As I examine my life, I find that a strong undercurrent of fear rips through my consciousness. The fear gives rise to all sorts of other emotions and ultimately prevents me from living a rich and full life. I have become more aware of this undercurrent of fear as I have studied Buddhist teachings over the past year.
For months, I have been lurking on an email list sponsored by a group of local cyclists. They ride weekly on Tuesday and Thursday nights, as well as on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Their rides are no-drop rides (meaning no one gets left behind) and they average 25-40 miles per ride. They advertise an average speed of 16 mph. All of this would suggest that I am more than capable of keeping up and enjoying a ride with the group.
However I have been reluctant to join a ride out of fear. The fear of not being able to keep up. The fear of not knowing the etiquette of group rides. The fear of getting a flat or dropping my chain during the ride. Basically, the fear of not being good enough.
Last night, there was a ride organized for a 5:00 PM start. I happened to have a conference call with my counterparts in Singapore last night at 9:00 PM so I left the office at 3:30. This meant that I was actually home in time to sync up with the group. I wasn’t sure if I was going to synch up with them or not, but I was riding in the direction of the designated start.
About a 1/4 mile from the designated start, I passed another rider and said hello to him. Shortly there after, he was riding next to me and asked if I was meeting up with the group. I said that I was thinking about it but hadn’t decided. He introduced himself as Chris and we rode toward the designated start for a short distance before he said, “That’s them. That’s Neil in the Schlitz jersey.” Somehow I knew right then that I needed to ride with this group.
I started peddling with the group and was somewhat amazed that they were riding at my usual pace. I was still thinking about whether I’d ride the whole ride with them when I suddenly realized that I’d turned with them off the B&A trail and I was riding with them.
We had a great ride, that included some back roads through Arnold that I’d never seen before, a trip down College Parkway to Sandy Point State Park, a tour through Saint Margret’s and a trip back up the trail. In the end I road about 30 miles at a comfortable pace and really enjoyed the ride with the group.
As with most things, getting past my fear was my primary challenge.