Two Steps Forward

Photo Credit: Raina Hatfield
I must admit that I’m in a writing slump. Over the past several days I can’t say I have very much of anything exciting or positive to write about. Frankly, I’ve been feeling depressed. Stress has been consuming me, not only my stress but the stress of my partner. There are other things, but I think the biggest one is fear of my success.

I’m finding that the more “forward” I move the more insecure I become in various areas. Why should I be popular among the bike riding community(s)? Why are people emailing with me and providing wonderful interviews? I’m an average person from Iowa who hasn’t “excelled” at anything, and is being told that her blog is enjoyed. Not only the interviews, but my own writing!

In just a handful of months I went from having anxiety whenever we became close to the off-road trails to loving and enjoying them. I was riding them on my own. It’s something that I find surprising but appreciate as forward progress.

I find myself frustrated because there are times when nervousness creeps into my psyche and rattles my cage.

I’m an emotional rider and if I’m down, my riding is less than stellar. I wear out easily, I’m not excited over my accomplishments, and I just feel all-round blah. When I’m happy I could care less if I make the climb or not, all that matters is I’m out there feeling strong and having a grand time.

There are some trails I haven’t been more than once and there are trail conditions I’m not seasoned with. You combine the two and you have a nervous Josie who is riding her beautiful, carbon fiber bike like she’s afraid of it. My ride on Tuesday started off on the wrong foot but I tried to make the most of it. I also thought I’d let Travis take me on a trail I had ridden one other time prior (it has a lot of climbing to it, which I’m not amazing at.) Not only would it be a challenge, but I didn’t factor in that the trails would be a little slimy after the rain. I'm obviously not experienced enough to think of that before suggesting what I want to ride.

This is one of the times where I pushed myself to a point of being uncomfortable and I found myself feeling wracked with disappointment over my riding. Travis noted I rode nervously, which frustrated me. I wanted him to see me riding the Cali Carbon SLX like a badass, not someone who was nervous of slipping out on a root. I regretted my decision and trail route, which was filled with climbing and sneaking through trees; that wasn't going to be easy on slippery trails.

I’ve ridden this bike on trails that were cracked due to the earth being dry, but there was a sense of cautiousness that I couldn’t shake when I saw the dampness. Roots and rocks were darker in color, spots were slightly muddy (but not so muddy to ruin the trails), and I was on smaller tires. I felt myself hold back, I wasn’t ready to “let go” and just ride. This is what I could show for my successes and improvements as a rider? Trepidation? Hesitation?
My lack of confidence was brought up and I was embarrassed.

My ride the next day proved to be more successful, but the climb on North 40 that I accomplished once was still unattainable. I would session the climb more times than I could keep track of, only to find myself struggling due to one reason or another. Primarily my wrist, which seems to have developed some minor carpal tunnel issues. I’d tweak myself, pain would shoot up my arm, and I would stop climbing.
I told myself to try a few more times, making it half-way up, and continued onward.
I rode quietly, at my own pace and thought of various things.

My life has changed a lot in the past 2 years and it was all from buying a bicycle.
I never expected my life to open up and take shape the way it has. I’m the most confident I’ve been in years, however, it’s a foreign feeling to me and one that can be intimidating. Just like that first off-road ride, having to have faith in yourself and your abilities to keep you moving forward.
It can shake you up.

Simply put, it’s 2 steps forward/1 step back and it’s a natural progression of growth.
The positive thing with all of this is that I am not afraid to keep moving forward, the frustrating part is that I get stuck in a rut for a few days and have to work out my internal feelings over it. I hate that rut. The rut makes me feel down and isn’t a fun place to be, but sometimes you have to spend some time in that rut to look back on how far you’ve come. Look at the present and what things you have accomplished, and get a glimpse of the future and see what you will be doing.

That’s progression.