Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Just Like Riding a Bike

You’ve all probably heard the phrase, “It’s just like riding a bike.” You may have even said it yourself once or twice. The basic idea behind this idiom is that once you know how to ride a bike, you won’t forget. Even if it’s been years since you last rode a bike, it’s OK—just get back on and have a go. You’ll remember!

As a kid, I loved riding my bike. We had this ‘huge’ hill in our road that was nearly impossible to pedal up, but the ride down was worth it! I take off on my pink and gray Huffy 10-Speed and stay out until my legs couldn’t take any more.

I swear this hill was bigger when I was a kid...
Not my actual bike, but this is what it looked like.

As I got older, my bike riding days became less and less. I wasn’t even a big fan of the stationary bike at the gym. Then back in 2001 I started training for a sprint triathlon and needed to go and get myself a new bike. Even though it had been a few years, I quickly got back into the swing of things. Except for the whole switching gears part. I never did master that well.

I continued to ride after the triathlon, although not on a regular basis. But when I did, I usually put in a good 10-12 miles. And then I gained a whole bunch of weight. I think it’s been at least seven years since I’ve been on my bike. I wasn’t worried that I forgot how to ride, I was worried that I just wouldn’t be able to do it. I told myself:
  • I’m too overweight
  • I’m too out of shape
  • My balance isn’t good enough
  • I’d fall and get hurt
  • I’d look ridiculous
  • I might break my bike

It’s hard to admit to thinking that last one, but I did. When you are as overweight as I have been, unfortunately it is a common thought. Weight limits come to mind and how embarrassing would that be if I tried to ride my bike and bent the wheels? I seriously had visions of either breaking my bike or falling within 10 yards and breaking a bone.

It was best easiest to just avoid it all together.

Then my daughter started asking about going on a bike ride together. I could tell she really wanted someone to ride with her. I just couldn’t bring myself to try, and it was hard to push the shame and guilt away. Luckily for her, my husband jumped on my bike and off they went on rides to the park, to lunch, or nowhere in particular.

And I remained home, wishing I could just get a bit more in shape so I could ride with them.

I’ve been working out hard at FXB for over a year, and it’s been bugging me more and more. I’d pull in the garage and see it hanging there, right in front of where I park, and think, “Soon. I’ll try again soon.” But we all know ‘soon’ is really code for ‘I have no idea when, but it won’t be any time in the near future’.

This morning at the gym I was talking to a couple of my gymmates about self-imposed limits and having the confidence and determination to get past them. During the conversation the image of my bike hanging on the wall came to mind. I told them about it and they both told me to just do it. To get on the bike and ride.

On the way home I decided I was going to do it. I stopped for gas and cat food, giving myself plenty of time to work up the courage. I pulled in the garage and looked at my bike. I took a deep breath and walked right up to it. I aired up the tires and rolled it to the middle of the garage. My heart was beating so fast I might as well have been back in the holding corral of the triathlon. Just as I started to get on, I heard a neighbor rolling in their trash cans. My thought, “Crap. I don’t want anyone to see me do this.” I still had strong images of lying at the end of my driveway, in a pile of my own blood and pebbles embedded into my knees (the joys of the vivid imagination of an author). I also still believed that I’d look ridiculously large on the small frame of my bike and I didn’t want to think of anyone looking at me and feeling the urge to laugh.

Then I reminded myself of the conversation I had this morning and decided I needed to do it. I couldn’t just talk the talk, I had to walk the walk—or bike the bike . . .

I took a deep breath and for an instant I actually thought I wouldn’t be able to get my leg over the seat/frame to straddle the bike. Then I told myself to stop being stupid—I’m in my second year of FXB. Of course I can get my leg up and over the bike. And so I did.

And then I rode. And I did not fall. I passed a lady walking her dog, and I didn’t even think about whether or not I looked ridiculous. I was just so happy I was actually riding my bike. I only rode through my neighborhood, about 0.5 miles, since it was my first time back on and the bike could really use a tune up (and let’s be real, it was also because I had just come from lower body day).

Now I’m determined to get back on and ride farther. Not soon—this week. My daughter is getting a new bike this year, so that’s when mine will go in for a tune-up. I’m determined to be ready for long family bike rides this summer. Looks like I know what we’ll be getting Daddy for Father’s Day this year since we will now be one bike short in this family :-)

I’ve written before about my challenges with obstacles. In my journey I’ve learned that self-imposed obstacles are the hardest to overcome. Our mind gets to make up how big and impossible they are. There is no tangible evidence to use against it, as least not until we push past and do it. If you have something you’ve been too afraid (or stubborn) to try, just take a deep breath and go for it.

Truly, it is just like riding a bike :-)

~ Carrie