I’ve been MIA for a while. Processing and frankly, busy. This is the first in a series of blogs that I will produce daily — to address those things that come up, but that we never address. This one is raw.
I’m just not sure I can do this.
I’ve had anxiety since I agreed to go cycling. That was Sunday or Monday. It’s even hard for me to sleep. I have to use self-talk to simply let myself know on those days I wasn’t going to go – it’s in the future and not going to affect me at the moment.
Then, the morning came. I taught cycle in the a.m. That’s fine – I like a bike that doesn’t lose control. I was still hedging. I honestly have a lot of deadlines in freelance world and was worried a long ride would put me off schedule. But, I also knew that if I focused I could get it all done. It is beautiful out, almost no wind either. I was out of excuses – except I’m so f&*(& scared.
We loaded up the bikes, with a bit of crazy, and drove to the Air Force Academy. All was well and good – I could ride around that parking lot just fine. Then, as we headed out onto the road – I already knew it wouldn’t go well. The slightest breeze and cars roaring past (all very respectful), sent my tension levels through the roof. I considered turning around, but had already come this far. I needed to stick with this. Overcome.
We climbed Stadium Road, which is a bitch of a climb. But, I like uphill. I feel in control and strong. I have strength and stamina. Once we crested it, we came down a mini hill. I was pretty much alone at this point – I started at the back of the pack and stayed there, purposefully. This hill is tiny, but it’s down and I don’t like it. But I survived, dreading the upcoming downhills, which are far more notable.
Up and down a little, I was doing OK – thinking I might be able to talk myself through this ride. We came down a long, not too steep descent – and at first I thought it was the final descent. Much better than I had expected, as the mantra of “You’re OK” I chanted the whole time seemed to help — but suddenly realized that it wasn’t the final downhill. There’s one more that gives me all sorts of anxiety. I crested and everyone was regrouping in a “viewing” parking lot. I road through and with tears and hyperventilation admitted that my anxiety was just too great. I couldn’t do it. I needed to go back to the car.
I tried to conjure up all the cycling challenges I’d had in the past – those that I just couldn’t get through, but somehow did. How did I? Some of it was shear will. Some of it was I had no other choice. Some of it was, the level of anxiety just wasn’t as great as it was today. I had to escape. I had to get off the bike. Forty minutes of the 2 hours planned. I was DONE.
I made it down the hill, clutching my breaks in a way that is certainly not good for my bike. Really, the ride is mild – but I’m not ready. I’m beginning to come to grips with the fact that I may never be ready. I’m not prepared to give up, yet, but I’m not sure I can do this. I’m not sure I can ever bike again.
I’m crushed, disappointed and frustrated. I know I have every reason to have fear, at the same time – why I can’t conquer it is beyond me. It’s like another being takes over when I’m on the bike. I want to – but my legs freeze, I can’t breathe and my heart stops. All of this makes me angry, but it’s my reality.
And, in the big scheme of things – it’s not a big deal. But, it’s about my pride and how I define myself – and whether the way I see myself is real, or is it all an illusion. But, before I get too existential…
I’m also coming up on the 2-year anniversary of my bike accident and as fast as I pushed my recovery (and I feel good, I don’t regret that), I’m not sure I ever truly digested what it meant to me. It’s facing my own mortality and not a day goes by that I don’t wonder what might of happened had the odds not been in my favor. I am willing to ride another day. Just not today.