it’s also ok to change your style of riding. I used to LOVE road riding by myself in and out of the park with winding roads and twirling hills. Not so much in this season of my life. I’m far more cautious and stick to the paths. I don’t think this is a forever change for me, but it is what works for me now.
- I want to race, but my nerves get the better of me. Ok, I am not a competitive person, so feel free roll your eyes and tell me to shut the hell up. BUT. The worst thing that could happen is you don’t come in first. Or second. Or maybe you come in dead last. Will your ego be bruised? Surely, but big picture, loosing isn’t the end of the world. Learn from the experience. Maybe you didn’t train well or enough. Maybe you need to work on what sorts of fuel work best for you. Perhaps you need to work on your breakaways or maybe rock gardens are the death of you. Or maybe, just maybe, you totally rock it and kick ass. You won’t know unless you try!
- I want to join a cycling club, but I don’t feel like I am good enough. The beauty of clubs is that usually, it’s people who just want to ride with other people. They want to learn or they want to teach, but in the end, you are all in good company. And if that ends up not being your experience, move on and seek another one that better fits you and your riding style. Easier said than done, and maybe you feel like there aren’t any/enough clubs to begin with. But put a feeler out and maybe you can create your own little cycling network!
- I want to shop for a new bike, but I find bike shops intimidating. Yup. I get it! Especially if you are new, this is the WORST feeling ever. My best advice is to shop around for a shop you love along with shopping for a bike. Find the shop that speaks to you, addresses your concerns, and wants to make your bike shopping experience fun and exciting. The first few times you go in to any shop can be daunting, especially when you already feel like you are in over your head and that you don’t “know” enough to even begin. But a good shop wants to educate you. They will want to take the time to help you find the right bike, in the correct size. If they give you the cold shoulder or make you feel like you don’t belong, you don’t want to give them your business anyway. Keep in mind, your bike shop relationship will most likely grow long after you’ve purchased the bike. From accessories, to minor adjustments, tune ups, and new bar wrap, You want to be a familiar face and chances are you’ll find yourself just hanging out there for the fun of it.
Again, these are all from the past month! The list really could go on and on forever, which is odd when you think about the blanket fact that riding a bicycle should be nothing but fun. In addressing each of these concerns, I don’t think there is an actual answer so much as the need to know that you aren’t alone. I can offer tips and suggestions, but that feeling of fear and/or stress will probably always be there to some extent. I really can’t emphasis enough that, that is ok!
Do you find yourself stressing about the ride in way or another? Do you have any tips you would love to share?! Please comment below!