It’s no secret that I’m really into trying new things. When someone asks what my hobbies are, I’ll say “hiking and reading…and biking and kayaking and backpacking and cross country skiing and rock climbing and…” until the person starts to look concerned for me. Yes, I have too many hobbies, but that’s not a bad thing. Not until you realize that being new at something is tough because when you’re new, you’re not really good at it yet. You’re in that annoying window of time where you need to be patient and practice a lot until you start getting the hang of it. And when you have a million hobbies, that takes forever. I’m not really good at anything but I know how to do lots of things, and that’s fine with me! One of the things I’ve been working on for a few years now is getting comfortable on the back of a bike, and after lots of terrifying and frustrating bike rides over the past few years I think I’m finally getting the hang of it!
Two years ago after my running injury I decided to do my first triathlon and bought my very first road bike. I already knew how to ride a bike, which got me through the race. But I basically stayed in one gear the entire time because I didn’t know how or when to change gears, and the uphills and downhills were brutal. That year I went for a few rides under 10 miles but kind of stayed semi-afraid of my bike and how fast it could go. The bike was riding me, not the other way around.
Last year I decided to get my first mountain bike, a gorgeous Liv Tempt 2 that is quite possibly my favorite possession. I learned how to shift gears and biking became so much easier. Then I took a mountain bike class and learned how to make turns without crashing, how to ride downhill without screaming, and how to ride singletrack. My bike confidence improved so much and I found myself occasionally enjoying downhill sections and crushing the uphill trails. I even participated in my first mountain bike race in the untimed “guided wave” with an experienced female rider leading the way.
This year, the snow has finally melted at sea level and the paved trails are ready for biking (mountain biking won’t be open until June). The Alaska Bike for Women race is this weekend, so I’ve been heading out on a few bike rides to get ready for it. And I’m noticing something: for the first time ever, I’m starting out the biking season feeling really comfortable on my bike! I’m breaking less on the downhills, taking the turns without feeling like I’m going to crash, and getting up out of my seat more. Everyone told me to be patient and that eventually it would just click and I’d feel comfortable, and that has finally happened for me!
During one of my rides last week I was riding through the forest on a drizzly afternoon, feeling all of the stress of my week melt away. As I crested the top of a huge hill and went rushing down at top speed with the rain hitting my face, I literally laughed out loud at how amazing it felt to be riding like that. It may have taken a few hard and frustrating years but I’m finally feeling happy and relaxed on my bike. I’m hoping this feeling lasts (and maybe that it carries over to cross country skiing next winter?) because I’m anticipating spending a lot of time this summer on a bike!
What’s something that you’re working on getting more comfortable doing? If you’re a cyclist or mountain biker, how long did it take you to feel fully comfortable on your bike?