Overcoming Fear in a Safe Space

I’ve been trying to get into mountain biking recently, but it has often left me frustrated and sometimes even in tears.  I have a hard time accepting that it is VERY different than road biking AND that it doesn’t come naturally to me despite how similar it is to horseback riding (which I spent many years doing).  See my Instagram post from last month below as an example of my frustration towards mountain biking…

Instagram post - original at https://www.instagram.com/p/Bk6RnvjlGK4/?taken-by=emharv8

People talk about how fun mountain biking is, but I just haven’t gotten it because it’s been such a frustrating experience for me.  There have been fleeting moments of fun, but overall it’s been tough.

By happenstance and a lot of luck, I got connected with an amazing group called Life’s 2 Short Fitness and just this past week attended my 1st session of a 5-session program specifically for women who are new to mountain biking.  We started out with introductions, including sharing our biking experience and why we were taking the class.  What struck me is that at least 5 of the 15 women, including me, said they were there because their husbands like mountain biking and they want to have enough skills to actually enjoy that activity with them – definitely a theme there!

Before riding, the lead women of the group talked about basics of mountain biking, how to change a tire, etc.  We then set off on an amazing ride up South Table in Golden, CO and after climbing to the top with 2 switchbacks, we rode around a loop with various sized rocks we could choose to ride over, or not, depending on our comfort level.

Lauran taking a selfie with me waving while riding in the background. Other women on mountain bikes are behind me.

It’s hard to explain why this completely changed my mountain biking experience, but it did.  It’s funny because this is sort of exactly what we do with LIM359 in providing a safe space for amputees to try new activities with other amputees, but I guess it’s just as applicable for women in sports and I’d never really thought about it that way before.
Group of women riding mountain bikes - I'm giving a thumb's up to the camera

Thanks to this amazing opportunity to talk through strategies beforehand and then riding with other women in a safe environment, I actually enjoyed the entire 1 hour ride we did that evening – no frustration, no tears, only happiness & gratitude.  I guess the lesson here is that sometimes we need to try hard things in a safe environment before we push ourselves to try them in the “wild” and that’s perfectly okay.
A group of women on top of South Table with their mountain bikes looking happy

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