This post is from my heart and was originally posted at VeloVixen for their Cycle Happy stories.
As a mountain bike guide I ride with a lot of different people. In any group of riders there can be a huge range of abilities and fitness. Something that I notice is how riders with maybe (but not always) less technical ability or fitness than other people in the group tend to give themselves a hard time. This has two effects. It drains energy. Constant worry and stress about not being good enough or about making people wait is literally a huge waste of energy that you could be using to ride up the next climb. It also just puts your mind into a negative cycle and you can defeat yourself before you have even started. Thinking “I am rubbish on hills” or “I am going to be the slowest” is setting yourself up to be just that. Its much better to give yourself positive affirmations and set up a more positive loop in your mind. When I am teaching yoga I often tell people before attempting a difficult looking pose – see yourself doing it first. Its amazing the effect of creating a mental image of success has. I use this technique myself on a regular basis. Lastly apologizing constantly to people tends to get a bit old. Try saying “thank you for waiting” instead and see the difference in the way people will respond.
The point I am trying to make is something that I try to encourage both in Yoga classes and when I am guiding. You are good enough. We put ourselves under so much pressure that the very things that we are there to enjoy become burdens. So what if you are slow up that big climb, even if you get off and push. You are there to enjoy the ride, spend time outside and be sociable. Each time you ride your fitness will improve, you will ride further and maybe faster.
If you enjoy the experience instead of beating yourself up chances are that you will want to ride more.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t make an effort to improve our skills or our fitness. Its just the attitude we do it with that makes the difference. Not being afraid to fail, give things a go. I am going to do it anyway even if I don’t make it then at least I have tried! The very fact that you are out there riding a bike and having a go instead of sitting on the sofa doing nothing means that you are more than good enough.
Being positive about yourself also gives other people permission to do that too – it’s a win win situation. It is also an attitude that tends to permeate the rest of your life which can only be a good thing. So enjoy riding your bike and lets create an inclusive community within cycling to encourage more people to enjoy the sport.