Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Letting Go

Not that I'm counting, but here I am at the top of my second post. I feel stuck, which seems to be a reflection of where I am in my life right now, and I find myself thinking about the different lessons riding a bike has shown me. One of them is just this - I have to let go of the brakes if I want to see what's at the bottom of the hill I just climbed.

I'm not one of those people who likes to go mach 10 with my hair on fire, I much prefer something  more controlled, like the Matterhorn roller coaster in Disneyland. There's still a sense of excitement, but I am "safely" buckled in. Going downhill on my bike felt like I was riding the roller coaster without the buckle or shoulder harness.

My confidence grew with each descent I would make, beginning on the smaller hills that felt so steep and scary and then on to taller and taller mountains, which would mean I had to go back down them to get home. I used my brakes A LOT. (Fun Fact: I have had to change my brake pads many more times than Kevin.) The funny thing is, the more I rode, the more I began to realize that easing up on my brakes made it a little easier to control my bike. It took letting go to find this out.

One of these experiences came at the top of a road called Old La Honda. Kevin and I were riding our bikes to the beach. We had just climbed up the east side of the mountain and were getting ready to descend the west side. It was a foggy morning, so the redwood trees had water dripping from them causing the road to be wet and my apprehension as well. After you cross over Skyline Road to get to the west side of Old La Honda the road drops down very quickly. I had never ridden this part of the road before and all ll I could see was a severe angle in which I was going to have to go down. I froze. I clipped out of my pedal, put my foot on the ground, and said quite unequivocally, "HELL NO!" It was quite a big girl tantrum. I vaguely remember tears and a few other expletives.

Kevin thought I was right behind him when we crossed over to continue on our trek, so he merrily continued on down the road. After a few minutes of standing there he came riding back up to see if I was alright. "No." I quickly told him. I said I couldn't do it. It was too much for me. I wanted to go back the way I had been before. Those roads aren't as steep and I knew them. I would be quite happy sticking with what I knew I could do. This looked like a suicide mission and I wasn't up for the task. 

After a few minutes with Kevin patiently and gently encouraging me that the steep part ended just around the corner, about 100 feet,  I decided I would walk down to "just around" the corner. I wanted to see the beach. I knew I would have regretted not trying. I was learning to push through my fear and believe that I am more capable than I realize.

Kevin was telling the truth, the road did level out and I did make it down the west side of Old La Honda and all the way to the beach. I was glad I continued on. I was glad I didn't let my fear, the unknowing, or lack of confidence keep me from trying. I was glad I didn't just stay on the roads that I knew. It has given me the opportunity to get stronger and more confident on the bike and to see new things I wouldn't have seen otherwise. We have gone to the beach many times since that day, and Old La Honda is the way we like to ride. Since that day I have ridden up and over without clipping out of my pedals. That new road has become an old familiar one to me now.

How about you?  Is there a place you want to see but the road ahead of you looks daunting?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Beginning...Well Actually Somewhere in the Middle

This is my first posting to my blog. I'm not quite sure what it's all about or where it's going, I just know I'm On my Way.

My hope, my desire, is that my small voice in the sea of so many other voices will encourage others to keep pedaling, climbing and moving forward in their lives no matter how fast or slow the process is. This journey we are all on is meant to be lived, enjoyed and experienced with ourselves and others. I hope we can all remember and see that even our smallest step or slowest climb is a victory.

Here in the beginning, I want to say very proudly or maybe just loudly, that I do not have any of life's mysteries figured out. I am a forty-six year old woman, who at times still feels like a girl, learning that it is a good thing that I take space in this world and to not let my fear keep me from learning, loving and living.

I married an amazing, kind, loving, talented man 26 years ago and I can honestly say that young, naive choice to marry him at the age of 20 is still one of the best decisions I have made in my life. We have been blessed with 3 wonderful children, a son-in-law and a chocolate lab who has taken away my ability to have pride in our lawn. I am thankful and blessed by my family.

I find myself after years of diapers, lunches, school activities, soccer, flute lessons, school plays..., wondering what is next. I told a friend the other day that I no longer have my children and their busyness to hide behind or keep me distracted. I'm beginning to have just me and my thoughts and for someone who has struggled with her own value, this is a very scary thing.

The funny thing is, I believe God has used a  bike to give me the courage to try this blog. My husband has always loved to ride bikes. Riding his racing bike was one of the things he did when we first met. He has taught me the nuances of bike racing and we drive our kids crazy every July as we watch the Tour de France over and over. They just don't understand how we can watch the same race 4 times a day. We've stopped trying to explain and they just chalk it up to "there they go again".

Kevin, my husband, stopped riding his road bike after we were married as the demands of life took over. He even sold it.  After Kevin had a heart attack 3 years ago we knew he needed to find a way to exercise that he would enjoy and be able to sustain. Bicycling has been the only type of exercise that he loves, so he went and found a bike to ride. This is the day my journey changed direction ever so subtly.

As we were at the bike store buying his bike, I very innocently said, "Maybe someday I will get a road bike and we can ride together".  He looked at me and said, "How about today?"

So it began. My first ever road bike with clip in pedals. I remember being so scared when I had both feet clipped in and I was coming to a stop. What if I couldn't get my feet out? I would fall. Every one would see. I don't know about you, but I have a really hard time being seen, especially being seen as a failure. But that's just it, every time I clipped into those pedals, no matter how unsteady or sure I felt, I wasn't failing, I was trying and I was succeeding. Surprisingly enough,  the first time I fell because I couldn't get my foot out of the pedals, I found myself laughing, even with people all around me watching and seeing what I had done.

This blog is in some ways my new bike with clip in pedals. I'm nervous, a little shaky and feeling very vulnerable at letting you see me, but I hope my journey will encourage you to clip in, pedal and try as you ride on your own way.