Odd fears

I’m worried about the weirdest thing all of a sudden: What if I’m not that great of a cyclist?

I mean, I joke about it fairly frequently. I point out that I was a terrible driver, and I’m “not that much better of a cyclist.”

But the fact is, I did start biking everywhere in Portland, which is supposedly as close to cycling heaven as you can get in the United States. And in terms of cycling in cities, I’ve mostly done it in other bike-friendly places like Seattle and Vancouver B.C. So what happens when I’m some place like, I dunno, Chicago? Or Washington D.C.?

Yeah, it’s not all paradise here. I’ve been yelled at, honked at, had doors opened in front of me, been passed too close. But they happen fairly rarely; it’s an occasion worth talking about, and it can leave me pretty rattled. But I know there are other people in other cities who have this kind of thing to happen every day. Yikes! I wonder, if I lived in one of those cities, would I be riding a bicycle everywhere? Do I only do it here because it’s so easy?

Despite this, I’m looking forward to cycling in New York City. I’m not really sure why. Maybe I’ve been reading BikeSnob for too long.

I do enjoy the feeling competence (for lack of a better word) I feel on my bicycle while negotiating traffic. That wonderful feeling that I know what I’m doing. But do I?

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10 Responses to Odd fears

  1. StJason says:

    If you survive this (ha! See what I did there?) then you will be a very good bicyclist. Simple as that.

    It’s like the Boston Marathon. Doesn’t matter if you come in first, but if you finish it, you are a good runner.

    • I’m sure my skills will increase just from the sheer number of miles I’ll be doing in new places. Riding the same places over and over can make you a little complacent.

  2. Sue says:

    I’m sure you will do great. That thought often crosses my mind too. It’s our brain playing games with us. Wasn’t there a great cyclists who once said, “shut up legs” and just kept on pedaling. Well, I guess it’s the same for our brains too. So, “Shut up brain!”

  3. As the above commenters are implying, most of the real challenge of what you’re doing is mental. It might help to keep reminding yourself that you *can* get through it. As a person who went through an awful lot of big changes and challenges the last ten months, just doing my best and miraculously having it all work out okay, I think that you can do *anything*. A bit of anxiety is probably a good thing, because that will just help you focus on doing what you need to do.

    This first week at my internship I’ve been getting a lot of history of how the organization started. Most of the 4,000 people who rode the Bikecentennial route in 1976 were just average 18-21 year olds who hadn’t biked much before, but did so out of a sense of adventure and a new way of doing things that rejected their car-centric upbringing. One thing that you have that not all of them did, is a travel partner who is clearly willing to work *with* you if challenges arise.

    So anyway, I believe you can do it, even though it’s going to be tough at times. You’ll be great, and you’ll be a different (better) person as a result.

    • A bit of anxiety is probably a good thing, because that will just help you focus on doing what you need to do.

      That’s a good way to look at it, I think. Right now though, Auuugh! I woke up last night almost panicking. I’m terrified that I will not have fun on this trip. Which is ridiculous! I always get apprehensive before tours (short or longer) and then once I’m on the road I’m having fun and it’s fine.

      I do have a good traveling partner. I hope he can say the same for me….when I first wake up and/or my blood sugar gets low, I can get really bitchy. Sad but true.

  4. MelissaTheRagamuffin says:

    Happy National Ride Your Bike To Work Day, April. I would say not to worry about it, but cycling outside of my own little niche in the world or even in part of town that I don’t usually ride in fills me with dread and anxiety. But, at least you won’t be alone, and a lot of people will be sending you positive energy along the way. So, I have confidence that you will do great.

    I finally have a couple of pictures of Miss Surly with her new handle bars. She got a lot of of attention at the National Ride Your Bike To Work Day breakfast/sign-in. http://usera.ImageCave.com/photo2009/IMG_20110520_124337.jpg http://usera.ImageCave.com/photo2009/IMG_20110520_124400.jpg
    I got an odd amount of attention too – not only as the owner of the Surly with the weird handle bars – but apparently there’s a couple of people who take great pride in knowing all the local bike commuters. They’ve seen me riding my bike, but didn’t know who I was. One of them came up to me and was like, “I was hoping you’d show up. I see you every day, but I don’t know who you are…”

    • OMG! Ms. Surly looks so cute! Although…I think those might be North Road bars as opposed to mustache bars? Correct me if I’m wrong.

      Y’know, I don’t know where you live….not a lot of bike commuters in your neck of the woods? I do run into people I know all the time (that’s Portland for you, it’s just a bigger small town sometimes), but I certainly don’t know everyone I see!

      Thanks for the good thoughts. :^)

  5. MelissaTheRagamuffin says:

    I’m in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. My city has a year round population of about 40,000, but we have two universities in town. One of them has about 20,000 students. The other has only about 1400. Anyway, I heard an estimate that put the nice weather bike commuting in town as high as 10%, and the year round die hards at upto 5%. He may have meant he knows all the bike commuters that live in our part of town, and there are a lot of us. I know which house he lives in, and it’s not unusual to see a bunch of bikes parked in his yard. I’ve thought about stopping before, but I never have because I didn’t know them. But, I do now.

    I have no idea what my bars are called. They got picked because you could put the brake levers where they are.

    • Virginia! I lived in Virginia for a while growing up, but I lived in Norfolk and Virginia Beach (my dad was in the Navy, of course). I think Shawn and I might be going near you…not sure of the route of the Allegheny trail, exactly (Shawn does all the figuring out of our routes).

      If your handlebars make you happy, who cares what they’re called!

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