Fear is Imaginary
By Greta Neimanas
A recently watched movie preview had dialogue that stuck with me. The main character was telling his son to not be afraid because fear isn’t real. Fear is concocted in our heads from our own ideas- like an imaginary friend. Danger and risk are certainly real but fear is not. It is an idea that stuck with me through the entirety of The Hobbit. It’s an idea that can be applied to bike races in addition to real life.
Do you get nervous or scared while riding or racing? I do. I am aware of the inherent danger in what I’m doing. You’d be insane to never get even a little nervous doing this. Descending quickly on wet roads, railing an off camber corner in a crit on a solo break, and riding in traffic are dangerous things. I do them anyway and I know you do too. Why? Because there is some level of faith or belief in our abilities. Shoot, walking out the front door can be a dangerous thing but we get up every day, go to work or school and carry on with our lives. We don’t always think about the risks- there’s no time!
Danger is a very real thing and we do need to weigh the options- look at risk versus reward. What happens if I fail? Sometimes it means not making it to the break and finishing in the pack, sometimes it means dying, other times it means needing to move back in with Mom after quitting your job to try being a musician. A lot of the time, pushing the limits is fun and it’s part of why I enjoy racing. Often times it means walking a very thin line between getting that adrenaline rush and crashing into a ravine. Is it worth it? To me, usually, yes. Pushing the limits is how you find out where they are. You learn how hard you can corner on your race wheels versus your training wheels or at a given tire pressure and you very quickly learn how hard you can’t. After that you can consider your fear conquered because you know where the limit is.
Now, by no means am I endorsing reckless or stupid behavior. What I’m trying to say is that it may be time to think about what’s important and calculating your options. What scares you on the bike? How about in every day life? Riding in a group or in traffic? The dark? What about spiders? Tin foil? Why do these things scare you? What’s the worst that could happen? Like learning to corner or descend, start out slow and then do it faster and faster until you reach your limit and conquer your ‘fear’. After all, they’re not really there.
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