Getting back on the bike

Picture of Sarah Parker

Sarah Parker

Change coach, therapist, human being, and founder of Well of Being.

This weekend I got back on my bicycle and went for a ride in the sunshine. In the grand scheme of things, to most of us, this isn’t a big deal. It’s just a cycle ride for fun. Except it’s the first time, apart from one other ride, I have ridden in about 2 years, and to my mind it looked like a huge event.

Two years ago, I was out having a great ride, when I came to a junction and had to stop quickly. I didn’t have time to release the clips and I fell over with my feet still attached to the pedals. I hit the road with a bang and was very bruised for a few days, but my body recovered very well. In fact, the hip pain I had been previously experiencing disappeared after the fall. (Just to make things clear – I’m not advocating falling off your bike to resolve a sore hip!!)

After a couple of weeks, my body was raring to go, but still, the bicycle remained in the garage. It did so for many, many months.

You see, fortunately, our bodies don’t hold on to fearful memories as our minds do. My body got on with the process of healing and repair to restore my skin and my muscles to perfect working order again. My mind, on the other hand, had already created a fear story that said going out on the bicycle was risky and dangerous and not to be repeated.

Last year, I decided to get back on the cycle again and, whilst I was out, a car pulled out in front of me, causing me to swerve and almost fall off again. After this, the bicycle was put back into the garage and going for a ride was not even a consideration for many months. I felt anxious and afraid.

My mind wasn’t deliberately trying to stop me from having fun or enjoying a ride in the fresh air and sunshine. It was simply trying to keep me alive. To my mind, bicycles now looked dangerous, and the best solution it could find for me was to not go out on the cycle again.

With this horror story running, each time I considered going for a ride again, my mind brought up the scary story about cycles which created anxiety and stopped me from doing something I love.

Until I saw beyond the limitations of the story!

Of course, if I didn’t get on the cycle, I wouldn’t fall off it, but that was only a part of the picture. If I didn’t get on again, I wouldn’t feel the joy of riding, the exhilaration of getting to the top of a hill and seeing a beautiful view, the blood pumping to my burning leg muscles, and the warmth of the sunshine being cooled by the breeze as I moved.

Fear and pain are only one small part of the entirety of riding, and yet my mind had magnified them so that’s all I saw.

We had a wonderful ride yesterday. I didn’t fall off, I didn’t have to swerve for a car, and I was entirely safe – as I was before but for my mind’s movie-making trick.

When we are in our fear stories, and they look real, we miss out on so much. Not because we ARE unsafe, but because we THINK we are unsafe.

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