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Getting Over the Bikophobia July 4, 2011

Filed under: cycling,emotions,lessons learned,Team in Training,triathlon — Susan @ 6:51 pm

In the past, I’ve kind of lumped together my “bike and swim phobia” as if they were equivalent. Having gone swimming yesterday, I am realizing that my feelings toward these two activities are in no way equal.

The swimming felt initially very refreshing and nice. At first, it felt good. Then I started getting tired and having breathing issues. But I feel confident that with some decent training, I will eventually get better at this sport and I am open to the idea (even looking forward to) of even one day enjoying it. I feel like chances are good that this could happen. I still have some anxiety that I’m going to have some major panic situation and drown during the tri, but hopefully I can manage my way (mentally) out of that idea. I did have a near-drowning experience in the Outer Banks of North Carolina when I was about 16. I was rescued by a bunch of sailors who made a human chain to rescue me against the riptide. I’ll never forget that experience and I’m hoping that this tri will be a way of “taking back” open-water swimming.

I also had a bike accident when I was 13. When I was little, starting around seven, I had a super cool bike with long handlebars and a banana seat. I used that bike to go all over my neighborhood to visit my friends. It was like having a car (independence!) in the 2nd grade. I feel such pity for the children who don’t have the freedom to do this nowadays. (including my own, who didn’t learn to ride literally until she was 16)

But when I was 13, a bunch of my friends were going for a bike ride. My friend (taller than me) let me borrow her bike (my own bike had been welded to a frame and transformed into an “exercise bike” in the basement). It wasn’t set at the right height and I remember the fear of not being able to touch the ground with my feet.

We were driving on the one trafficked street in our town, the “main street.” I remember swerving too close to a huge truck and losing my balance. I panicked and kind of flung myself (and bike) onto the ground in fear of running into it. I ended up landing UNDER the truck, and the bike was a twisted mess. I had gravel and concrete burns and ripped the skin off my whole leg from ankle to thigh. That was the last time I got on a bike for about 20 years. Since then, it’s been few and far between and I ONLY bike on bike trails that are flat and have no traffic. Or like they do in Golden Gate Park on Sundays – they close the road to traffic and let the skaters and cyclists have the road. That is my kind of biking. I’m not exactly sure what I”m going to do if we have to train on ROAD roads. I might need hynposis or something (I’m not kidding).

I have an almost hysterical fear and loathing of bicycles on roads where cars also drive. If I’m driving a car, I’m anxious that I’ll hit a biker. If I’m on a bike (hypothetical, since I’d never do this) I’m anxious about being hit. I have often said that I think that bikes on car roads should be illegal. I realize that this is a MUCH bigger mental obstacle than I’d realized and I’m going to have to deal with it if I’m going to accomplish this tri.

Mr McBody just went to pick up Junior’s bike so I can use it to start my training. Part of me is hoping it will fall off the back of the car and get crushed before he gets home. Gulp.

 

 
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