Race Anecdotes: Do something that scares you

As Brittney and I walked into the Boulder Valley Velodrome, we talked about how nervous she was to try out the track. “If you always stay in your comfort zone, you’ll never grow,” I said. She agreed. We both said it was better to be scared and do it anyway, then resign out of fear. I was nervous too. I had only tried it once before two years ago.

Staring up at the steepest part of the track gave me butterflies. It felt like we were about to defy gravity. We started with the basics:

  • Clipping in
  • Pedaling
  • Speeding up
  • Slowing down
  • Stopping
  • Unclipping

We all got it down fast. Cari, Susan, and the other volunteers continually encouraged everyone, reminding us that it was going to be fun. I’m sure they could tell by the way we side-eyed the Wall, we were all a little intimidated.

One woman led us on the track to play “follow the leader.” We’d move up a little on the track and back down, following the person in front of us. The next lap we’d move up a bit higher, then back down again. Three laps in and we were riding up at the blue line the whole time.

The chill vibe among the veterans was contagious. It was hard to be nervous with the support from women in all corners of the velodrome, each one shouting, “Looking good!” or “You’re doing great!”

Four hours flew by at the track. Between introductions, snacks, and the lessons, there was a certain buzz among us. We took photos with the track, we hugged each other, and socialized until the track closed.

We tend to assume the worst. We think by clipping into a fixed gear bike and pedaling on a banked track may kill us. I think about the track cyclists, like Kristina Vogel, who is paralyzed from a track crash. It’s scary. The track is intimidating.

But do you remember the first time you ride a bike without training wheels? I’m sure I was on the verge of pissing my parents ya. If I would have let fear control me then, I certainly wouldn’t be where I’m at today.

The women who showed up for the Track Taster didn’t do it because they’re fearless. I guarantee they all felt a little bit of trepidation. They showed up because they knew they’d leave a different person. Doing something that scares you makes you stronger. It changes you.

It doesn’t have to be some Huckleberry Finn adventure. You don’t have to pull an Alex Honnold and “free solo” up El Capitan. You don’t have to do death-defying stunts to face fear. Little acts of bravery make a difference. Like one of the women at the Track Taster who eventually made it up on the board after riding on the apron most of the night, summoning the courage to move up higher.

It’s like my friend, Brittney, who told me how nervous she was as we arrived, who absolutely loved every second of it once she was up there riding.

It’s when I focused on my breath as I drew closer to the woman in front of me, knowing I had no brakes.

It’s okay to be afraid. We all are. But don’t let fear stop you from experiencing life. “Feel the fear and do it anyway.”

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